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Feb-25 - Mar- 10, 2002

Allianz Contributes over Rs. 10 million for Afghan Refugees

In line with its policy to extend support for humanitarian and community causes, Allianz AG of Germany, in cooperation with PLAN Pakistan, a renowned NGO, has donated essential goods worth 200,000 euros (Rs. 10,600,000) for more than 30,000 Afghan refugees stationed at Roghani Camp in Chaman city of Western Balochistan. A further 50,000 euros (Rs. 2,650,000) have been donated to Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors without Borders), a recognized international humanitarian aid organization, to provide full medical service to the people in the camps.

The products, which comprise of winter clothing, mattresses and other household items, were presented by Mr. Ahmir ud Deen, Managing Director, Allianz EFU Health Insurance Ltd and Dr. Purnima Chattopadhayay-Dutt, Country Director, PLAN Pakistan to the first batch of refugees in Chaman. Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Ahmiruddin said that the sad plight of the hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees is a pressing and urgent concern for Pakistan and the entire world community.

HUBCO Promotes Syed Khalid Masood as Finance Director

The Board of Directors of the Hub Power Company are pleased to announce that Mr. Syed Khalid Masood, Financial Controller of the Company, has been promoted as Finance Director with immediate effect.

Khalid Masood has been with HUBCO since 1995. He is a seasoned finance executive with an excellent track record. He is a Certified Management Accountant and MBA (Finance) from the USA, and has M.Sc. (Mathematics) from the Karachi University.

Microsoft and Intel

At the 3GSM World Congress 2002, Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. announced that they have formed an initiative to develop reference designs for personal digital assistants (PDAs) and smart phones.

The reference designs, based on the Microsoft® Windows® Powered Pocket PC and Smartphone 2002 software platforms and the Intel® Personal Internet Client Architecture (Intel PCA), will promote the rapid development of next-generation wireless applications and services for consumer and enterprise market segments. In addition, this collaboration will enable wireless device and software companies to expedite the market availability of their respective mobile solutions.

As part of the initiative, Microsoft also announced its support for Intel PCA, a development blueprint for building wireless handheld communications devices that combine voice communications and Internet access capabilities.

Performance review meeting of First Women Bank Limited

Mr. Shaukat Aziz, the Finance Minister expressed his satisfaction on the progress made by the First Women Bank Ltd, especially the last six months in making significant profits and showing growth in all financial activities during the year 2001. He was chairing the performance review meeting. He appreciated management's efforts in achieving these results and advised the management to workout strategic plan for best utilization of funds to further maximize its profits.

Earlier Ms. Zarine Aziz, FWBL's President in her welcome address said that it is a very positive indicator for the women's bank that Government is committed towards economic empowerment of Women and recognizes FWBL's importance as a unique institution. Highlighting the progress for the year 2001, the President informed that net profit before tax for the year ended 31st December 2001 is Rs 118 million as compared to Rs.26 million earned during the previous year (growth of 353.9%). Deposits have increased to Rs.6.2 billion as compared to Rs.3.4 billion (growth of 82.4%). Advances have improved from Rs.585 million to Rs.833 million (growth of 42.4%). The five loss making branches have been converted in to profit generating units. Two branches have crossed the deposits figure of over Rs. 1.5 billion and two branches crossed the profits figure of Rs. 15 million.

The President said that Financial Service Desk has been launched to identify, support and empower the corporate women.

Ms. Zarine Aziz also informed the meeting that bank has hired professionals, including expertise in high risk areas to improve bank's financial discipline, high yield opportunities, document and strengthen systems and procedures. Financial Services Desk & Micro Credit Division have been formed to identify, support and empower the corporate and poor women, respectively. Branches have been re- organized into Corporate, Micro, Medium and Small branches to prioritize need for strengthening the set-up to focus women development.

The meeting was also attended by Mr. Tawfiq A. Husain, Deputy Governor, SBP, Mr Shamsi from Ministry of Finance and other Government officials.

PSO declares 30% Interim Cash Dividend

The Board of Management of Pakistan State Oil Company Limited met on Wednesday, February 20, 2002 at the PSO House, Karachi, to review the company's half-yearly performance ended on December 31, 2001.

The company earned before tax profit of Rs. 691 million while after tax profit was Rs. 452 million. The decline of earnings was mainly on account of inventory losses, which had to be borne by the company as a result of downward price revisions due to fortnightly price changes. Based on the results, the Board of Management was pleased to announce an interim cash dividend of 30% (Rs. 3 per share) as the fundamentals of the company remain sound and are improving.

Effective July 1, 2001, the linking of domestic prices to international price risks as a result of the mandate given to the OCAC by the government to notify the POL prices on fortnightly basis have exposed OMCs to international price fluctuations while margins have remained fixed. Prior to July '01, the government used to absorb all such fluctuations. Eight downward price revisions during Jul-Dec 2001 against maximum three in the last 32 years resulted not only in margin drops in the range of 15-30% but also caused inventory losses to OMCs in the last six months.

Due to September 11 crisis, the overall POL industry shrunk by 9.1% with the reduction in consumers' prices as well. All key products witnessed negative growth in the first half of FY-2002 in the range of 4-30%.

The company maintained its strong focus on the New Vision Retail Development Programme and expanded the network to 343. During July-Dec 2001, 10 CNG facilities were commissioned, bringing the total to 36 while Lube shop network expanded to 74. With strong media support, new lubricant grades were introduced. Various successful sales promotion campaigns have been launched to further improve the brand image of the company.

In order to have assured long-term cost-effective supplies, the company sign a 10-year product supply agreement with the NRL while negotiations with the KPC for HSD premium for the first half of FY-2001 concluded successfully. The company acquired 16 new tankers equipped with satellite tracking system for product deliveries in Karachi and gradually major cities charitable institutions through our donations and other constructive gestures that continue the entire year," he said.

Mr. Kirmani said that it might be the right time for children to be given an opportunity to visit the PSO House podium and Atrium. "We are deliberately embarking on this goal as we deeply care for the public who are our major customers," he said.

The Inspector General o Police, Sindh, Syed Kamal Shah, said that there were more than a million vehicles on the city roads while there were only 2,500 policemen to manage them. He said that of the 7,000 people killed in road accidents throughout the country each year, around 700 died in Karachi alone.

Mrs Yasmin Lari, the Chairperson Heritage Wallay, in her speech said the programme, whose purpose was to save lives and improve the society, was open to all the schools in Karachi. Lari said that she wanted to create a healthy relationship between the children and the police. "The underlying message of KaravanKarachi's first social empowerment initiative for 2002 is that citizens and government institutions need to work together for the betterment of civil society," she said.

The KaravanKarachi-PSO RoadSense progrmame seeks to inculcate traic sense among the children of the city. It comprises high profile monthly events that include exhibition of posters by children at PSO House and five-day traffic safety workshops in a large number of public and private schools.

PSO clinches 100pc FO ORDER FROM WAPDA

Pakistan State Oil (PSO) has regained its 100 per cent Fuel Oil supplies to the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) at competitive rates. According to senior officials, the current monthly demand of 150,000 metric tons will be surpassed by PSO by end January '02.

After a brief downslide, PSO's sales to Wapda started picking up again from October 2001 when the Authority placed an order of 109,000 tons against its total requirement of 2000,000 metric tons. In November '01, PSO supplied 85,000 metric tons against an overall demand of 138,000 metric tons of Fuel Oil. In December '01, the figure reached 94,000 tons against a total purchase of 159,000 metric tons by Wapda. In January however, PSO succeeded in winning 100 per cent FO order from Wapda.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) led by the President, Mr. A. Husain A. Basrai and certain council members called on the SECP Chairman, Mr Khalid A. Mirza, and made presentations to him and his colleagues on the Institute's Quality Control Review (QCR) Programme. The QCR Programme is designed to ensure that audits are performed by ICAP's members in accordance with International Standards of Auditing and meet requirements of the local laws and regulations. The ICAP team also gave a presentation on its investigation procedures on cases of professional misconduct. ICAP's Investigation Committee includes a member of the Auditor General's Office, a nominee of the Karachi Stock Exchange and an independent senior advocate to ensure transparency, and necessary disciplinary action is taken by the Institute to fulfil its role in regulating the accounting profession in accordance with the Chartered Accountants Ordinance, 1961 and the Bye-laws made there-under.

The Institute has informed SECP that it has welomed the recent Directive to the Stock Exchange relating to QCR, which would facilitate the programme initiated by ICAP. However, the Institute has formed a Committee including some Past Presidents to study various implications of SECP's Directive to the Stock Exchanges, which proposes debarring of auditors found guilty of professional misconduct and restricts the auditor of a listed company from providing other services to their audit clients.

ICAP recognizes its obligations to ensure effective regulation of practicing accountants including enhancing the quality of audit, ensuring independence of auditors in line with IFAC Code of Ethics and to endeavour to narrow the perception gap which exists amongst various stakeholders, accountants and regulators. It also recognises the need for proactivisim on the part of regulators and self regulatory bodies in view of international developments and increasing concern and emphasis on quality of audit and conduct of auditors particularly auditors of listed Companies. ICAP in this context is making all its efforts on the one hand to expedite the disciplinary process within its current constrained regime of law and on the other hand to expedite the amendment of the ICAP Ordinance and Bye-laws which will ensure more independent and transparent process of investigation and discipline and its expeditious disposal.

ICAP is also conscious of developments all over the world and considers that ICAP and SECP have common objectives and these can be better achieved with closer interaction and continuous consultation process; the recent meeting with SECP was an effort in this direction. ICAP and SECP should work together and share their resources and burden. ICAP being a professional body has resources to guide on technical matters, and has a due role as a self-regulatory body, whereas SECP as a regulator is there to safeguard the larger interest of the society. ICAP however, considers that the emphasis on good corporate governance and effective monitoring of the role of various corporate players including Directors, Stock Exchanges and Accountancy profession would be imperative; a process of continuous improvement needs to be in place but all of this would need to factor the ground realities and the prevailing Corporate Culture, where transition has to be smoother and effective, rather than volatile, so that the objectives could be achieved in a cohesive manner.

Pak Suzuki introduces new Baleno

Pak Suzuki Motor Company Limited, launched the New BALENO car at an impressive ceremony held at a local hotel in Karachi on 15th February 2002.

Speaking on the occasion the Managing Director of Pak Suzuki Mr Yasuo Suzuki informed that the New Baleno is a result of their utmost efforts to meet customer demands in the luxury segment. Pak Suzuki engineers have managed a total renovation in this Baleno with its new look, improved driving comfort, and adoption of latest technologies such as immobilizer and double click key-less entry as convenience and safety items.

Capt. (Retd) Bashir Ahmed, the Deputy Managing Director Pak Suzuki Motor Co Ltd. said that Suzuki has been a success story all along and compact cars are Suzuki speciality. He informed that Suzuki has been the Number one seller of mini vehicles in Japan for consecutive 30 years that reflects Suzuki's technical expertise and strong appeal.

He further said that Suzuki has brought a revolution in Pakistan with compact cars and light commercial vehicles. He emphasized said that the present model of Baleno car is the flagship of Suzuki, which has emerged from the Suzuki philosophy of uniqueness and market innovation. He also mentioned that Pak Suzuki has play a pioneering role in the matter of localization and continues to be in the forefront. Pak Suzuki has achieved deletion level of over 70%.

The ceremony was attended by a large gathering including dealers, customers, and officials from automobile financing and leasing companies.

Guest speaker

Former Finance Secretary, Mr. Aftab Ahmad Khan said that Pakistan's economy is confronted with several challenges which need to be tackled on the basis of a consistent and coordinated set of economic policies with clear-cut priorities.

Delivering a talk at the Dadabhoy University, he said low investment and saving rates, large fiscal deficit, inequalities of income, uncomfortable level of unemployment and low rating in terms of HDI were the principle weaknesses of our economy.

He said at the moment our economy is under lot of pressure but with increased availability of aid from US and International Finance Institutions alongwith Government's efforts at reforming and restructuring the economy would put the economy on a respectable growth path.

He stressed the importance of enhancing savings and dedicated building up efforts for human capital to improve the quality of economy.

Earlier, Vice-Chancellor, Dadabhoy University. Prof. Hasnain Kazmi welcomed the guest speaker while Dr. Justice (R) Ghous Mohammad offered vote of thanks. The lecture was followed by a lively question- answer session.