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Debt cancellation will not resolve the crisis: Mian Zahid Hussain

FPCCI’s Businessmen Panel SVP, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said the ongoing situation can result in the bankruptcy of over one hundred countries. Many countries are using their total revenue to service debt and liabilities leaving little room for public health and social welfare, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that developed nations are ignoring debt cancellation however termination of debt will not resolve the issue faced by the poor countries but it will delay the crisis for a few years.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that Lebanon and Argentina were bankrupted before the coronavirus devastation which many others were on the brink. Many countries are forced to spend a substantial amount on repaying debt as compared to public health amid an emergency. There are countries without ventilators and without a single ICU while million shave not seen a doctor in their life.

The poor countries are demanding debt cancellation which if accepted will provide temporary relief and dozens of countries will again plunge into poverty, instability and conflicts because the global economic system is not balanced, he added.

The former minister noted that once the governments use to plan economic matters keeping the welfare of people in mind but now it’s all about the welfare of rich. Wealthy are promoted using every tool resulting in a global casino economy.

The global economic system is stealing for poor to feed the rich and developed nations are not ready to change it for good. Now the process of decision-making has been left to multinationals which are not interested in issues like health, education, environment, poverty eradication and sustainable development as they are only concerned about profits.

How a global economic system tilted in favour of the super-rich can deliver, he said, adding that our government should discourage indirect taxation and promote direct tax to provide relief to the poor masses.

Islamic banking and finance growing gently in Uzbekistan
Zaib-Un-Nisa

The total volume of Islamic Banking and Finance assets grew to US$ 2.6 trillion globally. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia were the largest markets of the 61 countries that reported Islamic financial assets, with all three recording more than US$ 500 billion in assets.

The year 2020 appear to be relatively good for Islamic finance in terms of continuous growth and support for the real sector and infrastructure. Though, according to the recent S&P Global rating of the industry, the Islamic finance industry is set to grow at a rate of around 5% in 2020, due to weak economic conditions in the industry’s core markets and pandemic created by Covid-19. But the rise of three derivatives FinTech, ESG Sukuk, and standardization could fuel the industry in 2020.

The growth of Islamic finance industry in CIS countries is slower than other but it is attracting the attention of the global international banking industry due to the rising opportunities in this region. Islamic banking will grow substantially in CIS countries in the next five years from a low base, if their governments took initiatives to boost this sector. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan can be main players to lead this expansion of Islamic banking and finance in CIS.

The interest for Islamic finance is gradually growing in Uzbekistan. In 2003 and 2004, Uzbekistan has made significant steps towards recognition of Islamic finance via membership in the IDB and ICD. Stable relations between these institutions and the government have enabled Islamic finance to gain an entry point into this market.

Around 93 percent of Uzbekistan’s population is Muslims but no local bank nor any foreign institutions offering Islamic banking and capital markets services other than the IDB and ICD. Although more than 9 banks get grant from ICD on Mudarabah base to start Islamic Banking but still waiting for legislation to be passed which allow them to work under Shariah. Foreign institutions are not prevented from engaging in the market without being registered in Uzbekistan provided they satisfy requirements contained in CBU Regulation.

In May 2019 the Government of Uzbekistan issued a draft resolution to create infrastructure for Islamic banking and finance in order to foster alternative financing opportunities, expand the range of banking, financial services and to open the doors for Islamic investors from the Middle East. The Government of Uzbekistan is also planning to introduce the issuance of different tenure Sukuk (Islamic Bonds) to address the long-term and short-term liquidity and investment requirements of Islamic finance industry. Many educational institution start offering Islamic Finance education to its senior students. Many Insurance and leasing companies are also working to start Takaful and Ijarah operations to meet the need of the Islamic financial market in the country. The promotion of Islamic finance industry in Uzbekistan will also attract the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country which will strengthen the economic growth of the country and will reduce the headcounts living under the poverty line.

For Islamic finance to gain an institutional position following actions need to be taken:

  • It must be acknowledged at the legislative level.
  • An awareness campaign among people to promote the perception of Islamic finance and Islamic banking as interest-free alternatives to conventional banking and financial services must be started.
  • Amendments would also be required to the Civil Code, the Tax Code and the major banking and investment laws to address this matter systemically.
  • Commercial banks should be allowed to open Islamic windows or Islamic banking institutes should be allowed to set up independently from conventional banking.
  • To introduce Islamic banking and Islamic finance instruments, new rules must be formulated or amendments in existing ones should be done to accept the Islamic laws and procedures.
  • Some Islamic Finance education and training courses at national level should be introduced to increase the basic and practical knowledge of people so that they can adopt this new change.

AlHuda Center of Islamic Banking & Finance (CIBE), an advisory and consulting company which provide Advisory & Consulting, Training, Education and Research & Development services in Islamic Finance, started its activities to promote Islamic Finance in Uzbekistan in 2013 by providing training to Hamkor bank of Uzbekistan and Representative of AlHuda CIBE start its working in 2019. To explore and discuss innovative financial inclusion strategies that can create clear pathways to financial and economic solutions in CIS, AlHuda CIBE has organized successfully a “CIS Islamic Banking and Finance Forum “on 2nd May, 2019 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The purpose of this of the forum was to explore the untapped potential of Islamic Finance market of CIS countries and to adopt the latest trends, address the challenges and discover the new opportunities in Islamic financial industry of Central Asia. This event covers a variety of topics including Islamic Finance and Financial Inclusion, Takaful, Investment opportunities in Central Asia and Uzbekistan and Sukuk (the Islamic Bonds).

This forum appears as a milestone for AlHuda CIBE to promote Islamic Finance in Uzbekistan. Now AlHuda CIBE is providing services to many banks, financial institutions, leasing and takaful companies by organizing training and seminars to generate awareness among them, by offering online study courses to increase their knowledge about Islamic Finance, by providing certification and Advisory services to start Islamic Finance products in financial market of Uzbekistan.

In this Nobel effort, Leasing Association of Uzbekistan (ULA), Banking Association of Uzbekistan (UBA) and Association of Professional Participants of the Insurance Market of Uzbekistan are working with AlHuda CIBE and organized many seminar/training in Tashkent and Dubai to promote Islamic Finance among people.

AlHuda CIBE has started research, advisory, consultancy and capacity building services in CIS countries for Islamic banking and finance industry from 2006. In this connection AlHuda CIBE has conducted various capacity building and training workshops and arranged conferences. It is expected that the volume of Islamic finance industry will increase by 100% in next five years which also will strengthen global Islamic finance industry, said the CEO of AlHuda CIBE. AlHuda CIBE is going to organize one more Islamic banking and finance conference of its kind in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on 13th-15th August, 2020. The CIS Islamic Banking and Finance Forum will gather the CIS Islamic finance industry specialists and stakeholders on a single platform to promote Islamic banking and finance phenomenon.

The writer Zaib-un-Nisa is the Country Head-Uzbekistan of AlHuda Center of Islamic Banking and Economics and she can be reached at [email protected]

PFVA appeals to export mango from 1st June

The climatic change and lockdown have severely affected the mango crops. The mango crops in Sindh and Punjab is likely to get matured after a delay of two weeks. The season of mango slides further to a couple of weeks due to non-availability of required level of temperature and humid climate. The Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters Association (PFVA), keeping these factors in view has requested the Ministry of Commerce to extend the date of export of mango by further twelve days fixing it at 1st June 2020. The climatic change has started taking heavy toll of it’s devastating effects by impacting major agriculture crops besides fruits as well Waheed Ahmed Patron-in-Chief of Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters Association (PFVA) shared. The mango crop usually gets mature by middle of May, however, it’s strongly anticipated to be delayed by two weeks this year and exporting pre-matured mango would not be beneficial. On other hand due to lockdown adequate preparations have not yet been made related to export of mango as transportation for carrying labourers to the mango orchards and essential arrangements for packing still have a big question mark!

According to Waheed Ahmed, the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has fixed date of export of mango as 20th May for the current year, however, due to the crops’ immaturity by this given date if the export of mango commences, it would badly hurt export of mango from Pakistan. Since the mango crop is still not ready for harvesting and if the date of export of 20th May is followed, the exporters would ship immature and unsuitable mango, Waheed cautioned.

Pakistan had sustained huge financial losses last year due to export of unsuitable mango. Pakistani mango is liked globally due to its delicious taste, specific aroma and eye-catching appearance and these inherent characteristics are only developed once the crop is fully matured. Exporting immature mango, therefore would not meet expectations of the consumers and its credibility of the country would be badly affected and thus the exporters are likely to experience difficulties in getting fair price of mango in the international markets, disclosed Waheed Ahmed.

In a letter addressed to the MoC, the PFVA has sincerely requested for extension of date of export of mango to 1st June instead of 20th May so that ripen mango with its inherent characteristics of delicious taste and mouth-watering aroma can be exported. The letter has further stated that under the current crises of coronavirus pandemic when the economy of country is under great stress, earning of much needed valuable foreign exchange through exports is vital to support the ‘hard pressed’ economy and thus generation of foreign exchange by export of mango must be ensured. The Association having given logic reasons anticipates that the genuine request for extension of date of export of mango would be responded favourably keeping the supreme interest of the country in view.

Mian Zahid demands immediate rescue measures for ginners

FPCCI’s Businessmen Panel SVP, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday said the largest foreign exchange earning sector is in trouble, therefore it should be rescued otherwise country will face heavy losses.

He said that the textile sector which is the second-largest job provider is facing a host of issues while the cotton ginning sector is on the brink.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that bales worth Rs20 billion are lying under the open sky as there is no buyer as many textile mills are closed due to prolonged lockdown and other reasons.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that textile mills have not paid Rs30 billion to ginners due to closure depriving them of the ability to pay the growers.

The former minister noted that the issues of ginners could be resolved if TCP buy the unsold cotton stock enabling ginners to pay the growers. He said that sales tax should be withdrawn on cottonseed, oil cake, etc. while withholding tax refunds stuck since a decade should be released.

Mark up should be waived from first Jan to 30th of June 2020, ginners should be allowed to sell the pledged stock, one year time should be given to adjust bank guarantees and tax should be exempted on the stock lying with ginners, he demanded. He said that electricity should be provided to this important sector at the rate of Rs10 per unit and other relaxations should be granted to save it from collapse.

Delay in rescue will restrain payments to growers which will be a disincentive for the planters forcing them to opt for other crops which will damage the targets which will hurt the entire cotton economy which is behind 60 percent exports and millions of jobs, he said.

K-Electric CEO extends Ramadan greetings, assures maximum relief during the holy month

On the advent of the Holy month of Ramadan, CEO K-Electric, Mr. Moonis Abdullah Alvi, extends his warmest wishes to fellow Muslims in Karachi and the entire country, while highlighting KE’s commitment of providing maximum relief to the people of Karachi during the holy month, and during the on-going lockdown. Mr. Alvi has announced that K-Electric will continue to provide maximum relief from load-shed to residential and commercial customers during Sehr and Iftar times.

Understanding that people of Karachi are faced with unprecedented circumstances due to COVID-19 threat and the current lockdown, K-Electric is making all efforts to provide reliable power supply despite threats to operational sustainability from ballooning government dues. KE aims to utilize maximum available generation to manage the shortfall against peak summer demand and load management if required, would be carried out with maximum relief to domestic and commercial consumers during Sehr and Iftar.

Moonis Alvi, CEO KE said, “On behalf of my team at K-Electric, I extend warmest wishes of the Holy month of Ramadan to my fellow Muslims. During this holy month when everyone will be showing generosity of spirit and offering Ibada’at, I and my team will be working round the clock on the frontlines to ensure reliable supply of power. We have also made significant investments in our networks over the past one year in preparation for the incoming summer season especially the Holy month of Ramadan, including system upgrades as well as increased power off take from renewable IPPs.”

To augment its power supply, KE has announced an investment of USD 650 Mn in a state-of-the-art RLNG based power plant, added the 50 MW Gharo Solar Power Plant as an IPP and has progressed its over USD 450 million TP-1000 project with six new grid stations and 26 power transformers already energised. The power utility has also made investments in the Distribution network that has seen an addition of almost 500 new Pole-mounted Transformers (PMTs) in different parts of the city and upgradation of 8,000 PMTs to Aerial Bundled Cable (ABCs).

Sina continues to provide healthcare to urban slum communities during lockdown

The COVID 19 crisis has directed government health resources towards treating patients afflicted with the deadly virus. While this addresses a pressing need, it cannot come at the cost of neglecting the responsibility to continuously providing health services to those who may be at risk from other prevalent diseases. These include the communicable spectrum such as malaria, typhoid, seasonal ailments and various infections, alongside non-communicable conditions such as diabetes and hypertension that often require day-to-day management. In these times, SINA has continued providing services to its communities by implementing a telemedicine health system at its clinics.

Through the telemedicine model, a trained clinical technician present at the clinic provides on-ground coordination to facilitate patient consults through video conferencing. SINA’s pharmacy then dispenses the digitally prescribed medications. During these critical times, SINA has complied with and taken all necessary measures of providing PPE to its staff, implementing disinfecting measures and sanitization for staff and patients while maintaining physical distancing.

SINA has historically run its primary healthcare services with a state-of-the-art cloud based electronic medical records system based on international protocols, through which medical records of the patients can be accessed. This digital architecture enabled SINA’s rapid transitions from daily OPD to telemedical health services in an effort to continue their mission to offer patients support in this time of need. This has helped fulfil the core purpose of strong primary care facilities, which in essence is to reduce the patient burden on tertiary and quaternary care hospital which are significantly overburdened. With the shutdown of various OPDs in the city, SINA’s role in telemedicine allows larger hospitals to focus on COVID patient and other patients needing a greater level of care.

“This ties in with the ethos ingrained within SINA – from the on-ground staff to the board of trustees. SINA’s mission is best served in continuing to look after our patients through timely delivery of consultations services. This reduces the burden of health issues in communities which are already overburdened by the loss of daily wages,” said Dr. Asif Imam, SINA’s Chairman and Founder. “Our doctors are trained to record information through their tablet computers, which enable us to ensure an approach which is quality assured – our donors and patients all expect this from us.”

In this time of need, there are many examples of synergism across societal, governmental and individual sectors, all in an effort to come together to support each other. SINA, a not-for-profit organization, which has been working to provide primary health care facilities in unprivileged communities of Karachi since 1998, has simply changed its mode of delivery, whilst minimizing any disruption in patient care.

ACCA report reveals ideal accounting practices for governments to deliver transparency for their citizens

A report issued jointly by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IFAC (the International Federation of Accountants), ‘Is cash still king? Maximising the benefits of accrual information in the public sector’ not only confirms that a complete public sector transition to accrual accounting will serve the public interest, but also contains 30 specific recommendations to improve accrual implementation.

Good decision-making requires the right information. Given that most government decisions have financial implications, understanding the economic reality of a government’s activities improves the quality of decisions made. The report predicts that by 2023, the number of countries reporting their financial position on an accruals basis is expected to increase from 37 to 98, jumping from 25% to 65% among 150 countries surveyed.

These are human consequences that can result – and do result – when governments don’t have the financial information necessary to make the best long-term decisions for their citizens. Cash accounting, which 75 per cent of governments around the world use in some form, does not present the most accurate picture of a government’s financial health, nor does it enable adequately planning for the development, delivery, and maintenance of the services, programmes, and infrastructure on which people rely. And that, in turn, leads to a breakdown of trust in governments.

The report’s author, ACCA’s Head of Public Sector Policy, Alex Metcalfe, said: “Moving to accruals needs to be more than a compliance exercise, it should be about making the best use of financial information. The range of benefits highlight in this report demonstrates the clear upside to implementing accruals in the public sector. We need to ask whether cash is still king, when it comes to financial reporting and budgeting.”

“The accounting profession’s public interest mandate is nowhere more apparent than in the public sector, where high-quality reporting and budgeting is a prerequisite for government transparency and effective delivery of public services,” said Kevin Dancey, CEO of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). He also said “to the finance professionals and public sector decision makers who are leading the transition from cash to accrual accounting, we commend you and support you.”

The benefits and complexity arising from accruals varies by types of adoption. The report notes that:

  • Cash accounting and budgeting is the simplest basis but provides the least decision-useful information.
  • Accrual accounting combined with cash budgeting is the most complex basis, but it generates information that helps achieve value for money, facilitates public scrutiny, and supports sustainable decision-making.
  • Accrual accounting and accrual budgeting creates a ‘medium level of complexity’ and creates consistency. In addition to realising the benefits from implementing accrual accounting, this environment also puts finance right at the heart of decision making and allows governments to embed effective performance management.
  • New, decision-useful information generated by accrual implementation promotes the achievement of value for money and facilitates effective public scrutiny.
  • To produce decision-useful information, governments must set objectives; plan; engage stakeholders; create effective systems; and develop the right skills, including internal training beyond preparers.
  • This report recommends that governments implementing accruals should be:
  • Directing independent fiscal policy institutions to assess contingent liabilities and produce recurring fiscal risk reports.
  • Implementing accrual budgeting to put finance at the heart of decision-making, while embedding performance management across government.
  • Planning to produce a fully consolidated balance sheet that provides a full financial picture of the resources and risks for the public sector. This must include State-owned Enterprises at the whole-of-government level.
  • Building political challenges into the implementation roadmap from the beginning (e.g., through a sunset clause requiring the eventual recognition of employee pension liabilities).
  • Including groups that provide a constructive challenge function to the reform, such as auditors and legislative committees (e.g. the UK’s Public Accounts Committee).
  • Deploying experts centrally to control consulting costs and support implementation across government.

Kevin Dancey, CEO IFAC, concluded: “IFAC and ACCA are committed to supporting the adoption and implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), which underpin public sector accrual accounting, and to developing a robust profession that implements and manages such systems. With 65 per cent of governments globally set to implement accrual accounting by 2023, we’re encouraged by the positive trend, and strongly support further adoption of accruals and IPSAS.”

Jazzcash strengthens Pakistan’s payments ecosystem with mastercard partnership

JazzCash, Pakistan’s leading digital wallet, announces a partnership with payment technology leader Mastercard to advance financial inclusion by strengthening Pakistan’s payments ecosystem. The partnership enables merchants throughout Pakistan to accept digital payments from customers, digitize their supply chain, and move to cashless operations.

In a first for Pakistan, merchants and consumers who sign up for JazzCash wallet will be able to benefit from a wide range of Mastercard’s digital solutions and capabilities to pay for orders and services via all digital channels as well as make online payments in a fast, safe and convenient manner.

Elias Yazbeck, Head of JazzCash, said: “Our partnership with Mastercard will provide merchants and customers in Pakistan with more options to safely and efficiently make digital payments at a time when this is crucially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Longer term, I’m confident that our partnership will improve Pakistan’s much-needed financial inclusion targets and contribute to the development of a digitally integrated economy.”

Magdy Hassan, Mastercard’s General Manager for Egypt & Pakistan, said: “Pakistan is ramping up its technological infrastructure and digitization efforts. We are therefore pleased to collaborate with JazzCash to drive digital transformation initiatives and reduce the use of cash across the country. We are confident that this partnership will not only provide customers with a much simpler, faster and safer way of making payments, but that it will also equip them with the necessary tools for a newer and revitalized digital economy, advancing financial and economic inclusion across the region.”

JazzCash customers will also have access to Mastercard’s virtual and branded debit cards that can be used in 55,000 points of sale and ATMs in Pakistan, in addition to JazzCash merchants and e-commerce sites.

IBA Karachi’s Nausheen Anwar represents Pakistan at GCRF urban violence & climate change network in UK

Karachi Urban Lab Director and IBA, Karachi Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts Professor Dr. Nausheen H. Anwar has been chosen as the Pakistan lead of one of 20 international networks launched by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to tackle challenges in the developing world.

Dr. Anwar is working with world-leading collaborators investigating the links between violence and climate change in marginalised city communities. The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Urban Violence and Climate Change Network is being led by Dr. Anwar in collaboration with the UK lead Dr. Arabella Fraser from School of Geography, Nottingham University. The networks, supported by the UK’s GCRF, bring together UK researchers with collaborators from across the developing world to share expertise and find solutions.

The GCRF award will allow Dr. Fraser, Dr. Anwar and their colleagues to build a network of critical researchers from multiple disciplines. The network will create a platform for debate as well as sponsoring new research projects to take off in ways that can inform current day policy needs.

The project is bringing together two research communities – those working on violence reduction and those on adapting to climate change, to understand these links in greater depth, and work with practitioners to find solutions to improve urban environments to be safer and more sustainable.

Dr. Anwar’s research looks at the power-laden forms of climate adaptation, planning and sustainability practices and policies in Pakistan, with a focus on the dynamics of water security and gender, and the violent logics of urban planning that exacerbate inequality and deepen vulnerability. “We are living in exceptional times today as we witness the COVID-19 pandemic unfold amidst the crises of planetary, ecological, and social health. This, combined with the ongoing austerity measures, suggests that for ordinary citizens the new normal is a permanent state of crisis. In urban Pakistan, the temporariness of work and housing, decaying infrastructures and exposure to institutional and political violence, have altogether made people’s lives extraordinarily difficult. With more and more people heading for cities in search of a better life, we need to urgently address the question of how to plan inclusive cities and build healthier and happy communities.”

 

Dr. Fraser’s research looks at how to build social resilience to climate change in the most marginalised urban communities. “Climate change and violence are growing development challenges, both in regions that are rapidly urbanising and those that have predominantly urbanised. Both negatively affect lives, livelihoods, health, and productivity. We hope that by exploring innovations to reduce the multiple risks that people are facing (and which will include COVID risks and associated responses), we can support efforts towards safer and more secure cities for the most marginalised.”

Dr. Fraser said, “This is an outstanding opportunity to build relationships with stellar urban researchers and policy communities across the world to develop a new research agenda, including my incredible and passionate colleagues at the Karachi Urban Lab, who direct the network”.

The network currently has 15 partners in South America, the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the UK. Further details can be found on https://www.ukri.org/news/networks-launched-to-identify-solutions-to-global-challenges/.

NBP donates Rs 20 million for rations distribution in Karachi

National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) has donated a sum of Rs. 20 million for rations distribution in Karachi through the Karachi Relief Trust (KRT). It is one of the many initiatives that NBP plans to take as part of its corporate social responsibility. This CSR initiative is mainly for the poor and less privileged segment of society that have been most affected due to the current COVID-19 lockdown situation. NBP’s donation will help over 6,500 deserving daily wage workers, who have not been able to earn their livelihood during the lockdown. This donation will reach out to over 33,000 individuals assuming an average family size of five.

NBP decided to collaborate with KRT, a disaster management volunteer group, because of its impeccable track record. KRT is coordinating with over 50 NGOs and have developed an app called the Sindh Relief Initiative which ensures that rations are not duplicated and delivered properly. Further, KRT has partnered with Careem to deliver rations to the doorsteps of deserving beneficiaries to maintain social distancing protocols.

Metro Pakistan employees donate food hampers to PDMA

METRO Pakistan as part of its METRO Humanity Program gave opportunity to its employees to donate and participate in the national relief efforts for deserving families directly affected by the COVID19 lockdown. The entire donation amount collected was used to buy food hamper filled with essential food supplies and were handed over to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) at the PDMA Punjab head office.

At the occasion the Minister for Disaster Management Punjab Mian Khalid Mehmood, Director General PDMA Punjab Raja Khurram Shahzad Umar, Punjab Relief Commissioner, Babar Hayat Tarar were present among others, who appreciated the efforts of METRO Pakistan employees in this time of need and assured that the hampers will reach to the most deserving who are already registered, vetted, and verified under their state-of-the-art online dashboard.

PDMA Punjab has a transparent way of tracking and distributing the relief material and equipment to effected areas, as it is a government department that focuses on combating natural or man-induced disasters at the Provincial and local levels to secure the lives and livelihoods of the affected people by identifying, monitoring and controlling the spread of disasters.

In the end METRO employees also got a chance to visit the state of the art monitoring dash board system which shows all distribution mechanism of relief materials.

NBP joins hand with NBMFIs, PMN and PMIC to work together to support low income households

National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) hosted a Virtual Roundtable meeting on 23rd April 2020 to discuss the issues and challenges facing the Non-Bank Microfinance Institutions (NBMFIs) and their customers as a consequence of the economic slowdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The Roundtable was attended by the CEOs of Pakistan’s largest NBMFIs including the National Rural Support Program, Kashf Foundation, Damen Support Program, SAFCO Support Program, Thardeep Foundation, Rural Community Development Program and Agahi.

The consultation was presided and initiated on the leadership of Mr. Arif Usmani, President NBP and included Mr. Zubyr Soomro (Chairman, NBP) and Ms. Sadaffe Abid (Director, NBP and Chair of Inclusive Development Committee NBP). Furthermore key sector players such as the CEOs of Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN) and the Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company (PMIC) were also invited to examine the state of the microfinance industry and explore opportunities to develop a sector wide approach.

The purpose of the Roundtable was to assess the nature, size and scale of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the microfinance clients income and well being. The microfinance sector reaches over 7 million borrowers across the country, 50% of whom are women.

Mr. Zubyr Soomro, Chairman NBP in his opening remarks urged the microfinance players to take a long term approach, strengthen their lending standards, systems and manage resources efficiently. The NBP leadership highlighted its inclusive development mandate and commitment to serve the nation through playing a leadership role in forging strategic alliances to help key institutions to manage their way through these times and increase their efforts to address poverty in the country. The dialogue will facilitate developing a holistic response for the microfinance sector in terms of the possible support required by the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This initiative was aimed at assessing the quantum and size of the NBMFI requirements as well as initiate a process of designing and implementing a two-fold solution: firstly, to understand ways to ensure the NBMFI sector continues to be able to support its current client needs in the short and medium term during the present crisis, and secondly, to plan financing that would be required as the economy returns to a state of normalcy.

The NBMFIs appreciated the action of the SECP (which regulates the NBMFI sector) for allowing them to defer loan payments from their borrowers to ease the financial burden on low income households.

All participants welcomed the initiative of the President (NBP) to organize this roundtable at this very critical juncture. The roundtable concluded with a commitment that the NBMFIs, PMN, PMIC and NBP would work together to help sustain and support low income households during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the economic well-being of millions of low income households intrinsically linked to the well-being of the NBMFIs a holistic approach must be undertaken.

Mian Zahid lauds health, green package and removal of wht on bank transactions

FPCCI’s Businessmen Panel SVP, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday lauded Green Package, Package of Health Workers, and abolishing withholding tax on bank transactions which will boost the economy and add to confidence of the business community. He also lauded the steps to boost remittances which will also improve the forex reserves hit by the coronavirus.

The government has decided to abolish 0.6 percent withholding tax on cash withdrawals from banks and taken steps to encourage use of formal banking channels.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that Prime Minister Imran Khan is fighting a war with the coronavirus while focusing on the welfare of the business community, masses and especially those who are at the bottom which has further improved his image.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that reopening of the textile sector is promoting economy and providing jobs but there are problems linked to the supply chain therefore the allied industry should also be allowed to operate.

The former minister noted that supply chain disruption is a threat to export commitments. He added that all the refund claims should be paid while the government should also consider providing zero-rating facility to the export sector.

The small and medium businesses should be reopened on condition of following SOPs in letter and spirit so that they can escape bankruptcy.

He said that coronavirus has also damaged retail sector which should be noticed and this sector should be allowed so that Eid sale can help them sustain businesses which are under serious threat, he demanded.

UBL with Saylani Trust distributing ration nationwide

United Bank Limited (UBL) recently joined hands with Saylani Welfare International Trust, a reputable charitable organization, to distribute Ration Bags to needy families across Pakistan. The Bank donated PKR 25 million to the Trust for the distribution of ration bags in 15 cities across Pakistan to families most affected by the lockdown situation under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms. Sima Kamil, President & CEO UBL said “Ramzan is a month of giving. We are humbled to be able to leverage our resources beyond providing uninterrupted financial services and reaching out to those most-affected during these testing times. We hope this contribution makes a positive difference in their lives.”

IBA Karachi announces a series of policy changes to facilitate prospective students

As the threat of coronavirus looms over the academic future of students, the IBA Karachi has taken a major step to facilitate its prospective students in these challenging times. In a major policy revision, the IBA Karachi has added flexibility to its admission process to cater to the needs of prospective candidates.

IBA Karachi will accept A-Levels grades awarded to students based on final exams and/or through guidance grading by the Cambridge Board. Additionally, for all those candidates whose Intermediate and A Levels results are pending, the IBA is working to accommodate them by granting them a provisional conditional admission offer. Such candidates will be permitted to give A-Levels exams by the year end and submit their results by early 2021 to secure their admissions. The IBA further plans to facilitate such students who are giving their A-Levels exams in October 2020, by offering a reduced course load, so that they can remain focused without compromising on their A-Levels exams happening alongside their studies at IBA.

Furthermore, the IBA Karachi has also devised a mechanism where in case IBA admission tests do not take place due to the prevailing Covid-19 lockdown. In this case, the admissions would be offered through interviews of shortlisted candidates. Shortlisting criteria would be devised by the IBA Admissions Committee once all the applications have been submitted by the applicants by the deadline for each prospective program. Therefore, all prospective candidates are encouraged to visit the IBA’s website for more information and fill in the application with as much information as possible.

Announcing these policy changes, IBA Executive Director Dr. S. Akbar Zaidi said that these changes have been made out of concern for our prospective students, whose academic future is of paramount importance to the Institute. He said that the IBA Karachi plans to begin the next academic year on time and will leave no stone unturned for timely graduation of upcoming intake. “We will try our best to make our admission process as flexible as we can, while upholding merit and ensuring quality, to cater to the needs of these students effected by extraordinary circumstances”, Dr. Zaidi added.

IBA Admission Office is also working tirelessly, answering all queries of the prospective candidates to minimize the prevailing uncertainty.

Bestway group donates over rs 600 million to fight Covid-19 and for csr in Pakistan

Bestway Group, Pakistan’s leading foreign investor, has provided financial and material support to the people of Pakistan of more than PKR 600 million in the four months to April 2020, including a cheque for PKR 200 million presented to the Prime Minister recently for the COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Fund.

In a statement released by Bestway, the Group CEO Lord Zameer Choudrey, CBE SI Pk said, “Let me reassure the people of Pakistan on behalf of our Chairman Sir Anwar Pervez, OBE HPk that we are conscious of our responsibility as the largest overseas Pakistani investor and InshaAllah will not let our country down in its hour of need. In the four months to April 2020, our Group has spent more than PKR 600 million on COVID-19 relief and CSR activities. More resources will be devoted as and when necessary”.

Bestway Group has made these contributions through its key subsidiaries in Pakistan, Bestway Cement Limited and United Bank Limited as well as its charitable arm, Bestway Foundation. The Group has been working in partnership with the country’s leading healthcare providers and have donated ventilators and vital medical supplies to hospitals across the country. The Group is also working actively within its local communities across the country and providing thousands of much needed food packages and financial assistance to deserving families.

This is in addition to the extensive charitable work Bestway Group undertakes in the ordinary course. Under the stewardship of Lord Choudrey, Bestway Group has thus far donated in excess of US$ 21 million to the health and education sectors in Pakistan. On an annual basis, it also provides free medical treatment to over 35,000 individuals at its purpose-built Basic Health Units. Over 5,000 school children receive free education at Bestway Foundation’s own and funded educational institutions. In addition to this, the Group’s subsidiaries, Bestway Cement Limited and United Bank Limited are regularly recognized amongst the top 10 charitable institutions in the country.

The Group is also focused on education initiatives and is in the process of renovating nine schools in the Chakwal District. Lord Choudrey has also played an instrumental role in the establishment of dedicated scholarships for Pakistani students at world class universities in the UK such as Oxford, Kent & Bradford.

Whilst adopting necessary safety measures, Bestway Cement Limited and United Bank Limited continue to provide vital services to customers and small and medium sized businesses across the country as people navigate through these difficult times. Lord Choudrey acknowledged the contribution of the Group’s employees in providing these vital services and said “none of this would have been possible without our employees who have played and continue to play a pivotal role in these challenging circumstances and have worked tirelessly to ensure we are servicing our local communities. The health and safety of our colleagues is of paramount importance and we are providing all necessary facilities and support to ensure that they remain safe and well. I am extremely proud of how they have come together in the face of adversity”.

Khushhali Microfinance Bank branches following all Covid-19 safety procedures

As the government enforces measures to contain the spread of coronavirus in Pakistan, Khushhali Microfinance Bank is playing its part to contribute to these efforts and taking steps to ensure the safety of its customers and employees amid the pandemic.

With all branches of the bank open with updated timing Monday-Thursday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM and Friday 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Khushhali Microfinance Bank continues to provide services to all customers across Pakistan. To curtail the spread of COVID-19, all branches are regularly being disinfected while employees and customers visiting the branches are made to follow safety protocols including having their hands sanitized before and after touching any surface. Similarly, with the aim to encourage social distancing during banking hours, customers are being asked to maintain physical distances with each other and follow discipline. Biometric verification has also been discontinued.

While continuing its operations in branches, Khushhali Microfinance Bank is advising all customers to avoid unnecessary movement by using alternative channels to carry out their financial transactions. Clients are recommended to register on Internet banking online and activate their accounts by contacting KMBL helpline at UAN: 111 047 047. Following which, their Internet banking accounts can be accessed on https://login.khushhalibank.com.pk where users can avail the new digital banking experience from the comfort of their homes.

Khushhali’s Internet Banking website allows customers to access services like secure intrabank funds transfer, hassle free bill payment (utility bills, mobile bills, insurance payments, top-ups, etc.), interbank funds transfer, mini statements, balance enquiry, and many other non-financial services from the location of their choice at any time of the day.

President Khushhali Microfinance Bank, Ghalib Nishtar said, “Khushhali Microfinance Bank is taking the COVID-19 situation very seriously and doing everything possible at its end to ensure all the customers and employees are safe. The continuation of operations combined with our digital services reflects our commitment to the customers during these testing times, yet we urge all to stay home and practice social distancing”.

As Pakistan’s leading microfinance bank, Khushhali Microfinance Bank Limited is showing responsibility towards it clients during this crisis by providing round the clock services to customers through its contact center. Earlier this month, Khushhali Microfinance Bank also joined hands with MicroEnsure Pakistan to provide professional medical advice through a mobile health service called smsDoc to all Khushhali Bank customers.

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