ECONOMIC TIMES OF PAKISTAN
Pakistan decides to continue supplying imported lng
Pakistan decided on Friday to continue supplying imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) to two power plants, even after their privatisation, for six more years, which the Power Division claimed would place an extra burden of Rs471 billion on consumers due to a high fuel cost.
For the second consecutive meeting, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet discussed a summary of the Power Division about gas sale and power purchase issues related to the National Power Parks Management Company Limited (NPPMCL).
NPPMCL owns two power plants located at Balloki and Haveli Bahadur Shah having a combined generation capacity of 2,453 megawatts and settlement of these issues were critical before inviting Expressions of Interest (EOI) from prospective investors.
EU suggests product diversity for tapping GSP + potential
European Union Ambassador Androulla Kaminara has stressed the need for more value addition and product diversity in Pakistan in an effort to tap the full potential of market access to EU member states under the GSP Plus facility as the country’s exports to the bloc have grown 62% since the grant of the status in 2014.
In a meeting hosted in honour of the EU ambassador by the All Pakistan Business Forum (APBF), the envoy said the EU could assist Pakistan in expanding exports and uplifting industries by launching joint ventures in various sectors.
She outlined her focus and priorities while appreciating the talent and potential of the Pakistani nation. She suggested that Pakistani businessmen should reach out to the outside world in order to highlight the potential of their products, which would help attract more investment and promote trade.
Young entrepreneurs should opt ATX-Pak advance programme
Innovative and young Pakistani entrepreneurs should opt for the ATX-Pak Advance Programme in order to enter the US market in collaboration with their counterparts from Austin, Texas, USA, said ATX-Pak Business Development Programme founder Alica Dean.
Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Friday, she said the second phase of the ATX-Pak Advance Programme was aimed at connecting entrepreneurs, investors, influencers and educators from Austin to their counterparts in Pakistan.
She added that the start-up community of Austin would be involved in the programme to transform the city into a major marketplace in a bid to send fashion garments to other American states while making use of the city’s prime location.
FTA-II to come into effect from December
Pakistan has voiced hope that its trade with China will increase after the second phase of a free trade agreement comes into effect next month.
Addressing a news conference on Friday, Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said,
“The second phase of FTA with China will become effective from December 1, 2019.”
He said that this was the start of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and business-to-business relations, which would grow rapidly.
The adviser added that during his visit to Beijing, he held negotiations with the Chinese side on the export potential for agricultural products. He said that he had taken up the matter with the Chinese side for giving market access to Pakistani agriculture products.
China agreed to import fruits and vegetables from Pakistan for the western part. However, he said that the Ministry of National Food Security did not have the required capacity to address issues of quarantine.
191 Pakistani billionaires given tax relief of Rs 61.4billion
Governments of Prime Minister Imran Khan and former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi gave Rs61.4 billion in tax relief to just 191 billionaires, who had been caught owning offshore assets but were bailed out through two tax amnesty schemes.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Thursday shared financial details with the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance of people whose data was exchanged by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The FBR did not disclose the identity of these people as both the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) tax amnesty schemes provided legal cover to keep names secret of the beneficiaries.
All industrial regions in Karachi to be dealt as single zone
All industrial zones of Karachi would be dealt as a single zone in order to facilitate the construction of industrial structures, said Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) Director General Zafar Ahsan.
Speaking at the Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI), Ahsan said the move would facilitate a smooth processing of construction-related queries.
“Industrialisation is the only solution to the economic woes faced by the country and we are trying to facilitate the sector on a priority basis,” he said. “SBCA is working closely with the World Bank to steer ease of doing business in Pakistan, which has yielded some results.”
Pak’s FATF blues not over yet
Pakistan may remain on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list for a protracted period, as it may be handed over yet another action plan for implementation for one to three years on the basis of a recently-approved Mutual Evaluation Report (MER), said Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar on Thursday.
The Asia Pacific Group— the FATF-styled regional body — had found serious deficiencies in Pakistan’s anti-money laundering measures and combating terror financing frameworks in its mutual evaluation report released a few weeks ago.
“As a result of the MER carried out by the Asia Pacific Group, Pakistan was under observation till October 2020,” said the minister.
He gave a briefing to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue that met under the chair of former Finance Minister Asad Umar.
“If we do not fully implement the APG’s recommendations by October next year, a new action plan of one to three years can be given to Pakistan,” said the minister in his opening remarks.
In February last year, the FATF had decided to place Pakistan on the grey list with effect from June 2018. Pakistan had been given a 27-point ambitious action plan that required it to completely choke terror financing and monetary laundering, dismantle terrorists’ sanctuaries, and make banking and non-banking financial regulations more stringent.
The APG’s MER was separate from the FATF’s 27-point plan, which will keep the sword hanging on the country for at least next two to three years.
The FATF plenary met last month and gave Pakistan four more months to completely implement the 27-point Action Plan after Islamabad was found fully compliant only on five points.
“Pakistan needs to do more and it needs to do it faster. Pakistan’s failure to fulfil FATF’s global standards is an issue that we take very seriously,” FATF President Xiangmin Liu said while addressing a news conference in Paris last month.
5G unlikely to sharply raise facebook users in Pakistan
Facebook does not see any substantial increase in its users in Pakistan with the advent of 5G technology, citing affordability and internet access as key hurdles.
Internet use in Pakistan stands at 22.2% of the population whereas women are 43% less likely to use internet as men among the 67 million broadband connections in the country. However, with improved safety mechanisms, it is expected that women participation in social media platforms will increase exponentially.
At present, there are about 41 million Facebook users in Pakistan and this number can increase following the introduction of 5G technology if the hurdles are removed. According to studies, women in Pakistan are at a disadvantage in terms of access to internet, perhaps because they do not feel safe.
Facebook is set to launch digital literacy programmes in Pakistan in 2020, with the help of local partners including the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), for creating awareness related to safe usage of social media platforms as well as reporting mechanisms.
Facebook authorities told a select group of journalists that Pakistan stood on top of the list of countries in blocking objectionable content but the awareness of reporting harassment remained limited, which was restricting women from using social media platforms freely.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event, Facebook Asia-Pacific Safety Policy Manager (Lead) Amber Hawkes said Facebook community standards and Instagram community guidelines outlined the rules about what was and what was not allowed at these platforms.
She informed the media that the guidelines were developed by the teams and local partners spread across the world and the content was monitored by the technology tools.
“This year over five million pieces on child exploitation were removed globally and 99% were detected by the artificial intelligence tools,” Hawkes added.
Speaking on the occasion, DRF Programme and Research Manager Shmyla Khan highlighted the details of online threat, which included non-consensual use of intimate images, blackmailing and extortion, trolling, accessing private data, monitoring and tracking, deleting, graphic threats of violence, abusive comments, etc.