BRASILIA: Brazil’s environmental regulator on Friday denied French oil giant Total a license to drill for crude in five blocks near the mouth of the Amazon river.
Regulatory agency Ibama said the license was denied “due to a set of technical problems” identified during the application process.
It explained that the decision was based “on the deep uncertainties” detected in an emergency plan presented, “aggravated by the possibility of an oil spill that may affect the coral reef present in the region and by extension marine biodiversity.”
A Brazilian prosecutor warned of “extreme environmental peril” in recommending against the granting of the drilling license earlier this year, saying that: “the only way to guarantee avoiding environmental damage to the area is to deny the license.”
Environmental campaigners Greenpeace meanwhile warned that a previously discovered coral reef had been found to extend right into where Total plans to drill.
The finding, made during a research expedition, invalidated Total’s environmental impact assessment, which was based on the reefs being located at least five miles (eight kilometers) from drilling, Greenpeace said.
In 2013, Total joined BP and Brazil’s Petrobras to buy the exploration blocks near the mouth of the Amazon. But they had yet to win permission to search.
‘Digitization provides ecosystem for fin. inclusion’
LAHORE: Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Tariq Bajwa has said that digitization provides an ecosystem for financial inclusion which plays a vital role in economic growth.
Talking to media at a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) signing ceremony among Punjab Government, SBP and One-Link here at Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA) office, he appreciated the PRA for the initiative which would empower the commoner and taxpayers.
He also pointed out three priority areas of the economy including agriculture, provision of low-cost housing and SME, besides two cross-cutting areas Islamic Banking and financial inclusion through digitization of payment system.
To a question about declining revenue of provincial revenue authorities, Tariq Bajwa said Supreme Court of Pakistan barred the government from collecting taxes from mobile users which affected it.
He pointed out that it would be resolved soon with some alternate solution.
On this occasion, Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht said since coming to power, Punjab government had been striving to improve the business environment and provide maximum facilitation to the business sector which was the backbone of the economy. With the introduction of this facility, taxpayers would no longer need to visit banks and stand in queues to deposit their taxes, thus the compliance cost of the taxpayers would be reduced, he added.
The finance minister said the government intended to make the facility available for all provincial taxes. However, the Punjab Revenue Authority had taken the lead in this regard and payment of Sales Tax on Services through alternate delivery channels would be available by the end of December. Subsequently, the facility would be incrementally expanded to cover taxes collected by the Excise and Taxation Department and the Board of Revenue.
He appreciated the PRA for implementing the Punjab government’s vision by making of e-PRA and smart revenue organizations reliant on information technology, where the direct contact between taxpayer and tax collector was minimized. Future projects in the pipeline included pre-populated returns and algorithmic mass audits, he mentioned.
Punjab Chief Secretary Yousef Naseem Khokhar stressed the need for ease of doing business and committed that the provincial government would continue to work towards this direction.
Rupee to stabilize: SBP governor
ISLAMABAD: State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa Sunday expressed the hope that the slide in rupee value would be stemmed once money flows into the economy.
Bajwa said the dollar rate is dependent on two factors: macroeconomic fundamentals and market sentiments. According to a private news channel, he said “As money [flows into] the economy [through cash injected], Insha’Allah you will see, the market sentiment will improve… the pressure will dissipate from the rupee.” The central bank governor said the Supreme Court’s decision to end the mobile phone tax affected the country’s tax net.
Bajwa added that Finance Minister Asad Umar knew about the spike in the dollar and had already clarified in a statement earlier that the rupee devaluation had been discussed with him. On 30th November, the rupee hit an all-time record low of Rs144 against the US dollar, plunging almost five percent after what appeared to be a sixth devaluation by the State Bank in the past year as the country struggles with an acute balance of payment crisis.
The surge in dollar came owing to the widening current account deficit and the International Monetary Fund’s suggestion to the government to realign the rupee with market fundamentals to access funds. The rupee has depreciated by 36 percent against the dollar over the past 12 months. It has fallen by Rs19.5 against the dollar since the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf took the reins of the country following the general election in July this year.
Govt’s all-out support for PIA’s revival
KARACHI: Federal Minister for Privatisation and Aviation Muhammad Mian Soomro has said the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was moving in the right direction and the government would provide all-out support for its revival.
During his visit to PIA head office, the minister was received by PIA President and CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik on his arrival, said a press release issued here on Sunday. Addressing senior PIA officials, the minister said the PIA had a lot of potential and it could regain its lost share. He said the government was willing to extend all possible support to make it viable entity. “We must make the best use of service and technology to compete in today’s market. The customer should be our main focus,” he added. The minister stressed that austerity measures should be adopted in the national flag carrier. On this, he appreciated the measures taken by the present management under the leadership of Air Marshal Arshad Malik.
Muhammad Mian Soomro expressed his satisfaction on the initiatives taken by him which were bearing fruit. Air Marshal Arshad Malik apprised the Aviation minister of the current management initiatives such as reopening of routes, new destinations being planned to increase the airline’s network, improvement in food service, scheduling, and cost savings. He said that things were improving and the management was working on convenience of schedule and opening of new destinations. Arshad Malik said that besides passenger market the management was discovering other niches to enhance airline’s revenue, especially the cargo sector which had tremendous potential.