Civil society groups launch Global Charter for Fisheries Transparency at 2023 Our Ocean conference

The launch of the Charter by the Coalition for Fisheries Transparency lays out a new roadmap to advance marine governance around the world.

PANAMA CITY, Panama, March 02, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Coalition for Fisheries Transparency – a new international community of civil society organizations – today launched the Global Charter for Fisheries Transparency. The Charter pinpoints the most essential policy priorities needed to combat fisheries mismanagement, illegal fishing, and human rights abuses at sea. Experts, ministers, and delegates from international organizations and companies around the world discussed the benefits of the Global Charter for Fisheries Transparency at Our Ocean conference in Panama this Thursday and Friday – an annual meeting for countries, civil society and industry to announce significant actions to safeguard the world’s oceans.

“Ghana recognizes the critical role that transparency plays in the fight against illegal fishing to protect livelihoods and provide food security to our coastal communities,” said Hon. Mavis Hawa Koomson, Ghana’s Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development. “With the significant progress Ghana has made in the last year on ending harmful fishing practices that have encouraged illegal fishing in our waters, we are now working towards making greater efforts towards sustaining fisheries transparency in Ghana.”

Prof. Maxine Burkett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Fisheries and Polar Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, highlighted how the U.S. plays a leading role in increasing transparency in global fisheries.

“Last year, President Biden released a National Security Memorandum that recognizes the importance of transparency for combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and associated forced labor abuses,” she said. “By enhancing productive information-sharing, the Global Charter for Fisheries Transparency will serve as an important complement to the U.S. government’s activities to end IUU fishing through improving fisheries and ocean governance, increasing enforcement efforts, and raising ambition to end IUU fishing globally.

Additionally, global partnership initiatives, like the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI), emphasized the importance of equal, multi-stakeholder collaboration to increase transparency in coastal countries for achieving sustainably managed marine fisheries.

“Given the complexity of fisheries governance, multiple transparency efforts are needed to address the various challenges of unsustainable marine fisheries, such as overfishing, IUU fishing, unequal access to fisheries resources, and unfair benefit sharing,” said Dr. Valeria Merino, Chair of the International Board of the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI). “The 10 principles of the Global Charter for Fisheries Transparency recognize the need for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to fisheries transparency, and has the potential to support existing global endeavors, such as the FiTI, through a much-needed mobilization of civil society organizations to ensure that marine fishing activities are legal, ethical, and sustainable.”

Finally, the role of the civil society to maximize collective impact to improve transparency has been underlined by Mr. Wakao Hanaoka, Chief Executive Officer of Seafood Legacy (Japan), and a steering committee member of the Coalition for Fisheries Transparency. “Our membership in the Coalition for Fisheries Transparency represents a voice of an international community that allows us to strengthen and amplify our efforts amongst the seafood industry and government towards achieving our goal of making Japan a global leader in environmental sustainability and social responsibility,” he explained.

The Global Charter for Fisheries Transparency lays out a new roadmap to advance marine governance internationally, by providing a set of advocacy principles that are both effective and achievable by all stakeholders involved in fisheries governance and management.

“Continuous advocacy efforts by civil society organizations are critical to improving fisheries governance internationally as well as protecting the ocean and the people who depend on its resources,” commented Maisie Pigeon, Director of the Coalition for Fisheries Transparency. “The Coalition’s mission to deliver an urgent shift towards greater transparency in fisheries will be achieved through supporting our members in developing joint strategies, harmonizing and strengthening efforts, and finally – closing transparency policy gaps in fisheries governance,” she concluded.

Through civil society organizations from around the world, the Coalition for Fisheries Transparency calls on governments to apply the Charter’s principles in legislation and practice.

Press contact: Agata Mrowiec agata@fisheriestransparency.net +34 608 517 552

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U.S. Ambassador Inaugurates $24 Million Project and Scholarships for KP Students

U.S. Ambassador, Donald Blome visited Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) from February 28 to March 2 to deepen the United States’ partnership with the people of KP through initiatives related to economic growth, education, security, and cultural preservation.

To strengthen the U.S.-Pakistan economic partnership in KP, the Ambassador and KP Planning and Development Secretary Shah Mahmood Khan inaugurated a new U.S.-funded, $24 million, five-year project to strengthen and modernize the agriculture sector and small and medium enterprises. Ambassador Blome also met with business leaders at FF Steel to talk about trade and commerce in the province, as well as environmental practices in business.

To highlight educational activities, Ambassador Blome visited Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan to inaugurate a new English Works! program. The United States is providing scholarships for 215 KP students to complete a six-month program in Mardan and Charsadda to improve their English language proficiency and other skills needed for professional success. Since 2019, the United States has provided more than $3 million to support English language education in KP, benefiting more than 3,500 students and teachers in this province.

Ambassador Blome also inaugurated a reconstructed higher secondary school in Akbarpura that was damaged in the devastating 2010 floods. The United States invested $1.5 million to rebuild the school, which employs over 50 teachers and is educating more than 1,100 students.

In addition, the Ambassador visited a government girls’ primary school where a U.S.-funded program increases school enrollment among Afghan refugee and Pakistani host community girls. This program is part of the U.S. government’s nearly $60 million in assistance for refugees and their host communities in Pakistan in Fiscal Year 2022.

Ambassador Blome also visited the historic Fort Bala Hisar to meet the Frontier Corps KP-North Major General and inaugurated the construction of eight U.S.-funded new joint check posts in the Newly Merged Districts. The following day, the Ambassador met the new Inspector General of KP Police, Akhtar Hayat Khan, to discuss U.S. support for KP police and their facilities.

The Ambassador shared condolences for the officers and citizens who lost their lives in the January 30 Peshawar Mosque attack while thanking him for the service and recognizing the bravery of the KP police.

The Ambassador concluded his trip to KP with cultural activities, including visiting the iconic Mahabat Khan Mosque in the heart of Peshawar. From 2002 to 2003, the United States provided more than $14,000 to restore the Mughal-era decorations on the lower walls of the mosque.

The Ambassador also enjoyed traditional KP cuisine during a meeting with food and culture enthusiast Shah Jee at a local restaurant. He wrapped up his trip by welcoming a group of exchange alumnae to a movie screening at the Consulate to kickstart Women’s History Month activities that will be arranged throughout the month of March.

Source: Pro Pakistani

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Pakistan to Get $1.3 Billion Financing from Chinese Bank in Coming Days: Dar

Pakistan to Get $1.3 Billion Financing from Chinese Bank in Coming Days: Dar

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar Friday reiterated that the country would not default and blamed former prime minister Imran Khan for the country’s economic troubles.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the minister presented a detailed comparison of different economic indicators during the reign of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (2018-2022) and Pakistan Mulsim League Nawaz (2013-2018).

The minister admitted that Pakistan faces a precarious situation but insisted that the country has never defaulted in the past and will not default now.

ICBC financing

He also announced that Pakistan is likely to receive around $1.3 billion from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). He highlighted that Pakistan returned the amount to ICBC in the past few months and the bank has now agreed to roll over the amount.

Dar said that Pakistan will receive the first tranche of $500 million in the next few working days with another tranche of $500 million expected in the next ten days after which the remaining amount of $300 million will also be transferred. He explained that Pakistan had returned the loan in a staggered form as well in three separate tranches.

The finance minister said that he is hopeful that the reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) will reach $10 billion by June 30, 2023.

SLA with IMF

Responding to a question, the finance minister said that the government has completed all prior actions outlined by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and added that one new prior action was put on the table during recent talks for which the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet has given approval. However, the minister did not give any definitive answer to the question about the expected date of the staff-level agreement with the IMF.

Exchange rate volatility

Responding to another question about the exchange rate volatility, the finance minister said that management of monetary policy and the exchange rate is now the domain of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) under the law. The minister said that there is no intervention by the government to maintain the exchange rate.

Dar said that he is not aware why the rupee depreciated sharply on Thursday and added that he is not sure why the rupee has appreciated today.

The finance minister admitted that the smuggling of dollars to Afghanistan is a serious issue and said that the government is working to overcome it. He highlighted that the central bank and Customs have confiscated consignments of dollars destined for Afghanistan.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Gold Prices in Pakistan Decrease by Over Rs. 4,000 Per Tola

Gold prices in Pakistan decreased on Friday after the Pakistani Rupee posted big gains against the US Dollar during interbank trade today.

According to the data released by All-Pakistan Sarafa Gems and Jewellers Association (APSGJA), the price of gold (24 carats) decreased by Rs. 4,490 per tola to settle at Rs. 201,5600. Similarly, the price of 10 grams of gold decreased by Rs. 4,200 to settle at Rs. 172,840.

Meanwhile, silver prices in the domestic market dropped to Rs. 2,140 per tola and Rs. 1,834.7 per 10 grams.

Spot gold in the international markets was up 0.37 percent to $1,842.72 earlier today, having reached a 1-week peak of $1,841.4 on Wednesday. Gold futures look set for small gains for the foreseeable future following steep currency movements in most emerging countries. Rates are expected to remain in the 1,830-1,892 level in the next few days as people converge on the rare metal investment for bigger gains in the long term.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Taxpayers Should Be Taxed in Jurisdiction Where Businesses Are Located: FTO

The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has conveyed to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) that taxpayers should be taxed in the jurisdiction where their businesses are located.

The act of the FBR to transfer cases as a class of persons is not illegal and is within the ambit of the powers conferred by the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001. However, it is also evident that the transfer of the case from Quetta to Karachi has caused severe hardship to the taxpayer and it is his genuine right to be taxed in the jurisdiction by facilitating him at the doorstep where the business is located and is being done, FTO order added.

The taxpayers are engaged in the business of Builders/Developers and the Federal Board of Revenue vide its notification transferred the jurisdiction of the taxpayers as a class of persons who are engaged in the business of Builders/Developers from RTO, Quetta to Medium Tax Payers Office (MTO), Karachi.

According to the order, whether contractors involved in public sector construction can be clubbed with private sector builders and developers is yet another area that needs FBR’s deliberations. In any case, no discriminatory treatment with any individual or a class of persons is desirable.

The allegation that some of the similar cases have reportedly been transferred back to RTO Quetta also necessitates a probe by the concerned authorities at FBR HQs.

Some of the identical cases relating to KP and Balochistan are currently pending at superior judicial fora. Uniform treatment of all identical cases is the only solution to this issue.

FTO has directed the FBR to reprimand the concerned officers of RTO, Quetta, and MTO, Karachi for not attending the hearing. In this complaint, FBR needs to take a pragmatic view, the order said.

The FTO has asked FBR to direct IR Policy Wing to decide the issue of jurisdiction in line with other identical cases and in the light of orders by the superior judiciary and review individual facts of the instant case, so as to reach a legal and equitable decision.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Govt Likely to Lift Curb on LCs as Forex Reserves Improve

The federal government is likely to lift curbs on the opening of Letters of Credit (LCs) as the country’s foreign exchange reserves improve.

According to sources, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) will gradually start to release the LCs payments as the government is expecting that foreign exchange reserves will increase in the coming days as loans start to materialize from friendly countries.

According to the latest data issued by the central bank, the foreign currency reserves held by the SBP stand at $3.814. Overall liquid foreign currency reserves held by the country, including net reserves held by banks other than the SBP, stand at $9.267 billion.

According to sources, the pending cases of LCs are close to $400 million and the central bank will start opening LCs in the coming days.

Addressing a press conference earlier in the day, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that he expects the reserves held by the central bank to hit $10 billion by the end of June.

He also announced that Pakistan is likely to receive around $1.3 billion from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). He said that Pakistan will receive the first tranche of $500 million in the next few working days with another tranche of $500 million expected in the next ten days after which the remaining amount of $300 million will also be transferred.

Source: Pro Pakistani