ROME: Italy’s foreign ministry said it had summoned the French Ambassador today, amid a diplomatic spat between the two countries over the handling of a migrant crisis.
On Tuesday French President Emmanuel Macron accused Italy of “irresponsibility” after the Rome government refused to open its ports to an NGO ship carrying hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean.
Relevant pieces published earlier:
i) Amid Italy-Malta standoff, Spain has offered to receive the aid group SOS Mediterranee’s vesselAquariuscarrying 629 migrants onboard (among them 100 children pregnant women and many suffering from hypothermia). While Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat accused Italy of violating international norms governing sea rescues, Italy held that Malta should accept the Aquarius because Malta was the safest, closest port to the ship. Spain’s new Socialist prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, ordered authorities in Valencia to open the port, saying “it’s our duty to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a secure port for these people.” It is not clear whether Aquarius could travel safely to Valencia, 1400 km away, carrying so many people. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff – who happens to be onboard the Aquarius – commenting on the crisis informed that the migrants were stable but the food and water would run out by night. According to MSF staff, some of the passengers are suffering from water in their lungs as well as chemical burns (caused when gasoline mixes with sea water). Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said: “Saving lives is a duty, but transforming Italy into an enormous refugee camp isn’t.” He tweeted: #Chiudiamoiporti. (Published on 11th June 2018)
ii) Italy and Malta faced international pressure today to come to the aid of a rescue ship carrying hundreds of migrants which is stranded in the Mediterranean as the two countries refuse to allow them ashore. A total of 629 people, including pregnant women and scores of children, were saved by SOS Mediterranee Saturday and are stuck aboard the French charity’s ship Aquarius, which is currently between Malta and Sicily. But Malta and Italy – where the new populist government has vowed a tough new stance on immigration – have both refused to take the migrants in. The UN called on the two nations to immediately allow the boat to dock, describing the situation as “an urgent humanitarian imperative” and suggesting the hundreds of board “are running out of provisions.” The EU and the bloc’s biggest member state Germany Europe made similar pleas. “The priority of both the Italian and Maltese authorities should be ensuring these people receive the care they need,” European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters, calling for a “swift resolution”. Germany called on “all parties to fulfill their humanitarian responsibility”. Italy’s refusal to take in the migrants is the first evidence of the new government’s hardened stance on immigration. (Published on 11th June 2018)
Pakistan improves mechanism to handle AML/CFT issues
ISLAMABAD: The Finance Minister, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar said Friday that the Finance Ministry has improved institutional mechanisms for handling Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) issues.
Chairing a meeting here Friday in the wake of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary meeting in Paris, the Minister expressed Pakistan’s strong resolve to keep up efforts on the counter financing of terrorism.
Foreign Minister, Abdullah Hussain Haroon and National Security Advisor Lt. General (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua, were also present on the occasion.
She added that the coordination between Central Bank, banking institutions, and law enforcement agencies have also been strengthened to curb money laundering and terror financing.
She invited participants to share their views and suggestions to further strengthen measures and put in place a strong implementation mechanism in this regard.
The participants while underscoring Pakistan’s resolve to further strengthen the AML/CFT regime emphasized and agreed on the formation of a high-level implementation committee to regularly oversee progress made by different agencies and departments engaged in the drive to counter financing of terrorism.
The meeting stressed inter-governmental cooperation as well as inter-agencies coordination for better results. The meeting was also briefed on the preparations by Pakistan’s delegation scheduled to attend FATF meeting at Paris.
Tax Amnesty Scheme receives good response
ISLAMABAD: Tax Amnesty Scheme was receiving encouraging results and its success would help to resolve the current account deficit and balance of payment issues.
This was stated by a spokesman of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Dr. Muhammad Iqbal on Friday while addressing a press conference here at FBR House. Muhammad Iqbal said the number of beneficiaries under tax amnesty scheme was increasing everyday.
He said under the scheme, the people could benefit by declaring their domestic and foreign assets as they would have to pay only a nominal tax under the scheme. To a question, the spokesman said the last date of the scheme was June 30 and he did not have any authority to extend the last date of the scheme.
Iqbal said keeping in view the benefits of tax amnesty scheme, the caretaker set up was also fully committed to ensuring the success of the scheme. He said government, as well as public representatives, were not eligible to take benefit from the scheme while people involved in different crimes were also not allowed to benefit from it.
Senate body discusses tax relief in FATA, Malakand
ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs on Friday discussed tax exemption for commercial enterprises in Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA), Provincially Administered Area (PATA) and Malakand Division.
The meeting of the committee was held here today under the chairmanship of Senator Farooq H. Naek and was attended by Senators Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Muhammad Akram, Mohsin Aziz, Dilawar Khan, Khanzada Khan, Aurangzeb Khan, senior officers from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Ministry of Finance.
Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Senator Fida Muhammad, and Senator Shamim Afridi were specially invited for their valuable input regarding issues that came under discussion with regards to the people of FATA, PATA and Malakand Division.
The meeting commenced with consideration of a point of public importance raised by Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi regarding utilization of Zakat Funds in the education and health sectors and details that revealed disbursement of those funds to FATA. However, the matter was deferred since secretary ministry of Finance was not present. The Committee took strict notice of this matter.
While discussing the issue of exemption to pensioners from filing tax returns on the public petition of Major (R) Ghulam Abbas, the Committee questioned Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, Member IR Policy FBR of the circumstances under which pensioners are taxed. He revealed that under FBR rules, pensioners are not taxed unless they possess taxable movable or immovable property; or if they accept other employment after retirement.
He further stated that the petitioner was not included in the tax list. Chairman Committee, expressed satisfaction and disposed off the petition; issuing directions for the petitioner to be informed of the decision.