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Jun 26 - Jul 02, 2000

APTMA appreciates removal of 15% excise duty on import of cotton

Mr. Mohsin Aziz, Chairman Aptma, has greatly appreciated the magnanimous decision of the Minister for Finance for removal of 15% Excise Duty on import of Cotton of below 28MM Staple Length. This was one of the major demands of the Textile Industry which had been pleading, all along, with the Government for provision of a level playing field for all players in the Cotton sector. While Cotton Exports were free of any duties or restrictions Excise Duty of 15% was charged on import of Cotton below 28MM in September 1999. Due to the 15% Excise Duty on import of Cotton, the cost of production of the local Textile Industry had increased considerable making its Textile production and Exports proportionately costlier as compared to competing countries. This Excise Duty was a major impediment in the promotion of viability and Exports of the local Textile Industry. Through issuance of SRO 341(1)/2000, the Government has removed the 15% Excise Duty on import of Cotton which was levied vide SRO dated 16th September, 99. This decision of the Minister for Finance is all the more significant in view of the Cotton shortage in the Country due to unabated exports of Cotton by TCP as well as delayed Cotton Crop for 2000-20001 due to shortage of water.

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New Microsoft Business Development Manager

Microsoft Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean (GEM) has announced the appointment of Jawwad Rehman to the position of Business Development Manager for Pakistan. Having been with Microsoft for over seven years, Jawwad worked in the US for five years and then most recently in the Dubai office for the past two and a half years as an Enterpnse Account Manager for the GEM region.

Microsoft Pakistan's focus areas are to continue to work with the government to increase the use of legal software and to contnbute to the growth and development of a vibrant local IT industry. "Our commitment to the Pakistani market will be reinforced by Jawwad's presence there. Jawwad has worked very hard over the years with the Pakistani government and the private sector to institute IT as an engine for economic growth in the country, " said Bahram Mohazzebi, Microsoft GEM general manager. "He helped initiate the Sindh govemment's recent announcement to move to e-govemrnent and will continue to work with them to bring better services to citizens and businesses alike."

Pakistan Post and NCR sign for Counter Automation Project

NCR Corporation, a leading IT multinational and Pakistan Post Office have signed an agreement for implementation of a computerised branch automation system. This is a part of Pakistan Post modernization plan that is being pursued aggressively by the Government. The initial pilot system will be implemented at the General Post Office Islamabad and will be operational within a time frame of three months.

NCR, a US based multinational has been present in Pakistan since early 50's and has recently introduced Teradata Database in Pakistan, which is the leading database engine for Data Warehousing. Teradata Database is based on Open Standards and has the capability to work with any Standard Database available in the market. With more than 50% worldwide market share in Data Warehousing, NCR has over 900 successful Teradata installations worldwide.

Pakistan Post with a Customer focus perspective and with the launch of this Pilot Automation Project, will receive a big boost as it will be utilizing modern Information Technology tools to better serve its customers. Automation of the many services offered by Pakistan Post Office is seen as critical to the business development of the Post Office and will lead to the provision of a high quality service for its customers.

The initial pilot project in the Islamabad GPO will cater to serving customers with a broad range of services offered by the Pakistan Post office. This will also help reduce the time spent in administrative and reporting procedures. The project is in line with NCR's strategy, which is aimed at organisations developing a better customer focus.

The Islamabad GPO project is seen as a platform for the on-going development of a modern, efficient technical infrastructure enabling Pakistan Post Office to better compete with commercial couriers, banks and other organisations offering similar services.

MCB Annual Accounts

The Board of Directors of Muslim Commercial Bank Ltd., (MCB) approved the Annual Accounts of the Bank, for the year ended December 31, 1999, in a meeting held on Wednesday, June 21, 2000. The Directors appreciated the overall performance of the Bank and termed it as very satisfactory under the prevalent Economic scenario.

MCB's operations for FY 1999 resulted in a Profit after. Tax of Rs. 568.95 million showing a significant growth of 42.5% over last year. The Bank continued its focused efforts on Recovery and a remarkable recovery of Rs. 1.3 billion was made from the Classified portfolio during the year.

The Bank's Deposits at the end of FY 1999 reached the level of Rs. 130.34 billion recording a growth of 5.26% over last year. MCB's Rupee Travellers' Cheques (MCB-RTCs) continued to maintain its leadership in the industry with record growth in Sales of 45% over last year.

MCB, as part of its strategic focus, continues to invest in Information Technology (IT) thus maintaining its Leadership & Innovation. The Bank has the largest ATM Network in the country with more than 106 On-line Branches including 80 ATMs installed in all the major cities.

The Board, while approving the Accounts FY 1999, recommended a 15% Cash Dividend and 10% Bonus Shares.

Intel introduces new chipsets

Intel Corporation introduced two new chipsets for Intel Pentium III processor-based PCs targeted at the mainstream desktop market segment.

The Intel 815 and Intel 815E Chipsets, based on Intel's revolutionary Hub Architecture, provide integrated graphics functionality with the ability to upgrade via an external graphics card for either AGP 4x or AGP 2x graphics capabilities. Both chipsets also feature support for PC133 and PC100 SDRAM memory.

Additionally, like the recently announced Intel 820E Chipset, the Intel 815E Chipset features a new 1/O Controller Hub (ICH2) for greater system performance and flexibility. The ICH2 provides an additional Universal Serial Bus (USB) controller, a Local Area Network (LAN) Connect Interface, dual Ultra ATA/I00 controllers and up to six-channel audio capabilities.

"The Intel 815 and Intel 815E Chipsets deliver flexibility, scalability and stability for mainstream Pentium III processor-based PCs," said Chak Wong, Director of Product Marketing and Business Management, Intel Asia Pacific.

"Intel 815 and Intel 815E Chipset-based platforms also deliver comprehensive platform software for graphics, networking storage, security, audio and video to ensure platform stability and performance."

The ICH2: More Performance and Flexibility

With two USB controllers, the ICH2 offers 24 Mbps of bandwidth across four ports, supporting Intel's push for a true "Ease of Use PC." Feature integration also includes dual Ultra ATA/100 controllers to support the fasts in integrated device electronics (IDE) transfer rates available and added performance using Intel's storage driver. The ICH2 has an enhanced AC'97 interface supporting full surround-sound for Dolby* Digital audio found on DVD and simultaneously supports a soft modem connection. To meet the netsvorking needs for e-home or e-Business, the ICH2 has a LAN Connect Interface (LCI) supporting multiple network connectivity solutions.

Integrated LAN Functionality: Cost-Effective Networking

By integrating the Intel(D PRO/100 Fast Ethernet controller directly into the chipsets, Intel makes it easier for computer manufacturers and system integrators to implement cost-effective network connections into PCs. The controller works with one of three new physical layer components from Intel and enables three distinct solutions for computer manufacturers. These solutions include: managed 10/100Mbps Ethernet with Alert on LAN* technology for business environments; basic 10/lOOMbps connectivity for the value segment; and I Mbps home networking connectivity. These physical layer components can be placed directly on the PC motherboard or used on a new type of network adapter card such as the Intel~) PRO/100 VE Desktop Adapter, which is based on the Communications and Networking Riser (CNR) specification. The CNR card allows computer manufacturers to configure network-ready solutions for several different market segments.

In 1,000-unit quantities, the Intel 815 Chipset is priced at US$41 each and the Intel 815E is priced at US$46 each, and systems using both chipsets are currently shipping from a variety of computer manufacturers.

Versatile, Rapid Boot Desktop Board Also Announced

Intel also announced the Intel Desktop Board D815EEA, a highly versatile, ATX form factor board based on the Intel 815E Chipset and accommodating the latest FC-PGA Pentium 111 processors with 133 and 100 MHz system bus speeds and Inteltt Celeron™ processors with the 66 MHz system bus. The D815EEA desktop board supports PC133 or PC100 SDRAM and the new, faster ATA-100 hard drives. This board also features Rapid BIOS Boot for faster system startup and a digital video output header for TV and DVI, as well as four USB ports. In addition, users can choose between on-board, integrated graphics or high-speed AGP 4X graphics cards. The board also supports optional on-board Creative Labs* SoundBlaster* PCI audio, optional Intel PRO/100 V (integrated 10/100 LAN'), and an optional Communication and Network Riser (CNR) card. Intelt) Express BIOS Update, an OS-based utility that simplifies the process for upgrading the BIOS, is also supported. The Intel Desktop Board D815EEA will be available through resellers beginning this week for prices estimated between US$150 and US$170, depending on features.

lntel, the world's largest chip maker, is also a leading manufacturer of computer, networking and communications products. Additional inforrnation about Intel is available at www.intel.com/pressroom.

Textile Mills desperate for cotton

In the TCP's Tender for sale of Cotton opened on 20th June, 2000, the local Textile Mills bided Rs. 441/bale more than the highest bid offered by the foreign buyers. As against 44.05 Cents/Pound (Equivalent of Rs. 1,869 per bale) the local Textile Mills offered Rs. 2,310 per bale of Cotton which is Rs. 441 per bale 24% more than the highest bid received for Export. This shows the desperation of the local Textile Mill owners to secure whatever Cotton could be bought by them. Due to a genuine shortage of Cotton in the Country, Aptma has, of late, being continuously pleading with the Government to allow the local buyers to bid, alongside the foreign buyers, for the Cotton stocks available with Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP). But inspite of the local Textile Millers' hue and cry, TCP continues to Export Cotton at prices considerably less than the local bids as well as the prevailing international price of Cotton. By continuing to export Cotton at lower than local and international prices and denying the local Textile Mills Cotton even at 24% higher price, TCP is providing an advantage to Pakistan's competitors in Production and Export of Textile products.

The desperation of the local Textile Millers for securing whatever TCP Cotton they can get is more than evident by their bids which are 24% higher than the highest bid for Export of Cotton. Due to genuine shortage of Cotton in the Country Stocks to last till the arrival of the new Crop. The arrival of new Cotton Crop for the year 2000-2001 is delayed by at least 36 days, due to delayed sowing as a result of acute shortage of water in the Cotton growing areas.

The Government is once again urged to direct TCP to allow the local Textile Mills to compete in all Tenders for sale of Cotton rather than restrict the Tenders to export sales only. The Government is also urged to expedite the sale of the entire Stocks with TCP.

Malaysian Food & Cultural Festival Opens at Karachi Sheraton

Karachi Sheraton Hotel & Towers has organized a Malaysian Food & Cultural Festival in association with the Malaysia Airlines and the to promote the exotic Malaysian cuisine and the rich cultural treasures of the country. This festival will be on till June 24 for dinner only.

"Malaysia is a thriving nation which has a lot of enriching treasures to offer for tourists and business travelers," says Mr. Thomas van Opstal, General Manager, Karachi Sheraton Hotel & Towers. "The Karachi Sheraton is proud to host this food & cultural festival, which give us an opportunity to show how rich Malaysia really is in its cuisine, culture and traditions"

The event was inaugurated on Tuesday, June 20, 2000 when Malaysian Honorary Consul, Mr. Farrukh Rizvi, GM Malaysia Airlines, Mr. Wan Othman and Mr. Thomas van Opstal, General Manager, Karachi Sheraton Hotel & Towers cut the ribbon to officially inaugurate the Malaysian Food & Cultural Festival. The inauguration was largely attended by the members of the press and corporate guests invited by Malaysian Airlines and Karachi Sheraton Hotel & Towers.

Malaysia is renowned for its exotic cuisine, which tempts the taste buds of even the most refined connoisseur. During thus food festival, particular emphasis has been placed on the preparation of the most authentic Malaysian cuisine, which includes popular Malay delicacies like Daging Rendang Tok (braised beef in coconut milk and spices), Ayam Percik Kelantan (grilled chicken east coast style), Ayam Masak Merah (chicken cooked in red gravy), Ikan Masak Lemak Cili Api (fish cooked in coconut milk and birds eye chili) and Sambal Sotong (fried squid and chili paste). Renowned Malay Desserts which are being served during the Malaysian Food Festival include Pengat Pisang (banana in brown sugar), Dodol (coconut cake) and Longan (Lychee) Sticky Rice apart from various other exotic specialties.

Prestige goes worldwide with Grey

Ranking among the top ten advertising agency networks in the world, and one of the largest advertising agencies in the U.S., Grey Advertising has established a holding company to serve as the parent company of all Grey's communications properties.

As a result, Grey Advertising Inc. has changed its name to Grey Global Group Inc. and the core advertising agency still be now known as Grey Worldwide. The announcement about the sweeping changes was made by the Grey Chairman and President-CEO Edward H. Meyer to an auditorium of 2,700 staffers in New York in early April.

The new structure and management recognize the company's shift in focus over the last decade from an advertising agency-dominated company to a full communications company — with a global advertising agency and large-scale, rapidly growing global companies: Grey Direct, GCI/APCO (Public relations/public affairs), Grey Interactive (Internet communications), G2 (Integrated marketing, corporate identity and promotion), Grey Healthcare, Mediacom, J. Brown/LMC (Co-marketing through retail partnerships), Visual Communications (Multimedia communications), G Whiz! Entertainment (Youth and entertainment marketing), Grey Alliance (Entertainment partnerships) and Beyond Interactive (Internet media buying and advertising).

Over the past ten years, these communication services, all preeminent in their respective markets, have grown from representing 5% of revenues to where they now represent over 40% of the Company's worldwide revenues — projecting $ 9 billion in billings.

Prestige Comrnunications, earlier an affiliate of Grey Advertising, and now of Grey Worldwide, will definitely benefit from this major structural transformation — according to its CEO, Jamal Mir. He said this will serve as a boost for the business globally, and will be a source of motivation for the agency to explore new avenues offered by Grey Worldwide. He said tomorrow holds an ever changing scenario for the communications industry, that can only be gauged with prescience. And to "Find the edge" (which is Grey's motto), it will basically depend on innovation with a sense of enterprise.

Incentives in the budget

Mr. Hanif S. Kalia, Chairman, Ko-Ordination Group has welcomed the Federal Budget with special reference to various incentives, reliefs and concessions declared for the promotion of Information Technology in Pakistan. No doubt, this is the best package, so far given to any industry in Pakistan.

In a press statement Mr. Kalia enumerated various facilities announced for the purpose such as income tax exemption for IT companies and training institutions upto 2005, income tax exemption of software export income, allocation of Rs. 2 billion for this sector, fixing of export target of IT softwares of $60 million etc. would go a long way in adding to our prosperity through this technology.

Mr. Kalia said that the ambitious programme of providing internet connections to at least 50 towns of the country and increasing new connections to 150,000 within next two years amply indicates the government's thinking that participation by the citizens in this field is of immense value.

However, it goes without saying that such efforts would have been proved more objective oriented had they been entrusted to an independent Information Technology Ministry at the Federal level. It has been brought to the notice of the government earlier that only an independent and full-fledged federal ministry with due powers can accomplish this job and therefore formation of such ministry be given serious consideration as half-hearted efforts would hardly bring the desired results.

"However, the Federal Finance Minister has done the best he could do under the given infrastructure and circumstances for which he deserved every felicitation, he added."

Pakistani Jewellery Designers Win Accolades in Italy

Pakistani jewellery designers won accolades at the Gold Virtuosi International Gold Jewellery Design Contest, recently held in Vicenza, Italy, as two of the winning pieces from the Zargalli 1999 gold jewellery design contest, were selected amongst the hundred best international jewellery designs.

The two designs were selected from amongst 3000 designs submitted by 34 countries all around the world, in the final round of judging in Gold Virtuosi. This is the first time in the history of the Pakistani gold jewellery trade that Pakistani jewellery designers have been recognised and included in an international gold jewellery design contest.

Commenting on the recognition of the Pakistani designers in Gold Virtuosi, Mr. Yousuf Akhtar Hussain, Manager Pakistan and Egypt, World Gold Council, said, "We are very elated that Pakistan has been included in such a prestigious event. The selection of Pakistani designs amongst the world's best, is a tribute to the creative talent of the Pakistani youth."

The Gold Virtuosi International Gold Jewellery Design Contest was launched jointly by the World Gold Council, AngloGold and the Vicenza Fair Authorities, to promote creativity in jewellery designing and enhance the use of gold jewellery.

The World Gold Council is an international organization representing the interests of gold producers' worldwide. Its primary objective is to identify markets with a high potential for gold consumption and to increase the global off-take of gold.