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Economy

New PM and reforms Agenda

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Pakistan needs all-out fundamental structural reforms in all areas of governance. However, the most important and immediate is political stability — the main challenge faced by the 23rd Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif.

Before taking the oath, after elected with 174 votes of members of the National Assembly, he made a number of pledges, reported amongst others by Associated Press of Pakistan. These measures were more in the nature of fire-fighting than fundamental structural reforms. In this article, an attempt is made to highlight some key areas requiring immediate attention.

The best way to bring about transparency in public finance and uproot financial crimes is establishment of a central anti-crime agency as highlighted in Uprooting corruption: Lessons from China, Global Village Space, May 12, 2021. Political parties must get rid of tax evaders and those living beyond means in their ranks and files.

Parties should also get rid of cultism—one man controlling the entire party. Once elected as the Prime Minister he/she should not head the party. So far no political party is adhering to the basic norm of democracy that is separation of party control and running state affairs. The party should make the government accountable.

In utter violation of the Constitution, no party is holding elections as elsewhere in the world where bona fide democracy exists. This is the main area where we need to focus before talking of economic revival. Authoritarianism is apparent in our political culture.

No one should be indispensible. Individuals come and go—what matters is welfare of masses, effective functioning of institutions and enforcement of rule of law. Democratisation of political parties, accountability of all and supremacy of the Constitution alone can strengthen democracy—this is also necessary to check external institutional influence and control of party by those having money power.

It is time to reform all institutions and ensure economic progress of Pakistan for which a detailed roadmap is given in Friend for all seasons, Narratives, May 8, 2021 explaining what we can learn from our most trusted friend China while celebrating 70 years of cherished relations and the importance of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The recent article by Shakeel Ahmad Ramay, Fixing the economy and CPEC, The News, April 11, 2022, gives many pragmatic solutions for fixing the economy as well as CPEC and the following paragraph is worth quoting:

“In the conclusion, ruling elite, new government and parties will have to work on four areas, which is pre-requisite to make the CPEC cooperation a success. First, the ruling elite will have to put the house in order and political elite will have to come of out mentality of self-greatness. Second, government will have to devise SEZs policy and cooperate agriculture policy immediately.

Third, there should be no political games or point scoring to present itself champion of China-Pakistan brotherhood. As China does not care about parties or individuals, China only cares about State of Pakistan and People of Pakistan. Especially PMLN and PPPP will have to learn this and they must avoid self-projection on this front”.

The salient points for consideration of all political parties and national debate to evolve National Reforms Agenda, beyond party affiliations, before next elections can be:

  1. Creating new province — South Punjab Province — for which constitutional amendment bill is already lying in National Assembly, filed on March 24, 2022.
  2. Making Karachi federal territory to ensure that it gets due funds and best administration.
  3. Carrying out fundamental reforms in the justice system and in administrative/governance apparatuses to eliminate the causes of litigation. Ensuring efficacy and accountability of all institutions.
  4. Revamping of education system to end ignorance and illiteracy, and make people skilful rather than distributing paper degrees and diplomas. Focal point of education should be creating a society that is tolerant, disciplined, courteous and knowledgeable — capable of making innovations and technological advances.
  5. Holding direct elections of Senate and giving it powers to vote on Money Bill.
  6. Decentralising political, administrative and financial responsibility to local governments. Education, health, housing, local policing, and all civil amenities should be provided through elected representatives of the local governments that should have powers to raise taxes for these purposes.
  7. Digitizing, enforcing transparency and accountability in the governments at all levels to enable citizens to understand and participating fully in the process of national integration.
  8. Reforming civil services, ensuring fair deal for employees with effective and across the board accountability.
  9. Eliminating terrorism, sectarianism, bigotry, intolerance and violence through enforcement of law and by taking concrete measures to ensure social development of society based on higher values of life and humanity.
  10. Implementing strict laws to curb terrorist financing, money laundering, plundering of national wealth, political write off of loans and leakages in revenue collections.
  11. Devising long-term and short-term strategies to break the shackles of debt-trap, making Pakistan a self-reliant economy and ensuring social security and economic justice for all citizens.
  12. Reforming and strengthening of management of public finances. Transparent public sector spending coupled with efficient performance.
  13. Controlling wasteful, non-developmental expenditure.
  14. Reforming of technical, institutional and organizational dimensions of public finance.
  15. Ensuring good governance and corruption free administrative and judicial structures.
  16. Federal government should only collect income tax and customs duty. Harmonised sales tax on goods and services should be in the provincial domain. All federal, provincial and local taxes should be collected through one agency (National Tax Authority) which should also disburse pensions and other social security payments to all citizens.
  17. Reducing excessive marginal tax rates making them compatible with other tax jurisdictions of the world, especially in Asia. Substantially reducing corporate rate of tax. Eliminating onerous taxes and other regulations for corporate sector that are main stumbling blocks for domestic and foreign investments. Simplifying tax laws and procedures.

Dr Nadeem Ul Haque, Vice Chancellor of PIDE, in How Pakistan Became an Asian Tiger by 2050 has offered an optimistic, futuristic and realistic perspective for a prosperous Pakistan. Unfortunately, this work has yet not been given the attention it deserves by policymakers, legislators, academicians, businessmen and administrators.

Our politicians, administrators, intelligentsia and entrepreneurs keep on complaining about multiple and complex challenges faced by Pakistan but seldom strive to implement even the available and workable solutions by local experts. We want IMF, World Bank and others to reform us. This is our real tragedy and dilemma.

We must appreciate and implement the indigenous research-based solutions after debate in public and in national and provincial assemblies and Senate. The Standing and Special Committees should invite (through virtual platforms if needed) experts for assisting and there should be live telecast so that public learns the process of legislation for beneficial reforms.

Via BR

Business

Saudi Arabia Raises $2.81 Billion Through December Sukuk Issuance

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The National Debt Management Center (NDMC) of Saudi Arabia successfully concluded its December riyal-denominated sukuk issuance, raising a total of $2.81 billion (SR10.53 billion). This marks a significant increase compared to previous months, showcasing investor confidence in the Kingdom’s economy and its financial management.

Strong Investor Appetite:

The December sukuk issuance attracted strong investor appetite, with total bids reaching $3.77 billion (SR14.12 billion). This exceeded the initial target amount, indicating confidence in the Saudi Arabian government’s financial stability and prospects.

Issuance Structure:

The Sukuk issuance was divided into two tranches:

  • First Tranche: This tranche, valued at $1.39 billion (SR5.27 billion), matures in 2030.
  • Second Tranche: This larger tranche, valued at $1.42 billion (SR7.97 billion), matures in 2035.

Positive Sign for the Economy:

The successful sukuk issuance is seen as a positive sign for the Saudi Arabian economy. It demonstrates the Kingdom’s continued access to international capital markets and its ability to raise funds at competitive rates. This is particularly important as the country implements its Vision 2030 economic diversification plan.

“Saudi Arabia raised $2.81 billion through its December sukuk issuance.The issuance attracted strong investor appetite, exceeding the initial target amount.The success of the issuance is seen as a positive sign for the Saudi Arabian economy.The NDMC reiterated its commitment to sound financial management and diversifying its funding sources.”

NDMC Statement:

Commenting on the issuance, the NDMC stated: “The strong investor participation in the December sukuk issuance reflects confidence in the Kingdom’s economy and its commitment to sound financial management. We are committed to diversifying our funding sources and managing our debt portfolio responsibly to support the Kingdom’s continued economic growth and development.”

Looking Ahead:

The successful December sukuk issuance is expected to further boost investor confidence in Saudi Arabia and position the country well for future fundraising activities. With its ambitious economic diversification plans and strong financial management, the Kingdom is well-placed to weather any potential economic challenges in the years to come.

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Economy

Immigration Crackdown Must Not Harm Economy, Warns Jeremy Hunt

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Overview

Jeremy Hunt, the former UK Health Secretary, has warned that a crackdown on immigration must not damage the economy. Hunt stated that the UK must prioritize the economy while ensuring that immigration policies are not too restrictive. He emphasized that the country needs to balance controlling immigration and keeping the economy healthy.

Hunt’s warning comes amidst ongoing debates about the impact of immigration on the UK economy. Some argue that immigration can have negative effects on wages and employment opportunities for UK citizens. Others point out that immigrants often contribute to economic growth and fill labour shortages in certain industries. Hunt’s statement highlights the need for policymakers to carefully consider the potential impact of immigration policies on the economy.

Key Takeaways

  • Jeremy Hunt warns that immigration crackdown must not damage the economy.
  • The UK needs to balance controlling immigration with keeping the economy healthy.
  • Policymakers must carefully consider the potential impact of immigration policies on the economy.

Jeremy Hunt’s Warning

Context and Background

Jeremy Hunt, the then-Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, warned in 2018 that any immigration crackdown should not damage the economy. He argued that the UK’s economy had benefited greatly from immigration, and that any changes to immigration policy should be carefully considered to avoid negative economic consequences.

Specific Points Raised

Hunt’s warning came as the UK government was considering changes to its immigration policy in the wake of the Brexit vote. He pointed out that many sectors of the UK economy, such as healthcare and hospitality, rely heavily on immigrant workers. He also warned that a crackdown on immigration could lead to labor shortages and harm the UK’s ability to compete in the global economy.

Hunt’s warning was echoed by many business leaders and economists, who argued that a hard-line approach to immigration could be disastrous for the UK’s economy. They pointed out that immigration had helped to fuel economic growth in the UK, and that any changes to immigration policy should be made with this in mind.

Overall, Hunt’s warning was a reminder that immigration policy is a complex issue that requires careful consideration. While there are certainly valid concerns about immigration, it is important to ensure that any changes to the policy are made in a way that does not harm the UK’s economy or its ability to compete on the global stage.

Potential Impact on the Economy

Jeremy Hunt, the UK Health Secretary, has warned that any immigration crackdown must not damage the economy. Hunt believes that the country needs to attract the best talent from around the world to maintain a strong economy. The UK has been heavily reliant on foreign workers to fill low-skilled jobs, which has helped to keep wages low. However, there is a risk that a crackdown on immigration could lead to labour shortages, which could drive up wages and reduce economic growth.

Immediate Effects

One immediate effect of an immigration crackdown could be a shortage of workers in key industries such as healthcare, hospitality, and agriculture. This could lead to higher wages for workers in these industries, pushing inflation and reducing economic growth. In addition, businesses that rely on foreign workers may struggle to find enough staff, which could lead to reduced productivity and lower profits.

Long-Term Consequences

In the long term, an immigration crackdown could have a significant impact on the UK economy. The country has a rapidly ageing population, which means that there will be fewer workers to support an increasing number of retirees. This could lead to a shortage of workers in key industries, which could drive up wages and reduce economic growth. In addition, a reduction in immigration could lead to a decline in innovation and entrepreneurship, which could harm the country’s long-term economic prospects.

Overall, it is clear that any immigration crackdown must be carefully managed to avoid damaging the UK economy. While there are certainly concerns about the impact of immigration on wages and public services, it is important to remember that immigrants have made an enormous contribution to the country’s economic success. By attracting the best talent from around the world, the UK can continue to thrive and prosper in the years ahead.

Balancing Immigration and Economy

The UK government has been struggling to strike a balance between immigration and the economy. In 2018, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned that any immigration crackdown must not damage the economy. The government has been trying to find a way to balance the need for immigration with the need to protect the economy.

Proposed Solutions

One solution that has been proposed is to create a points-based immigration system. In this system, immigrants would be awarded points based on their skills, qualifications, and experience. The more points an immigrant has, the more likely they are to be granted a visa. This system would ensure that only the most skilled and qualified immigrants are allowed into the country, which would benefit the economy.

Another solution is to invest in education and training programs for UK citizens. By providing UK citizens with the skills and qualifications needed to fill the gaps in the job market, the government can reduce the need for immigration. This would also benefit the economy by reducing unemployment and increasing productivity.

Challenges Ahead

Despite these proposed solutions, there are still challenges ahead. One challenge is the need to balance the economic benefits of immigration with the social and cultural impacts. Many people are concerned about the impact of immigration on their local communities and the strain it can put on public services.

Another challenge is the need to address the issue of illegal immigration. Illegal immigration can have a negative impact on the economy, as it can lead to exploitation and unfair competition in the job market. The government needs to find a way to tackle illegal immigration without damaging the economy.

In conclusion, finding a balance between immigration and the economy is a complex issue that requires careful consideration and planning. The UK government needs to continue to explore solutions that benefit both the economy and society as a whole.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the potential economic impacts of an immigration crackdown?

An immigration crackdown can have both positive and negative economic impacts. On one hand, reducing immigration can lead to increased job opportunities and higher wages for native workers. On the other hand, a reduction in immigrant workers can lead to labor shortages and lower economic growth. Additionally, immigrants often contribute to the economy by paying taxes and starting businesses.

What measures can be taken to balance immigration control with economic growth?

Balancing immigration control with economic growth requires a careful approach. One potential measure is to implement a points-based immigration system that prioritizes highly-skilled workers who can contribute to the economy. Another measure is to invest in education and training programs to upskill native workers and fill labor shortages. Additionally, policies that promote entrepreneurship and small business growth can help stimulate economic growth.

How has immigration historically affected the UK economy?

Historically, immigration has had both positive and negative effects on the UK economy. Immigrants have contributed to economic growth by filling labor shortages, starting businesses, and paying taxes. However, some have argued that immigration has put pressure on public services and lowered wages for native workers.

What is the current state of UK immigration policy?

The current state of UK immigration policy is in flux due to Brexit and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the UK government introduced a new points-based immigration system that prioritizes highly-skilled workers and limits low-skilled immigration. Additionally, the government has implemented strict travel restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19.

What are the key factors driving immigration policy in the UK?

The key factors driving immigration policy in the UK include economic concerns, national security concerns, and political considerations. The government must balance the need for economic growth with concerns about the impact of immigration on native workers. Additionally, the government must consider national security concerns related to border control and terrorism.

What is the role of the government in managing immigration and the economy?

The role of the government in managing immigration and the economy is to balance the need for economic growth with concerns about the impact of immigration on native workers. The government must also consider national security concerns related to border control and terrorism. Additionally, the government must work to promote policies that stimulate economic growth and create job opportunities for native workers.

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AI

AI in the World of Discord: Bridging Virtual Communities

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an artist s illustration of artificial intelligence ai this image depicts the process used by text to image diffusion models it was created by linus zoll as part of the visualising ai

In the vast expanse of the internet, virtual communities thrive. From gaming clans to hobbyist forums, these digital spaces connect people across geographical boundaries. At the heart of these communities lies Discord, a platform that has revolutionized online communication.

1. The Rise of Discord: A Brief Overview

Discord, founded in 2015, started as a voice chat app for gamers. However, it quickly evolved into a multifaceted platform that caters to diverse interests. With customizable servers, text channels, voice channels, and bots, Discord became the go-to hub for communities of all kinds.

2. AI-Powered Bots: Enhancing User Experience

Discord bots, powered by artificial intelligence, are pivotal in shaping the user experience. These bots automate tasks, moderate discussions, and even provide entertainment. Let’s explore some popular AI bots:

a. MEE6

MEE6 is a versatile bot that assists server administrators. It can track user activity, assign roles, and even generate custom commands. Its AI-driven moderation features keep conversations civil and respectful.

b. Dyno

Dyno is another powerful bot that automates administrative tasks. From managing invites to creating custom commands, Dyno streamlines server management. Its AI learns from user behavior, adapting its responses over time.

c. Dank Memer

Dank Memer, a humorous bot, adds a touch of levity to Discord servers. It generates memes, quizzes, and even currency systems. Its AI algorithms ensure fresh content and witty responses.

3. AI Worldbuilding: Crafting Immersive Environments

Discord servers often host role-playing games (RPGs) or collaborative storytelling. AI-driven tools aid in worldbuilding:

a. AIDungeon

AIDungeon, powered by OpenAI’s GPT models, generates dynamic narratives. Players input prompts, and the AI constructs intricate storylines. Whether exploring fantasy realms or solving mysteries, AIDungeon sparks creativity.

b. World Anvil

World Anvil assists creators in building detailed fictional worlds. From maps to character profiles, this AI-enhanced platform organizes lore and encourages collaborative storytelling.

4. Challenges and Ethical Considerations

As AI infiltrates Discord, ethical questions arise:

a. Privacy Concerns

How much data should bots collect? Striking a balance between functionality and privacy is crucial.

b. Bias and Fairness

AI algorithms can inadvertently perpetuate biases. Developers must ensure fairness and inclusivity.

c. Authenticity

Can AI-generated content truly replicate human creativity? Striving for authenticity remains a challenge.

5. Conclusion: The Future of AI-Driven Communities

Discord continues to evolve, and AI plays an integral role. As technology advances, we’ll witness even more innovative applications. Whether it’s organizing events, moderating discussions, or crafting fictional worlds, AI is shaping the very fabric of virtual communities.

So next time you join a Discord server, remember that behind the scenes, AI bots are working tirelessly to enhance your experience. The AI world and the Discord universe converge, creating a dynamic space where pixels meet possibilities.

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