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NBP MAKES SIGNIFICANT STRIDES IN PMYBL SCHEME

Loan disbursements of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) under the Prime Minister Youth Business Loan (PMYBL) scheme rose to approximately Rs.15 billion with total number of borrowers exceeding 14,700 by December, 28 2016.

“NBP effectively improved its internal processes for disbursement, and as a result we have witnessed significant growth in loan figures disburse under the PMYBL scheme,” said the NBP spokesperson.

“Last year, the total portfolio of PMYBL Scheme was Rs. 6.25 billion and the total numbers of borrowers were 6,791.This year with 140 % increase in loan portfolio size, a significant and impressive growth is witness in PMYBL scheme roll out through NBP.

PAKISTAN’S LIQUID FOREIGN RESERVES POSITION

The total liquid foreign reserves held by the country stood at US$23,286.0 million on 23December2016.

The break-up of the foreign reserves position is as under:-

Foreign reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan : US$ 18,299.4 million
Net foreign reserves held by commercial banks : US$ 4,986.6 million
 Total liquid foreign reserves: US$ 23,286.0 million

During the week ending 23December2016, SBP’s reserves increased by US$109 million to US$18,299.4 million due to official inflows.

EASYPAISA JOINS FORCES WITH EFU LIFE FOR INSURANCE PREMIUM COLLECTION

KARACHI – December 30, 2016: Easypaisa has entered into an agreement with EFU Life Assurance Ltd. under which Easypaisa will extend its services to accelerate insurance premium collection from EFU Life’s clientele through Easypaisa’s ubiquitous network across Pakistan.

The agreement was signed by Muhammad Yahya Khan, Head of Easypaisa, and Taher G Sachak, MD & CEO, EFU Life Insurance. EFU Life is a pioneer life insurance company of Pakistan offering a wide array of insurance products to its expansive clientele.

Sharing his thoughts on the development, Muhammad Yahya Khan, Head of Easypaisa, said, “We are glad to extend Easypaisa’s services to support EFU Life Insurance for insurance premium collection from across the country. Easypaisa, with the help of its expansive network of agents all over the country, will be instrumental in facilitating smooth and convenient collection of premium for EFU. The agreement comes in connection with Easypaisa’s commitment to facilitate everyday transactions as part of its long term socioeconomic empowerment goals. We will continue to forge partnerships and support interoperability to enhance financial inclusion in Pakistan.’

Speaking on the occasion, Taher G Sachak, MD & CEO, EFU Life, stated, “Customer centricity is the core of our business. As the leading life insurer in Pakistan, we believe in connecting with our clients by giving them greater accessibility to our products and services through expansion of our distribution footprint and investing in IT solutions, and also by continuously striving to serve them better. It gives me immense pleasure to have partnered with Easypaisa for our payment solutions, giving our clients the ease, flexibility and access to pay their renewal premiums in a reliable and secure manner through the vast network of over 77,000 Easypaisa outlets and retailers.”

Easypaisa being Pakistan’s pioneer branchless banking service has been instrumental in transforming the banking and finance outlook of the country through ground-breaking products and services. It has played a pivotal role in bringing swathes of unbanked population into the fold of banking services through its initiatives aiming at strengthening financial inclusion in Pakistan.

Press Contact
Sheikh Hamza Qaiser
Corporate Communications
Telenor Pakistan
press.center@telenor.com.pk

ABOUT EASYPAISA

Pakistan’s first and largest branchless banking solution, Easypaisa, was launched jointly by Tameer Micro Finance Bank and Telenor Pakistan in 2009. Easypaisa has the largest financial footprint in Pakistan with over 75,000 Easypaisa shops in more than 800 cities across the country. Nearly 650,000 transactions are conducted on Easypaisa every day by 20 million active customers. In 2015, Easypaisa moved nearly 3% of Pakistan’s GDP. Easypaisa has the largest product portfolio of services for its customers including remittances, payments, savings and insurance and offers ATM cards and IBFT services that work with all banks connected through 1-Link in Pakistan. In February 2014, out of more than 250 Mobile Money services around the world, Easypaisa was awarded two GSMA Awards, including the “Best Mobile Money Service in the World” at the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, Spain.

For more information, visit: www.easypaisa.com.pk

ABOUT TAMEER MICROFINANCE BANK LIMITED

Tameer Microfinance Bank Limited (TMFB) is the first scheduled and largest Microfinance Bank in Pakistan and a part of Telenor group. Incorporated in 2005, it provides micro‐finance, branchless banking and related financial services targeted to the underserved segment. In 2009, it jointly launched easypaisa with Telenor Pakistan. Tameer Bank currently has 176 customer touch points and over 75,000 agents nationwide; and offers a wide range of financial services including Deposits, Loans, Mobile Accounts, Peer to Peer money transfers, Health Insurance, Remittances, Cash management services, Bank on Wheels. The credit rating company JCR-VIS has reaffirmed the entity rating of Tameer at “A+/A-1”. Outlook on the assigned rating is ‘Stable’ as of April 28th, 2016.

For more information, please visit: www.tameerbank.com

ABOUT TELENOR PAKISTAN

Telenor Pakistan is a provider of high quality telecommunication services in Pakistan since 2005. It has over 38 million subscribers, over 3,000 employees and a nationwide network. For more information, please visit: www.telenor.com.pk

ABOUT EFU LIFE

In 1990, the Government of Pakistan reopened the life insurance business to the private sector organizations and EFU Life Assurance Ltd started operations in November 1992 as the first private sector life insurance company. The Company has a growing branch network of over 200 branches throughout the country. For Banc assurance, the Company has a relationship with over 16 major Banks for insurance products & 7 Banks for BancaTakaful offering various life insurance products. For Group Benefits, EFU Life has a marketing team which focuses on providing life insurance coverage to corporate entities and bank clients.

EFU Life’s products are designed to meet the varying needs of EFU Life’s clients and offer the best in financial services.

For more information, visit: www.efulife.com

SUPERSTAR ALI ZAFAR TO RELEASE PAKISTAN SUPER LEAGUE’S OFFICIAL ANTHEM

Pakistan’s leading multi-talented superstar Ali Zafar is all set to release Pakistan Super League 2017’s official anthem for the second consecutive year titled ‘Ab Khel Jamay Ga’.

The audio of the song is all set to release on 1st January 2017. Indeed, Ali Zafar’s undeniable popularity is a testament to his body of work and songs which connect with the hearts and minds of our cricket loving nation. Ali Zafar also performed at 2016’s biggest sporting event, Pakistan Super League Season 1’s official theme song ‘Ab Khel Kay Dikha’ to much acclaim.

“I am honoured to have been chosen to write, compose and perform the anthem again this year. After last time’s phenomenal response I assume the expectations for this year must be that much higher. Therefore I have tried to make a song that’s fun, and not only celebrates the success of last year’s achievement but which anticipates what’s in store for the year to come.” said Ali Zafar.

Earlier in November 2016, Ali Zafar shone in ‘Dear Zindagi’ as he played the character of Rumi in Gauri Shinde’s romantic drama and also performed two hit songs ‘Tu Hi Hai’ and ‘Taarefon Se’ in the blockbuster. Ali Zafar is currently working on his film in Pakistan as cast by Ahsan Rahim for their romantic action comedy, set to release in 2017.

An accomplished actor, musician and fine artist, Ali Zafar is the first actor from Pakistan to have taken his work global and beyond borders with a rich diversity of films to his credit. His work in music has definitively shaped the nature of Pakistan’s burgeoning music industry and his consistent desire/efforts to push the boundaries for South Asian actors has pioneered new avenues for taking Pakistan’s talent global. A passionate humanitarian with a seasoned history of supporting those in need, in 2015 Ali channelised his commitment to philanthropy through the establishment of his eponymous Ali Zafar Foundation to help empower those less fortunate. He specifically focuses on women’s education and empowerment aiding financial support directly for the girls at the Sanjan Nagar Foundation in Pakistan. He is also an integral part of the 141 schools initiative by The Citizens Foundation, regularly fund raising to meet their pledge to build 141 schools following the brutal massacre of children and teachers at the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan.

 

INDIA TO START TAXING CAPITAL GAINS TO SINGAPORE INVESTORS FROM APRIL

India will start imposing capital gains tax on investments coming from Singapore from April and fully withdraw exemptions in two years as the two countries agreed to amend a decade-old treaty after New Delhi rolled back similar concessions to Mauritius and Cyprus earlier this year.

With the amendments, announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday, investors based in Singapore will no longer benefit from tax exemptions on capital gains taxes.

Changes to the treaty with the Asian financial centre had been widely expected after India this year similarly re-drafted a 33-year old tax treaty with Mauritius.

The tax treaty between India and Singapore had a provision that any changes in the Mauritius treaty would automatically apply to the one with the Asian country.

The move to tighten tax treaties is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anti-corruption drive, which includes tightening loopholes for firms or rich individuals setting up a presence in jurisdictions with tax exemption treaties.

Regulators have long suspected rich Indians were routing cash through these tax jurisdictions, and channeling money back to India in a practice known as “round tripping”.

“We are able to give a reasonable burial to this black money route,” Jaitley told reporters at a news briefing.

Capital gains tax will be imposed on investments from Singapore that are made from April onwards. The tax rate will be half the prevailing Indian rate for the next two years and rates will then be equated by April 2019. Jaitley said.

Singapore has been an increasingly popular source of foreign investment into India.

Foreign direct investment flows from Singapore stood at $50.6 billion between April 2000 and Sept 2016, contributing more than 16 percent to total capital inflows during that period, second only to Mauritius.–Agencies

DUBAI CHAMBER TO LAUNCH NEW INITIATIVES TO BOOST START-UPS IN 2017

Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has announced that it will launch five new initiatives in 2017 to boost start-ups and entrepreneurs.

No details about the new schemes were revealed but a senior Chamber official said in comments published by news agency WAM that efforts to foster innovation and develop Dubai’s entrepreneurial ecosystem will remain a major priority.

“With the UAE’s focus on instilling a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship among young people under the directives of our wise leadership, Dubai Chamber is committed to supporting Dubai’s entrepreneurial community, as their success is essential to the growth of the emirate’s private sector and the wider economy,” said Essa Al Zaabi, senior vice-president, Institutional Support Sector, Dubai Chamber, and general coordinator of Tejar Dubai.

Dubai Chamber said it has stepped up its efforts to support the growth of startups and entrepreneurs this year through the Tejar Dubai entrepreneurship development programme, as well as the DubaiStartUpHub platform and the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition.

Tejar Dubai received 28 business ideas over the course of the year, of which 14 were approved by a panel of judges.

Nine commercial projects were launched during the same period, bringing the total number of businesses established to date to 25.

Under the programme, 20 workshops and training sessions were held in 2016, attracting 800 participants.

Since its launch in 2013, Tejar Dubai has helped secure AED10 million in funding for programme participants through partnerships and agreements with banks and financial institutions.

Al Zaabi said that new initiatives launched by the Chamber have complemented the Chamber’s efforts to foster a supportive environment for entrepreneurs, helping them realise their potential by providing the right platforms, technologies, training, mentoring and financial incentives.

Tejar Dubai, launched by Dubai Chamber, offers a specialised programme and platform for Emirati youth to help them establish their own small-to-medium-sized businesses.

It provides them access to an extensive development programme, including classroom learning, on-site training, mentoring and business advice, as well as networking opportunities with local and international business leaders and access to investment capital.—Agencies

SINGAPORE ECONOMY SET TO GROW

Singapore’s economy probably grew more than 1 percent in 2016 but the government is keeping a close watch on the labor market as it has shown signs of weakening, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Saturday.

Singapore’s trade-reliant economy has faced headwinds over the past two years from sluggish global growth, a slowdown in China and falls in global oil prices, which have all weighed on the city-state’s marine and offshore engineering industry.

“We expect growth this year to be one plus percent, still positive though less than we had hoped for,” Lee said in a pre-recorded New Year message to the nation.

The government had previously forecast that the city-state’s economy would grow by 1.0 to 1.5 percent in 2016, which puts the economy on track for its weakest performance since 2009, when gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 0.6 percent.

“While the labor market has eased, unemployment remains low and we are still creating new jobs. I know many employers and workers are concerned, but rest assured the government is watching this closely,” Lee said.

The government’s Committee on the Future Economy will unveil its recommendations on longer term strategies for growth “in a few weeks’ time”, he added.

Layoffs in Singapore in the first half of 2016 reached 9,510, the highest since 2009. The unemployment rate was 2.1 percent in the third quarter.

The government is due to release its advance estimates for GDP in the fourth quarter and the whole of 2016 on Jan. 3.—Agencies

CHINESE FIRMS ORDERED TO PAY DISNEY, PIXAR

A Shanghai court ordered two Chinese firms to pay Walt Disney Co and Pixar more than 1.35 million yuan ($194,440) compensation for copying parts of their hit movies “Cars” and “Cars 2”, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

The ruling is the latest in a slew of intellectual property wins for large foreign firms, who have complained about widespread copyright infringement in China.

Disney and Pixar took the Chinese firms to court saying the characters, titles and posters from local animation “The Autobots” were substantially similar to those from “Cars” and “Cars 2”.

The court agreed that the Autobots characters K1 and K2 were similar to Disney and Pixar’s animated cars Lightning McQueen and Francesco Bernoulli, Xinhua said.

The court ordered infringement activity to stop immediately, and said Disney and Pixar should receive 1 million yuan to cover economic losses, as well as 350,000 yuan for legal expenses.

Disney is making a major push into China with the recent opening of a $5.5 billion theme park in Shanghai, its first on the mainland. Its animated movies including “Zootopia” and “Big Hero 6” have been big box office hits there.

Disney, Pixar and the two Chinese firms were not immediately available for comment.

Xinhua said the total order covered more then 1.35 million yuan, but did not list any other payments.

German carmaker BMW and basketball star Michael Jordan have both won intellectual property cases in China this year.–Agencies

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