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Apr 29 - May 05, 2002

COMSATS INSTITUTE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SIGNS UP FOR NCR UNIVERSITY PROGRAM PHASE II

As Phase II, NCR Corporation signs agreement with Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) to introduce data warehousing course at both undergraduate and masters level.

The CIIT is the first university that NCR has signed up in 2002 as part of Phase II of NCR Teradata University Program, making a total of 5 universities and 7 universities currently under the umbrella of this network. CIIT has been granted the status of degree-awarding institute by the Government of Pakistan, and is now authorized to issue its own degrees, diplomas, certificates, etc.

CIIT has six campuses in Pakistan; three in Islamabad, one in Abbottabad, one in Wah, and a recently established one in Lahore under the patronage of Ministry of Science and Technology to promote IT education in the country. CIIT will introduce this program at one of their Islamabad campuses.

Presently the data warehousing course is being taught at LUMS, IBA and NUCES (previously FAST) in Islamabad and Karachi, while NUCES Lahore and NUST are going to introduce the course in their Fall semester. The total number of students taking these courses is more than 200.

This Data Warehousing Program was initiated in Pakistan with an aim of preparing the IT students to meet the challenges of the 21st century and enhance their skill sets at par with the international standards. In its first phase, NCR launched a unique University Program on Data Warehousing in Pakistan which includes investments in the form of hardware, software, train the trainer program and development of course materials, while in the second phase the universities have to invest in the hardware and software.

NCR begins the second phase of the University Program from this year whereby more universities will be selected to impart data warehousing training and expertise to their graduates and master students in top IT and Business universities of Pakistan. Syed Veqar ul Islam, Country General Manager, NCR said, "The program is aimed at enhancing the knowledge base and skill set in Pakistan. Data Warehousing has become very popular strategic tool among organizations worldwide, striving to gain competitive edge in the global market."

Dr. Junaid Zaidi, Rector CIIT, said "We are looking forward to the transfer of knowledge provided by this program to our students for the enhancement of IT education as latest and current technologies are added to our curriculum. NCR is a world leader in the area of data warehousing and we feel privileged to be associated with them for this program."

MAP DELEGATION CALL ON SECRETARY GENERAL ICCI

Members of the Executive Committee of Modaraba Association of Pakistan (MAP) called on Mr. Aqeel A. Al-Jassem, Secretary General, Islamic Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The delegation was led by Mr. Basheer A. Chowdry, Chairman and included Mr. Adil A. Ghaffar, Vice Chairman, Mr. Ateed Riaz, Mr. Zubair R. Palwala, Committee Members and Mr. Muhammad Samiullah, Corporate Secretary, MAP.

Mr. Basheer A. Chowdry thanked the Secretary General ICCI for promptly responding his request and sparing time for the meeting. The Chairman presented MAP Year Book 2001 to the Secretary General ICCI and explained the current performance and potentials of the Modaraba sector and role of the Modaraba Association of Pakistan.

Mr. Adil A. Ghaffar informed that Modaraba sector have an appropriate infrastructure with more than 22 years of practical experience. He said the basic motive of the sector is to eradicate RIBA from the economy and create investment culture based on the Islamic Shariah. He informed about the Modaraba sector's capitalization of Rs. 6 billion and asset base of Rs. 16 billion.

Mr. Ghaffar also informed about Modaraba sector payouts and its status as being leaders in the financial sector of Pakistan as far as dividend yield is concerned. He also elaborated on resource mobilisation and termed it as the main problem for Modaraba sector for which few Modarabas are planning to issue TFCs in accordance with the Islamic conjunction.

The Chairman explained that the purpose of this meeting with the Secretary General ICCI is to seek help and guidance of ICCI to introduce Modaraba sector in the Islamic countries. He elaborated that there is a good potential in the Middle East countries like U.A.E., Bahrain and Kuwait where a great number of people are interested to invest in Islamic modes of financing. To fetch this market ICCI can play an effective role.

Mr. Aqeel A. Al-Jassem welcomed the delegation of Modaraba Association of Pakistan and appreciated the role played by Modaraba sector in Islamization of the financial system of Pakistan and assured that ICCI would provide every possible support to the sector. He informed the delegation that 9th Private Sector Meeting of the Islamic Chamber is being organised at Sharjah, U.A.E. from 21-23 December, 2002. He mentioned that the meeting has a two fold objective, one within the context of trade and the other is the context of joint ventures and will be based on bilateral and multilateral contacts. The main objective of the meeting is to strengthen economic development of Islamic Umah.

CATHAY PACIFIC ANNOUNCES MARCH 2002 TRAFFIC FIGURES

Cathay Pacific Airways released traffic figures for March 2002 showing small but positive passenger growth and a marked improvement in cargo traffic. The airline carried 1,052,460 passengers in the month of March, a 0.9% increase on the same month last year, and 73,018 tonnes of freight, up 11.4% from March 2001.

The volume of passenger traffic for March 2002 measured in terms of revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) rose by 1.8% against the same month last year, helped by stronger demand on regional routes. The passenger load factor for the month was 83.1% and the cargo load factor was 76.0%.

The high reported load factors reflect the effects of the modest recovery in demand combined with capacity reductions, particularly on ultra-long-haul routes. Cathay Pacific operated 4.2% fewer flights in March compared to a year ago. Cargo capacity measured in terms of available cargo tonne kilometres was down 3.3% from March 2001 for similar reasons.

HARVEST SECURITIES TO LAUNCH 'COMMODITY FUTURES'

Harvest Group plans expansion of its horizons in major Middle Eastern and European markets. Commodity futures is one of the instruments that the company intends to launch very soon.

This was stated by Harvest Group's Chairman Gulraze Mir at a meeting with journalists in connection with 10th anniversary of the company. Regional Marketing Director Mike Leung, Overseas Consultant Lorenz Lee, Chief Financial Officer Stephen Cheung and Senior Marketing Manager Kamran K McGee were also present on this occasion.

Gulraze stated that Harvest Group became member of the Lahore Stock Exchange in 1999 and thus formed Harvest Smartrend Securities Limited, which has carved for itself a prominent name in the equity brokerage industry in short span of time.

CHINESE TEAM BRIEFED ON PSO OPERATIONS

A high-powered Chinese team that visited PSO House showed great interest in Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and its operations. During the visit, the team from China National Oil Development Corporation was briefed on the functioning of PSO and its different installations.

The visitors were given an overview of the company in terms of operations, marketing and financial performance. The Managing Director, Mr Tariq Kirmani, shared the strategic thrust of the management in terms of market leadership and improved productivity.

They were told that Pakistan State Oil's vision is to remain as the market leader in the country, providing the highest quality petroleum products and service, and a low-cost supplier with assured access to long-term supplies.

Mr Tariq Kirmani told the visitors that despite the exigencies of September 11, 2001, and stiff competition, the company not only maintained sound financial health but was also pressing ahead with all its major investment plans. He said the strategic initiatives undertaken by PSO would help the company face the challenges of impending deregulation.

Mr Tariq Kirmani informed the visitors that the financial advisors J. P. Morgan had finalized the brief on PSO privatization and the road shows were likely to get under way soon.

The visitors appreciated the performance of the company and thanked the PSO management for extending the hospitality.

Later, the Chinese team visited a company-owned and company-operated retail outlet near PSO House and saw routine operations of the flagship model outlet.

INTEL PACKS PERFORMANCE INTO ULTRA-PORTABLE MOBILE PCs

Intel Corporation announced five mobile processors designed for the industry's smallest mobile computers. Intel's Low Voltage and Ultra Low Voltage processors enable enhanced performance and extended battery life for mini-and sub-notebooks. These ultra-light mobile computers, typically weighing under five pounds and less than one-inch thick, enhance business users' productivity by giving them a virtual office in a sleek, easy to carry design that fits into a small briefcase. Additionally, some Intel mobile processor-based ultra-portables allow consumers and business users to use their mobile computers for more than six hours without recharging the battery.

PAKISTAN POST OFFICE PUBLIC NOTICE

The Consumer Protection Council of the Helpline Trust is concerned with the attitude and notices of the Pakistan Post Office (PPO), which is threatening to prosecute anyone who sends 'letter mail' through private couriers, under section 58 and 59 of the Post Office Act 1898.

Ordinary citizens, commercial, industrial, or financial institutions, including government ministries, rely heavily on courier services for prompt delivery of mail especially 'time sensitive' documents, to their destinations within 24 hours. This "prompt and reliable service" is sadly lacking in PPO.

In order to resist, PPO's thoughtless and illegal action, the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) of the Helpline Trust intends to challenge the public notices issued by PPO, which threaten legal action against the citizens of Pakistan, by prosecuting them under section 58 & 59 of the Post Office Act 1898.

PSO ANNOUNCES ANOTHER INTERIM CASH DIVIDEND OF 20 PER CENT

The Board of Management of Pakistan State Oil Company Limited met on April 26, 2002, at PSO House, Karachi, to review the company's performance for the nine-month period of the financial year 2001-02.

During July '01-March '02, the company earned an after tax profit of Rs 1,711 million, up by 4.8% over the corresponding period last year. For the quarter ended on March 31, 2002, profit before tax had stood at 1,880 million vs. Rs. 452 million earned during the reviewed period, while after-tax profit stood at Rs. 1,260 million. Based on the results, the Board of Management was pleased to announce another interim cash dividend of 20% (Rs. 2 per share) which, combined with the earlier cash dividend of 30%, raised the YTD cash dividends to 50% as the fundamentals of the company remain sound and are improving.

The POL industry grew by 2.6% with total demand of 4.3 million tonnes over the prior year period. Against an industry growth of 3.6% in Mogas sales, PSO sales grew by 4.0%. On YTD basis, PSO's Mogas sales declined by only 0.5% vs. an industry decline of 1.7%. Despite extensive construction work at 173 stations, HSD registered a growth of 5.5% during the 3rd quarter of the FY-02. After the chronic and steady decline in 1ubes market share, the company regained market leadership in lubricants sales by increase of 18.8% over last year against an industry increase of only 0.5%. Fuel oil sales have struggled during the period due to erratic demand by WAPDA/ Hubco and IPPs.

The company has undertaken a number of steps to improve its brand image, productivity and financial performance through expansion of New Vision retail network, launching of successful sales promotion campaigns.

The Board of Management expressed its satisfaction that, with the upward revision in OMCs' margins and strategic initiatives undertaken by the management, the company is now well-positioned to face the challenges of impending deregulation and can take advantage of the opportunities arising from the changing business environment to free market conditions.