VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 9th May, 2018
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PAKISTAN
NAB begins probe into allegation Nawaz sent $4.9bn to India: Dawn
May 09, 2018

Taking notice of a misleading newspaper article based on a ‘flawed’ report of the World Bank, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has started verification whether former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was involved in sending $4.9 billion to India. According to NAB, World Bank’s migration and remittance book released in September 2016 carried information that foreign exchange reserves of India increased by $4.9 billion after receiving the huge amount sent through money laundering, inflicting losses to Pakistan’s national kitty. While the World Bank promptly responded to the NAB move and stated that “the report does not include any mention of money laundering nor does it name any individuals”, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said the estimates showed in the WB report were based on “assumptions” which did not reflect the reality. Soon after the SBP’s clarification, NAB issued a brief statement and questioned: “If the World Bank report is not correct why they have not changed the figure of 4.9 billion dollars from Pakistan in its report?” Click here to read...

AFGHANISTAN
1.3 Million People Register To Vote Since Call For Elections: Tolo News
May 08, 2018

Officials from the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) on Tuesday said that over 1.3 million people have registered to vote in the October 20 parliamentary and district council elections. From the figure, 351,060 constitute women, said the IEC. Meanwhile, a number of families and students have raised concern over the existence of voter registration centers and security threats inside schools. “I did not go to school when the explosion happened, my father asked me to stay at home,” said one student Assadullah, in Kabul. “People feel fear, some people prefer not to go to school, they say the government does not provide security,” said another resident, Rasul. The IEC has established 1,419 voting registration centers across the country, with the majority inside school premises. Families have argued they are concerned about the security of their children. “People do not allow their children to go to school, I have a son and wait for him the whole day,” said another resident of Kabul, Ramazan. Reports indicate that many families in Kabul have been preventing their children from attending schools in the wake of last month's suicide attack by a Daesh militant group at an election-related facility in Kabul, which left scores of civilians dead and wounded. Click here to read...

NEPAL
Each province to get Rs 19 billion in fed grant: Kathmandu Post
May 09, 2018

As provincial governments seek larger pies of resources from the federal government, the National Planning Commission has said that each province is expected to get a grant of Rs19 billion on average in the upcoming fiscal year. As per the NPC estimate, the seven provinces are estimated to get a total of Rs135 billion from the Centre under four types of grants—fiscal equalisation, conditional, matching and special. Additional resources will be available for the provinces through internal resource generation and transfer of taxes from the Federal Revenue Sharing Mechanism. With the provinces expected to collect just Rs15 billion on their own, additional Rs55 billion will be made available through the revenue sharing mechanism. This means the provinces are expected to have Rs 205 billion at their disposal, according to the NPC. Joint-secretary Khomraj Koirala of the commission said the estimate was made based on the constitutional authorities of the provinces. But the provinces have complained that the estimated transfer of resources is low compared to the responsibilities they have to shoulder. At a meeting of the Inter-governmental Fiscal Commission on Monday, chief ministers and finance ministers of the provinces complained that the centre had sought to keep most of the resources with itself while delegating only the responsibilities. Click here to read...

SRI LANKA
Nearly 100,000 Chinese tourists visit Sri Lanka up to April: Xinhua
May 08, 2018

Nearly 100,000 Chinese tourists visited Sri Lanka till April this year, making China among the top three countries generating the most number of tourists to the island country, statistics from the Tourism Ministry showed here Tuesday. In April, 17,462 Chinese tourists arrived in Sri Lanka, making China the third largest market. India and Britain were the other two top markets last month. The total number of international tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in April was 180,429, a 12.6 percent growth from the same period last year. Almost 94 percent of tourists traveled by air to Sri Lanka. By the end of April this year, 888,353 tourists had visited Sri Lanka, a 16.1 percent growth over the same period last year when 765,202 tourists visited the country. In a bid to attract more Chinese travelers, Sri Lankan Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said last week that the Sri Lankan government had signed an agreement with a leading Chinese tour operator. Click here to read...

MYANMAR
China Does Not Want UN to Push Myanmar on Accountability: Reuters
May 09, 2018

China does not want the U.N. Security Council to tell Myanmar that credible, transparent investigations into accusations of violence against mainly Rohingya Muslims are important, according to proposed amendments to a British-drafted statement. The 15-member Security Council is trying to negotiate a press statement following a visit by U.N. envoys to Bangladesh and Myanmar last week to see firsthand the aftermath of a Myanmar military crackdown that Britain, the United States and others have denounced as ethnic cleansing of the minority Rohingya. Britain wanted the council to state “the importance of undertaking credible and transparent investigations into allegations of human rights abuses and violations” and “continue to support efforts to ensure justice and accountability.” Its draft statement would also “urge the government of Myanmar to fulfill urgently its stated commitment to holding accountable perpetrators of violence, including sexual violence and abuse and violence against children.” However, Myanmar ally China deleted those references in amendments it has proposed to that statement, which must be agreed by consensus. China also proposed welcoming “the efforts taken by the government of Myanmar to improve the situation in Rakhine” state. Click here to read...

CHINA
Xi Jinping, Kim Jong Un hold talks in Dalian: People's Daily
May 09, 2018

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chinese president, met Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), in Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province, on May 7-8. Wang Huning, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, attended related activities. Click here to read...

Xi calls on China, U.S. to maintain communication on trade issue: People's Daily
May 09, 2018

Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that China and the United States should maintain communication to try to find a way to properly solve their trade issue and achieve mutually beneficial and win-win results. Xi made the remarks during a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump. The two leaders also exchanged views on China-U.S. relations and the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Xi said the development of China-U.S. relations is now at an important stage, adding that he highly values the development of bilateral ties and cherishes his good working relationship with Trump. Click here to read...

Li calls to accelerate talks on China-Japan-ROK FTA, economic integration: China Daily
May 09, 2018

China, Japan and Republic of Korea should accelerate negotiations on a free trade area and reach agreements on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as soon as possible to promote regional integration, Premier Li Keqiang said at the seventh China-Japan-ROK leaders’ meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday. The premier said the development of the three countries has benefited from free trade and they should firmly stand together to safeguard rule-based multilateral trading system and fight against protectionism and unilateralism. Click here to read...

Donald Trump calls Xi Jinping for trade result that ‘benefits American businesses’: South China Morning Post
May 09, 2018

Trade talks between the US and China must lead to an outcome that “benefits American businesses and workers”, US President Donald Trump told his counterpart, Xi Jinping, in a call on Tuesday. Xi in turn called for continued communication during their escalating trade dispute to achieve a “mutually beneficial” result rather than a much-dreaded trade war. Click here to read...

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