CHIANG RAI: The eight young footballers rescued from a cave in Thailand after more than two weeks underground are unlikely to be able to take up an offer to attend the World Cup final in Moscow, doctors said today.
The plight of the boys has prompted an outpouring of support from across the footballing world, from Brazil legend Ronaldo to England’s John Stones and Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi. The emaciated and disheveled “Wild Boars” were found after nine days of no contact on a small, muddy bank surrounded by water several kilometers inside the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand. All had come from football training when they first went into the cave on June 23 and were wearing football shirts when they were found – one wore an England top, another the colors of Real Madrid.
Images of the desperate group went viral, prompting FIFA boss Gianni Infantino to invite them to the July 15 showpiece in a gesture of solidarity from the footballing world and a dream to most teenage football fans. But doctors poured cold water on the idea, saying the boys are in good shape but going through a slow and careful recovery that will see them stay in hospital for a week. “They can’t go, they have to stay in hospital for a while,” Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, of the public health ministry, told reporters Tuesday when asked about the offer to attend Sunday’s match. “They’re likely to watch it on television,” Jedsada Chokdamrungsuk, permanent-secretary of the Ministry of Public Health.
A piece published earlier: Elite divers hauled four more young footballers out of a flooded Thai cave on Monday, authorities said, bringing to eight the number saved in a stunning rescue mission but still leaving five others trapped. “Hooyah,” the Thai Navy SEALs, who have played a crucial role in the against-the-odds operation, said in a Facebook post as they announced that a total of eight members of the “Wild Boars” football team had been rescued on Sunday and Monday. Thais have been fixated on the crisis, hoping desperately for the safe return of the 12 boys and their 25-year-old football coach, after they ventured into the Tham Luang cave complex after practice and became trapped by rising waters more than a fortnight ago. The extraction of the four on Monday followed a similar pattern to the previous day, with the youngsters emerging in quick succession just before nightfall after navigating a treacherous escape route of more than four kilometers (2.5 miles) that included extremely narrow and flooded tunnels. Although the rescued eight were all presumed to be the boys, aged between 11 and 16, authorities did not reveal their identities nor confirm whether the coach remained inside the cave.
Asked if the remaining five would be shuttled out together, rescue operations chief Narongsak Osottanakorn said it was up to the divers whose meticulous plans, including stashing extra oxygen tanks along the route, are “set for four people, if we bring five we have to change the plan”. In a late-night press conference, he also delivered a message from Thai premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha, a gruff former general: “The Prime Minister wants this to be a lesson, this should not happen again in Thailand,” Narongsak said. The saga has dominated global headlines, with the team spending nine days unaccounted for inside the cave, before British divers found them – emaciated and disheveled – huddling on a muddy bank above the flooding. Authorities then struggled to determine the best way to save the “Wild Boars”, with the group stuck on a shelf above the floodwaters in pitch darkness. Among the ideas were drilling an escape route through the mountain, or leaving them for months until the monsoon season ended and the flooding subsided.
But with oxygen levels inside dropping to dangerous lows and the prospect of heavy rains flooding the area completely, authorities decided they had to move quickly and take the group out through the water-filled tunnels. Narongsak described Sunday’s initial rescue bid as “D-Day” when it was launched, and there were fears that any one of many potential pitfalls could prove deadly. Among these were that none of the boys had scuba diving experience and that they could easily panic while swimming underwater across twisted passageways in darkness. Dozens of foreign divers and other experts from around the world were brought in to help the rescue effort, working alongside the Thai Navy SEALs. But the death of a former Thai Navy SEAL diver who ran out of oxygen in the cave on Friday underscored the danger of the journey. The first successes on Sunday offered hope of a fairytale ending to the ordeal. Rescue chief Narongsak on Sunday described their journey out, escorted by the elite divers, as “smooth”.
Crucially, round-the-clock pumping to ease some of the floodings paid off and threatened heavy rains did not arrive. That led an upbeat Narongsak to promise more “good news” on Monday afternoon that materialized a few hours later with the emergence of the other four. But although the eight were rescued, there were concerns they may have contracted an illness while in the cave. Narongsak said after the first four boys were rescued that they would be quarantined “for a while because we are concerned about infections”. And rain could still re-emerge as a threat for the remaining five, particularly if there are complications that could delay the extraction further. Authorities have repeatedly said the rain could re-flood crucial parts of the cave complex that have been drained and make the escape route much harder or even impossible to navigate. Weather forecasters warned heavy rain could hit the area through the week. Premier Prayut visited the rescue base on Monday night to deliver his congratulations to all those involved, but also to offer a note of caution. “Everyone should be proud. (But) the mission is not over yet,” Prayut said. (Published on 10rh July 2018)
ADB to provide $7.528 bn to Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has planned to support Pakistan with lending of $7.528 billion for various development projects during the next three years.
In its new Country Operations Business Plan (COBP) for Pakistan 2019-21 revealed on Thursday, the ADB has proposed a sovereign lending program for next three years worth $7.528 billion, consisting of $5.37 billion from regular Ordinary Capital Resource (OCR) lending and $2.158 billion from Concessional COR Lending (COL). COL includes a carryover of $600 million from 2018. The non-lending program for 2019–2021 is $21.7 million, including transaction technical assistance for various pipeline projects. An amount of $2.245 billion in ADB loan financing is allocated for the energy sector, which is 29.8 percent of the total pipeline for 2019–2021.
The pipeline includes a multi-tranche financing facility for Transmission Strengthening (tranche 1) for National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), Hydropower Development Project for Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), and support for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline Project. For the transport sector, some $1.394 billion of ADB loan financing for the sector (18.5% of the total pipeline) have been allocated for the transport sector. The pipeline includes the Sustainable National Highway Project and the Sindh Hyderabad Southern Bypass Project.
ADB also proposes support for the revitalization of Pakistan Railways to improve transport sector sustainability, including exploring non-conventional financing arrangements. For agriculture, natural resources, and rural development, ADB has allocated $794 million in loan financing to the sector (10.6% of the total pipeline). The pipeline includes the Greater Thal Canal Irrigation Project, the Kurram Tangi Water Resources Project, and the Smaller Cholistan Water Resources Development Project. Similarly, for water and other urban infrastructure and services, the ADB has allocated $470 million in ADB loan financing (6.2% of the total pipeline). The pipeline includes a cross-sector project readiness facility for Punjab and the Punjab Cities Improvement Project. ADB has also allocated $2.4 billion in loan financing to the finance and public sector management sectors (31.9% of the total pipeline).
The COBP, 2019-2021, includes new projects such as trade and competitiveness program (subprogram 1) in 2019; financial markets development in 2020; infrastructure financing and PPPs in 2021; as well as the second phase of support for the Benazir Income Support Program in 2020. The education and health sectors pipeline includes $225 million in loan financing (3.0% of the total pipeline). ADB’s re-engagement in education and health sectors includes $175 million for projects on secondary education in Sindh and improving workforce readiness and skills development in Punjab, and $50 million projects to improve quality of health care services in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
ADB will also provide technical assistance across sectors to help project implementation and to generate and disseminate knowledge products to support policy and project development, as well as to enhance project quality and readiness. Pakistan, a group B developing member country, is eligible for regular OCR lending and concessional OCR lending (COL). The indicative resources available during 2019–2021 for sovereign operations amount to $5,712 billion, comprising $4.29 billion for regular OCR lending and $1.422 billion for COL. The final allocation will depend on available resources, project readiness, project performance and debt distress rating of the country among others. ADB’s non-sovereign operations will supplement these resources. ADB will also explore co-financing from other sources and seek financing from the regional pool under concessional resources and regular OCR for regional cooperation and integration.
Modi loosing from traditional stronghld!
NEW DEHLI: India’s ruling party looked set to lose power in at least one of three traditional stronghold states releasing election results on Tuesday, in a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of national polls in 2019.
Early election results in the central state of Chhattisgarh indicated the main opposition Congress party of Rahul Gandhi would win 59 seats compared to just 11 for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.
The Hindu nationalist BJP has ruled Chhattisgarh for the past 15 years.
WB urges focus on 5 key pillars
KUALA LUMPUR: The promotion of economic competitiveness, building skills, fostering inclusion, strengthening state institutions and financing the transition to high-income status, are five key areas that policymakers in East Asia should focus on in the coming decade, says the World Bank.
The World Bank said the region’s remarkably successful development model, a combination of outward-oriented growth, human capital development and sound economic governance, needed to be adjusted to effectively address emerging external and internal challenges.
“In terms of promoting economic competitiveness, emerging priorities should include service sector reforms, deepening trade agreements, broadening innovation policies and improving access to finance, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises,” it said in its regional report titled, “A Resurgent East Asia: Navigating A Changing World”, launched Monday.
On building skills, the report said beyond the East Asian countries’ current focus on basic human capital, it would be increasingly important to support development of advanced skills, including socio-emotional skills and digital literacy.
“For fostering inclusion, the countries need to develop programmes to transition vulnerable workers to new job opportunities and to ensure affordable access to digital technologies in addition to their traditional social protection programmes.
“As for strengthening state institutions, the nations need to increase state effectiveness through enhancing citizens’ voice and participation, as well as increasing transparency and greater government accountability,” it said.
On the last key area – financing the transition to high-income status, the report suggested that the governments needed to increase domestic revenue mobilization in order to achieve high-income status.
Citing the report, World Bank Chief Economist for East Asia and the Pacific, Sudhir Shetty, said since 2000, East Asia’s gross domestic product had grown over three-fold.
“Several out of ten countries in the region, including Malaysia, could realistically aspire to high-income status in the space of the next generation,” he said in his keynote address at the event today.
Meanwhile, asked if Malaysia could achieve its high-income nation aspiration in 2024 as targeted in the
11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) Mid Term Review, a Lead Economist of World Bank Group Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Malaysia, Richard Record, said “it is definitely achievable, but it is going to be ‘very tough’.
“The government should focus on economic policies, education quality, increase the standard of governance accountability, and strengthen the social protection system to ensure people from all walks of life can benefit in the future,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the event.
In a recent report, the World Bank expected Malaysia to achieve high-income nation status between 2020 and 2024, in line with the target set by the government in the 11MP Mid term Review released in October.
The government has postponed the high-income nation aspiration to 2024 from 2020 targeted earlier due to a 21 per cent gap between the country’s gross national income per capita (US$9,556 in 2017) and the minimum income threshold of a high-income nation (US$12,056 for 2017) set by the World Bank.