LONDON: The British economy grew at its slowest pace in six years in 2018, data showed Monday, as Brexit uncertainty grips the country and fears grow that Britain could crash out of the EU without a deal.
The bleak official figures came as the British government seeks to win more time to secure EU concessions on Brexit that could pass the UK parliament and avert a chaotic split from the bloc on March 29.
Businesses are on edge with Britain just weeks away from its scheduled departure from the European project after 46 years and still with no firm arrangements in place.
The parliament in London last month roundly rejected a Brexit deal Prime Minister Theresa May had sealed with the remaining 27 EU leaders.
Monday’s figures followed data last week that showed Britain’s dominant service sector almost ground to a halt in January.
“The economy is clearly struggling in the first quarter of 2019 amid serious business and consumer caution resulting from heightened Brexit uncertainties while weaker global growth is also impacting” the figures, noted Howard Archer, chief economic advisor at the EY ITEM Club.
Last year gross domestic product growth stood at 1.4 percent, down from 1.8 percent in 2017, the Office for National Statistics said Monday.
Growth was only 0.2 percent in the last three months of 2018, the ONS said in a statement.
“Construction, production and services output fell in the month (of December), the first time that there has been such a broad-based fall in monthly output since September 2012,” the ONS said.
Britain has been in a state of political turmoil for two months since the Brexit deal was agreed in December.
In an incident heavy with symbolism, parts of parliament were cordoned off Monday after a large piece of masonry fell onto a parked vehicle over the weekend.
Iran favors $5b trade volume with Pakistan
TEHRAN: Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade Reza Rahmani called for raising the volume of trade exchanges with Pakistan to $5 billion by 2021.
Addressing a ceremony marking Pakistan Day in Tehran on Wednesday, he hoped the goal will be materialized by establishing banking ties and finalization of free trade memorandum of understanding.
He said that Iran and Pakistan boast of numerous commonalities in various sphere including religion, culture and history.
“Iran-Pakistan ties as old as the country’s independence and the two regional big countries’ relations have always been friendly and excellent,” he said.
Iran was the first country which recognized independence of Pakistan and established embassy in Islamabad, Rahmani said, describing Pakistan as major gateway for Iran to enter to the East.
“Iran is also a country with numerous economic potentials,” he said, noting that Iran’s economy and market will not be ignored by the economic activists and political officials.
The two countries are able to develop collaboration in the fields of agriculture, foodstuff, tourism, pharmaceuticals and sports.
Ceremony marking Pakistan National Day attended by diplomats from certain countries including France, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Armenia and Palestine was held in Tehran.
Tokyo bourse opens modestly higher
TOKYO: The bourse opened here marginally higher today with help from a cheaper yen, but investors were cautious ahead of Easter holidays on overseas markets.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was up 0.05 percent or 11.42 points at 22,289.39, while the broader Topix index climbed 0.09 percent or 1.48 points at 1,632.16.
Bahawalpur: FOB compiles reports for reforms
BAHAWALPUR: The Secretary, Federal Ombudsman Secretariat and National Commissioner on Children have said that the office of the Wafaqi Mohtasib had compiled reports to recommend recommendations to bring reforms to address maladministration in government departments.
Secretary, Federal Ombudsman Secretariat, Dr. Jamal Nasir and Senior Advisor/ National Commissioner For Children, Ejaz Ahmed Qureshi were addressing a news conference at the regional office of Wafaqi Mohtasib here in Bahawalpur.
They said that following the Swedish ombudsman system, the office of Ombudsman was established in Pakistan to ensure the provision of relief to people in connection with their complaints against federal government departments.
They said that during the last few years, the office of Wafaqi Mohtasib disposed of 75,000 complaints/cases. “Most of the complaints were registered against Wapda, electric companies, Sui Southern and Sui northern gas companies and National Data Registration Authority.
They said that with reviewing the registered complaints, the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat had also been compiling reports to recommend recommendations for bringing reforms in federal government departments and agencies to address the issue of maladministration and corruption.
They said that the office of Federal Ombudsman had also powers to listen to complaints against National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
They, however, said that if applications/petitions were submitted in courts against NAB and FIA, then the courts would listen to those cases and would dispose of them.
They said that the Federal Ombudsman had powers of the judge of Supreme Court and he could take suo moto notice against any federal government departments and agencies. “The Federal Ombudsman after founding negligence of officials of federal departments can recommend inquiry and other departmental actions against them,” they said.
They said that 13 offices of the Federal Ombudsman were working in the country including Bahawalpur office which could listen to complaints against federal departments and agencies lodged by people of Bahawalpur, Rahimyar Khan, Lodhran and Bahawalnagar.
They said that Bahawalpur and other neighboring districts had populations in millions, adding that but, the average number of registered complaints with the local office of the Federal Ombudsman in Bahawalpur was 100 per month. They requested the media to highlight the importance and role of Federal Ombudsman so that maximum number of people could move to the local office of Federal Ombudsman in Bahawalpur to get relief on issues and problems pertaining to federal government and departments.
Meanwhile, according to a report issued by the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat Regional Office Bahawalpur, 624 applications/complaints were registered against federal government agencies including Multan Electric Company (MEPCO), Pakistan Post Office (PPO), Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan (SLICP) and others. The Bahawalpur office of Wafaqi Mohtasib had disposed of 602 of them.