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UIT and Canada Pakistan Business Council meeting held

Usman Institute of Technology (UIT) affiliated with NED University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi, recently held a meeting at the UIT campus with The President of Canada-Pakistan Business Council (CPBC), Samir Dossal who was invited by UIT to explore opportunities for the two nations in the education sector.

The meeting was organized in collaboration with the CPBC the principal network partner of VPO and Canada beyond Borders to further strengthen VPO-CPBC initiative to establish a Canada Pakistan Education Council. This meeting was well-attended and a number of distinguished leaders including: A/Cdr. M. Nasir Uddin, Head of Grants Hunar Foundation, Mr. Syed Azhar Rizvi, C.E.O Cambridge Advisors Network, Mr. Rafiq Lakhani, C.E.O Rastek Technologies, Mr. Muhammad Awais, C.E.O Mindstorm Engineering, Ms. Tatheer Zafar, CBB Pakistan Chapter Coordinator and Mr. Allama S. Baqar Zaid, Chairman VPO attended.

Mr. Samir Dossal, President of CPBC, addressed the august gathering and spoke about the importance of developing ties between Canada and Pakistan, echoing the potential that lay in mutual cooperation and common goals of development.

UIT representatives stated that – “It’s our job collectively and everyone is committed to this cause of a Canada Pakistan Education Council, we must get the word out to institutions in Canada and in Pakistan to encourage them to look at opportunities. At the end of the day institutions in Canada are autonomous so it’s not one person who decides or dictates that a particular university in Canada must develop a partnership in Pakistan. But what we can do and are doing is when people travel to Canada we meet with universities and tell them about the potential in Pakistan and to develop their awareness about Pakistan and the opportunities that exist. We have to get the word out to Canadians and Pakistanis and to encourage them to get in contact with each other and start to talk about what they can be doing together. We are optimistic that we will see things happen.”

Philip Morris (Pakistan) becomes the first company to obtain equal salary certification

Philip Morris (Pakistan) Limited (PMPKL), an affiliate of Philip Morris International (PMI), announced that it has successfully obtained the Equal Salary certification from Equal-Salary Foundation, an independent, non-profit organization. As PMI transforms to become a smoke-free technology leader in this rapidly-changing 21st century, it recognizes that diverse teams and an inclusive culture are needed to drive innovation and be successful. PMI and its affiliates worldwide are focused on this aspect of the transformation and committed to tackling their gender gap first, emphasizing the role this plays as an enabler for PMI’s vision of a smoke-free world.

“PMPKL is the first organization in Pakistan to achieve the equal salary certification. Our success as a company depends on a talented and diverse workforce – where individuals enjoy opportunities to learn, grow and prosper in their career. This means providing fair and equal remuneration for men and women for equivalent work, and at PMPKL our values and principles call for nothing less. According to the ILO Gender Wage Report 2018/19, in Pakistan, where the gender pay gap is 36.3%, wage parity represents a crucial step on the road to gender parity. PMPKL’s achievement as the first EQUAL-SALARY certified company in Pakistan makes us an employer of choice committed to equality and to fostering an inclusive and dynamic workforce.” said C. David Escarda, Director People and Culture at Philip Morris (Pakistan) Limited.

The EQUAL-SALARY certification validates that PMPKL pays men and women equally for equivalent work, and the process is helping to focus company attention on the broader issue of gender equality. Alongside the quantitative comparison of salary data, the Equal Salary Certification methodology involves a qualitative audit of management commitment to equal pay principles, of employee perception of that commitment and of HR policies and practices to identify any potential gender blind spots, and recommends actions to mitigate them. The certification further helps identify areas for improvement and supports efforts to address the broader challenge of closing any gender talent gaps. This includes introducing flexible working arrangements and addressing gender bias across the employee journey.

Commenting on the certification, Véronique Goy Veenhuys, Founder & CEO, Equal-Salary Foundation, said, “Philip Morris Pakistan can be proud of its Equal-Salary Certification, making them the frontrunner of the rigorous, independent Equal-Salary methodology in Pakistan. While today, we still cannot take equal pay for equivalent work for granted, the commitment of companies like Philip Morris Pakistan is a welcome step forward on the journey toward achieving global wage parity, and contributes to the broader challenge of closing the gender pay gap.”

PMPKL’s Equal Salary certification is part of PMI’s larger goal of becoming a truly gender balanced, inclusive workplace. The multi-national is already tracking and publishing progress on the gender balance of its management team. Today, women hold 35% of all management roles at PMI, and the company is on track to meet its goal of 40% by 2022.

Nestlé Pakistan wins First Prize for Global Compact Business Sustainability Award 2018

For the third consecutive time, Nestlé Pakistan won the First Prize for “Living the Global Compact Business Sustainability Award 2018”, in the multi-national category, at the “Business Sustainability Moot and Living the Global Compact Best Practices Sustainability Award Ceremony”.

Winning this prestigious award three times in a row signifies Nestlé Pakistan’s constant commitment towards its purpose of embracing and enhancing the quality of life while contributing to a healthier future with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 10 principles of United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) embedded in the way that it conducts business.

With initiatives such as Nestlé Healthy Kids, Nestlé has partnered with various schools and has reached more than 140,000 children so far. Similarly, Nestlé Pakistan has also expanded its reach to rural Pakistan by partnering with the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). The initiative focuses on needs of BISP beneficiaries, by providing them with livelihood opportunities along with holding seminars to educate them on basic nutrition knowledge. To date, more than 400 BISP beneficiaries have been enrolled as Rural Women Sales Agents across 12 districts of Punjab and Sindh. These initiatives are also in line with the United Nations’ SDGs 1, 2 and 5: No Poverty, Zero Hunger and Gender Equality.

In light of receiving such a prestigious award, Waqar Ahmad, Head of Corporate Affairs, Nestlé Pakistan said “It is an honour to be recognized by UNGC for the third time in a row. This not only shows Nestlé’s commitment and dedication to SDGs 1, 2 and 5 but also motivates us further to continue our mission in line with UNGC principles”.

While congratulating Nestlé Pakistan, Fasihul Karim Siddiqi, Executive Director Global Compact Network Pakistan, said “We recognize Nestlé’s commitment and efforts which are completely aligned with UNGC principles of sustainable business practices in Pakistan. I believe that such practices should be promoted at greater levels and used as an example for other businesses to follow.”

The event was organized by Global Compact Network Pakistan. The network is currently fortified with around 90 organizations in Pakistan.

NBP begins biometric verification of all users

National Bank of Pakistan(NBP) has started doing the biometric verification for all its users (Personal Accounts as well as authorized signatories of Corporate/Commercial entities), under the directives of State Bank of Pakistan(SBP). NBP assures you of its continued support to maintain and enhance its relationships with clients (Corporate/Commercial/Consumers) by providing superior Service Quality.

Hence to ensure safe and secure Banking to all our customers, you are requested to approach any nearest NBP Branch to get bio-metric verification done for your respective accounts. In the event of failure to perform biometric verification within provided timelines, NBP reserves the right to block account operations.

Exporters should be allowed early disbursement of their refunds to promote exports

Despite 15 % devaluation of PKR, exports couldn’t be increased: Mian Zahid Hussain

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said that during the first half of current fiscal year July to December 2018, rupee has been devalued by 15 percent but exports have been increased by mere 2 percent in comparison to the same period of previous fiscal year. Imports for the period have been reduced by 16 percent thus the trade deficit is $ 16.8 billion which is 5 percent less than the previous year, however, Pakistan cannot bear such trade deficit, hence government is required to take more corrective and development measures for increasing exports. The remittances have been increased by 10 percent to $ 10.72 billion however, target of $ 11 billion for the first half of current fiscal year missed by 2.5 percent.

The Veteran Business Leader while talking to the business community said that economic problems are faced due to depleting foreign reserves and widen current account deficit which has reached to approx. $ 7 billion as of November 2018 while the foreign reserves stood at $ 13. 59 as of January 4, 2019, not sufficient for import cover of two months’ imports. Pakistan may remain under pressure of foreign debts’ repayment for the coming two years. The FDI took place till November 2018 was just $ 880 million in which China’s share is 89 percent.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that in response to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to friend and brotherly Muslim countries including KSA, UAE, Turkey, Malaysia and China have shown their interest in investment in Pakistan. KSA intended to buy two LNG fire powered projects in Punjab in addition to forming oil Refinery in Gwader. UAE has also shown interest in making Gwader an export hub. Instant increase in foreign direct investment is need of hour for Pakistan which will not only help the local industrial sector to get on its feet but will curb unemployment to a greater extent.

The Former Minister said that the current Govt. seems sincere in addressing the economic issues however the refunds of exporters are still pending. A mechanism for early payment of refunds should be formed, as well as different incentives should be offered to exporters with constant and cheaper supply of gas and electricity to boost exports. Pakistani products should be branded and marketed in modern lines, with providing easy access to international certification, which will draw better results.

Pakistan should mobilize member Islamic countries to implement trade preferential system: Mian Zahid Hussain

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday said that Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers held in 1976 approved the common aspirations of the Islamic countries to promote and enhance commercial and industrial cooperation by setting up an institution that would assemble the business organizations of the Islamic countries. In line with the significance of this resolution, the first Conference of the Chambers of Commerce & Industry of the Islamic States was held in 1977. Resolution for unanimously adopted for establishing the Islamic Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture. Thereafter, on the offer of the Government of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Headquarters of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (ICCIA) was established in 1979 in Karachi with Diplomatic Status.?

The Veteran Business Leader while talking to the business community said that despite 40 years of its creation, activities of ICCIA for the betterment of trade, industry and agriculture is very slow. The current president and secretary general of the chamber are H.E. Shaikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel and Yousef Hasan Khalawi respectively from Saudi Arabia while Attiya Nawazish Ali is assistant secretary general from Pakistan. Vice presidents are Mustafa Rifat Hisarciklioglu from Turkey and Ahmed Al-Wakeel from Egypt.

The Former Minister said that trade preferential system of the organization of Islamic cooperation is formed in 2002 and legally completed in 2011 in order to boost trade amongst the member countries but only 13 out of 41 countries have completed the formalities so far. ICCIA should take measures to fasten the procedure of pending TPS-OIC.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the current GDP of countries included in OIC is $ 6 trillion which is approximately 7 percent of the world, exports are 10 percent and imports are 12 percent of the world while average GDP growth in last five years is around 5.5 to 6 percent. With integrated preferential trade system, the Islamic countries will prosper given to improved trade and economic activities and strong coordination between the brotherly Islamic countries will be formed.

Mian Zahid Hussain urged the government of Pakistan to mobilize the Islamic chamber and take measures to activate member countries encouraging them for completion of pending trade preferential system. In the backdrop of reducing Oil reserves in Islamic countries and increased consumption of alternative energy resources by the world, the Islamic block need to focus of alternate means of trade and diversify their economies. Pakistan being the only nuclear Muslim state with population of over 211 million and strong armed forces with versatile and huge potential in trade, industry and tourism. Islamic countries can get benefited from Pakistan’s potential and invest in various sector in addition to avail the human resource and defence services.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the chairman of the board of directors of the ICCIA is the current president while FPCCI is serving as member in addition to 18 other chambers of the member countries.

SAARC chamber can play active role for trade improvement: Mian Zahid Hussain

Next president will be from Pakistan

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday said that inter SAARC trade is just 5 percent while SAARC share in global trade is less than 2 percent. Population of South Asia is greater that accumulative population of US, Euro-11 and Japan while its GDP is only $ 1924 billion, as compare to GDP of Japan US 3 thousand billion, US $ 8 thousand billion, and Euro-11 $ 5942 billion. The average unemployment in SAARC region is 18 percent while inflation is 7 percent.

The Veteran Business Leader while talking to the business community said that despite huge potential in the region, the current trade is of $ 30 billion which can easily be taken to $ 100 billion to change the fate of the SAARC countries and curb the poverty and unemployment. Euro-11 share in global exports is 20 percent, 23 percent in global imports and it has headquarters of 100 MNCs amongst leading top 500. Similarly, US is responsible for 16 percent of global exports, 15 percent of global imports and hosts headquarters of 151 leading MNCs while Japan is responsible for 10 percent in global exports, 8 percent in global imports and has headquarters of 104 MNCs. In comparison, South Asia has only one share in global trade and has headquarters of only 5 MNCs.

The Former minister said that SAARC countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan need to strengthen their trade ties and terms, which is vital. To achieve the purpose of better trade between the countries, it is important to improve road transportation, railways, storage facilities on borders and increase in certification bodies. Joint institutions for effective communications and trade connections are required including SAARC development bank for meeting the financial needs of joint institutions and to curb hurdles faced in trade growth.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that many hindrances in increased trade between the SAARC countries include Kashmir dispute in addition to political and historical indifferences, which need to be addressed and resolved. The current president of SAARC chamber of commerce and industry Ruwan Edirisinghe assumed office in March 2018 should take measures for the full functionality of the chamber. The South Asian Free Trade Agreement needs to be reviewed in order to simplify it for the growth of regional trade specifically between SAARC countries, thus increasing the regional trade by 250 percent.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that next president of SAARC will be from Pakistan who will assume charge from March 2020. S. M. Inam and Tariq Saeed have been served as presidents of SAARC CCI in 1993 to 1995 and 2008 to 2010 respectively and have worked for the betterment of regional trade while currently Iftikhar Ali Malik serves as senior vice president of SAARC CCI from Pakistan.

Jazz World App launched for Android and iOS users

Jazz, the country’s leading digital communications company, has launched Jazz World App for its customers available on both iOS and Android platforms. From paying phone bills, recharging prepaid account, accessing usage history or simply subscribing to the best offers, this app helps Jazz users do everything on the move.

Jazz World uses the latest technology with real-time integration to Jazz’s systems on billing information, recharge, and data consumption. To promote transparency, the usage history feature allows you to access Call, SMS and Data history with a single click.

In line with Jazz’s core value of being ’customer obsessed’, the app optimizes the customer experience to ensure a one-click login for Jazz 3G/4G customers. This new self-service mobile app for both android and apple devices help customers go through their everyday lives with more ease.

Jazz is working nonstop to digitize Pakistan and this app is a step closer to achieving that goal. It is estimated that by 2020, mobile apps will generate up to USD189 billion in revenue via app stores. Studies claim that a whopping 91 percent of the worldwide population prefer to use self-service apps due to convenience. That is why Jazz is working hard towards digitizing the country as providing accessibility and convenience to its customers is Jazz’s number one priority.

Jazz World will evolve into a complete platform providing users access to a wide array of digital products and services. This will allow customers to leverage a diverse range of digital products through one single platform.

Speaking at the app’s launch, Chief Digital Officer, Aamer Ejaz, said, “In an increasingly digital world, it is imperative to offer customers the ease of self-servicing. Jazz World offers an easily accessible and user friendly interface, so millions of our users can be empowered enough to help themselves with basic queries and actions related to their personal Jazz account.”

Jazz World can be downloaded from Google Play Store and Apple App Store for free, and is available for both postpaid and prepaid customers.

Remittance from Malaysia Boost Plan

Telenor Microfinance Bank open First blockchain-based remittance service

Telenor Microfinance Bank, in partnership with Valyou of Malaysia, has introduced Pakistan’s first blockchain-based cross-border remittance service, powered by industry-leading blockchain technology developed by Alipay, the online payment platform operated by Ant Financial Services Group (“Ant Financial”).

The blockchain remittance service is provided by Telenor’s Easypaisa and Valyou, a financial technology company that provides remittances to underbanked communities. The plan was unveiled at an event in Islamabad attended by State Bank of Pakistan Governor Tariq Bajwa, marking a major milestone in the country’s journey to promote financial inclusion.

The blockchain technology will significantly boost the speed and efficiency of remittances from Malaysia to Pakistan. It will also ensure the money transfers are highly secure and transparent, as all information stored, shared, or uploaded through the blockchain remittance platform will be encrypted with advanced protocols in order to protect users’ privacy.

Governor State Bank of Pakistan Mr. Tariq Bajwa, while congratulating Ant Financial, Telenor Microfinance Bank, Valyou Malaysia and Standard Chartered Bank for this new initiative and collaboration to promote the use of formal remittance channels, said: “At around USD 20 billion per year, international remittances are important from the perspective of overall macroeconomic stability and their positive spillover in improving lives of millions of families. Home remittances contributed to over 6% in GDP, equivalent to over 50% of our trade deficit, 85% of exports and over one-third of imports during FY 2017-18.”

He also said that the Government of Pakistan and State Bank of Pakistan have taken a number of initiatives to promote the transfer of home remittances using formal financial channels and the new block-chain technology based remittance service would complement these efforts as transfer of cross-border remittances in near real time would bring convenience and facilitation for both remitters and their beneficiaries. “This puts Pakistan on the map of very few countries in the world that have launched International Remittance using block-chain technology”, he added.

Mr. Tariq Bajwa also stated that he expects that the financial sector will take advantage of current favorable market environment by investing in innovative technologies and product offerings to expand services and broaden access to financial services in the country.

The blockchain-powered remittance service will make round-the-clock, real-time money transfers between the two countries possible at a competitive exchange rate, with Alipay’s transaction fees waived during the one-year trial period.

“The new remittance service is one of the examples of how emerging technologies can help countries meet their digital and financial inclusion goals. We’re thrilled to be part of Pakistan’s financial inclusion efforts and we’re dedicated to exploring breakthroughs and applying them to benefit more people in more places,” said Eric Jing, Chairman and CEO of Ant Financial. “I would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to State Bank of Pakistan for all the great support to make this project possible. I congratulate both Easypaisa and Valyou on this major development that will facilitate the people in both countries, putting Pakistan on the map of fintech innovation and promoting financial inclusion.”

By eliminating intermediary costs, the new remittance service reduces transactional cost for end-users, while the blockchain technology enables both senders and receivers to track their money every step of the way, significantly boosting the service’s efficiency and safety.

“The transparency and swiftness this innovative and first-of-its-kind service brings to Pakistani users of international remittance will redefine international money transfer in the country,” said Roar Bjaerum, Senior Vice President, Head of Financial Services, Telenor Group & Chairman Valyou. “Currently, Pakistan receives about USD 1 billion in home remittances from Malaysia and this Easypaisa-Valyou collaboration is going to change it for the better. The service is the result of the close partnership between Telenor Group and Ant Financial Services and epitomizes our shared vision to empower societies by bringing inclusive financial services to the world.”

The service aims to promote and encourage the use of formal channels for remittances, with all existing incentives offered by State Bank of Pakistan for promotion of international remittance through mobile wallet being applicable for this service.

“The international remittance service epitomizes the shared vision of Telenor Group and Ant Financial to empower societies by bringing inclusive financial services to the world,” said Shahid Mustafa, President & CEO, Telenor Microfinance Bank. “It is a bold statement of the wonders new technologies can do to transform the financial services landscape in Pakistan which remains a top priority on the country’s national agenda.”

Pakistan is in the process of strengthening its financial system, with the Pakistani government recently enhancing its National Financial Inclusion Strategy through a five-year plan that aims to create three million jobs and additional exports of USD $5.5 billion by improving SMEs’ access to financing.

Starting from 2015, Alipay has formed nine strategic partnerships with local partners outside Mainland China. As of today, Alipay, together with its global partners, are serving over 1 billion active users globally.

ACCA launches a new report on SME vision and strategy

Success in scaling-up is not only good for the businesses themselves, but also delivers many benefits for the wider economy, including the people who they employ as well as the community in which they operate. At a multi-stakeholder conference organised in Lahore by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), business leaders and regulators discussed the role of governance measures to address Pakistan’s financing gap, alongside the need to formulate policy to help SMEs to scale-up.

“27% of SMEs don’t have a vision that covers more than the next 12 months,” the report finds. However, most SMEs are aware of the benefits of good governance practice but, faced with limited time and resource, many still fail to put it in practice – which could be costly to long-term success.

How vision and strategy helps small businesses succeed is the latest in a global research programme supporting SME growth from ACCA launched today at an event that brought together over 60 SME leaders in Pakistan including representatives from Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA). The business leaders who spoke at the event included Nadia Seth, GM Policy and Planning, SMEDA, Ghalib Nishtar, President, Khushhali Bank and Kamal Mian, Director, Fast Cables.

The report outlines the governance needs of SMEs, where simple but effective practice over vision, strategy and human capital can provide them with greater flexibility, adaptability and resilience as they grow – a huge factor in the long-term sustainability of the business.

“If you incorporate good practice for running your business from an early stage, your company is more likely to be resilient and is more likely to appeal to external investment. Good governance is fundamental for all SMEs but more so in Pakistan, where a majority of businesses sit within this business segment” explained Arif Masud Mirza, Regional Head of Policy – MESA, ACCA at the event.

The research also found that half (49%) of SMEs do not involve anyone external in their strategy discussions, despite the benefits experienced by those that do, which include additional experience and knowledge of the industry/sector (according to 46%), an independent perspective / constructive criticism (44%) and advice on their growth strategy (39%).

Speaking at the event, Kamal Mian, Director, Fast Cables said, “At Fast Cables we have a clearly set and communicated vision and mission underpinned by core values of Quality, Innovation, Customer Focus, Performance with Integrity, Teamwork and Respect for People. I believe the factors of success indicated by ACCA’s report should be built into any future policy supporting SMEs in Pakistan, Vision and Core Values are the bedrock of long-term success.”

During the panel discussion, Nadia Seth, GM Policy and Planning, SMEDA said, “ACCA’s report ’How Vision and Strategy Helps Small Business Succeed’ complements SMEDA’s vision of ’serving as an engine of sustainable growth’ and our mission to assist the building of ’Scale and Competitiveness of SMEs’.”

Ghalib Nishtar, President of the Khushhali Bank Limited said, “The findings from ACCA’s global report ’How Vision and Strategy Helps Small Succeed’ resonate with Khushhali’s mandate to ’establish sustainable platforms’ and ’promote high quality governance’ in our client base. We have to examine how we can support the smallest businesses enterprises to scale up.”

Arif Masud Mirza concluded the panel discussion, saying: “We hope that this research helps SMEs in focusing on some of the most crucial issues, and can be a resource not just to SMEs themselves but also to policymakers.”

How vision and strategy helps small business succeed is available at https://www.accaglobal.com/uk/en/professional-insights/risk/governance-needs-of-smes.html.

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