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Mian Zahid lauds PM’s move for economic recovery through housing package

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, FPCCI’s Businessmen Panel Sr. Vice Chairman, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday lauded the move of the Prime Minister Imran Khan to boost the economy and create jobs through a housing package.

However, he warned that weak foreclosure laws may not permit banks to participate in it which can become a major threat to the success of the package.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the incentives announced by the government are laudable but it should be backed by the enabling legal environment to make it a success.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said the government has promised five million houses for poor and middle-class but it has not seen the light of the day while most of the moves in this direction can benefit rich but not the needy.

The former minister noted construction package has already failed to achieve cited objectives therefore the new package should be reconsidered.

He said that the economy started nose-diving two years ago, the IMF program further damaged it and coronavirus impaired it, therefore, policies should be directed towards economic revival.

The business leader noted that presently many investors are not ready to make large-scale investments while banks have always ignored the housing sector due to weak foreclosure laws.

Banks only allocate one percent of the advances to the housing sector because they don’t want to be involved in long legal procedures which prevents them from swift recovery in case of a default.

The government can lease out idle land for construction of low-cost apartments for poor and its employees with all the facilities and improve the laws to push banks to make radical changes in providing loans, he said.

Apart from the legal issues, political instability, overnight change in the policies and process of loan recovery which will span over decades may keep banks and investors away, he remarked.

IBA Karachi replaces its admission tests with alternative assessment criteria

The IBA Karachi has decided to replace all its scheduled admission tests for undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate programs with Alternative Assessment Criteria due to the spread of COVID-19.

Admission tests scheduled for July 19 and July 26, 2020 for MBA Executive, all MS & PhD Programs, BS Computer Science, BS Economics & Mathematics and MS Data Science programs will not take place. Candidates will be shortlisted for interviews based on the criteria outlined by the Admissions Committee.

Announcing these policy changes, Executive Director IBA Dr. S Akbar Zaidi said that the IBA Karachi has successfully adapted to the challenges posed by Covid-19 pandemic by swiftly shifting to online classes and replacing on-campus admission tests with Alternative Assessment Criteria. He further said that this timely and proactive approach has helped us mitigate the detrimental effects of Covid-19 on the academic future of our existing and prospective students.

Plan to hike power tariff will amount to stabbing businesses, masses in the back: Mian Zahid

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, FPCCI’s Businessmen Panel Sr. Vice Chairman, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said further increasing power tariff on the behest of IMF will amount to stabbing masses and the business community in the back.

The government should consider repercussions of the IMF directives while NEPRA should stop playing with statistics and provide some meaningful relief to the masses, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that Pakistan produced 121 billion units of electricity during the fiscal year 2018, 122.7 billion units in 2019 and 122 billion units in 2020 which indicate the electricity demand is static and tall claims for economic development holds no water.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said stagnant electricity consumption is hitting government, masses and business community which can be increased by reducing the power tariff.

The former minister noted hydel power has increased to 30 percent of the energy mix which must be increased to reduce dependence on imported fuel. Power generation through furnace oil has been reduced to three percent from 30 percent while the gap has been filled through power generation with the help of imported coal.

Ignoring local cola and relying on imported coal is amazing, he said, adding that Pakistan is buying costly RLNG from Qatar and power generation thorough it costs Rs10 per unit while power generation with the help of coal is costing Rs6 per unit.

The government has improved energy mix reducing fuel import bill from Rs600 billion in 2019 by ten percent despite devaluation which is an achievement.

He noted that payments to private power plants according to the power generation will help reduce electricity tariff which will help masses, boost production and increase exports.

Mian Zahid wants tumbling exchange rate to be controlled

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, FPCCI’s Businessmen Panel Sr. Vice Chairman, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday said collapsing exchange rate should be controlled as it is increasing the cost of imports and hitting the buying power of masses.

Private power plants are getting paid in dollars due to imported fuel which is also increasing power tariff due to slide in the value of rupee which is impeding local and foreign investment, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that power tariff be reduced by controlling theft and line losses which are over and above Rs 300 billion.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that a cut in the interest rates will improve the business environment and trigger investment while improved exports are necessary to support forex reserves.

He said that exports can be increased by rationalizing the cost of energy and taxes. The current account deficit during 2020 was 2.96 billion which can be attributed to discouraging imports, high interest rates, devaluation of local currency and virus.

The former minister noted current account deficit could have jumped to three billion dollars if lockdown was not imposed.

He said that tools like exchange rate manipulation and interest rate can help reduce imports but export growth is linked to enabling environment otherwise the whole nation pays the price.

He said that the country is swinging back to normal which is increasing imports of petroleum products, food, power generation and other machinery, transport, mobile phones and other services putting pressure on foreign exchange.

Massive wheat imports will also drain foreign exchange reserves, he said, adding that exports have been reduced by remittances have increased supporting overall situation and this momentum should be ensured.

He said that shoring up forex reserves with the help of loans is not sustainable which should be considered.

FBR has waived 60 percent regulatory duty, 11 percent customs duty, 17 percent sales tax and six percent withholding tax on import of wheat which should have been done before to save the masses from the clutches of the mafia, he said.

Only 32.3pc children of class 2-3 in Pakistan can perform numeracy tasks: ICAN report

At least 32.3% children of class 2-3, 77.3% children of class 4-6 and 95.5% children of class 7-8 in Pakistan can do a set of foundational numeracy tasks aligned to Sustainable Development Goal SDG 4.1.1 (a), according to International Common Assessment of Numeracy (ICAN) report released by People’s Action for Learning (PAL) Network on July 9, 2020.

The report was launched virtually by Dr. Silvia Montoya, Director UNESCO Institute for Statistics. The launch event also saw a panel discussion with Dr. Montoya; Dr. Rukmini Banerji, CEO Pratham Education Foundation, India; Dr. James Otieno Jowi, Principal Education Officer, East African Community; Dr. Sylvia Schmelkes, Academic Vice-President, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico; and Mr. Boureima Allaye Toure, Chairperson National Council of Civil Society Organizations, Mali which was moderated by Ms. Baela Raza Jamil, CEO Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), Pakistan.

The ICAN tool was administered as part of a household survey in one rural district in each of the 13 countries who are a part of PAL Network, including Pakistan, Kenya, Bangladesh, India, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda.

In Pakistan, ICAN was conducted by ITA that also conducts the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) survey. ASER Pakistan, with support from its global South-South Alliance, the PAL Network, tested the common set of numeracy items under ICAN in Toba Tek Singh district of Punjab. ICAN is an assessment of foundational numeracy using common items and provides data on early grade/lower primary learning. It further highlights gaps in foundational numeracy even for older children. Assessment domains were decided based on discussions with international assessment stakeholders and global partners.

While ASER Tools are based on basic numeracy skills adapted from grade 2-3 level curriculum, with tasks including number recognition, addition and division problems, ICAN tools are a step ahead with tasks ranging from number knowledge to geometry, measurement and data display.

In Toba Tek Singh, the survey reached a total of 60 randomly selected rural communities, 1,198 households and assessed 1,616 children in the age group of 5 to 16 years. Children were asked to do a variety of numeracy tasks. All tasks were done one-on-one with children in their homes.

According to the report, Pakistan lags only behind Bangladesh in the South Asian region in the minimum proficiency level of students of class 2-3, demonstrating skills in number sense and computation, shape recognition and spatial orientation, with a score of 32.3% and 53.0% respectively. In Nepal, 19.8% children of class 2-3 could perform foundational numeracy tasks while in India, only 10.4% children of the same grades could do the tasks aligned to SDG 4.1.1 (a). The indicator measures the percentage of children in primary education and at the end of secondary education reaching at least a minimum proficiency level in reading and mathematics.

Findings from ICAN 2020 further show that 80.7% children of age 6-16 are enrolled in government schools in Pakistan, 16% are in private schools and 0.2% are in other religious or community schools. Only 3% children of the same age group were found out of school.

Toba Tek Singh was observed to have better household facilities with 88.1% of households having walls of permanent material, 91.7% households with toilet, 99.2% electricity, 86.1% mobile phones and 70.5% households having televisions. However, most households lacked the facilities of computer (18.3%) and extra reading material (24.4%).

The ICAN study has established that children’s minimum proficiency levels (MPLs) globally in reading and mathematics remain low while confirming that despite efforts to bring children in the Global South to school, their minimum proficiency levels have not improved over the years. Irrespective of the location of the study across the three continents, the data suggests that intensive efforts will be required to ensure that children achieve at least the minimum levels of numeracy expected as part of the SDG 4 goal for education.

“The compelling need for generating robustness to capture globally agreed minimum proficiency levels for both language and numeracy has finally led the PAL Network to reach a global milestone. ICAN, tested in 13 countries including Pakistan is a testimony to the guts of our Network. Conducted with children 5-16 years old, across 60 villages of Toba Tek Singh (Punjab), ICAN could not have had a beer first home landing,” Baela Raza Jamil, CEO ITA who is also leading the ASER Pakistan, notes in the report.

“We at ITA are privileged to be part of a global community of practice that is committed to not just measurement but more importantly learning improvement initiatives on the ground,” she stated.

 

FPCCI central standing committee on media and broadcasting holds its second meeting!
  • Members of PREDA request government to resolve pending tax issues to help them survive financial losses

FPCCI Central Standing Committee on Media and Broadcasting held its second meeting last week via Zoom from FPCCI. The objective of the meeting was to highlight the issues being faced by an important sector of media — those involved in PR, Events, Digital and Activations. For this purpose, founding members of PREDA, a Council representing PR, Events, Digital and Activations companies, had been invited to share their issues resulting from the lockdown owing to Covid-19.

Usama Khan Warsi the convener of the committee on Media and Broadcasting had authorized his deputy-convener, Shanaz Ramzi, who is also the chairperson of PREDA to host the meeting. Presiding over the meeting were senior leader FPCCI Mian Zahid Hussain and vice president FPCCI Khurram Ijaz. Among those attending the session were guest of honour former VP FPCCI Saquib Fayyaz Magoon and Seema Taher Khan, and chief guest Nida Khuru, MPA PPP from government of Sindh who attended the session in person. PREDA was represented by Frieha Altaf (SVP PREDA), Selina Rashid (VP PREDA), Ahmed Jang (Hon.Sec PREDA), Farishteh Aslam, Anisa Khan, Tehmina Khalid, Hasan Rizvi, Sarfaraz and Jehanzeb, Rasikh Ismail and Phebe Haroon — all founding members of PREDA.

The participants pointed out that regardless of whether they are running PR or digital companies, or of event management and activations, businesses have been sorely affected, as in the case of the former two, celebrity clients are not being able to afford retainers with PR agencies as they are out of work themselves, while in the case of the latter no events are taking place. Considering that overheads are the same and employees have to be paid their monthly salaries, if the government does not intervene, they will have to start laying off people. The intervention required is to ensure the bare survival of these companies in these trying times. All allied jobs and professions such as vendors involved in making of sets, florists, etc, are also now without jobs and livelihood opportunities because of these companies suffering financially.

There were four basic and reasonable demands of the participants:

  • to remove the double taxation from the system that these companies are being subjected to;
  • to clear pending tax refunds from FBR, which is the right of every tax payer;
  • invoice discounting by SBP under policy with zero collateral – they are willing to bear discounting cost as this will help ease their cash flow –
  • and finally, to create a purchase system to bring every vendor under the tax bracket, which will be of help to the government as well as to them.
  • Government is providing help and support to other industries, and their request was to provide the same to them too. Some participants felt that not only is the government not giving this sector any consideration in taxes – they are paying 23 per cent in taxes to the government, which is a huge amount — but is also offering no relief to them in any other way either, such as in utility bills.

Khuro assured the speakers that she would take these demands to the government and help in whatever way she could. Mian Zahid Hussain also offered his support. The chair informed that PREDA had also reached out to advisor to the prime minister on finance and revenue, Hafeez Sheikh, and was hoping for a positive response from him.

Jazz partners with knowledge platform to facilitate e-learning

Jazz, Pakistan’s leading digital service provider, has partnered with Knowledge Platform (Private) Limited, Pakistan’s leading education technology company, to facilitate e-Learning amidst the ongoing pandemic. As per the collaboration, Jazz has introduced a special data bundle providing 10 GB in just PKR 150 whereby over 270,000 students in 100 cities can access Knowledge Platform’s e-Leaning portal and mobile applications for the entire month.

All prepaid customers of Jazz who are registered with Knowledge Partner can avail this data bundle by dialing *778#. This collaboration is an initiative of Jazz Business, which has the largest and most comprehensive portfolio of B2B ICT services and is currently serving 95 of the top 100 PSX listed companies.

As schools set up virtual classrooms to continue their courses online following nationwide closure of educational institutes, students and parents are looking for a steady and cost-effective connectivity solution. Identifying this as an urgent need, Jazz is utilizing its mobile broadband solution to provide access to some of the best online learning resources available on Knowledge Platform’s portal and mobile applications, giving students the chance to learn and develop while away from their schools.

“Providing fast 4G services has been our forte, now we seek to transform how we learn by introducing cutting-edge technology to our e-learning platform too,” said Syed Ali Naseer, Chief Business Officer at Jazz.

Talhah Khan, Knowledge Platform’s CEO, noted, “The new normal in education requires a fundamental change in the way students are engaged remotely through innovative educational products. Access to the internet and devices is a big challenge in Pakistan. We are happy to take our first step to partner with Jazz for affordable internet access.”

Jazz has previously worked with Knowledge Platform on its Jazz Smart School project – a smart learning solution to the traditional schooling system through a digital learning platform. The program is aligned with three SDG Goals and with Pakistan’s Vision 2025 under the Prime Minister’s Education Reform Program.

Askari Bank signs MoU with NAPHDA for advisory services on low income housing projects

Askari Bank Limited and Naya Pakistan Housing & Development Authority (NAPHDA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding through which Askari Bank will act as a facilitator to NAPHDA for providing advisory services for low income housing projects.

The MoU was signed by Mr. Abid Sattar – President & CEO, Askari Bank and Lt. Gen. Anwar Ali Hyder (Retd) – Chairman NAPHDA. Mr. Khurshid Zafar – Group Head, Corporate & Investment Banking, Askari Bank, Maj Gen Amer Aslam Khan – Deputy Chairman NAPHDA and other senior executives from both organizations were also present at the occasion.

IBA Karachi and Bank Alfalah Islamic launch scholarship fund

The Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi and Bank Alfalah Islamic have announced the Alfalah Islamic Scholarship Program to provide financial assistance for five fresh undergraduate students for their entire first year. The MoU for this initiative was signed by CEO and President of Bank Alfalah Mr. Atif Bajwa and Executive Director IBA Dr. S Akbar Zaidi at a ceremony held at the Bank Alfalah Head Office.

Under this agreement, Bank Alfalah Islamic will be contributing PKR 850,000 each for a total of PKR 4.25 million to seed the fund to support students on the basis of academic excellence, personal circumstances or economic hardship. The scholarships will be awarded on a case-by-case basis, and funding can cover complete educational expenses such as admission, tuition, hostel and books to support deserving students in furthering their education.

Commenting on the partnership Mr. Bajwa said, “The launch of the Alfalah Islamic Scholarship Program not only reaffirms Bank Alfalah’s commitment of giving back to the society, but it is also in line with our vision of building a future for Pakistan where our youth has access to quality education. At this time when many families are struggling financially, we have launched this initiative to allow bright, young talent to pursue their education without any obstacles. We believe supporting these students goes beyond investing in their individual futures. Their success is the country’s success, and we want to do all that we can to help them. We couldn’t have had a better partner than the IBA Karachi for this.”

“We are grateful to Bank Alfalah Islamic for extending their support for students from our upcoming classes. Their generosity will help students and their families in this time of unprecedented crisis by enabling the gift of higher education and their better future, which represents an investment in a better future for all of Pakistan.” said Dr. Zaidi.

Devastating wheat crisis is engulfing the country, says Mian Zahid Hussain

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, FPCCI’s Businessmen Panel Sr. Vice Chairman, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said the most devastating wheat crisis is engulfing the country.

Apart from the influential mafia, the concerned departments are also responsible for messing up the wheat market through wrong decisions which is unfortunate, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that at one hand government is trying to reduce the wheat and flour prices while on the other it is imposing taxes on the flour mills.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said the incompetent food bureaucracy is pushing the country into another crisis as federal and provincial governments have failed to achieve the wheat procurement target.

Flour mills were allowed to procure wheat only after the government went out of the cash which has not helped the food security situation.

The former minister noted that the government has decided to import fifteen million tonnes of wheat but so far not a single kilogram of wheat has been imported.

The private sector has acquired 122 permits to import 72500 tonnes of wheat but none has opened LCs while the authorities continue to work on snail pace without realizing the gravity of the situation.

The ECC fixed wheat procurement target of 8.25 million tonnes but all the provincial and federal departments have purchased only 6.45 million tonnes of wheat which amounts to helping the profiteers.

It is amazing that nothing has been earmarked for wheat import in the recent budget which may delay the decision to offer a subsidy to the importers.

Punjab has fixed price of 40 kg wheat at Rs1450 but it is being sold at Rs1950 while the wheat is available in Sindh at Rs1800.

He said that the government should stop depending on the private sector and initiate imports by itself to tackle the looming crisis.

School of tomorrow – the world’s premier schools & societies conference held
  • Global Education Leaders Carla Rinaldi, President of Reggio Emilia & Andreas Schleicher, Director of OECD Education & Skills featured amongst 60+ global leaders

The virtual Beaconhouse School of Tomorrow Conference: ‘A World of Tomorrow: Negotiating a Better Future’ held last week featuring a one-on-one conversation with visionary Early Years educator, Carla Rinaldi, President Fondazione Reggio Children, hosted by Professor Dr Ger Graus OBE, Chair, Beaconhouse Advisory Council.

A key highlight of the conference was the recognition of the Pakistan government’s comprehensive response to COVID-19 by Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The conference continued with an important discussion on bridging the ‘digital divide’ amongst schools featuring panelists Saeed Ghani, Minister of School Education, Sindh, Michael O’ Sullivan, former CEO CAIE, Dr Ulrik Christensen, a learning technologies expert and Mrs Nasreen M. Kasuri, Founder and Chairperson of Beaconhouse. Mrs Kasuri emphasized blended learning as a key component for the future of learning.

A highlight of the day on conference was a conversation on the future of education with Andreas Schleicher, Head of the OECD Directorate of Education & Skills and creator of the global PISA test with Kasim Kasuri, CEO of Beaconhouse, in which Mr Schliecher stressed that “Artificial Intelligence will certainly augment good teaching, but is unfortunately not a replacement for bad teaching.”

Sessions ran concurrently on the impact of the pandemic on raising children with Professor Maggie Atkinson, former Children’s Commissioner for England and online safety expert, Stella James, amongst others, along with a presentation on managing the post-Covid mental health crisis with Dr Daniel Fung, Chairman Medical Board, Singapore. The future of higher education was explored with Professor Shirley Congdon, Vice Chancellor, University of Bradford, Dr Adil Najam, a Dean at Boston University, and Dr Faisal Bari, an Interim Dean at LUMS. Ms Jill Ackers-Clayton, a renowned learning specialist conducted a workshop on strategies for engaging students in online learning. Meanwhile, a fiery debate ensued on the roles of private and public health providers.

Journalist and film-maker, Ms Munizae Jahangir concluded the day with interviewing Oscar-winning film producer & member, House of Lords, UK, Lord David Puttnam CBE on the power of film – and discussed some of Lord Puttnam’s award winning films including Chariots of Fire.

Edition XI of The School of Tomorrow conference features important conversations and interviews about safer and more balanced futures in light of COVID-19, as well as pushing educators to reimagine the future of education at both school and university levels. The conference continues to stream LIVE on July 12 on its website (www.sotevents.com) and the social media platforms Facebook and YouTube (Sot Events).

SOT Events are made possible by the generous support of corporate sponsors. The organisers acknowledge the support of United Bank Limited as the Lead Sponsor for SOT Edition XI.

The non-profit School of Tomorrow Event Series was launched in 2000 and is organised by Beaconhouse as part of its ongoing commitment to its social responsibility.

First Women Bank declares rates

Declared rates* from 1st Jan to 31st March 2020 Declared rates* from 1st April to 30st April, 2020 Declared rates* from 1st May to 31st May,2020 Declared rates* from 1st June to 30th June, 2020

Special Notice Time Deposits

7 Days SNTD 1.50% 1.50% 1.50% 1.50%

30 Days 1.50% 1.50% 1.50% 1.50%

Savings

PLS Savings 11.25% 9.50% 7.50% 6.50%

Hyper Profit Scheme 11.25% 9.50% 7.50% 6.50%

From 1/1 to 24/3/2020 From 25/3 to 20/4/2020 From 21/4 to 17/5/2020 From 18/5 to 30/6/2020

Term Deposits

1 Month 11.25% 9.50% 7.50% 6.50%

3 Months 11.30% 9.55% 7.25% 6.25%

6 Months 11.40% 9.65% 7.00% 6.00%

1 Year 11.50% 9.75% 6.75% 5.75%

2 Years 11.25% 9.25% 6.50% 5.50%

3 Years 11.00% 9.00% 6.25% 5.25%

4 Years 10.75% 8.75% 6.25% 5.25%

5 Year 10.50% 8.50% 6.25% 5.25%

Senior Citizen/Pensioners

1 Year 12.00% 9.80% 6.85% 5.85%

2 Year 11.75% 9.30% 6.60% 5.60%

*Terms & Conditions Apply

UBL partners with Honda

UBL recently signed an agreement with Honda Atlas Cars (Pakistan) Limited in order to provide exclusive benefits to customers. Through this deal, UBL Good Citizen Account holders can enjoy a discounted rate of 9.75% on their car loan for Honda vehicles by maintaining an average balance of 500K and above in their account. Not just that, all customers can also avail other attractive privileges, like discounts and waivers on insurance rates and registration fees, reduced loan processing fee and priority delivery among others.

The agreement was signed recently, through an online meeting, by Mr. Zia Ijaz, Group Executive Branch Banking & International UBL and Mr. Hironobu Yoshimura, President & CEO Honda Atlas Cars (Pakistan) Limited.

“We are pleased to announce this partnership between UBL and Honda. It will provide multiple benefits and concessions to customers who want to avail of financing options for Honda vehicles”, said Mr. Zia Ijaz, Group Executive Branch Banking & International UBL.

Mr. Hironobu Yoshimura, President & CEO Honda Atlas Cars (Pakistan) Limited added, “This alliance combines UBL’s financial prowess with the state of the art products being offered by Honda Atlas Cars (Pakistan) Limited. This enhanced offering will provide exciting deals and financial flexibility to customers throughout the country, on all our cars”.

Global emergence of Halal industry learning series launched

Halal Research Council (HRC) in association with AlHuda CIBE has launched Halal industry free webinar series named “Global Emergence of Halal Industry” to learn with Halal industry experts around the world from July, 2020. The learning series is still continue with the different insightful topics. The purpose of the free webinars is to promote and strengthen organizations and professionals for Halal industry. Besides the promotion of Halal industry, the purpose of the webinar series is also to acknowledge the need of giving hype to the system beyond any political and religious refrains. The purpose of the webinar series is also to spread the awareness among general public and professionals of different industries including food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, tourism etc. The participants attended the webinars from different part of the world to learn about the Halal industry. The Halal products demand is increasing enormously and many new Halal markets are seen to be emerging on the horizon in the world, there is a need to uplift the knowledge and understanding about Halal industry focusing on the Halal Standards.

During the series of free webinar by Halal Research Council, the global leader, Mr. İhsan ÖVÜT – Secretary General, The Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countri

es (SMIIC), Turkey delivered an insightful speech on “OIC/SMIIC Standards on Halal Issues and Halal Quality Infrastructure”. OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organization after United Nations. In his valuable presentation he shared valuable insights under the different standards and quality infrastructures of Halal industry. He explained the four objectives of SMIIC in detail. He further explained development processes for an OIC/SMIIC standards. He also discussed the OIC global Halal quality infrastructure along-with overall quality infrastructure. He mentioned that SMIIC have 35 published OIC/SMIIC standards on different areas including Halal food, conformity assessment for Halal certification bodies, Halal cosmetics, safety and health, Halal tourism, different testing methods etc. during his presentation. He concluded the webinar by explaining the Halal chain from customer need to raw material, manufacturing, distribution, retail and consumption including standards, certification, test laboratories, accreditation, and metrology for Halal industry.

Mr. Ateeq Ur Rehman Memon – Director General, Pakistan National Accreditation Council (PNAC), Islamabad – Pakistan conducted his webinar on “Importance of Halal Accreditation”. He expressed that Halal certification is an important marketing tool to enhance your outreach to the international trade market followed by explaining different Halal standards. He said that Halal market is expected to reach at US$ 3 trillion by 2023. Both Muslims and non-Muslims are the target market of Halal industry due to its hygienic and health food. Beyond the food industry, cosmetics, travel & tourism, pharmaceutical, media and recreation and modest fashion are also the part of Halal industry. So, now you can imagine the spread of Halal market worldwide and the potential opportunities. He particularly mentioned that 90% share of the Halal industry is held by the non-Muslims and rest of the 10% is held by Middle East Countries.

Brazil, Australia, Canada, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand and USA are the leaders of Halal market where various Muslim countries import Halal meat, dairy and other food items, said Mr. Rehman. He also explained the various challenges of Halal industry in emerging economies in this field.

Mr. Muhammad Zubair Mughal said that Halal Research Council will continue these types of sessions to create awareness among general public and industry professionals keeping in view the current and emerging trends of Halal industry to share the global latest knowledge. The further information and registration for free webinar series programs, kindly visit at www.halalrc.org/webinar/. The attendees will also be given eCertificates.

NBP and Winrock sign MoU for agri sector development

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and US-based Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development (Winrock) for collaboration between the two organizations to look at increasing ways and means of credit availability to farmers, processors and service providers and enhancing financial literacy in selected areas and crops. Initial focus will be on four non-major crops namely dates, banana, tomato and red chili. Winrock is being represented via its Pakistan office through the Pakistan Agriculture Development Project (PAD) and is undertaking tasks on value chain development in the four crops in 12 districts (6 each in Sindh and Punjab).

Winrock International is a recognized leader in US and international development, providing solutions to some of the world’s most complex social, agricultural and environmental challenges. It is a non-profit organization that implements a portfolio of more than 140 agriculture, environment and social development projects in over 46 countries.

NBP is Pakistan’s largest public sector commercial bank, providing a diverse range of products and services to the agriculture sector. The Bank is taking initiatives for increasing market penetration and growth in the priority sectors of the economy by developing and strengthening value chains between producers, processors, exporters and financial institutions. The Inclusive Development Group (IDG) within NBP is spearheading these initiatives and is engaged in focusing on financial inclusion of underserved sectors that have significant business potential.

NBP and Winrock will collaborate to bring together their respective experiences and expertise to facilitate farmers and related value chain partners to promote better standards for farming and processing. Credit plays a vital role in enabling the adoption of best practices for improving crop productivity, reducing losses, value addition and consequently enhancing profitability. NBP will collaborate with Winrock to enable credit flow to farmers and agribusinesses thereby enabling the adoption of modern inputs and technologies in the farm-to-fork value chain for the four crops. The effort is expected to result in improved crop productivity, reduced post-harvest losses and consequently increased incomes. Similarly, it will facilitate processors and other potential value chain partners i.e. agri related businesses to acquire new or scale-up existing infrastructure / technology and improve business profitability. The expected outcome of the collaboration between NBP and Winrock is to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders and contribute to growth in Pakistan’s economy.

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