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Moody’s determined Pakistan’s external debt repayment as challenging: Mian Zahid Hussain

Business Community welcomes FM Asad Umar’s statement regarding EoDB

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 Moody’s in its recent report determined Pakistan’s external debt repayment as challenging for the country given to the current situation including swelling current account and trade deficits. Though the financial packages attained from friendly countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE and China is a great achievement of the current government but the foreign reserves are still under pressure and not sufficient to meet two months’ imports bills.

The Veteran Business Leader while talking to the business community said that according to Moody’s Pakistan debt stock was 72 percent at the closing of FY 2018 which was higher the than the 58% median for B-rated sovereigns and expert to reach to 76 percent in coming years. Moody’s predicted on the basis of shrinking foreign reserves and swelling foreign debts that the foreign debts repayment will be challenging and the available reserves does not suffice the external debts in 2019. However, given to the improving power, infrastructure and security situation in the country, growth prospects have been improved in addition to trader’s confidence. CPEC short and long run projects cooperative in betterment of trade, industry and economy of the country and will drive Pakistan towards economic sustainability after completion.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that increase of 1500 points in KSE-100 index on the last day of previous week is appreciative and it is expected that trade opportunities will further flourish in the country. The current government seems sincere in making efforts for a better economy as the Finance Minister Asad Umar said in business community in Karachi that the Finance Bill is expected to float on January 23 which will provide ease of doing business, reduce cost of doing business and will draw positive impacts on stock exchange. Business community appreciate FM Asad Umar statement regarding reducing CoDB and measures for EoDB.

The Former Minister said that in order to turn the current economic situation towards betterment, government needs to ensure instant refunds of exporters and take long term measures in addition to offering incentives for the export sector. Business community hopes that the current government will take concrete and practical steps for the betterment and growth of trade, industry and economy according to its vision.

Zameen Expo 2019 – Karachi concludes successfully

Pakistan’s biggest property portal Zameen.com successfully hosted Zameen Expo 2019 – Karachi. The event received thousands of visitors over the two days it was held. The Expo took place in Halls 4, 5, and 6 of Expo Centre, and over 130 exhibitors from all over Pakistan presented their projects. This was the fourth edition of this event in Karachi and the 17th Zameen Expo.

The Expo was inaugurated by Mr Aqeel Karim Dhedhi, Chairman AKD Group. Speaking at the occasion, Zameen.com CEO Zeeshan Ali Khan said that this year also started off with a highly successful Zameen Expo. He added that since its inception, Zameen.com has been striving to take Pakistan’s property market to new heights, and holds such events on a consistent basis. Furthermore, he stated that Zameen.com had held four Zameen Expos in Pakistan in the last year, along with the second edition of Pakistan Property Show in Dubai. Hundreds of thousands of people participated in these events, showing the trust placed in Zameen.com. These events are not only beneficial for real estate and related industries, but also allow people to get all the information and options they require for property buying and investment under one roof. Khan added that Zameen Expos would also be held in Lahore, Islamabad, and Peshawar this year. He also announced that the third edition of Pakistan Property Show Dubai would be held in September 2019 and thanked everyone for their part in Zameen Expo 2019 – Karachi.

On both days, thousands of visitors and families attended the Expo and showed their interest in Pakistan’s real estate. Many deals were also closed on the spot in a number of projects. At the event, visitors came from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, and all over Pakistan. Zameen Expo 2019 – Lahore will be held in February, while Zameen Expo 2019 – Islamabad will be held in March. Apart from these events, Zameen Expo will be held for the first time in Peshawar in April 2019.

TCS and 1LINK Collaborate for Biller Initiator Model

In a recent development in digital payments landscape, TCS has collaborated with 1LINK to introduce the service of collecting bill payments at their 900+ TCS Express Centers and at the doorsteps of their customers. The signing ceremony was held at 1LINK Head Office in Karachi.

As per the agreement between TCS and 1LINK, TCS will be assuming the role of bill initiator whereas 1LINK will be leveraging its Bill Payment Service. With the arrangement in place, now customers will have increased access points of paying their bills.

The two options of bill payment include: over the counter payments by walk-in customers at any of the 900+ TCS Express Centers or via TCS delivery agents, who are equipped with hand-held devices that may be used to accept payments at the doorsteps of customers.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Salman Akram, CEO TCS, said “We are pleased to collaborate with 1LINK in offering a customized, state-of-the-art bill payment option to our consumers. Our focus remains on the modern-day needs of our people as we continue to expand our resources to devise pragmatic, reliable and timely solutions that are on par with global trends.”

Mr. Najeeb Agrawalla, CEO 1LINK said “1LINK is proud to partner with TCS in introducing an innovative method of paying bills which is customer centric and will bring significant convenience to the consumers. It is encouraging to see non-banking players playing an active role in digital payments sphere and offer value added services whilst utilizing their existing infrastructure.”

Ride for a Cause; Shell Advance co-partners with Ride Pakistan

Shell Advance co-partnered with Ride Pakistan, a support and awareness group for motorcycle enthusiasts, to ride for a cause.

The event welcomed participation of all motorcycle enthusiasts. The aim was to create awareness for different social causes that included Aman Foundation, LRBT, TCF, Indus Hospital and Cancer Foundation Hospital. A parallel objective was to inculcate a safety culture while riding for participants and onlookers.

The ride kicked off at Bilawal Chowrangi, covered areas of DHA and Clifton and concluded at Seaview. Around 300 enthusiasts participated with safety gear and helmets, riding a wide range of bikes which included classics, vintage, retro, off-road, adventure, cruiser, sports/super, scooters and customized bikes. Traffic rules were strictly followed to encourage responsible riding.

The governor of Sindh, Mr. Imran Ismail, graced the event with his presence.

Habib Haider, Head of External Relations of Shell Pakistan, appreciated the initiative saying, ’We believe everyone needs to play their part for Road Safety; by being a responsible citizen and abiding by the rules, we can protect lives of others and ourselves. We are happy to be co-partnering with Ride Pakistan, to ride for a social cause, and we hope to see similar endeavors in the future.’

H.E. Wendy Gilmour, high commissioner of Canada, opens trading day at Pakistan stock exchange

The High Commissioner of Canada, H.E. Wendy Gilmour and her team visited the Pakistan Stock Exchange on Friday to open the trading session with the gong ceremony. Chairman of the Board, Sulaiman Mehdi, Managing Director, Richard Morin; Board Members Ahmed Chinoy and Shehzad Chamdia, and senior management of Pakistan Stock Exchange received the distinguished guests and led them to the Trading Hall for the ceremony. Welcoming the guests, the PSX team apprised Ms. Gilmour and her team about the role of Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in developing the capital market and the macro economic impact on the Capital Market.

Opening the trading day with the gong ceremony, the Canadian High Commissioner thanked the PSX team for inviting her for the ceremony. The High Commissioner said “there is great opportunity for Pakistan-Canada trading relationship for direct merchandise trade, for services, and investment in both directions”. She further added, “we are ready and interested to work with Pakistan business community and take advantage of the abundant opportunities that Pakistan offers for socio-economic growth with multifarious business opportunities in a wide spectrum of industries and economic sectors.”

After the gong ceremony, an informal meeting took place between the PSX team and the Canadian High Commission team. In the meeting, matters relating to Pakistan economics, Investment environment, Capital market and the new government were discussed. The possibility of investment by Canadians, including the Pakistani diaspora in Canada, were also discussed. From the Canadian investors’ perspective, the main concerns brought to the table include access to the Stock Market as well as profit repayments procedures. Furthermore, the potential attractiveness of the market was also emphasized.

Mr. Richard Morin, MD of PSX, explained and identified options of portfolio fund managers in Canada who can assist and provide access to the Canadian investors to Pakistan Stock Exchange. He also highlighted that there is a US based ETF on Pakistan in USA, so Canadian investment managers can work with PSX to develop offerings for the investors in Canada.

Sulaiman Mehdi, Chairman of the Board of PSX, talked about the general economic environment of Pakistan, its political and security situation. He emphasized that the situation is bound to get better in the country with the necessary steps being taken by the current government in the right direction. He mentioned that Pakistan was making efforts to transition from a trade-oriented economy to an industrialized one.

On the subject of business facilitation via subsidies, Ahmed Chinoy, Member of PSX Board commented that government has offered subsidies across all major sectors to enhance business activity and improve investment climate,

Shehzad Chamdia, Member of the Board of PSX, added that the current economic situation will hopefully straighten out and foreign currency reserves will stabilize in the near future as the efforts start taking effect. This is turn will allow a smooth and speedier remittance mechanism in the near future, he added.

The High Commissioner of Canada, H.E. Wendy Gilmour, said Pakistan and Canada enjoy historical ties based on trust and friendship. She added that Canada has endeavored to help Pakistan in its strides to develop economically and in other spheres of national importance, as well, like development assistance, safety & security, governance, democracy, human rights and climate change. She hoped that good relations between the two friendly countries will prevail and would allow for continuation of Canadian assistance to Pakistan in the future in other spheres as well such as Information Technology and Renewable Energy.

Richard Morin and the PSX team thanked the Canadian High Commissioner and her team for their visit. Morin hoped that further economic cooperation between Canada and Pakistan will lead to better prospects for the development and progress of Pakistan’s economy while providing for trade benefits and further cooperation for Canada.–PR

National Highway Authority Public Relations Directorate

Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed has said, we are determined to overcome travelling difficulties being faced by the people and provide them safe and sound journey on our roads. In a few days, Lahore Ravi Toll Plaza at Lahore-Islamabad Motorway (M-2) is being shifted while new lanes are being added to Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway (M-1) Toll Plaza. The Federal Minister also ordered to remove Pindi Bhattian – Faisalabad Motorway (M-3) Toll Plaza. He desired immediate steps to be taken to remove congestion on Motorway Toll Plaza (M-9) at Karachi. He was addressing a briefing session at Ministry of Communications here today. Senior officers of the FWO gave briefing. Chairman National Highway Authority Jawwad Rafique Malik, Inspector General National Highways and Motorway Police Allah Dino Khawaja, Director General FWO Maj General Inam Haider and senior high ups from Ministry of Communications also participated.

Mr. Murad Saeed said, our target is to discipline the highways and motorways system and for the purpose pragmatic steps are being taken. Electronic Toll Plazas and E-Tag system require to be started on motorways network.

Earlier FWO’s Project Director Col. Zia-ur-Rehman told in the briefing that 27000 vehicles pass through M-2 daily, while number of vehicles increases upto 31000 vehicles at weekends. 17 toll booths are operational at Ravi Toll Plaza, while 8 more booths will be added. It was further told that Mobile APP, Helpline, Customer Care Centre, FM Radio, WIFI and Monitoring through electronic digital camera facilities are available at M-2. In the upcoming afforestation campaign 2.5 million saplings will be planted all along Lahore-Islamabad Motorway under Clean and Green Pakistan drive of Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Imran Khan.

Excellent potential of $ 10 bn annual trade lies between Pakistan & Turkey: 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 Pakistan and Turkey are brotherly Muslim countries. Relations between the peoples and the governments of the two countries are based on a common cultural and religious heritage. Both countries unconditionally cooperated with each other at the multilateral forums including at the United Nations, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Economic Cooperation Organization and other relevant forums. Turkey has always supported Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir dispute to be resolved in accordance to the charter of United Nations and both countries stood firm with each other in the time of need.

The Veteran Business Leader while talking to the business community said that there is huge trade potential of almost $ 10 billion between both countries while current trade is approx. $ 500 million. In December 2013, EU granted GSP+ status to Pakistan wherein it was expected that Turkey will also do the same, but Turkey proposed FTA between both countries and negotiation started in 2015. A total seven rounds of negotiations have taken place till 2018 wherein both countries are agreed to reduce customs and regulatory duties by 85 percent but the agreement could not completed yet. Government needs to take measures for early signing of FTA and ensure that the agreement must support the purpose of increasing Pakistan’s exports. FPCCI could not play any role due to lack in research and absence of able leadership.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that Turkey is comparatively small country with population 80 million but its GDP ranked 7 globally with $ 858 billion in 2016 while Pakistan ranked 40 with GDP of $ 284 billion despite huge population of 210 million people. Turkey’s had exports of $ 143 billion, imports of $199 billion while trade deficit was $ 56 billion in comparison to Pakistan’s exports of $ 21 billion, imports of $ 47 billion and trade deficit of $ 26 billion. Technical support for Lahore Metro Bus project has been provided by Turkey based company which enabled Pakistan to execute this important project of Rs. 30 billion. According to the global index of EoDB, Turkey’s ranking is 43 while Pakistan stands at 136, to increase global trade of Pakistan, the government needs to work for the betterment of ease of doing business in the country.

The Former Minister said that during his recent visit to Turkey the Prime Minister Imran Khan discussed the trade potential and investment opportunities with met with business community of Turkey along with his delegation of Ministers. It is expected that the emotions rich relationship between both countries will uplift the trade and investment relations by starting joint ventures and increased bilateral trade.

Muhammad Aurangzeb elected chairman of Pakistan banks’ association

On completion of the term of Mr. Aftab Manzoor, as Chairman, Pakistan Banks’ Association (PBA), Mr. Muhammad Aurangzeb, President & CEO, Habib Bank Limited, has been unanimously elected as Chairman PBA. The PBA elections were held in Karachi on January 14, 2019.

Muhammad Aurangzeb joined HBL on April 30, 2018 as the President & CEO. He has an overall international banking experience of over 30 years, working at senior management positions with leading global banks.

The Pakistan Banks’ Association (PBA) represents the Financial Institutions regulated by the State Bank of Pakistan and its main objective is to coordinate the efforts of the banking industry and to share a common vision of progress and development with its members.

Third Lab Azad Award Honors Journalists for Excellence in Right-Based Reporting

The 3rd Lab Azad Award distribution ceremony was organized by the Centre for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) IBA, Karachi, in collaboration with the Centre for Communication Programs Pakistan, Palladium: Make it Possible and The Sukh Initiative – Aman Foundation at the Institute of Business Administration’s city campus.

Journalists from across Pakistan submitted their news stories that had been published between July 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018. The aim of this independent annual award is to recognize and promote rights-based reporting in Pakistan, especially on issues that affect the most ignored and marginalized factions of society. Awards were distributed to print and broadcast journalists who developed exceptional stories that brought to the fore some of the most imperative issues afflicting society.

An independent jury comprising of veteran journalists assessed the shortlisted submissions following a comprehensive criterion to select the winners. The panel of judges comprised of a correspondent in Southern Pakistan for Agence France Presse (AFP), Ashraf Khan, host of the current affairs program Crosscheck at Public TV, Owais Tohid for ’Excellence in Reporting for TV and Radio’, editor of The News on Sunday, Farah Zia for ’Excellence in Reporting for District Correspondents’, group editor of Daily Express, Ayaz Khan for ’Excellence in Reporting for Urdu Newspapers and Online Content’ and deputy editor of the op-ed pages of The News, Zaibunissa Burki for ’Excellence in Reporting for English Newspapers and Online Content’.

The stories were divided into three categories – child rights, health rights and women rights. These were then further divided into four awards for each category namely: ’Excellence in Reporting for Urdu Newspaper and Urdu Online Content’, ’Excellence in Reporting for English Newspaper and English Online Content’, ’Excellence in Reporting for TV and Radio’ and ’Excellence in Reporting for District Correspondents’.

In his welcome address, Director IBA-CEJ, Kamal Siddiqi said that the idea behind the award was to encourage good journalism and highlight distinction in reporting on social issues. “We all know that we can do much better and this is one way to recognize people doing good journalism,” he said. “These are challenging times and journalism is under threat,” he added.

Ghazi Salahuddin concurred with the Director CEJ that times were indeed challenging for the media. “Media shouldn’t be alone in its fight for freedom, rather the society should also support it as the media is the voice that protects the freedom of the society.”

The chief guest of the event was Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry. In his address, he said that his ministry is planning to table a bill in the National Assembly for the protection of journalists. The new legislation will be similar to the one enacted in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

He also spoke at length of the reforms he is trying to bring about at the ministry. “I am honored to be here, and I think this is a brilliant initiative,” he praised the CEJ’s efforts. He announced that the information ministry is trying to work on the development of a media technology school in Pakistan and the development of a Journalist Protection Act, similar to the legislation in KP.

He further added that he is working on providing health insurance to working journalists and is committed to safeguarding the interests of journalists in Pakistan. “The future is of ideas where only superior ideas will win and they can only be generated through constructive debate and dialogue,” he added.

Commenting on how crucial such initiatives are, Burki, one of the judges, said, “It’s wonderful to see the sort of work our journalists men and women, seniors and those new to the field are continuing to do despite all the challenges they face. It was a pleasure to read so many stories that focused on human rights. This award becomes all the more important at a time when such stories don’t make it to prime-time TV and to our very overly political front pages.”

JS Bank Collaborates With UFC GYM PAKISTAN

JS Bank, one of Pakistan’s leading financial institutions and UFC Gym Pakistan, a global wellness club have entered into an exclusive partnership for promotion of fitness and health within the country. Under the terms of this partnership, JS Bank card holders can avail discounts on installment plans for life time memberships, tickets of pay-per-view MMA fights, different UFC Gym restaurants and cafes and lucrative deals on their Platinum Cinemas.

An international franchise merging mixed martial arts training with state-of-the-art equipment, UFC has opened its first club in Lahore and expects to open 15 clubs in major locations in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

Speaking at the occasion, Umair Nizam Shaikh – Head of Alliances, JS Bank stated, “As one of Pakistan’s most progressive financial institutions, JS Bank has taken the lead in forging such innovative alliances. With the passage of time, we hope to undertake further such partnerships and establish JS Bank Cards as the credit card of choice for the market.”

Shahzad Nawaz – CEO UFC stated, “UFC Gym is an international wellness club which aims to build and supporting the fitness community. Living up to our slogan “Train Different”, we looked for and found a financial partner which has differentiated itself based on its aggressive and business focused approach.”

JS Bank, one of Pakistan’s leading and fastest growing financial institutions is continually undertaking efforts to drive promotion of healthy and organized sports within Pakistan.

Indus Motor Company wins Global Compact Network Pakistan Award 2018

The Global Compact Network Pakistan (GCNP) has conferred the second prize of Business Sustainability Award 2018 to Indus Motor Company (IMC) in the category of Multinational Companies. This prestigious award is granted in recognition of integrating the ten principles of United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and for embracing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Winning this prestigious award fourth time in a row signifies IMC’s continuous commitment towards its objective of enhancing quality of life and contributing towards a healthier future in complete alignment with UN’s SDGs. Hence, the company places the highest priority on good governance, steering the management and employees to follow strict procedural controls, regular audits and disclosures to ensure transparency, work through clear management lines and respect labor laws to provide an equitable environment for all staff. The company promotes environmental conservation by adhering to best operational practices and maintaining strict health and safety standards.

Sharing his views on the occasion, Ali Asghar Jamali, Chief Executive Officer, IMC, said, “We are honored to be recognized by GCNP for our dedication to maintain best practices across our business operations. The acknowledgement not only motivates us further to continue our mission in line with UNGC principles but also maximize our support to SDGs.

He further expressed, “In today’s business world, sustainable movement is gaining traction worldwide among governments and businesses, which is not only good for the environment and the communities they operate in, but beneficial to the bottom line as well.”

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