Indian Exim Bank to loan funds for Gulhifalhu Port development
Maldives Times | 13th February
Maldives government has revealed that an expenditure of US$ 300 million will be incurred to develop the Gulhifalhu port, and that the funds will be arranged via the Indian Exim Bank in the form of a loan.
During a press conference held by the Economic Ministry to brief the media on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail in an answer to a question revealed that the surveys and research necessary to develop the Gulhifalhu port are currently underway. The practical work of the project will be implemented during the final quarter of the year, said the minister.

Taliban agree on long-time violence reduction
Afghanistan Times | 11th February
Taliban and the US negotiators have completed peace negotiations, said sources familiar with the talks, but the US side seems not to be ready for signing a deal.
The sources speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the insurgents had agreed to reduce the violence for a long time.
Taliban and US representative for Afghan peace, Zalmay Khan have been busy in the 10th round of negotiations began in September 2018 in Qatar.

Hafiz Saeed sentenced to 11 years in jail
The Nation | 13th February
An anti-terrorism court in Lahore sentenced Hafiz Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba and chief of the banned Jamaatud Dawa, to 11 years in jail in two terror financing cases. However, sentences of both the cases will run concurrently.
A court official told reporters that Saeed was sentenced in two terror financing cases registered against him in Lahore and Gujranwala cities on the application of the Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department. The court sentenced Saeed to five-and-a-half years and imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 in each case.
Earlier, Saeed and his close aides were indicted by the Lahore ATC in the terror financing cases on December 11.




Germany, Norway Offer to Facilitate Inter-Afghan Peace Dialogue: NATO Chief
Daily Outlook Afghanistan | 13th February

Germany and Norway have offered to facilitate inter-Afghan peace dialogue, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
“If we now see progress, if we now are able to launch inter-Afghan dialogue, then two NATO Allies have offered to facilitate that: Norway and Germany,” Stoltenberg said before the meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.
Amid ongoing peace talks between the United States and the Taliban, Stoltenberg said that NATO would welcome any step that can lead to reduction in violence in Afghanistan.

Karzai hopes US-Taliban talks prompt lasting peace
Afghanistan Times | 12th February

Former President, Hamid Karzai welcomed progresses made lately in peace negotiations between Taliban militants the US envoy for Afghanistan peace, Zalmay Khalilzad, hoping the talks get results to help peace in Afghanistan.
“The former president welcomes the significant progress in peace talks between the United States and Taliban’s Islamic Movement and hope that we the people of Afghanistan gain soon nationwide and sustainable peace and stability in our beloved country,” Karzai’s office said in a statement.

Trump conditionally approves peace deal with Taliban
The Khaama Press | 12th February

The U.S. President Donald Trump has conditionally approved a peace deal with the Taliban group, more than a year after Washington entered into direct peace negotiations with the Taliban political leaders.
Afghan and American officials privy of the development have told The New York Times that deal will only be signed if Taliban prove their commitment to a durable reduction of violence.
The officials further added that Taliban group will have to prove its commitment over a test period of about seven days later this month in a bid to pave the way for the signing of the deal.



$42m ADB grant for transport connectivity
Bangladesh Post | 10th February

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved $42 million in project readiness financing (PRF) for a facility to help improve transport connectivity and promote multimodal transport in Bangladesh, reports BSS.
The PRF will support project preparation in areas including road and rail connectivity of ports, land ports, and border crossing points; road and rail connectivity of intermodal transshipment facilities, including inland container depots and inland container terminals. It will also support strengthening of corridors, including bypasses, connected roads, and alternate routes; and sector-wide improvements, including safety, traffic management, and maintenance, said an ADB press release.

Saudi Arabia mounts pressure on Bangladesh to take back 42,000 Rohingya
Prothom Alo | 10th February

The Saudi government is mounting pressure on Bangladesh to take back 42,000 Rohingya who have Bangladeshi passports.
The issue also came up for discussion at the recent conference of Bangladesh ambassadors in Abu Dhabi.
Diplomatic sources of both the countries hinted that the matter may be discussed at the joint commission meeting scheduled to be held in Dhaka on 12 February.
Saudi Arabia thinks these Rohingya with Bangladeshi passports travelled by air to the Middle Eastern country, diplomatic sources in Dhaka and Saudi Arabia have said.

100pc electricity coverage by Dec
Bangladesh Post | 11th February

The country is set to declare achieving 100 percent (pc) electricity supply to its population by end of this year, already having reached 96 pc.
Besides, per capita electricity consumption has also increased close to a record 131 percent, a power division official said.
Such an incredible achievement has been possible by the policy focus of the government to substantially increase electricity users especially reaching 2.54 crore new users since the government took power (2009).



 Bhutan Seeks To Export Its ‘High Value, Low Volume’ Organic Products Overseas
Daily Bhutan | 12th February

During the 41st session of the AM with PM on 11 February, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, along with representatives from the Gross National Happiness Commission met with the National Organic Flagship Coordination Unit (NOFP-CU) and other implementing departments and agencies (under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests).

A press release from the Department of Agriculture states that crop plantation work in different parts of the country was underway and certification processes had begun, in collaboration with Bhutan’s Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA).

One-stop service to fast track industry establishment 
Kuensel | 10th February

In an effort to fast track establishment of industrial parks, economic affairs ministry would set up a one-stop service within a month deploying additional human resources.
Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma said this in response to Shompangkha Member of Parliament (MP) Tek Bahadur Rai’s question on the status and timeline for completion of the industrial estates during the question-answer session at the National Assembly on February 7.
The MP also asked if it was possible for the ministry to expedite the completion of industrial parks.

NA endorses Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill
Kuensel | 11th February

The National Assembly (NA) endorsed the recommendation on the supplementary budget appropriation bill for this financial year proposed by Economic and Finance Committee.

To cover the expenditure incurred by the salary revision and allowances for the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) and JSW school of Law, and revision of stipend and subsidy to Stated-Owned Enterprises (SoEs), the government initially tabled a supplementary budget of Nu 898.277 million.



EU launches project to support counter terrorism efforts in Maldives
Maldives Times | 10th February

The European Union (EU) launched a new project Sunday to support counter-terrorism efforts and prevent violent extremism in the Maldives, under the EUR 2.5 million (MVR 43 million) allocated for EU-Maldives security cooperation.
According to the foreign ministry, the new counter-terrorism project will be implemented jointly with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and local stakeholders.

AG Riffath meets Indian counterpart, discuss legal sector reform
The Edition | 10th February

Attorney General Ibrahim Riffath, met with his Indian counterpart Attorney General K. K. Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
During the meeting, discussions revolved around the Maldivian government's effort to reform the legal sector and establishing training opportunities for Maldivian AG Office staff.
The Maldivian delegation was joined by Judicial Service Commission President Hisaan Hussain and Vice President Masthoor Husnee.




 President confident peace is achievable
Myanmar Times | 13th February

President U Win Myint said sustainable peace can be achieved if ethnic people re-learn how to live together in unity like they did 73 years ago. 
“If all the national races work together united like they did in the pre-independence days 73 years ago, I believe that sustainable peace will be achieved throughout the country in the very near future,” he said in a message read by Vice President U Myint Swe during the National Union Day event in Nay Pyi Taw.  

With Virus-Hit China ‘Closed for Business’, Myanmar Exporters Feel the Pinch
The Irrawaddy | 11th February

Trade at Myanmar’s largest border gate with China, in Shan State’s Muse, has dried up since late January as the coronavirus has spread across the northern neighbor from its epicenter in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, claiming over a thousand lives so far.
In the past two weeks, Myanmar’s trade sector has lost several hundred million dollars, with the impact mostly being felt by traders, farmers, producers and workers as the country’s largest trading partner avoids doing business amid growing concern over the spread of the deadly outbreak.

Nationalists decry amendment effort
Myanmar Times | 11th February

Hundreds of nationalists marched through downtown Yangon to oppose amendments to the 2008 Constitution, particularly a provision that bans citizens who marry foreigners from becoming president or vice president.
“People who want to amend section 59(f) are more dangerous than coronavirus,” said U Win Ko Ko Lat, one of the protesters, referring to the epidemic that has killed over 900 people in China.

Yangon Govt Leases $750M of Land to Malaysian Conglomerate
The Irrawaddy | 10th February

BDS Smart City Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of Berjaya Land Berhad (BLand), one of the largest conglomerates in Malaysia, signed a concession agreement worth nearly $750 million on Friday with the Yangon regional government to develop a housing and mixed-use project in Yangon city, Myanmar’s commercial hub.
According to a press release, BDS will undertake the project on 74 hectares of land worth an estimated $746.08 million in Yangon’s Dagon Seikkan Township. The project will include affordable housing, medium-range apartments, high-end condominiums, commercial units, hospitals, schools and community centers.



Dahal inaugurates India-built school building
The Himalayan Times | 11th February

Former prime minister and Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Co-chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal inaugurated a new building of Aiselubhume Secondary School in Kispang, Nuwakot.
The Government of India had built the school building as part of its post-earthquake reconstruction in Nepal.
Minister of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barsaman Pun also attended the inaugural ceremony. First Secretary Shuchita Kishore represented the Embassy of India in Kathmandu.

Aiselubhume Secondary School was established in 1990. The school is affiliated to National Examination Board and is providing quality education to nearly 637 students.
Government revises down budget size for 2019-20 by Rs 147bn
The Himalayan Times | 12th February

Owing to the failure of the government to boost capital spending, the Ministry of Finance has revised downward the budget size for the ongoing fiscal year by Rs 147 billion.
Unveiling the mid-term review report of the budget for fiscal year 2019-20, Minister for Finance Yubaraj Khatiwada informed that the budget has been revised down to Rs 1.385 trillion with estimation that 90.4 per cent of the budget for this fiscal will be spent.
On May last year, the government had presented a federal budget of Rs 1.532 trillion for fiscal 2019-20.
Khatiwada has revised down the budget structure for the second consecutive year as budget spending has remained lethargic even this year. The government managed to spend merely Rs 422 billion or 27.6 per cent of the allocated budget for fiscal year 2019-20 in the first half.




 Govt to go to any extent for poor man’s relief: PM
The Nation | 11th February

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that his government will go to any extent to provide relief to the masses especially the poor and the salaried class.
Imran Khan said this while chairing an important meeting held here yesterday to discuss measures to ensure provision of essential commodities to the people at reduced rates across the country.
The PM said that the government cannot act as a silent spectator on the difficulties being faced by the poor people.
It was also decided that the decisions taken by the prime minister to provide relief to the common people will be announced after the cabinet meeting today.

Senate passes resolution backing virus-hit China
Dawn | 11th February

The Senate in its session unanimously passed a resolution expressing solidarity with and support for China in combating the novel coronavirus, as a bill regarding torture, custodial death and custodial sexual violence was presented, and the increasing number of polio cases discussed.
The resolution, read out by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Mushahid Hussain, stated that the upper house acclaims the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping who is leading a very successful operation to combat the virus.

PM approves Rs10b relief package for masses
The Nation | 12th February

The Federal Cabinet has approved Rs 10 billion relief package (Rs 2 billion per month) for a period of five months to the Utility Stores Corporation for the provision of edible items of daily use to the people at affordable rates across the country.
Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the federal cabinet here.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan while giving a briefing to media after the cabinet meeting, said this package will help in ensuring availability of flour, sugar, rice and pulses among other edible items at the USC outlets across the country at reasonable rates.




 U.S. FY 2021 budget requests $ 39.2 million to support Sri Lanka’s economic development
Colombo Page | 11th February

The United States Department of State’s FY 2021 budget requests a total of US$ 39.2 million under the Economic Support and Development Fund to support Sri Lankan government’s development programs.
The FY 2021 Budget requests US$ 8 million for Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD) program. Under the CWD program, the assistance will support efforts to safely and efficiently identify, remove, and neutralize remaining landmines and unexploded ordnance in contaminated areas in north and east Sri Lanka.

SL’s export sector out of sync with local and global developments
Daily Mirror | 12th February

Sri Lanka’s export sector is out of sync with local and global developments despite the country’s graduation to the upper middle income bracket, and successive governments have engaged in re-canvassing the country’s export targets rather than addressing overdue fundamental problems in the sector, a leading trade economist opined.
“One of the problems with Sri Lanka’s export sector right now is that it is totally out of sync with local developments as well as with global developments. Sri Lanka has transited from being a low income country to an upper middle income country, but our exports are stuck in low-cost, low-skilled and labour intensive sector. There’s a total incompatibility in it,” Research Director at Verité Research, Subhashini Abeysinghe told a forum organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in Colombo. 

Israel keen to assist Sri Lanka in modernization of agriculture, education
Colombo Page | 12th February

Israel has expressed readiness to provide its advanced technical capabilities to enhance bilateral relations with Sri Lanka, particularly in the areas of the economy.
Ron Malka, Israeli Ambassador to Sri Lanka Resident in New Delhi has pledged to support with modern technology for education, vocational training, transportation, and especially for modern agriculture considered vital for improving yield when he called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Wednesday at the Presidential Secretariat.

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