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Mining on Moon: Why major powers are eyeing a lunar gold rush?

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Mining on Moon: Why major powers are eyeing a lunar gold rush?

 Russia launched its first moon-landing spacecraft in 47 years on Friday amid a race by major powers including the United States, China and India to discover more about the elements held on the earth’s only natural satellite.

Russia said that it would launch further lunar missions and then explore the possibility of a joint Russian-China crewed mission and even a lunar base. NASA has spoken about a “lunar gold rush” and explored the potential of moon mining.

Why are major powers so interested in what is up there?

The moon, which is 384,400 km (238,855 miles) from our planet, moderates the earth’s wobble on its axis which ensures a more stable climate. It also causes tides in the world’s oceans.

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Current thinking is that it was formed when a massive thing collided with earth about 4.5 billion years ago. The debris from the collision came together to form the moon.

Temperatures vary: in full Sun, they rise to 127 degrees Celsius while in darkness they plummet to about minus 173 degrees Celsius. The moon’s exosphere does not give protection against radiation from the Sun.

The first definitive discovery of water on the moon was made in 2008 by the Indian mission Chandrayaan-1, which detected hydroxyl molecules spread across the lunar surface and concentrated at the poles, according to NASA.
Water is crucial for human life and also can be a source of hydrogen and oxygen – and these can be used for rocket fuel.

Helium-3 is an isotope of helium that is rare on earth, but NASA says there are estimates of a million tonnes of it on the moon.

This isotope could provide nuclear energy in a fusion reactor but since it is not radioactive it would not produce dangerous waste, according to the European Space Agency.

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Rare earth metals – used in smartphones, computers and advanced technologies – are present on the moon, including scandium, yttrium and the 15 lanthanides, according to research by Boeing.

It is not entirely clear.

Some sort of infrastructure would have to be established on the moon. The conditions of the moon mean robots would have to do most of the hard work, though water on the moon would allow for long-term human presence.

The law is unclear and full of gaps.

The United Nations 1966 Outer Space Treaty says that no nation can claim sovereignty over the moon – or other celestial bodies – and that the exploration of space should be carried out for the benefit of all countries.

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But lawyers say it is unclear whether or not a private entity could claim sovereignty over a part of the moon.
“Space mining is subject to relatively little existing policy or governance, despite these potentially high stakes,” The RAND Corporation said in a blog last year.

The 1979 The Moon Agreement states that no part of the moon “shall become property of any State, international intergovernmental or non-governmental organization, national organization or non-governmental entity or of any natural person.”

It has not been ratified by any major space power.

The United States in 2020 announced the Artemis Accords, named after NASA’s Artemis moon program, to seek to build on existing international space law by establishing “safety zones” on the moon. Russia and China have not joined the accords.

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Budget 2024-25: Sindh announces up to 30pc increase in salaries

Budget 2024-25: Sindh announces up to 30pc increase in salaries

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Budget 2024-25: Sindh announces up to 30pc increase in salaries

The Sindh government has proposed up to 30 percent increase in salaries of its employees in the budget for next fiscal year 2024-25. 

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who also holds the portfolio of finance minister, presented the budget in the provincial assembly on Friday. 

He said the government had proposed 30pc increase in salaries of officials from Grade 1 to 6, adding that there was 25pc increase for officials of Grade 7 to 16. Similarly, officers from Grade 17 to 22 would get 22pc hike in their salaries. 

Furthermore, the provincial government has propsed 15pc increase in pension of the retired employees. 

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Presenting the budget with a total outlay of Rs3,352 billion, he said, the government had decided to allocate Rs959 billion for development projects.

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Rs37,000 minimum wage: Sindh follows in the footstep of federal govt, Punjab

Rs37,000 minimum wage: Sindh follows in the footstep of federal govt, Punjab

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Rs37,000 minimum wage: Sindh follows in the footstep of federal govt, Punjab

The Sindh government has revised the minimum wage for unskilled labourers to Rs37,000 in line with decisions of the federal and Punjab governments. 

The minimum salary has been increased by Rs5,000 as previously it stood at Rs32,000. The proposal was laid forth by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah while presenting the budget for the fiscal year 2024-25. 

Meanwhile, the Sindh government has proposed up to 30 percent increase in salaries of its employees in the budget for next fiscal year 2024-25. 

The chief minister said the government had proposed 30pc increase in salaries of officials from Grade 1 to 6, adding that there was 25pc increase for officials of Grade 7 to 16. Similarly, officers from Grade 17 to 22 would get 22pc hike in their salaries. 

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Furthermore, the provincial government has propsed 15pc increase in pension of the retired employees.

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Budget 2024-25: Let’s figure out the cost of essentials

Budget 2024-25: Let’s figure out the cost of essentials

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Budget 2024-25: Let's figure out the cost of essentials

The federal government has announced a staggering Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) worth Rs1,500 billion. 

According to the budget document, all federal divisions have been allocated budget, except the Poverty Alleviation and Special Safety Division, which deals directly with matters concerning 95 million people who are living in abject poverty. 

Sadly, the Poverty Alleviation and Special Safety Division gets nothing in the PSDP 2024-25. 

Worse still, the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety does not have any minister as its head, rendering it almost moribund for more than 10 months. Earlier, Dr Sania Nishtar was chairing it during the PTI government, followed by Shazia Marri during the PDM government. 

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Last year, 12.5 million people slipped into poverty, which took it from 34.2pc to 39.4pc, according to the World Bank. 

The government has conveniently ignored the poor in the budget. Other than announcing Rs598.71billion under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), no substantial amount has been earmarked for reducing poverty. 

Your next read: BUDGET 2024-25 – A LAYMAN’S GUIDE 

Analysts believe that 27 percent increase in BISP from Rs471.3 billion to Rs598.71 billion has been made to placate the Pakistan Peoples Party, which may take the wind out of PML-N’s sails anytime. 

BURGEONING TAXES 

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On the other hand, if we delve into the details of burgeoning taxes, Sales Tax stands out in afflicting the poor the most. 

Now a sales tax of 10pc will be charged on stationery items. 

Tribal area residents who have been experiencing extreme poverty will now have to pay 6pc tax on the supply and import of plant machinery as well as electricity on both residential and commercial connections. 

Following the similar trajectory, a 10pc sales tax will be charged on the local supply of vermicelli, buns, poultry feed, cattle feed, sunflower seed meal, newsprint, books, oil cakes and tractors. 

On mobile phones whose value is less than $500 (Rs139,240), 18pc tax has been imposed. If the value of purchased phone exceeds $500, an existing rate of 25pc will remain unchanged. 

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Earlier, the retailers of leather and textile products who paid 15pc sales tax will now have to pay 18pc tax. 

Drug prices will increase massively as the sales tax on raw materials used in production of pharmaceutical items has been raised to 18pc from 1pc. This will be applicable on medical treatment, diagnostic equipment, heart surgery, neurosurgery, electrophysiology, endoscopy, endosurgery, oncology, urology, gynaecology, disposables and other medical equipment.

Besides, 20pc sales tax on import of syringes, needles, catheters, cannulae, blood collection tube of glass and blood collection tube of PET.

Moreover, charitable hospitals with 50 or more beds will pay 18pc sales tax on imported medical goods. 

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