Taliban Political Chief Warns US to Withdraw as Per Doha Agreement
Daily Outlook Afghanistan | 28th July
 
The Taliban’s political chief, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, warned that the group “would make the necessary decisions” if the US failed to leave Afghanistan within the timeline agreed to earlier this year.
In an interview with Iran’s Tasnim news agency, Baradar said the US-Taliban agreement, signed earlier this year in Doha, stipulated the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan within a 14-month timeline.

Delhi-Dhaka ties ‘exceptionally close’: India
Prothom Alo | 30th July
 
New Delhi categorically said that the bilateral ties between India and Bangladesh are “exceptionally close” and both the countries “appreciate mutual sensibilities and mutual respect in building for their relations”.
“…And you must have seen the recent remarks that EAM (External Affairs Minister of India) where he said Bangladesh is a role model of good neighbourly relationship in the region,” Anurag Srivastava, a spokesperson of the Indian external affairs ministry, told a virtual weekly media briefing in New Delhi.

India to announce financial assistance package to the Maldives
Maldives Times | 27th July
 
India will soon announce “substantial financial assistance package” for Maldivian economy which will help the country in post-COVID economic recovery.
The was stated during a message from the Indian high commission in the Maldives on the occasion Maldivian Independence Day that will be celebrated on 26th July. Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had written to Maldives President Solih on the occasion of Independence day coveying their greetings.

 

AFGHANISTAN

 
Taliban announces a 3-day Eid-ul-Adha ceasefire
Afghanistan Times | 28th July
The Taliban has announced a ceasefire with the Afghan government that will take effect when then Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
The Taliban group on Tuesday evening in a statement declared a 3-day ceasefire staring from Friday, ordering its fighter not to attack Afghan security forces unless responding to their attack.
The group also called on their members not to enter into territory under control of the Afghan government.
 
8% Drop in Growth Predicted for Afghan Economy: Report
Daily Outlook Afghanistan | 29th July
A new report by the Al-Beroni research institute predicts an 8.2% drop in Afghanistan’s economic growth this year.
According to a recent report published by the institute about the country’s economic situation, exports have decreased by $143 million dollars in the last three months compared to the previous three months. The report also stated that the country’s inflation rate has increased to 6.4% in the last month.
 
Taliban frees 37 govt. prisoners
Afghanistan Times | 27th July
In the wake of the prisoner swap process between the government and Taliban as part of the US-Taliban peace deal, the militants freed a batch of 37 Afghan security forces in the northern provinces of Kunduz and Takhar.
The Taliban political spokesman, Suhail Shaheen said in a tweet on Sunday that 20 Afghan security forces were released by the group in Takhar and 17 others in its neighboring province Kunduz.
 
 

BANGLADESH

 
Two EZs await $2bn investment
Bangladesh Post | 30th July
The Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) is expecting an investment of US$2 billion in two economic zones (EZs) soon despite the prevailing critical situation due to coronavirus pandemic.
Many deals have recently been inked and some others are awaiting signature between the BEZA and others to continue the infrastructure development work.  The development work at the country’s different economic zones is going on in full swing for completion within the stipulated time maintaining rules of hygiene.
 
Indian HC hands over 2 school buses to Nalanda Uchcha Vidyalaya
Dhaka Tribune | 30th July
Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das on Wednesday handed over two school buses to Nalanda Uchcha Vidyalaya in a virtual ceremony.
Nalanda Uchcha Vidyalaya is a school run by Chhayanaut.
Dr Sarwar Ali, Executive President of Chhayanaut; Khairul Anam Shakil, Vice President; Laisa Ahmed Lisa, General Secretary of  Chhayanaut and Shumona Biswas, Headmistress of Nalanda Uchcha Vidyalaya participated in the online ceremony.

 

BHUTAN

 
Consumer prices rise amid Covid-19
Kuensel | 28th July
Consumer prices rose sharply from March to May in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) published recently by the National Statistics Bureau (NSB).
The year-on-year consumer price index (CPI) in May increased by 4.17 percent from May 2019. This means that on average, the consumers are paying 4.17 percent more than what they paid in May 2019 for goods and services. 
 
 

MALDIVES

 
 Government Commences Disbursing COVID-19 Frontline Allowance
Maldives Times | 30th July
The Maldivian government has commenced disbursing frontline allowance. This was announced for the workers on the frontlines who have been fighting to flatten the curve of the global virus – COVID-19.
Finance Ministry has made an announcement stating that frontline workers will receive the frontline allowanced allocated starting from the 29th of July 2020.
Finance Ministry states that a total of MVR 2.9 million have been disbursed to 220 workers in the frontline.
 
Maldivian fish exports drop by 12 percent
The Edition | 31st July
Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) revealed that fish exports had decreased by 12 percent in the first five months of 2020 compared to the same period last year.
As per MMA statistics, 27,000 metric tonnes were exported between January and May 2020 compared to the 31,000 metric tonnes recorded in the first five months of 2019.
As per official figures, Maldives generated USD 61 million (MVR 940 million) from fish exports during the first five months of 2020.
 
 

MYANMAR

 
Myanmar Takes US$250 M Loan from ADB for COVID-19 Relief
The Irrawaddy | 29th July
The Myanmar Parliament approved a US$250 million loan from the Asian Development Bank on Wednesday to support the budget for its COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP).
The Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry (MOPFI) said the loan will be used to provide social support for low-income households, to enhance the healthcare system and COVID-19 prevention, treatment and containment and to support small and medium-sized enterprises.
 
Myanmar’s Union Govt Splits Up Huge China-Backed New Yangon City Project
The Irrawaddy | 29th July
The Union government has unbundled a controversial Chinese-backed multibillion-dollar new city project across the Yangon River from Myanmar’s commercial hub and is finalizing the hiring of an international consultant to assist in the selection of a developer for the newly compartmentalized project.
Known as the New Yangon City project, it is an element of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), which is a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The CMEC will connect Yunnan province in China to Mandalay in central Myanmar, Yangon New City in the south and the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone in the west.
 
 

NEPAL

 
More Indian nationals are seeking Covid-19 tests in Kathmandu post lockdown
The Kathmandu Post | 27th July
The number of Indian nationals seeking coronavirus tests in Kathmandu have risen several fold after the lockdown was lifted, according to the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital.
According to the hospital, around 120 to 150 Indian nationals are seeking tests every day, which was 20 to 30 prior to ending the lockdown.
Over 1,200 people have been visiting the hospital daily for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. Of them, 10 to 15 percent are from the Indian states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, according to the hospital administration.

Nepal asserts claim over Kalapani
The Himalayan Times | 30th July
Darchula District Administration Office has written a letter to Indian authorities in Dharchula, Uttarakhand, stating that Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani are Nepal’s territories as per Article 5 of Sugauli Treaty, maps and historical facts and evidences.
The letter adds that it was natural for Nepalis to go to these areas.
Chief District Officer of Darchula district Sharad Kumar Pokharel told THT that he wrote to Indian authorities asking them not to create obstruction in Nepalis’ movement into these areas in response to Indian authorities letter to his office.
 
 

PAKISTAN

 
Growth target ‘challenging’, deficit to be 9pc of GDP in FY20: SBP
Dawn | 31st July
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has expressed doubts over the country achieving 2.1 per cent economic growth in FY21 and found the revenue target challenging as well due to decline in activity. For the last fiscal year, the SBP said the fiscal deficit for FY20 is likely to touch 9pc of GDP, where it was 4pc in the first three quarters.
According to the State of Pakistan’s Economy — Third Quarterly Report 2019-20 issued by the SBP on Thursday, Covid-19 was the main reason behind low economic growth in FY20, while also making FY21 challenging for government.
 
Work on CPEC Phase-II gains momentum
The Express Tribune | 30th July
The work on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Phase-II has gained momentum during the last few weeks, defeating debunkers who have been leaving no stone unturned to malign the incumbent government on account of slow-down in CPEC activities.
The groundbreaking of two mega hydel power projects worth $11 billion, advancement in talks with the Chinese side on financial matters of $7.2 billion ML-1 railway project, materialising special economic zones, speedy development of the Gwadar port city, and expanding the scope of CPEC by including agriculture, science, technology and tourism sectors show that work on the game-changer project is full swing.
 
National Assembly passes anti-terrorism Amendment Bill 2020
The Nation | 29th July
The National Assembly of Pakistan approved the Anti-Terrorism Act amendment bill on Wednesday tabled by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan while the opposition tore up copies of the agenda.
According to detail, the National Assembly passed “The Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020]” and “The United Nations (Security Council) (Amendment) Bill, 2020” with a majority vote amid sloganeering from the opposition benches. This legislation is related to fulfill certain requirements of the Financial Action Task Force in order to bring Pakistan out of FATF’s grey list.
 
 

SRI LANKA

 
Sri Lanka Central Bank signs US$ 400 million Currency Swap Agreement with Reserve Bank of India
Colombo Page | 27th July
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have entered into a currency swap agreement on 24th July 2020 under the Framework on Currency Swap Arrangement for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries for 2019 - 2022.
This would provide short-term financing to the CBSL to meet the country’s balance of payment requirements, CBSL said in a release.
Under the agreement, Central Bank of Sri Lanka can make drawals of US Dollar, Euro or Indian Rupee in multiple tranches up to a maximum of US$ 400 million or its equivalent. The agreement would be valid till November 13, 2022, RBI said.
 
Sri Lanka raises further US $ 100mn via development bonds
Daily Mirror | 30th July
Sri Lanka raised US $ 100 million via development bonds at an auction held between July 22 and July 27, the second such auction since June 25, when the government raised a similar amount, as the government ramped up borrowings for dollar liquidity.  
The Public Debt Department (PDD) of the Central Bank, which conducted the auction, received bids worth of US $ 138.34 million. 
The Central Bank called for bids under four tenors from one year and one month up to four years and six months, with two other tenors in between, with the option for fixed and floating yields offered for the nearest two tenors – one year and one month and one year and eight months – to be selected by the investors, depending on their risk appetite. 
 
Sri Lanka government should end intimidations, arrests of Human Right defenders, lawyers, journalists - Int’l organizations
Colombo Page | 29th July
The Sri Lankan government should end the targeted arrests, intimidation and threats against the lives and physical security of lawyers, activists, human rights defenders and journalists, 10 international human rights organizations said today.
The organizations in a statement said a campaign of fear has intensified since the 2019 presidential election, and has cast a shadow over the 2020 parliamentary election campaign.

 

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