Feb 23 - 29, 2004

 

SSGC & MCB ENTER PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT

SSGC signed a MoU with MCB recently as its first partner bank and became the first utility company to formally launch value and service level agreement based bill payment -and facilitation services. The MoU was inked by the Managing Director of SSGC Mr. Munawwar B. Ahmed and the President of MCB Mr. Mohammad Aftab Manzoor.
"This is in line with SSGC's vision is to become the Most IT Enabled Utility Company in Pakistan and provide its customers state-of-the-art technology based bill payment mechanisms" said Mr. Munawwar in his opening remarks. He added that SSGC will outsource the bill printing, implement a state of-the art customer information system, launch the bill payment, collection, and processing initiatives, and integrate these all by end June 2005.

 

 

Mr. Mohammad Aftab Manzoor underlined MCB's determination to be the market leader in technology-based platforms and solutions in the banking industry in Pakistan. He said, "Over the past few years, we have made major investments in building up our ATM network and other technology-based systems and platforms. Now we are seeing the results of these efforts." Mr. Ali Munir, Group Head of Information Technology and Cash Management at MCB added that MCB has been working towards providing the utility consumers a full spectrum of innovative and easy-to-use payment mechanisms and SSGC is a valued partner in realizing this goal.

Setting an example for other utility companies SSGC has already launched several new initiatives for ease of payment for customers, as well as efficient bill/payment processing through application of multiple technologies and customer facilitation initiatives, and this occasion marks yet another milestone achieved by SSGC in that direction.

SSGC has assumed the lead in revising the utility bill collection and processing system with of focus on customer facilitation. The banks were given autonomy by the State Bank of Pakistan and allowed to initiate a meaningful dialogue with the utility companies for the revision of bill collection charges. It is the vision of SSGC to provide efficient and cost-effective bill payment mechanisms to its customers, preferably, implement services facilities where no new/additional cost is included in the customer bill and SSGC continues to absorb the current bill collection and processing charge by the banks.

Under specific directives of SSGC's MD, MCB and SSGC have extensively discussed the matter and formalized an action plan based on new innovative approaches including franchised arrangement for Kiosks, ATMs POS, Internet, Call Centres, Co-branded cards etc. It has been agreed with MCB that they will use latest and state-of-the-art technology to facilitate collection of utility bills from SSGC's customers in economical and affordable rates thus reducing burden/pressure on SSGC and its customers using IT based alternative delivery channels.

EBM INVESTS RS. 200M IN PLANT EXPANSION

English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM), makers of the popuIar Peek Freans brand, has undertaken a major investment of Rs. 200 million to acquire the latest biscuit manufacturing plant from lmaforni, Italy for the expansion of their current facility.

The plant officially started production recently after formal inauguration by Khawar M. Butt, Managing Director, EBM. The plant offers the capability to produce a wide range of innovative and value added products with uniform baking facility. Through operations of the newly installed plant, the production capacity has increased by 40 per cent to 21,600 MT per month.

Speaking at the occasion, Managing Director Khawar Butt said, "The establishment of the fifth manufacturing line has marked a very significant beginning for EBM as it is now fully geared up with state-of-the-art technology to not only sustain market leadership, but also compete successfully in the upcoming WTO regime. We now possess the cutting edge to compete with any international brand on quality and variety fronts."

ITIF ASIA 2004 PROVES MILESTONE FOR ENGINEERING SECTOR

The International Trade and Industry Fair ITIF Asia 2004, exhibition and conference organized by Ministry of Investment and Privatization in collaboration with Board of Investment, Government of Pakistan and E-commerce Gateway Pte Ltd Singapore on January 26-28, 2004, at the Karachi Expo Centre proved to be a milestone for the engineering sector of Pakistan.

The Conference was aimed at providing an opportunity of interaction between foreign investors, local vendors and consumers to concentrate efforts to fully utilize the existing growth opportunities in the engineering sector of Pakistan.

"Bold initiatives need to be taken and reliance on yesterday's technology needs to end, to bring Pakistan on the engineering map of the world" stated Mr. Imtiaz Rastgar, Managing Director, Rastgar & Co. (Pvt.) Limited, while presenting a paper on the "Challenges of the Engineering Industry of Pakistan".

Mr. Imtiaz Rastgar also highlighted areas of growth and development for the engineering industry and the threats faced by it, with regards to foreign competition. He further emphasized on the importance of well defined strategies to enable the local industry to enter the world market.

Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Federal Minister for Investment and Privatization, was Chief Guest on the occasion. Other prominent speakers at the Conference included H. E. Mr. Aqeel A. Al-Jassem, Secretary General, Islamic Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dr. Akram Sheikh, Chairman, Engineering Development Board, Dr. Agha Ghazanfar Esq., Secretary, Board of Investment, Government of Pakistan, and Mr. Liaquat Ali Jatoi, Federal Minister for Industries and Petroleum, Government of Pakistan, who spoke on various topics on the engineering industry.

"PAKISTAN WELL PREPARED FOR WTO"

The Government of Pakistan and UNDP have jointly arranged a National Workshop on "WTO Agreements and Implications for Pakistan". The workshop explored the issues faced by developing countries as the world moves towards further trade liberalization. Free international trade should benefit all involved and poor countries need to ensure that their economies and populations gain from the freer flow of goods and services envisaged by the WTO.

Minister of Commerce, Mr. Humayun Akthar said on the occasion "there is a need for greater awareness in the business community of Pakistan about the challenges and opportunities of the WTO agreements". Pakistan is a founder member of WTO and has been participating actively in all negotiations since the beginning of WTO, nine years ago. The Minister said that Pakistan was well prepared for the WTO and added that there needs to be consensus on the agenda of the next round of negotiations which must not be allowed to fail.

 

 

USA-PAKISTAN AGREE TO WORK TOGETHER FOR SUCCESS OF THE DOHA DEVELOPMENT AGENDA

The United States Trade Representative Mr. Robert B. Zoellick arrived for a flying visit to Pakistan on 15th February to meet the Commerce Minister, Mr. Humayun Akhter Khan. His visit to Pakistan is part of a tour of ten important World Capitals that Mr. Zoellick will cover in eight days. Prior to arriving in Islamabad he met with Ministers in Beijing, Tokyo and Singapore. From Islamabad he left for New Delhi for the next leg of his current tour.

Mr. Zoellick has the rank of a Cabinet Minister in the US Government and is also the Chief Foreign Trade negotiator of the USA. The US high powered delegation included Ambassador Linnet Deily, Deputy USTR and Ambassador to the WTO, Ambassador Ashley Wills, Assistant USTR for South Asia, Daniel Sullivan, Director for International Trade, National Security Council, Dorothy Dwoskin, Assistant USTR for WTO and multilateral Affairs, Richard Mills, Assistant USTR for Public Affairs and Christine Davies, Special Assistant to the USTR. The delegation in its meeting with the Commerce Ministry was also assisted by the US; Charge d'Affairs William T. Monroe and Economic Councillor Joel Reifman.

This is the first visit of a United States Trade Representative to Pakistan since 1988. Mr. Zoellick's multi country visit is a part of the efforts of the United States of America to get the WTO, multilateral trade negotiations moving which had been stalled since the fifth Ministerial Conference held in Cancun Mexico.

MOBILINK LAUNCHES ONE-STOP CUSTOMER SERVICE CENTER

The Executive Vice President of Mobilink, Mr. Hamid Farooq recently inaugurated a new Customer Service Center at Multan arcade, Kacheri Road in Multan.

This is the first company-owned Customer Service Center in the 'city of saints' in addition to the 4 franchise outlets already operating and providing a wide range of customer-care services to Mobilink's growing number of users.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Center, Mr. Farooq said; "Mobilink is committed to improving its convenience of services to customers at contact points throughout the country. All counters at our Customer Service Centers will be giving One-Stop service to our valued customers, i.e. a Mobilink customer will not have to go to different counters for services."

Mobilink's new approach to better Customer Service is being initiated through the opening of additional Customer Services centers across Pakistan. There are 9 more centers planned during the current year in Sialkot, Gujranwala, Peshawar, Hyderabad, Karachi and Quetta, respectively. Besides the Multan center, Mobilink's new Customer Service Center has already opened in Lahore.

There are currently eleven centers operational in the country, which by the end of the second half of 2004 will increase to twenty.

FIRST GRINDLAYS MODARABA

First Grindlays Modaraba has revised the rate on its Certificates of Musharika with effect from 18th February 2004. The revised rates applicable on varioius tenors are as follows:

Tenor

Rate per annum

3 months

1.75%

6 months

2.25%

1 year

2.50%

2 years

3.00%

3 years

3.50%

4 years

4.00%

5 years

4.50%