NAVTTC to train over 400 youth in FATA


ISLAMABAD (APP): Over 400 youth from Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) under Prime Minister's Youth Skill Development Programme would be trained in the third phase of training. Talking to APP here on Saturday, the National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) spokesperson said that the main purpose of these training is to enable the youth for the self-employment. She said that in the third phase of training, over 400 youth would get the vocational training in the different training centers of NAVTTC in FATA. NAVTTC is offering training including dress making, fashion designing, plumber, diploma in IT, HVACR, electrician, accounting book keeping and billing, civil surveyor and quantity surveyor. She further said that sports and other healthy activities might be arranged for the trainees to boost their morale. To a question, she said that under this programme, training was being imparted to the youth of Balochistan, FATA and far flung areas on priority.




NBP launchs new branch in Lakki city


LALKKI MARWAT(Staff Reporter): National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Area Manager Abdul Qadeer Barki inaugurated the new branch on olds kachery road near bus stand in Lakki city on Saturday. NBP Naurang branch manager Razaullah Khan, Serai Gambila branch manager Anwar Saleem, Titterkhel branch manager Abdul Hameed, Lakki main branch deputy manager Muhammad Haroon and notables of the urban locality also attended the inaugural ceremony. Barki cut the ribbon and inspected different portion of the bank branch. NBP Senior Vice President Syed Waseem Akhtar took keen interest to materialise the longstanding demand of the area people, especially businessmen, about opening a branch on bus stand. On the occasion, Barki said that the new branch would soon be provided with ATM. He said that people especially business community would have online banking system and other facilities at the branch. He said that the people’s trust and growing demand paved the way for setting up an additional branch in Lakki city.




Mexicans furious over fuel price hike


MEXICO CITY (AFP): Mexicans are bracing to kickstart the New Year on a sour note, with protests planned against the government's huge hike in gasoline prices. President Enrique Pena Nieto has promised that fuel prices will fall thanks to his landmark 2014 energy reform, which ended a seven-decade-old monopoly held by the state-run firm Pemex. The government plans to end subsidies and let the market dictate prices in March, but Mexicans will feel the pinch at the pump before they start falling. The finance ministry announced Tuesday that the price of gasoline would increase by as much as 20.1 percent to 0.88 dollars per liter on January 1, while diesel would rise by 16.5 percent to 0.83 dollars. The price ceiling will be adjusted daily from February 18, before letting supply and demand determine them in March. Around 100 protestors blocked a service station in the Pacific resort of Acapulco on Friday, while Jalisco authorities investigated reports that a drug gang threatened to set fire to service stations.

 A protest is planned in the capital on Sunday while Mexicans were urged on social media to block service stations on Monday. People were also encouraged to boycott fuel for three days.

Before the price announcement, fuel shortages had already angered Mexicans in several states. "The fuel price increase causes outrage. People are right: it's not fair. I support each family, I share their outrage and anger," Aristoteles Sandoval, the governor of western Jalisco state, wrote on Twitter.

Sandoval's criticism drew particular attention because he is a member of Pena Nieto's centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Furious opposition governors plan to meet with federal government officials next week to discuss the price hike. "We just had a security meeting (between governors and Pena Nieto) days ago and there was not one comment about this situation," said Mexico City's leftist Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera.

The protests are the latest headache for Pena Nieto, whose popularity has plummeted below 25 percent this year due to his government's failure to curb drug-related violence, disappointing economic growth and his unpopular decision to host Donald Trump before the anti-immigration Republican won the US presidential election.

Finance Minister Jose Antonio Meade defended the fuel price increase, saying it would not trigger more inflation and that eventually the "final price for consumers will be among the most competitive in the world." Mexican energy industry expert David Shields voiced doubts that the demonstrations will force the government to change its mind. "After such a blunt announcement, it's very hard for the government to back down because it has a very small margin. The country's fiscal situation is terrible and you can't keep subsidizing gasoline," Shields told AFP.

The fall in global oil prices in recent years has forced the government to cut its budget and slash spending at Pemex. And the peso has fallen to historic lows due to Trump's protectionist rhetoric against Mexico.

The liberalization of gasoline prices was supposed to begin in 2018, but the government decided to start it now. "An immediate drop in prices was an unreal expectation. We have seen a very strong depreciation of the peso," Shields said. In Mexico City, service station worker Maria de la Luz Lopez worried that the price increases could hurt her. "I'm afraid that to compensate for the increase, (customers) will no longer give us tips," said Lopez, who like many in her field does not earn a wage and depends on the generosity of drivers.




AJK's development budget enhanced to Rs21b


MIRPUR (APP): Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan has said that the federal government has increased development budget of AJK to Rs21 billion from Rs12 billion. While talking to journalists, Haider said PM Nawaz Sharif during his visit to Muzaffarabad on Thursday had in principle accepted a number of AJK government's demands, including forming a high level constitutional reform committee to suggest amendments in the Interim AJK Constitution Act 1974, increasing development and non-development budget to overcome financial crisis, declaring AJK part of CPEC, providing financial resources for the construction of 1450 kilometer long roads, construction of Lower Topa Muzaffarabad Expressway, upgradation of Muzaffarabad-Mansehra Road, construction of Shunter Nullah Tunnel under the CPEC and increase of AJK's share in federal taxes. He said PM Nawaz also directed Federal Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar for release of Rs2.20 billion to the AJK on account of its outstanding funds from Kashmir Council.

He said a meeting of ERRA had been summoned to start construction work on 692 educational institutions affected by the 2005 earthquake for which AJK needed Rs2 billion. He said Excise and Taxation Department and Department of Accountant General were being handed over to the AJK government to increase the revenue of the state.