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PSO LAUNCHES BRAND BUILDING CAMPAIGN

The country’s flagship oil marketing company, PSO, has launched a print and radio marketing campaign for its newly introduced diesel product “Action +” which marked the beginning of environment and vehicle-friendly diesel products in the country.

The campaign highlights benefits of “Action + Diesel” which, due to its low sulfur content, ensures a cleaner environment, and better performance of vehicles. “Action +” not only produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, but also extends lubricant and engine life. The resultant emission reductions of hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen by use of low-sulfur diesel will be a huge step forward toward ensuring a healthy environment in the country.

Sharing his thoughts, Mr. Sheikh Imran Ul Haque, CEO & MD of PSO, said: “We at PSO take immense pride in being the first mover of the low-emission Euro-II compliant diesel product in the country. PSO has always been a frontrunner in playing the role of the primary catalyst for Pakistan’s fuel revolution. Being the country’s leading oil marketing company, we will continue our responsible and proactive approach towards improving the country’s fuelling experience while at the same time ensuring a better and cleaner environment,” he added.

Being the country’s leading oil marketing company, PSO has a dominant market share in diesel, and is continuously playing its part in meeting the nation’s growing annual demand for diesel. The launch of “Action + Diesel” comes as part of PSO’s fuel revolution that started with the introduction of Pakistan’s first higher-RON grade gasoline products in November 2016.

Improving fuel quality and meeting the nation’s energy requirements have been key components of PSO’s mission, both of which are efficiently met by the company. PSO pledges to continue to launch initiatives that enhance customer experience.

A NEW ERA FOR NOKIA SMARTPHONES

HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, last week unveiled a new generation of Nokia smartphones, setting a new standard in design, quality and user experience throughout the range. The highly anticipated global portfolio features three new smartphones – the new Nokia 6, delivering performance and immersive entertainment in a premium and extremely robust design; Nokia 5, an elegant smartphone that fits perfectly in your hand; and Nokia 3, which delivers an unprecedented quality at an affordable price point.

The new range of Nokia smartphones all run AndroidTM Nougat and offer a pure, secure and up to date experience. The Nokia smartphone range will all feature Google Assistant, a first outside of Google branded devices.

Moreover the unveiling also sees the return of a modern classic – the iconic Nokia 3310, reborn with a modern twist on design.

Drawing on the hallmarks of the Nokia phone heritage of quality, simplicity and reliability, the range is designed for a new generation of fans.

With a commitment to deliver pure Android, users can expect a simple, clean and clutter free experience.

It was also announced that the world-renowned game Snake will be snaking its way back into people’s hearts with a new version available to play on Messenger, part of Facebook’s Instant Games cross platform experience. The new free Snake game is designed to be played with groups of friends making it even more playable than the first time around.

The new Nokia range of Android smartphones globally available in Q2, 2017, includes:

Nokia 6 is going global – combining superior craftsmanship and distinctive design with immersive audio and an impressive bright and colourful 5.5″ full HD screen, the Nokia 6 delivers a truly premium smartphone experience. The unibody of the Nokia 6 is crafted from a single block of 6000 series aluminium. The smart audio amplifier with dual speakers allow consumers to experience a deeper bass and unmatched clarity, whilst Dolby Atmos® delivers an engaging entertainment experience. Available in four colours – Matte Black, Silver, Tempered Blue and Copper – the Nokia 6 will retail at an average global retail price of € 229.

Nokia 6 Arte Black Limited Edition: With 64GB storage and 4GB RAM, this special edition combines the best features of the Nokia 6 family in a stunning black high gloss package and will retail at an average global retail price of € 299.

Nokia 5: A sleek and compact smartphone that nestles in your hand. The Nokia 5 has been precision engineered out of a single block of 6000 series aluminium to create a perfect pillowed body that flows seamlessly into the sculpted Corning® Gorilla® Glass laminated 5.2″ IPS HD display. Available in four colours Matte Black, Silver, Tempered Blue and Copper – the Nokia 5 will retail at an average global retail price of € 189.

Nokia 3: A stunning new smartphone designed to deliver an outstanding experience with unprecedented value. With a precision machined aluminium frame forged out of a single piece of aluminium, a sculpted Corning® Gorilla® Glass laminated 5″ display and seamlessly integrated 8MP wide aperture cameras (front and back. Available in four distinctive colours – Silver White, Matte Black, Tempered Blue and Copper White – the Nokia 3 will retail at an average global retail price of € 139.

Nokia 3310: a modern classic reborn. Thin, light and incredibly durable, the Nokia 3310 is a head turning modern twist on one of the best-selling feature phones of all time. Boasting an incredible 22-hour talk-time and month long stand-by, the Nokia 3310’s fresh, colourful, modern design brings it bang up to date. The Nokia 3310 is available in four distinctive colours – Warm Red and Yellow, both with a gloss finish, and Dark Blue and Grey both with a matte finish. The Nokia 3310 will retail at an average global retail price of € 49.

Accessories: Also introduced was a portfolio of Nokia Accessories that follows iconic design philosophy. As perfect companions to these smartphones, the full Nokia Accessories portfolio includes a range of headsets, portable and Bluetooth speakers, in-car chargers, cases and screen protectors.

MCB BANK LTD AND QATAR AIRWAYS ENTER INTO ALLIANCE

MCB Bank Ltd, one of Pakistan’s largest private sector banks, has entered into an agreement with one of the world’s fastest growing airline Qatar Airways for mutually beneficial services. Mr. Ali Raza (Head – Institutional Sales, MCB) briefed the audience that under the three month campaign, MCB Bank debit and credit card holders will benefit from specially reduced fares on airline tickets booked online.

The MoU was signed by Mr. Ali Naqvi, Business Head Digital Banking MCB Bank and Qatar Airways Country Manager Pakistan, Mr. Sherif Ismail in the presence of Retail Banking Head – North, Mr. Zargham Khan Durrani and senior executives from both organizations. The signing ceremony was held at MCB House, Lahore.

At the ceremony, Mr. Zargham Khan Durrani said “This collaboration provides MCB Bank debit and credit card customers access to one of the world’s premier international airlines at specially discounted rates. We look forward to facilitating our customers on their future travel plans and dream trips abroad!”

Qatar Airways Country Manager Pakistan, Mr. Sherif Ismail added “We are delighted to enter into an alliance with MCB Bank and look forward to welcoming MCB Bank customers to the Qatar Airways premium aviation experience.”

KARANDAAZ PAKISTAN-PARTNERED ’LUMS STARTUP WEEKEND’

Country’s largest entrepreneurial festival ’LUMS Startup Weekend’, a collaboration of Karandaaz Pakistan and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), concluded today with the NFC payment solution ’Paycard’ winning the competition. The event was in line with Karandaaz Pakistan’s mission to foster financial and digital inclusion in the country as it brought together scores of aspiring entrepreneurs and mentors working together to revitalize Pakistan’s startup landscape.

The 8th edition of the Startup Weekend hosted at LUMS invited startup pitches from young and promising entrepreneurs from across Pakistan. Out of over 60 pitches presented on the first day, 11 ideas were shortlisted for the final showdown on the last day of the 3-day event. The shortlisted teams were given 70 hours to materialize their ideas and make their final products market-ready with the help of assigned mentors. As opposed to one minute on the first pitch, the teams were given five minutes each to demo their final startup ideas and were trained in tackling market and finance related questions from the expert jury.

’Home Grown’ – a unique women-led startup to encourage horticulture enthusiasts into growing healthy plants and vegetables and help them set a roof or a vertical garden to compensate for the lack of backyard space in congested cities – earned the third place at the competition. Its innovative approach to stich individual selfies of distant friends into one group earned ’Groupie’ the second place. The NFC prepaid payment solution ’Paycard’ was declared the winning idea of the Startup Weekend. Proximity marketing solution ’Proximate’ – that provide users with relevant ads when they pass near a proximate beacon installed on any retail outlet – earned an honorable mention as the results of the final competition were announced.

The seven other of the eleven shortlisted startup ideas included Freshalla – the fruit delivery website and app, Pakfit – a platform that connects professionals with individuals looking to get in shape, Pak Builds – a digital marketplace for material services providers and contractors, Health Monitoring System – a wearable health monitoring and notification device, Kabara Online – a digital marketplace to sell goods a person doesn’t need anymore, Animatica Math – a personalized animation app to encourage kids’ interest in mathematics, and Dream X – an Urdu digital assistant which can interpret and run commands given to it in Urdu language.

“We feel privileged to be part of LUMS Startup Weekend to inspire youth into pursuing entrepreneurship in their professional careers,” said Ali Sarfaraz Hussain, CEO Karandaaz Pakistan. “Finding and nurturing fresher ideas through proper training and guidance will go on to reinforce and add value to Pakistan’s startup landscape. The advancement in digital technology has helped a lot of promising digital startups to surface in the country which will go on to morph into small and medium businesses in the near future. Karandaaz Pakistan is committed to facilitating SMEs by promoting access to finance by employing technology-enabled digital solutions. We look forward to helping accelerate promising startups in order to enable them to contribute to the country’s economy.”

“The cross-cutting themes at Karandaaz are innovation, youth, and women entrepreneurship. At Karandaaz we strongly believe that you guys (youth) are the future,” said Samar Hasan, Head of Communications at Karandaaz Pakistan. “You are the driving force of the nation. If you go places, we need to be behind you to support you, to uplift you, and I am sure you will go places regardless of whether we are there to support you or not. But we are here to reiterate that commitment to you.”

Besides the competition, the event brought aboard a host of successful entrepreneurs, digital technology evangelists and technology educationists to educate, inspire, and motivate the young entrepreneurs. Special talks to enlighten the youth about effectively pursuing a startup and cognize them about the risks and opportunities in the market were also a salient feature of the event. The panel of speakers included CEO Karandaaz Pakistan, Ali Sarfaraz Hussain and noted serial entrepreneur and philanthropist Usama Tauqeer.

Karandaaz Pakistan being the country’s leading promoter of financial inclusion and related technology held the event to encourage entrepreneurship in the country which will ease the burden on the country’s job market. Karandaaz has been functioning to promote access to financial services for small and medium businesses in the country besides endorsing digital inclusion across Pakistan. Karandaaz Pakistan extends special gratitude to the United Kingdom Department for International Development since their funds enabled the prior to support and collaborate in the successful Startup Weekend.

JS BANK INVITES ISLAMABAD UNITED CAPTAIN MISBAH-UL-HAQ TO PROMOTE REMITTANCES

Islamabad United’s Captain, Misbah ul Haq, visited the Head Office of Al Ansari Exchange, Dubai recently upon the invitation of JS Bank, to show solidarity with Pakistanis remitting money back home and contributing to Pakistan’s economic growth.

Misbah-ul-Haq was welcomed by Rashed Ali Al Ansari, General Manager, Al Ansari Exchange and Worldwide Cash Express and Babbar Wajid, Head of Business Management, JS Bank Limited. JS Bank is pleased to be an “Official Partner” of Islamabad United for the second season of the Pakistan Super League and a preferred partner of Al Ansari Exchange and Worldwide Cash Express. During his visit, Misbah ul Haq, who was briefed on the operations of Al Ansari Exchange and Cash Express remittance services, lauded the efforts of Al Ansari Exchange and JS Bank Limited in their services towards the senders and beneficiaries of remittances to Pakistan.

Babbar Wajid, Head of Business Management JS Bank commented “We are pleased to partner with Al Ansari Exchange and Islamabad United, all three being champions of their areas and respect their contributions to the well-being of Pakistanis. JS Bank has been a strong supporter of cricket in Pakistan, and we hope that Islamabad United goes on to defend their PSL title successfully. Al Ansari Exchange and JS Bank are preferred partners of each other, and we hope this partnership will continue to grow from strength to strength”.

Misbah Ul Haq expressing his views stated “I feel humbled to see the efforts of JS Bank and Al Ansari Exchange and Worldwide Cash Express offering seamless services to many Pakistanis residing here in the UAE–enabling them to send money back home not only free but in a timely and efficient manner. It is of an utmost importance for overseas Pakistanis to use official remittances channels instead of illegal money transfers like hawala/hundi, to contribute to the growth of our country”.

“Al Ansari Exchange and Misbah ul Haq both admire success and continuously strive for it with sheer passion. We thank Misbah ul Haq for his visit and wish him more success in his career. Partners like JS Bank in Pakistan allow us to consistently exceed the expectations of millions of people sending money from the UAE and other markets” said Rashed Ali Al Ansari.

JS Bank is Pakistan’s fastest growing bank, with 307 branches in 152 cities and one of the leading banks in remittance services to Pakistan, enabling Pakistanis around the world to send money to their loved ones through cash or bank transfers. JS Bank is part of the JS Group, one of Pakistan’s most diversified and progressive financial services groups.

CIRCULAR DEBT PILING UP AGAIN IN POWER SECTOR

On February 15, 2017, the total overdue amounts to the power sector, including GENCOs stood at PKR 414 billion. Approximately PKR 160 billion out of this relates to overdue payments from CPPA-G owed to GENCOs and NTDC while the balance is for IPPs. Payments owed to WAPDA for hydel generation are in addition to this. This is despite the oil prices having dropped by more than 50% over the last three years; and this number is steadily rising.

These are amounts verified and audited by the relevant departments for electricity already supplied to the system, and are past the payment due dates.

Repeated attempts have been made by IPPAC and its Members to meet the senior officials of the government to resolve the long outstanding, audited and verified, overdue amounts, as well as to address pending policy issues on taxes and outstanding dispute resolutions, all to no avail. In fact, in an arbitration process regarding illegally held back amount, the GOP Attorneys have taken the position that the IPPs should be exercising their legal right of calling GOP Guarantee when they are not paid, rather than going into dispute processes. Left with no choice, the IPPAC Members have today submitted GOP Guarantee calls, under their contracts, for a portion of the overdue amounts.

The IPPAC feels that in this time of growing restoration of investor confidence in Pakistan, it is quite unfortunate that the MoWP has chosen not to address these issues. We hope that rather than going into a default, the GOP will engage with IPPAC to find resolution of these issues, before it starts affecting investor confidence in the sector, especially for the CPEC projects. IPPAC Members wish to support the GOP in rebuilding Pakistan, and will find solutions to work with the GOP, provided the GOP engages in resolving the pending issues rather than ignoring them altogether.

“THE BIG PUSH” DAIRY PROJECT

EngroFoods and the Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF)signed The Big Push Project which aims to create an eco-system within the dairy sector where 9000 plus farmers are trained in modern animal husbandry practices, with a focus on increasing milk production and incomes. In order to provide complementary services such as health and nutrition, the program will also train micro entrepreneurs in livestock extension skills, village milk collection skills and artificial insemination skills.

Furthermore, to create milk potential and enhance skills within the sector, the program will also trainlabourers in medium sized farms as supervisors. The program will be implemented in sixty (60) villages across Muzaffarabad, Lodhran, Bahawalpur and Bahwalnagar which have been identified as some of the poorest districts in the country. It is envisaged that this intervention will result in improvement of milk yield and quality thus benefiting small farmers with better prices and increasing livelihood. To monitor the impact of this project and to support Government policy formulation through evidence based data, PSDF has engaged the Centre of Economic Research Pakistan (CERP), headed by lead academics Dr. Asim Khawaja from Harvard University and Dr. Ali Cheema from LUMS.

Speaking at the ceremony, Hans Laarakker CEO Engro Foods, a part of the global Dutch giant Royal Friesland Campina (RFC) said: “We are pleased to enter into this agreement with the Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF). When the Government, academia and the private sector come together, real progress can be made. Dairy development and helping small dairy farmers is a key focus of our Company and it ensures our consumers get high quality and nutritious milk. With the Big Push Project, we aim to train 9,000 plus farmers in modern animal husbandry practices, 550 micro entrepreneurs in entrepreneurship skills, and 150 farm laborers from medium sized farms. This will contribute significantly to the development of small farmers in the region and reflects our dedication to develop the dairy industry in Pakistan with the Government of Punjab.”

Addressing to the audience Dr. IjazNabi, Chairman of the Punjab Skills Development Fund said: Upgrading livestock skills is key to improving livelihood in rural areas. Better skills will usher in knowledge intensive production processes for sustained long term growth of the rural economy. Punjab Skills Development Fund is partnering with dynamic private companies to augment government capacity to deliver innovative training in the livestock sector. PSDF’s recent experience is that, when well designed, this partnership yields high social returns. PSDF Board and management will regularly monitor and improve the program design to ensure that the development objectives are met.

Mr Jawad Khan CEO of the Punjab Skills Development Fund – stated: “Engro, PSDF and the Punjab Government see this program as a development project with its subsequent impact to reduce poverty in the impoverished region of Southern Punjab. Through infusion of skills and promotion of entrepreneurship, the program looks to create increased incomes forfarmers and their families. Together in collaboration with Engro Foods I am hopeful that the program will increase income of farmers and generate employment for multiple stakeholders.”

This project will help towards poverty alleviation and the data and information from CERP monitoring and evaluation, will help formulate Government skills policy in the region. The project in Southern Punjab is a strategic area for Engro Foods, with potential to grow into a big market for milk.

BANK ALFALAH PARTNERS UP WITH BEACONHOUSE

Pakistan’s premier banking institution, Bank Alfalah, has struck a historic deal with the country’s top educational institution, Beaconhouse Schools, to extend its leading edge digital products and services to facilitate the countrywide schools network.

The CEO of Bank Alfalah and the CEO of Beaconhouse School System in the presence of senior officials from both the institutions signed the agreement. Under the agreement, Bank Alfalah will have access to large network of students, parents and staff members to provide exclusive offers of Consumer Finance Products, digital wallets, investment services and top-of-the-line Online Payment Solutions.

Sharing his thoughts on this, CEO, Bank Alfalah, said, “We are delighted to extend our digital services to the vast network of Beaconhouse School System to expedite and streamline their operation. Bank Alfalah values the ubiquitous presence of the prestigious Beaconhouse School System and looks forward to creating value for both the institutions by offering our top-of-the-line digital services to the Beaconhouse family. We are launching bundled offer of Consumer Finance Products for Beaconhouse which features a host of products and services to cater to their various financial needs. We will work relentlessly to ensure that the partnership garners maximum benefits right away.”

Commenting on the development, CEO, Beaconhouse School System, said, “We are excited to benefit from Bank Alfalah’s premier banking and financial services which have already raised the bar higher in Pakistan’s banking and finance sector. We are looking forward to availing the host of cutting-edge digital products and services Bank Alfalah is offering under the agreement. I hope that it will ease up our day-to-day transactions and allow us peace of mind to focus on our professional responsibilities.”

With a focus on delivering best-in-class digital services to its customers, Bank Alfalah has introduced an innovative digital banking ecosystem in Pakistan which aims at expediting banking operations and services. The new digital swift banking will transform the overall banking experience for all customers by allowing added access and convenience.

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