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Water Project launched in Tharparkar

In partnership with the Green Crescent Trust, the i-Care Foundation has launched the Thar Water Project to provide clean water to over 4,000 families in Tharparkar. The one crore rupees Thar Water Project will increase community resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change.

Zahid Saeed, CEO Green Crescent Trust said “Having access to water is just the tip of the iceberg. Supplying villages with clean water contributes to livelihoods, improves nutrition and limits the spread of disease.”

Recurring drought in Tharparkar causes very high rates of malnutrition in children and women. Acute water shortages result in crops and livestock perishing. Waterborne diseases such as hepatitis and dysentery are prevalent among vast swathes of the population especially women and children.

Lack of access to potable water causes viral infections, and malnutrition leading to the death of nearly 500 infants a year in Thar. Approximately one in two children are chronically malnourished.

Khurram Masood CEO of The i-Care Foundation said “The availability of fresh water directly relates to the food security The Thar Water Project will enable communities to sustain themselves even in drought conditions.”

Green Crescent Trust celebrates its Silver Jubilee in 2019 with 25 years of service to the people of Sindh province with high impact projects in education, orphan support and water. The Green Crescent Trust is primed to bring about a change, and has set itself an ambitious target to provide the clean water in every single one of Tharparkar’s 2,300 villages by 2025.

Standard Chartered launches first-ever global Running event along the Belt and Road

Standard Chartered announced the launch of the Standard Chartered Belt & Road Relay, the first-ever global running event spanning the Belt and Road initiative, with the aim of highlighting the Bank’s continued commitment to Belt and Road, and the positive impact of the initiative to communities and businesses globally.

The Relay will be led by eight staff athletes from Standard Chartered, selected from the Bank’s diverse footprint in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe and the Americas. These athletes will participate in running events across 44 Belt and Road markets within a 90-day period.

Commenting on the launch, Bill Winters, Group Chief Executive, Standard Chartered, said, “The Belt and Road Initiative is the most ambitious and far-reaching project of its kind in the world today. We are present in two-thirds of Belt and Road markets, and our rich heritage, deep local knowledge and unparalleled connectivity mean that we’re ideally placed to help our partners, clients and communities to make the most out of the initiative. By traversing these markets on foot and engaging local clients, governments, media and communities, our Standard Chartered Belt & Road Relay athletes will showcase our commitment to be the One Bank for the Belt and Road.”

The Standard Chartered Belt & Road Relay kicked off in Hong Kong on 17 February, in conjunction with the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, which is one of the biggest sports events in the city with over 74,000 runners, and will end in China on 11 May after the Belt and Road Forum.

Shazad Dada, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Pakistan commented, “We are very proud to host the Belt & Road Relay in Pakistan. The Bank has been in Pakistan and China for more than 150 years. Our longstanding and deep-rooted presence in both countries along with 70 per cent of footprint overlap with B&R countries equips us with in-depth knowledge of prevailing political, economic and cultural environments making us an indispensable partner in this extra ordinary progress. It is therefore incumbent upon us to assist our valued clients to capitalize on these enormous trade opportunities created through better connectivity between them and the rest of the world.

This Belt & Road Relay emphasises our promise to be ’Here for good’, while demonstrating our capabilities in providing comprehensive set of products, services and solutions to our existing as well as prospective clients who are looking to embark upon their growth journeys along the Silk Road.”

China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a flagship project of China’s ’One belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative which will connect Western China to Gwadar Port in Arabian Sea – forming a network of road, rail links to boost trade. Involves variety of energy & infrastructure projects worth $62billion. Standard Chartered has already secured a few major mandates for onshore & offshore banking relationships for these projects in Pakistan essentially providing all services including debt and equity proceeds, FX flows, working capital requirements.

The Belt and Road initiative is core to Standard Chartered. In 2017, the Bank committed additional financing for Belt and Road projects of at least USD 20 billion by 2020, and was involved in more than 50 Belt and Road deals worth more than USD 10billion across a range of products and services.

To follow the progress of the Standard Chartered Belt & Road Relay, or for more information on the Belt and Road initiative, please visit www.sc.com/beltandroadrelay

Energy-efficient vehicles ready to compete at Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2019

Shell Pakistan organized a sendoff event for teams participating in Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2019, an annual energy competition hosted by Shell where student teams from all over the world design, build and drive energy-efficient vehicles.

The sendoff event showcased the innovative and energy-efficient cars Pakistani students will be taking to Shell Eco-marathon Asia next month. This year, ten teams from eight universities are representing Pakistan at the event. The six teams from North Pakistan are; Mech the Tech from Air University, Team Urban and HammerHead ARC from Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology, NUSTAG and NUST Eco-motive from National University of Sciences & Technology and PIEAS Ecomotive from Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The student teams shared their journey which started from creating their teams; qualifying in the initial selection round; and innovating and building their vehicles with the guidance of their mentors. The teams commended their mentors and thanked Shell for this opportunity.

The event showcased five cars from universities in North Pakistan, which have cleared inspection for shipping off to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the regional competition. Habib Haider, External Relations Manager, Shell Pakistan opened the event by saying, ’Student teams from Pakistan have been actively participating in Shell Eco-marathon Asia since 2010. We are proud to be a part of the journey of these young, talented teams. The youth of our country is well equipped to help the nation grow and be recognized at global platforms. It is important for the coming generations to be a part of energy transition coming into play today. This year we hope to see Pakistan represented at the global competition. We wish all the teams best of luck for the competition.’

International hospitality investment group set to invest $118 million on Pakistan’s tourism industry

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As the International Hospitality Investment Group (IHIG) is investing 118 Million Dollars in the tourism industry of Pakistan, the CEO of this resourceful multinational enterprise – Noor ul Asif, along with its Chairman – Mr. Alun Richards, held a meeting with the Chairman Board of Tourism – Mr. Zulfi Bukhari, Special Advisor on Political Affairs to the Prime Minister – Mr. Naeem ul Haq and the Chairmain Board of Investment (BOI) – Mr. Haroon Sharif. The meeting took place at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat in Ibad, to discuss the prospects of investment in Pakistan. Mr. Zulfi Bukhari assured the Chairman of IHIG about the Pakistan Government’s commitment to extend all possible support to foreign investors.

Mr. Richards, expressed his company’s commitment to invest 118 million US Dollars in the tourism and hospitality sector of Pakistan that will create 4000 job opportunities in the country. IHIG has already acquired 2 hotels in Shogran and Bhurban, to elevate the standards of this developing industry. Being the first company that has aligned itself with the Prime Minister of Pakistan’s vision, IHIG will be promoting tourism by facilitating the international tourists coming to Pakistan.

On the occasion, Mr. Richards stated that; “I have spent half of my childhood in Pakistan. Over the recent years, the perception of this beautiful country has changed positively, among the global community. Therefore, an increasingly large number of tourists from all over the world are already expressing the desire to visit Pakistan, where they can explore the diversity of its pristine landscapes, ranging from the world’s highest mountains to scenic beaches on a long coastline, along with lush green fields, vast deserts and much more. The historic traditions of hospitality and the variety of sumptuous cuisines also provides many unforgettable experiences. The Government’s new policy of granting E-Visas for 175 countries, is a brilliant initiative that promises great convenience for international tourists”.

He further stated that; “Pakistan is the only country in the world which attracts all segments of tourism, to see the mesmerizing beauty of Northern areas, especially the Kaghan valley that offers a multitude of exciting attractions and scenery for the domestic and international tourists, with its beautiful weather conditions throughout the year. A soft image of Pakistan is being recognized by the whole world now, so we are ready to invest on building its potential by capitalizing on the tourist-friendly gestures and strong goodwill of the new government.

About IHIG:

International Hospitality Investment Group is Pakistan’s first ever vacation ownership company head quartered in London. IHIG was founded by team of hospitality experts, primarily involved development and marketing of highly desired vacation destinations of Pakistan.

Nestlé Kabirwala Factory announces AWS certification on World Water Day

On the World Water day (WWD), Nestlé Kabirwala factory is the third factory in Pakistan to be awarded the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) certification. Nestlé’s Sheikhupura and Islamabad Factories were already certified by the AWS in 2017 and 2018 respectively. AWS is an international standard, which guides companies and organizations on how to improve their water efficiency, not just onsite, but also offsite.

Only twenty-four sites in the world in fifteen different countries have achieved AWS certification so far. Out of twenty-four, fifteen are Nestlé’s facilities around the world including three sites located in Pakistan. Globally, Nestlé plans to have 20 factories certified by the end of 2020. The Company’s goal is to have all its sites certified by the end of 2019 in Pakistan. Nestlé Pakistan aims to be a responsible water steward by working hard to achieve the ambition for “zero impact” in its direct operations to improve water efficiency.

Waqar Ahmad, Head of Corporate Affairs, Nestlé Pakistan, said, “To mark the WWD, we’re pleased to be awarded the AWS certificate for our Kabirwala Factory. Realizing the importance of collective action approach, Nestlé Pakistan introduced its ‘Caring for Water’ initiative for bringing different stakeholders together to help tackle the water stress. This is also in line with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water and sanitation. The AWS Standard is the perfect roadmap for us; allowing us to consolidate things under one umbrella, helping us view and tackle this issue as a whole instead of working in silos.”

Adrian Sym, CEO AWS, said: “Nestlé’s strategic commitment to implementing the AWS Standard sets an example, demonstrating the importance of water stewardship in delivering benefits for communities, nature and business. Through our global membership, we will be calling on and supporting other major businesses to follow Nestlé’s lead in making meaningful and independently verifiable contributions to our shared water challenges through implementation of the AWS Standard.”

Hammad Naqi, CEO, WWF Pakistan, said: “In a reiteration of our purpose on this World Water Day, WWF-Pakistan aims to promote environmental conservation and the efficient use of our shared resources. Through the implementation of Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standard, we are helping redefine the role of private sector in advocating, supporting and promoting better basin governance for the benefit of people and nature.”

JS Bank signs on as Title Sponsor for Pakistan-Australia ODI Series

JS Bank, Pakistan’s fastest growing bank has joined hands with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) as title sponsors for the Pakistan- Australia series which is scheduled to be played in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai from March 22-31, 2019.

Going beyond business, JS Bank has supported the revival of sports in Pakistan through partnerships with leading athletic institutions including Islamabad United for PSL. The Bank has also launched its own program titled ’Future World Champions’ which aims to nurture the growth of budding players at a grassroots level in the field of squash, football and others.

The tournament trophy was unveiled at Sharjah Stadium yesterday in a joint ceremony in the presence of Azhar Khan, Group Head Operations and Technology – JS Bank along with Shoaib Malik, Captain of the Pakistan team and Aaron Finch, Captain of the Australian team.

“As a national institution, JS Bank has consistently undertaken efforts to build the athletic and sporting fraternity of Pakistan.” said Azhar Khan. “We foresee a long-term partnership with the cricketing world and hope to work closely with PCB to make this and future tournaments a resounding success.”

By undertaking such innovative and value adding partnerships, JS Bank remains committed towards its role as a catalyst towards the progress and prosperity of Pakistan.

 

Digitizing Agriculture Payments
JazzCash Joins Hands with Government of Punjab

JazzCash, leader in active mobile wallet base, and the Agriculture Department of the Government of Punjab have recently partnered up in an effort to digitize the disbursement of subsidy payments to farmers where JazzCash will provide disbursement services to Punjab Agriculture Department, Government of Punjab.

Agriculture sector contributes around 24% to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country and accounts for half of the employed labor force. For this reason, the Punjab Agriculture Department has incentivized the farmers in the province in an effort to uplift production and productivity of key crops and has decided to financially support the cost of producing the crops.

Aamer Ejaz, Chief Digital Officer at Jazz stated, “There is no doubt that we are working hard to bridge the banking divide by turning the country into a cashless economy and partnerships like these are only taking us further down the road to attain this goal.” He added, “Receiving the subsidy through JazzCash is not only cost efficient but also time efficient.”

This partnership is another leap forward in Jazz’s determination to make Pakistan a digital, cashless economy. Punjab Agriculture Department will disburse the support price on fertilizer, cotton, oil seeds and other agricultural inputs via JazzCash. The JazzCash team has developed a user friendly interface for the disbursement of payments to the farmers where the user will be able to conveniently disburse the funds with the single click of a button.

The farmers will be able to withdraw the subsidy amounts from any ATM machine or from widespread JazzCash retailer networks spread nationwide instead of going through the hassle of waiting in queues at the local banks.

Noman Langrial, Minister of Agriculture, Punjab said, “Agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan and like everything else, it must find ways to make a place for itself in this fast changing world.” He continued, “The digital revolution is bringing a transformation in agriculture and digital platforms and use of mobile-enabled tools such as JazzCash can encourage farmers inclusion, empowerment and agricultural practices.”

The agreement was signed at the agriculture office in Lahore during a contract signing ceremony.

edotco, Jazz in deal to drive digital transformation in Pakistan

edotco Group (“edotco”), the leading end-to-end integrated telecommunications infrastructure services company, through its local operations edotco Pakistan Private Limited (edotco PK), has sealed a landmark long-term partnership with Jazz, the country’s leading digital communications company, with a commitment to accelerate the development of telecommunications infrastructure in the nation. Together edotco and Jazz are enhancing Pakistan’s infrastructure and furthering Jazz’s effort to modernize and expand its network nationwide.

As part of this partnership, edotco, the largest independent tower company in Pakistan with over 950 towers, will construct new towers in strategic areas to meet Pakistan’s rapidly growing coverage and capacity requirements and acquire a number of existing towers. edotco continues to be a key nation building digital transformation partner for Pakistan, aiming to help the country shape its telecommunications landscape for future 5G-readiness.

“Building a digital nation requires the collective investment of various stakeholders within the ecosystem. Our partnership with Jazz today marks a new milestone for Pakistan’s connectivity agenda. We offer our partners a sustainable and optimal model to accelerate their network deployment initiatives by capitalising on our advanced solutions and best in class practices, ensuring that the country has the right infrastructure in place to enhance the nation’s digital readiness,” said Arif Hussain, Country Managing Director, edotco Pakistan.

Describing the partnership as strategic for Jazz’s market leadership, Aamir Ibrahim, Chief Executive Officer of Jazz said, “Pakistan’s telecommunication landscape is maturing as the country accelerates its push for digitalization. This transformation will result in Jazz streamlining its network operations and meeting the demands for fast, reliable data, which is essential for a rapidly evolving digital landscape. As the nation’s leading communications company, it is our mission to spearhead Pakistan’s digital agenda through such innovative partnerships”.

CIS Islamic Banking and Finance Forum to be Held in Tashkent-Uzbekistan
Commonwealth Independent Stats (CIS) are new destination for Islamic Banking & Finance

CIS Islamic Banking and Finance Forum will convene in Tashkent – Uzbekistan on 2nd May, 2019 to explore and discuss innovative financial inclusion strategies that can create clear pathways to financial and economic Solutions. This Apex event is organized by AlHuda CIBE in association JS SABOAM LLC and Sponsored by Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector- ICD. ICD is one of the premier Islamic multilateral financial institution for the development of the private sector.

More than 15 countries will be participating in this prestigious event including Middle East, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan etc. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are well developed in this concept whereas Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are developing in the same way slowly but steadily. The theme of the forum is to explore the untapped potential of Islamic Finance market of CIS countries and to adopt the latest trends, address the challenges and discover the new opportunities in Islamic financial industry of Central Asia. Islamic Banking and Finance is the only solution for Banking and Financial needs. The forum will cover a variety of topics including Islamic Finance and Financial Inclusion, Takaful, Investment opportunities in Central Asia and Uzbekistan and Sukuk (the Islamic Bonds).

The main objectives of the forum include e.g. recognizing significant developments in Islamic Financial Infrastructure of Central Asia, linkages of Central Asian Islamic Finance industry with international financial market, demonstration of the flexibility of Islamic Financial markets during recent financial crisis, share the best practices of the international Islamic banking market with Central Asian Islamic finance Industry, assessing innovations in Islamic financial markets through the growth of newly developed research based products etc. The event is open for the public with very nominal entrance fee. It is highly recommended that more and more organizations, companies and banks should join the summit in order to gain the maximum benefit from this international event in Uzbekistan.

Mr. Muhammad Zubair Mughal, Chief Executive Officer, AlHuda CIBE – UAE echoed his thoughts, and said that Islamic finance is fastest growing area in CIS countries, Islamic finance is not only developing its roots in Muslim countries but many non-Muslim countries are getting benefit from it. AlHuda Centre of Islamic Banking and Economics (CIBE) is committed to providing specialized Training, Advisory and Research globally with commitment, dedication, and aspiration in Central Asia. Keeping the above vision in mind, AlHuda CIBE with its vibrant staff has been working with full dedication since 2006 for strengthening Islamic Financial System. He also added that AlHuda CIBE already have its footprints in the world different countries but in next six months they will unlock two new countries from Central Asia including Uzbekistan for their services. Industry well known speakers will be addressing the event including Mr. Pervez Nasim, Chairman & CEO, Ansar Financial and Development Corporation (“AFDC”), Canada. Mrs. Alimova Nodira Saidakhemedovna, A Member of UZLIDEP Uzbek Liberal Democratic Party of the Movement of Entrepreneurs and Businessmen, Uzbekistan, Mufti Aziz ur Rahman, Qazi Abdul Samad, Shariah Advisor of Bank of Khyber – Pakistan, Mr. Ulugbek Holmatov, Chairman of the Board, Founder, SABOAM LLC Dubai, Mr. Aijaz Ali Khawaja, Provincial Coordinator Poverty Eradication Initiative (PEI) Pakistan and Mr. Muhammad Zubair, Managing Director – AlHuda CIBE FZ LLE – U.A.E. Moreover, H.E. Dr. Irfan Yusuf Shami, Ambassador, Embassy of Pakistan, Tashkent, Uzbekistan will attend the event as Chief Guest.

Business and Human Rights: Opportunities and Challenges session held at IBA, Karachi

Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts, Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi and the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) organized a panel discussion titled Business and Human Rights: Opportunities and Challenges at the IBA, Karachi main campus.

The panel comprised of former President of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and former advisor to Chief Minister Sindh on investment, Zubair Motiwala; visiting faculty of law at IBA and human rights activist who also works with social movements, Abira Ashfaq; former Joint Director, Labour Department of Sindh, Government of Pakistan, Gulfam Nabi Memon; and Joint Director, PILER, Zulfiqar Shah. Chair of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts Department at IBA Karachi, Dr. Faiza Mushtaq introduced the session.

The session sought to explore the increasing global focus on ethics in trade. Pakistan is particularly at the center of this debate as it holds a prominent position in agriculture and textile value chain exports. Pakistan has also been granted the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP+) status starting in 2014 that allows tariff free exports to Europe in return for compliance to a set of international treaties and conventions, related to human rights and labour rights. The discussion particularly focused on the working conditions, health and occupational safety hazards, labour and workplace laws and the issue of low wages in the country, among other aspects related to participation of Pakistani labour in global trade.

The discussion also steered towards the processes adopted to ensure compliance to rights standards and best practices at workplace and whether such mechanisms were effective enough or not.

The diverse set of panelists shared their expertise on the subject matter. Explaining the significance of GSP+ for Pakistan, Mr. Shah noted that while it has raised export revenues, the status is symbolic of the emerging reality that trade is not just associated with producing and selling items, it is now also linked with the provision of human rights and labour rights in businesses. “The world is now looking at the business sector to ensure human rights are protected at their workplaces and daily operations” he added.

Mr. Shah also stated that Pakistan stands on the sixth position when it comes to labour bondage and the 2012 Baldia fire tragedy, repeated fire accidents and the recent incident at Clifton’s Marina Tower, which killed six construction workers, are just a few examples of the compromised structure of labour rights in the country.

Ms. Ashfaq spoke about the plight of home-based workers who produce at the low end of the global supply chain. “Home-based workers work in isolation under compromised conditions and do not get the rights that those working on factory floors do,” she said. Even though Pakistan has signed and ratified several treaties when it comes to human rights and labour rights, it is important to note that in terms of laws to implement them, not much is being done on the ground to ensure that workers reap the benefit.

Representing the trade and business community in Pakistan, Mr. Motiwala said that it isn’t easy for any business to remain aloof and not abide by the rules and laws that exist in the country. He said that it isn’t easy selling the ’Made in Pakistan’ brand around the world, as we have issues ranging from high production cost and quality deficits, to challenges like terrorism and human rights violations associated with our name. “Therefore, our exports do not increase or surpass US$24-25 million and we have to be more competent than other countries in the South Asian region to exceed it. Making Pakistan sellable as a brand is important to have a better economy.”

Mr. Memon shed light on the various legislations that have been done in Pakistan to comply with human rights and labour rights conventions. He said that the Sindh government took various steps to ensure legislations in favour of labour including home-based workers and child labour in the province. He discussed about Sindh’s provincial administration conducting a child labour survey in collaboration with UNICEF.

Responding to a question regarding social audits and why the condition of labour inspection is weak in Pakistan, Mr. Memon admitted that corruption is a reality in the labour department. “There is a lack of political will, capacity deficit in officers and the trend of unfair recruitments among a lot of other issues that affect the performance of the concerned departments.”

Ms. Ashfaq drew attention to the problematic structure of trade liberalization that seeks to exploit labour in developing countries for excessive consumption. “There is a need to end the dichotomy between dreamy human rights aspirations and the real complexities of business, because all stakeholders are interconnected in solving these issues.”

The session ended with a Q/A session with the audience.

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