Deputy Secretary Sullivan’s Meeting With Austrian Secretary General For Foreign Affairs Peterlik

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The below is attributable to Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino:‎

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan met today in Vienna with Austrian Secretary General for Foreign Affairs Johannes Peterlik. During the meeting, Deputy Secretary Sullivan reaffirmed the importance of U.S.-Austrian bilateral relations and thanked him for Austria’s contributions to security cooperation in Afghanistan and the Western Balkans. The Deputy Secretary also emphasized the need to counter the malign activities of the Iranian regime such as its ballistic missile program and the importance of maintaining sanctions on Russia.

New Study Highlights “Massive” Economic Benefits Of Low-Income Housing In Pakistan

The new study called ‘Enhancing Builder Finance in Pakistan’, was launched at an event in Islamabad at the Marriott hotel

Joanna Reid, the head of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) Pakistan speaking at the event

Joanna Reid, the head of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) Pakistan speaking at the event

Investment in low-income housing would bring “massive” economic benefits to Pakistan, according to a new study published by Karandaaz Pakistan and funded by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID). The new study, ‘Enhancing Builder Finance in Pakistan’, was launched at an event in Islamabad at the Marriott hotel.

With this study, Karandaaz Pakistan aims to show the wide benefits of building more affordable housing, but also help boost the businesses of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that work on the building sector.

The study estimates that the construction of 100,000 more houses each year will lead to economic growth as well as increased employment opportunities. According to the study, Pakistan’s economy will benefit massively if affordable housing were to be increased. To achieve this, improvements should be made to the regulatory environment for builders and banks must be given sufficient incentives for mortgage and builder financing. The study can be found on Karandaaz website.

Joanna Reid, the head of UK’s Department for International Development Pakistan, said at the event:

Only the richest of companies can afford to build homes for the richest of people. Pakistan needs financing mechanisms to ensure everyone can have a roof over their head.

Speaking at the occasion, CEO Karandaaz, Mr Ali Sarfraz, said:

We hope that the study Karandaaz has conducted motivates members from the financial sector to take steps in making available financial products better suited to the needs and asset base of SME builders and developers and thereby catalyzing the availability of affordable housing for everyone in Pakistan.

Mr Zaigham Mahmood Rizvi, Chairman Prime Minister’s Task Force on Housing also participated in the event and said:

The stakeholders of housing, namely developer, planners, the Governments, fiscal and regulatory agencies all are needed to be engaged to address affordable housing challenges, both from its supply-side and finance-side parameters. The supply-side players, mainly the developers/builders need to be engaged for meeting this challenge of affordable housing. In turn, this will boost the economy, and create jobs.

Housing and real estate sector is directly linked to about 42 construction materials industries and creates jobs at much higher rate. I reckon that with the government’s focus and assistance from partners such as Karandaaz, the growth of SMEs in building and construction sector will bolster positive impact at the macro level. The state and the private sector should come forward to compliment and support efforts of platforms like Karandaaz.

The event was well-attended by representatives of the banking and building sectors, along with representatives from the government. Following a presentation by the author, Mr Ali Khizar, a discussion on the topic was held with a panel made up of Mr Hassan Bukshi, Chairman Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD); Mr Muhammad Raza Sayeed, Head Housing Finance (Islamic) at HBL; Mr Navid Goraya, CIO Karandaaz Pakistan; Mr Jawed Aslam, CEO and Founder Ansaar Management Company; and Mr Faisal Murad, Group Head from Housing Building Finance Company (HBFC).

The discussion highlighted the need for improvement in current regulatory environment, and factors such as the increases in property prices, rising costs of construction materials, a lack of documentation within the SME builder community and absence of collateral as deterrents to accessing formal financing.

Further Information

There are 40 to 50 allied industries associated with the construction and real estate sector, most of which are SMEs. The construction sector contributed 2.7 percent to Pakistan’s GDP in FY17, estimated to be 2.8 percent during FY18. With over 50 industries indirectly associated with the real estate construction sector, the overall economic impact is much higher

Karandaaz promotes access to finance for small businesses through commercially directed investments, and financial inclusion for individuals by employing technology-enabled digital solutions. Karandaaz also develops and disseminates evidence based insights and sector-based studies that can lead to greater financial inclusion, employment generation and SME growth.

Karandaaz Pakistan has financial and institutional support from leading international development finance institutions; the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Conclusion Of Yemen Consultations In Sweden

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The United States commends participants from the Yemen consultations in Sweden for making progress on key initiatives, including a cease-fire and withdrawal of forces in Hudaydah, prisoner exchanges, and opening humanitarian corridors to the city of Taiz. Although many details remain subject to further discussion, these consultations between the Republic of Yemen Government and the Houthis marked a pivotal first step. All parties have an opportunity to build upon this momentum and improve the lives of all Yemenis. Moving forward, all must continue to engage, de-escalate tensions, and cease ongoing hostilities. This is the best way to give these and future consultations a chance to succeed. The United States thanks UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths for his leadership on these efforts, continued optimism, and ability to inspire reconciliation. We also thank the Government of Sweden for hosting, as well as the governments of Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the many others that helped facilitate and support the consultations. The work ahead will not be easy, but we have seen what many considered improbable begin to take shape. Peace is possible. The end of these consultations can be the beginning of a new chapter for Yemen.

Launch Event And First Regional Workshop Of The GCTF Initiative To Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems Threats

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The United States and Germany, under the auspices of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), launched the Initiative to Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) Threats on December 13, 2018 in Berlin. The launch event was held alongside the Initiative’s first regional workshop on December 14, which focused on countering the UAS threat in Europe. The GCTF C-UAS Initiative aims to develop a set of non-binding good practices that can assist countries in developing or expanding national action plans to identify, prioritize, and implement policies and measures to counter terrorist use of UAS.

The GCTF works at the forefront of addressing emerging terrorist threats, such as the use of UAS against civilian targets. ISIS and other terrorist groups are using this technology to conduct reconnaissance, drop explosives, and spread propaganda. Rapidly improving technology and easier access increase the possibility of terrorists using UAS against civilian targets. As these attacks are increasing in complexity and frequency, multilateral cooperation is needed to develop a substantive guide for governments to counter terrorist use of UAS.

Participants from national and local governments and international organizations at the launch event and workshop exchanged assessments of the threat, national policies, and legislative responses towards terrorist use of UAS, and established technologies to counter UAS. The GCTF C-UAS Initiative will convene three additional regional workshops throughout 2019 in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. These workshops will inform the development of a good practices document for countering terrorist UAS threats, which will be put forward for endorsement at the GCTF Ministerial in 2019.

Deputy Secretary Sullivan’s Participation In U.S.-Russia Counterterrorism Dialogue With Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Syromolotov

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The below is attributable to Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino:‎

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan participated today in a U.S.-Russia Counterterrorism Dialogue in Vienna, Austria. The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for counterterrorism, Oleg Vladimirovich Syromolotov, attended on behalf of his government.

Despite our continued concerns with Russia’s destabilizing activity, the United States seeks to facilitate the sharing of any information that can protect the United States, its people, and its interests; against terrorist attacks. In addition to discussing the reciprocal exchange of information, the Deputy Secretary raised a number of issues, to include foreign terrorist fighters, preventing terrorist travel, and the protection of major international sporting events. Deputy Secretary Sullivan also addressed Russia’s attempts to undermine democratic institutions and its continued aggression in Ukraine. Going forward, U.S. and Russian experts will meet at the working level to explore whether further cooperation on counterterrorism will be possible.

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