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ADB, Pakistan Discuss New Partnership Strategy to Drive Economic Growth

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ADB Country Director for Pakistan Ms. Xiaohong Yang (leftmost) speaking at a consultation meeting to discuss ADB's new country partnership strategy for Pakistan. Photo: ADB

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Pakistan today held a series of country consultations to formulate a new Country Partnership Strategy (CPS), which will guide ADB’s engagement in the country from 2020 to 2024.

Mr. Nadeem Babar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for the Petroleum Division, discussed the implementation of energy sector reforms. Secretary for the Economic Affairs Division Mr. Noor Ahmed, ADB Senior Advisor for Central and West Asia Mr. Muhammad Ehsan Khan, ADB Country Director for Pakistan Ms. Xiaohong Yang, and ADB’s Director for Regional Cooperation and Operations Mr. Safdar Parvez also discussed challenges and the priorities that the country partnership strategy should address.

Representatives of the provincial governments of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Baluchistan outlined key features of their development and growth strategies.       

“The new country partnership strategy is being formulated at an important juncture. ADB’s concessionary and result-oriented assistance will strengthen the government’s efforts to address fiscal imbalances in the energy sector through meaningful and robust reform programs and development projects,” said Mr. Babar. “The consultations today signify the enduring partnership between the government and the people of Pakistan and ADB, and ADB’s vital support to Pakistan in overcoming these development challenges.”

The purpose of ADB’s 5-year CPS is to define priorities and to support Pakistan’s development goals. The new strategy will also complement efforts by other development partners.

“ADB’s partnership strategy will be aligned with the government’s development vision and policies, and is expected to introduce new approaches to development financing in urban services, energy security, transport, agriculture and water resources, education, trade, and tourism,” said Ms. Yang. “It will prioritize innovation, analytical support, public–private partnership, and the application of new technologies. ADB plans to provide about $2.1 billion out of $3.4 billion funds to support Pakistan’s reform and development programs during fiscal year 2019–2020.”

In addition to public sector investments, ADB will continue to increase its private sector operations in Pakistan to stimulate growth and revitalize exports.

The new CPS will also support the roadmap for Pakistan’s economic linkages with its neighboring countries, particularly through the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program. 

In the next stage, more detailed strategic consultation meetings will be held in the provinces with the local governments and other stakeholders including academia, civil society, the private sector, and other development partners.

ADB has planned to support Pakistan with indicative lending of up to $10 billion for various development projects and programs during the next five years.

Pakistan became a founding member of ADB in 1966 and since then has received $32 billion in project assistance. The country has since been working with ADB to strengthen its key infrastructure, social services, and economic growth.

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Parliament decides on new Commission President

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MEPs vote on the candidate for the president of the European Commission on Tuesday 16 July.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who was nominated for the post by the European Council, will outline her programme and discuss it with MEPs from 9.00 CET. MEPs will vote on her candidacy at 18.00 CET.

In order to become Commission President, von der Leyen must secure the support of an absolute majority of MEPs (as of today she must get at least 374 votes). The vote will be a secret paper ballot.

Although she has the backing of EU leaders and is a member of the political party that won most seats in the European elections, von der Leyen was not a lead candidate, a fact criticised by many MEPs.

Political groups have already subjected von der Leyen to tough questioning about her plans for the Commission.

If she fails to win a majority, the European Council would have to put forward another candidate.

Following May’s elections, one of the first tasks of the new, directly-elected European Parliament is the election of the next European Commission President.

Once this new president has been approved, work starts on setting up the new Commission. Parliament’s committees will hold hearings with each of the commissioners-designate to assess their suitability for the portfolio to which they are assigned, before MEPs vote on the Commission as a whole.

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Academic Seminar Europe Goes Silk Road through Armenia Took Place in Yerevan

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July 12, 2019, Yerevan, Armenia- “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Russian-Armenian University (RAU) and “Europe Goes Silk Road” jointly organized academic Seminar “Europe Goes Silk Road through Armenia”. Academic seminar was hosted bythe RAU. 

During the opening ceremony of the seminar, Mr. Zhou Hongyou (Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Armenia), spoke about the Belt and Road Initiative’s progress, results and prospects, he also introduced the last developments in Sino-Armenian relations.

Dr. Arman Navasardyan (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Ex Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, Head of the Department of World Politics and International Relations of the RAU) introduced several recommendations for improving Sino-Armenian cooperation.

In turn, Mr. Sebastian Holler, (Co-Founder of the EUROPE GOES SILK ROAD, Research Associate of the Austrian National Defence Academy, Member of the Shabka Think Tank) told about the foundation of the EUROPE GOES SILK ROAD project.

Dr. Mher Sahakyan, the main initiator of this academic Seminar welcomed speakers and guests and mentioned, that the main aim of the seminar was to provide a platform for researchers who do research on Belt and Road initiative.

After the opening remarks Mr. Sebastian Maier (Co-Founder, EUROPE GOES SILK ROAD, Independent Infrastructure Researcher, former TU Wien Assistant Professor) and
Mr. Florian Krendl (Co-Founder, EUROPE GOES SILK ROAD, Member of the 2050 Thinkers Club, Austria) introduced the main aims and approaches of the  “EUROPE GOES SILK ROAD” project.

Mr. Sebastian Holler and Mr. Sebastian Maier spoke about preliminary results and outlook of the “EUROPE GOES SILK ROAD Expedition.

Dr. Varuzhan Geghamyan (Assistant Professor, Yerevan State University Director, ARDI Institute) introduced his research on Sino-Turkish relations in the 21-st century.

Dr. Mher Sahakyan’s research was focused on main aims of the Belt and Road Initiative and he also introduced several recommendations for improving Sino-Armenian Cooperation in the context of Belt and Road Initiative.

An active discussions and exchange of thoughts followed after each presentation.

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OECD very concerned that active bribery is no longer a felony in Greece

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The OECD Working Group on Bribery has serious concerns that recent steps taken by Greece may leave the country in breach of the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention. On 11 June 2019, Greece amended the Criminal and Criminal Procedure Codes. As a result, the main active bribery offence was converted from felony to a misdemeanour, which is a less serious offence. The Working Group is concerned that this amendment may have far-reaching ramifications, ranging from the closure of ongoing corruption-related investigations and prosecutions, to possible hindrance of international cooperation in future cases and shorter limitations period. The Codes entered into force on 1 July 2019, having been adopted in the last session before Parliament was dissolved ahead of national elections, which took place on 7 July 2019.

The OECD Working Group on Bribery will conduct a supplementary Phase 3ter review of Greece, with an on-site visit in the fall of 2019 and the publication of an evaluation report in December 2019.[2] The evaluation will be conducted jointly with the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), which also decided to carry out an urgent evaluation of Greece’s amendments to its Criminal Code. Depending on the results of this evaluation, the OECD Working Group may decide that further appropriate measures are necessary, including the possibility of a High Level Mission to Greece. The OECD Working Group has also agreed to issue a letter that will be sent to the Greek Prime Minister. The letter will outline serious concerns about the potential impact of the revised anti-corruption criminal measures.

This is the second time the Working Group has decided to undertake a supplementary examination of Greece. In 2012, Greece failed to promptly investigate a significant foreign bribery case and to provide timely information on its anti-bribery efforts, and, as a result, the Working Group on Bribery conducted a Phase 3bis evaluation in 2015.

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