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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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UN ready to support Palestinian elections

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Bedouin boys living in Jabal al-Baba in the remains of their family’s home which was demolished in 2017. (file photo) UNRWA/Lara Jonasdottir

Palestinian elections scheduled for later this year will be a crucial step towards unity, the new UN envoy in the region, Tor Wennesland, said on Tuesday in his first briefing to the Security Council. 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree earlier this month announcing parliamentary and presidential elections will be held starting in May, marking the first vote across the Occupied Territories in 15 years. 

Mr. Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, has joined UN Secretary-General António Guterres in welcoming the development.  

“The holding of elections in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza, will be a crucial step towards Palestinian unity, giving renewed legitimacy to national institutions, including a democratically-elected parliament and government in Palestine”, the Norwegian diplomat told the virtual meeting. 

“The United Nations stands ready to support efforts for the Palestinian people to exercise their democratic rights. Elections are a crucial part of building a democratic Palestinian State built on rule of law, with equal rights for all.” 

Greater women’s participation 

President Abbas was elected in 2005 and his Fatah party controls the Palestinian National Authority, which is based in the Occupied West Bank.  The militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, won parliamentary elections held a year later. 

Mr. Wennesland said forthcoming talks in Cairo to resolve outstanding issues related to the elections will be important for the preparatory process to move forward. 

He added that the election law has also been amended to increase the minimum number of women representatives from 20 to 26 per cent. 

“I welcome this step, and join the Secretary-General’s call on Palestinian authorities to take further steps to facilitate, strengthen and support women’s political participation, including as voters and candidates throughout the election cycle.” 

Two-State solution still possible 

Addressing the broader context, the new envoy underscored the UN’s support for a two-State solution for the Palestinians and Israelis, and hopes for a negotiated and lasting peace in the region. 

“Despite the significant challenges, achieving the outcome remains possible. And there are opportunities unique to this moment that should not to be missed”, he told the Council.   

“I hope that the promise of the recent agreements made between Israel and Arab countries will lead to a situation where a more peaceful Middle East can be realized. However, it requires leaders on all sides to re-engage meaningfully and return to the path of negotiations.” 

Pandemic support 

Shifting to COVID-19 response, Mr. Wennesland outlined the UN’s ongoing support to the Palestinian people during the pandemic, which is taking a staggering toll across the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel. 

Authorities on both sides have tightened movement restrictions to address the ongoing spread, which has impacted daily life. 

The UN and partners have provided the Palestinian government with critical supplies, including personal protective equipment, oxygen therapy machines and testing materials. 

In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are supporting preparedness for receiving and eventually administering vaccines.   

Doses will be procured through the COVAX Facility, the international mechanism aimed at ensuring equal vaccine access by all countries.  Initial allocations are expected to arrive during the first half of the year.

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Top 7 Practices Every Small Business Must Follow

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Your small business may have started out of passion, but it needs a lot of effort to grow and sustain it. Improving your business is a continuous process and business owners need to invest their time, effort and money to make it big.

To gain success, a business must adopt technology and leverage its power in order to simplify business processes. At the same business owners must keep reviewing the systems and strategies to be sure that things are proceeding in the correct direction.

To help you out, we have listed below top 7 practices that every small business must follow to achieve long-term success:

1.Automate tasks:

A lot of small business owners feel that instead of buying softwares or using tech tools, making their employees do things on their own will save business costs. But it ends up wasting valuable employee time.

Opt for softwares and other digital solutions to automate manual tasks. For instance, having a payroll management system can make the payroll process error-free and quick since it automates the manual calculations to give results with just a click of a button.

2.Create an innovative social media strategy:

In this digital age where everything is virtual, it is important for small businesses to have a powerful online presence. This widens your audience reach and helps you increase your sales.

You need to create a social media strategy that is innovative and shows your brand in the best light to attract your target audience. Seek out independent consultants who can offer low budget marketing strategies with high impact.

3.Maintain accurate records:

When a business is small, it is possible to do things easily by maintaining a mental checklist of things. But as your work and operations grow, you will need an organized way of maintaining business records.

It helps in invoicing customers accurately which increases the chances of getting paid on time. Also, having well-organized records will make the filing process effortless during tax season.

4.Keep track of your finances:

For every small business owner, it is crucial to keep a check on their expenses in order to avoid a cash crunch. When you start factoring in every cost, it will help you make better financial decisions.

Additionally, having a reality check about your expenses and earning will keep you prepared for any difficult situation that will affect the cash flow.

5.Be clear about expectations:

Small businesses often fail due to lack of communication and coordination. This brings to light the need for setting expectations so everyone knows what they are supposed to deliver.

When business owners define everyone’s roles and responsibilities clearly, it leaves no room for confusion about who is supposed to handle what part of the work.

6.Invest in growing your team’s knowledge:

Employers who nurture their employees always benefit from an employee base that grows loyal towards them. This happens because employees feel valued when their employers invest in their career growth.

Provide your employees L&D opportunities to help them advance in their career and learn new skills. It will help your business to have employees who are at par with the new technologies and trends.

7.Encourage team feedback & participation:

Business owners often miss out details because they are overlooking a lot of important work and dealing with clients. In such situations, it helps to seek employee feedback to get their opinion on things.

Encouraging employee participation helps you understand any inconsistencies in your business systems. It also keeps them engaged and helps them feel inclusive in the work environment.

Conclusion:

Business owners must always try to be a leader rather than a boss to ensure employees feel comfortable opening up to you about the challenges they are facing at work. This allows you to build deeper connections with them and support them. This will ultimately lead to higher employee satisfaction which will significantly enhance their productivity.

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Environment

Lao PDR Signs Agreement to Protect Forests and Reduce Carbon Emissions

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The Lao PDR and the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) have signed an agreement to provide up to $42 million between now and 2025 to support the country’s efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). A ceremony today marked the launch of this forest- and climate-focused program.

Under this Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA), the World Bank commits to making payments to the Lao PDR for verified reductions of up to 8.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in northern Laos. The program aims to address the drivers and underlying causes of forest loss in six provinces (Houaphanh, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay, Luang Namtha, Bokeo, Xayabouly), encompassing a third of national territory. The region has been responsible for 40 percent of nationwide deforestation and forest degradation between 2005–15.

“We are committed to improving land use, strengthening forest protection, and enhancing forest restoration in line with the 2019 Forestry Law, the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2021-2025, and the National Green Growth Strategy to 2030,” said Thongpath Vongmany, Vice Minister for Agriculture and Forestry. “This is an opportunity to drive economic growth and resilience with more sustainable rural land use based on participatory and integrated planning.”

The geography of northern Laos is distinct, with over 20 ethnic groups calling this mountainous region their home. Limited accessibility and infrastructure in these remote areas play a role in preserving cultural heritage, but also pose challenges for job opportunities, transportation, access to social services, and the promotion of industry and trade.

Working across sectors, the Lao emissions reduction program, entitled “Promoting REDD+ through Governance, Forest Landscapes and Livelihoods — Northern Laos”, supports better forest and land governance, land-use planning, livelihoods development, and sustainable ecosystem management to reduce pressure on forests. It also includes a benefit-sharing arrangement that will encourage communities and other stakeholders to participate.

“This innovative financing is part of World Bank support that helps the Lao PDR manage its landscapes for greener and more resilient economic growth and recovery,” said Nicola Pontara, World Bank Country Manager for Lao PDR. “This results-based funding will reduce emissions while benefiting people who depend on sustainable forests for their livelihoods.”

Lao PDR is the third country in Asia, after Indonesia and Vietnam, and the ninth country worldwide to sign an ERPA with the World Bank’s FCPF. The total value of these nine agreements, which have also been made with Chile, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Mozambique, is nearly half a billion US dollars. Several other countries are expected to finalize their emission reductions programs and follow suit with ERPA signings early this year.

The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility is a global partnership of governments, businesses, civil society, and indigenous peoples’ organizations focused on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, forest carbon stock conservation, sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries — activities commonly referred to as REDD+. Launched in 2008, the FCPF has worked with 47 developing countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, along with 17 donors who have made contributions and commitments totaling $1.3 billion.

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