NATIONAL SAVINGS HELP CURTAIL INFLATION

INTERVIEW: ZAFAR M SHAIKH DG NATIONAL SAVINGS

AMANULLAH BASHAR
Jan 25 - 31, 20
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Zafar M. Shaikh on the back of his exposure to domestic and international financial world and his distinguished professional career spread over three decades is deeply involved in making National Saving Scheme a sustainable and dependable source of investment for the small savers on one hand and developing National Savings as a strong organization with an objective to reduce government's borrowing from State Bank of Pakistan.

He did his Masters in economics from University of Sindh (1971-1973). His impressing and outstanding performance in the financial regime earned him the title of financial engineer.

As Director General of the National Savings Organization, Zafar in an interview at his office "SAVING HOUSE" gave a beaming gesture probably over the successful launch of National Savings Bond last week. With a broad grin on his face, Zafar remarked in a happy tone that the market response was overwhelming and the yield is sure to go beyond expectations.

When asked to share the expected yield out of the old and the new scheme he was confident saying that this year 2009-2010 we were heading to meet a challenging target of Rs241 billion, out of which we managed in December 2009 Rs100 billion plus and would hit the target undoubtedly.

Actually, restructuring of the National Savings has given a new direction to the investment culture by attracting small savers from the grass root level as this scheme not only offers highest return on small investment but carries no hidden charges generally tagged with other investment schemes.

Current public offering of National Savings Bonds from January 11 to Jan 25, 2010 carry a guaranteed rate of return of 12.50, 12.55, and 12.60 percent after three, five and ten year respective maturity to the investors at a huge network consisting of 370 branches spread over the entire country.

The current offering is without any upper limit or ceilings, however the minimum limit of investment is fixed at Rs20,000.

Zafar who is ambitiously busy in giving a new look to the NSS by upgrading it to the level of a state-of-the-art corporation is introducing a complete automation system in its huge network all over the country. The major benefits of this enhanced image of the organization would be creation of awareness of the benefits of saving through NSS besides the national goal of containing the rising inflation with the reduction in government's borrowings from banking sector.

Hopefully, this corporation is destined to attain the financial strengthen to become the real source of financial support to the government.

For one moment during the course of discussion, he looked quite perturbed when he shared his experience of working in the State Bank of Pakistan. Despite all his untiring efforts to deliver outstanding results he was relegated with other assignments for reasons best known to the then people at the helm of affairs.

Zafar Shaikh recalled that during his assignment with State Bank of Pakistan, he managed to almost achieve the ideal trinity of low interest rates, stable exchange rates, and comfortable foreign exchange reserves.

He also achieved milestone in historic buildup of Foreign Exchange Reserves/stability in Exchange Rate, played pivotal role in establishment of reserve management and risk management departments, selection of fund manager and their benchmark performance criteria.

He established close liaisons with several central banks, international commercial banks and some of the top global fund managers. He introduced and developed KIBOR as prudent benchmark in the banking history of Pakistan.

However, his body language was quite reassuring that he was not a dejected person and was putting his best to the current assignment.

Experiences enabled him to structuring, designing, and marketing successfully various types of treasury related products to governments, central banks, and corporate clients, which are bound to build a strong domestic base for the domestic papers including Domestic Sukuk for Islamic Bank.

Zafar Shaikh was posted in November, 2007 as CEO of Government Saving Institution, managing total cost effective portfolio of over PKR 1500 billion (equivalent $19 billion) with 369 branches and around 3700 staff.

Aggressively innovative by nature Zafar presented an effective plan for complete restructuring of the organization for its automation/HR issue and new savings products compatible with market trends.

Sharing his impressive performance in National Savings he said that after accepting the new assignment he managed to achieve revised challenging target of Rs.80 billion from Rs.43 billion by surpassing it to Rs. 89.6 billion for the year ending June, 2008 indicating his leadership quality, yet he acceded that all was achieved through team spirit sparked in his staff.

For the fiscal 2008-2009, again we surpassed the annual strenuous target of Rs.120 billion to Rs.270 billion creating a historical achievement which helps the GOP for promoting non-banking borrowing at cheaper cost/lessen dependency on central bank. Autonomy/IT Project/new schemes are in active process.

Recently structured/streamlined and marketed is a new innovative product i.e. National Savings Bond, first ever government paper to be traded in all stock exchanges in Pakistan.

He stayed for more than 2 years as Additional Director General, Debt Management. He played key role in Issuance of Sukuk and Commercial Bonds in international markets.

He successfully managed to develop domestic and international investor's base for selling short and long-term government securities. He introduced long term government bond and bailed out government corporate by financial engineering.

Presenting a comprehensive strategy for prudent hedging on exchange as well as interest rates on substantial external loan portfolio of GOP around $30 billion was yet another feather to his cap.

It may be mentioned that during his 18 year stay in Dubai/London/New York with various financial institutions he played a key role in establishing new institution/branches. His main focus was on treasury and corporate banking. He also managed substantial portfolio in bonds and currency trading and designing of various product with combination of FX/Bond and derivatives for HNIs.

ORACLE DOVETAILS BANKS IN 125 COUNTRIES

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Oracle Financial Services Software announced a new release of Oracle FLEXCUBE Universal Banking. This brings together Oracle supporting banks in more than 125 countries including Pakistan and with a combined asset base in excess of 30 trillion dollars.

"Improving their reach and generating fee-based income through enhanced origination and distribution is at the top of the 2010 agenda for banks," said Joseph John, Executive Vice President, Banking Products, Oracle Financial Services Software. "Oracle FLEXCUBE Universal Banking release 11 marks a significant milestone, providing unmatched extensibility and integration capabilities combined with operational support. It builds on our proven track record and expertise in providing banks with core banking software solutions."

"The new decade will bring a renewed spotlight on core banking renovation after a prolonged period of delaying core projects during the global recession," states Karen Massey, Senior Analyst, Consumer Banking, IDC Financial Insights. "The focus will be on refreshing the core to support new business models as financial institutions look to improve profits and increase efficiency, questioning the tremendous maintenance and integration costs of legacy core systems. The flexibility of a component based approach will be key to core renewal, supporting unique strategies as FI executives invoke innovation to take a leadership position in the marketplace."

With the help of 2,000 plus web services, 800 plus file-based feeds and more than 900 call outs for extensibility, Oracle FLEXCUBE customers have the flexibility to set up their operations based on the unique needs of the business while also benefiting from more than 25,000 existing integrations from previous deployments of the application around the world.

Along with this release, Oracle is also launching the "Oracle FLEXCUBE Integration Lab" to provide customers with secure access to an instance of Oracle FLEXCUBE in order to get a first hand feel for how easy it is to integrate with the application using existing web services.

Oracle FLEXCUBE Universal Banking release 11 provides complete support for the lending, leasing and mortgage lifecycle across origination, servicing and collections. It helps banks improve their reach and generate fee-based income through better intermediary and broker-aided distribution of products to target segments. Oracle FLEXCUBE release 11 helps to improve operational and analytical insight for bankers through enhanced business intelligence support and integration with Oracle Reveleus as well as Oracle Mantas' Know Your Customer, Anti Money Laundering and Fraud.

Oracle FLEXCUBE Universal Banking was awarded a SWIFT Ready Payments 2009 application label.