South Asia

Published: Wednesday 15 August 2007

afghan debt relief Afghanistan was recently granted interim debt relief meant for impoverished countries with heavy debt. Under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, Afghanistan will now have its net public and private debt payments cut by 51 per cent so that more funds can be utilised for healthcare, education and other essential services, according to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Afghanistan's total overseas debt stood at US $11.9 billion last year. The US, Russia and Germany have also offered further debt relief to Afghanistan under the IMF. Russia and Germany will reduce 92 per cent of Afghanistan's debt with Washington forgiving 100 per cent of all debt payments, totalling around US $1 billion.

coal imports banned On July 15, Bangladesh directed its Importers and Exporters Federation to import coal from Indonesia or China.The move comes after a ban on coal imports to the country from two Indian states--Meghalaya and Assam--due to high sulphur content that may cause environmental and health hazards. This is not the first time that such an embargo has been imposed on Indian coal. Earlier, Bangladesh had withdrawn the order after pressure from its importers since Indian coal was cheap compared to coal from Indonesia and China. Indian exporters have been badly hit by the ban with the country losing Rs 200 crore in foreign exchange.

pak flood victims Political parties in Pakistan have demanded the government use the money kept aside to buy the land for Kalabagh Dam for rehabilitation of flood victims in the country's Balochistan and Sindh districts. The leaders of Awami Tehrik claimed the government should spend the Rs 40 billion set aside for relief. Meanwhile, reports claim flooding due to the cyclone Yemyin that came last month has affected 900,000 people in the districts, with 200,000 left homeless. Flood waters in Sindh province also destroyed dams, homes, and agricultural land.

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