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Development in presence of circular debt misconception: Mian Zahid

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday said national development in presence of circular debt is an illusion.

The broken power sector will not allow most of the economic policies to succeed and it will never allow any large scale investment.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that power tariff is being continuously increased which has damaged buying power of masses and dented the economy but it has failed to contain the growing circular debt.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said the government should prioritise culmination of power and has sectors circular debts which as compromised growth.

Power tariff for masses and industry is more than the tariff in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indian, Thailand and South Korea eroding competitiveness, he said.

He said that the two factors hitting the power and gas sectors are theft and line losses which has become a great burden on masses and the economy while gas shortage before winter and electricity scarcity before summer has become a routine.

Most of the subsidies including that of energy are benefitting those who don’t need it while theft by influential is rampant, he observed.

Pakistan has signed contracts to buy costly LNG which is keeping us in crisis otherwise the spot rate of LNG is cheaper than local gas in the international market.

Energy problem has damaged industry and economy a lot over the past two decades reducing exports and pushing up imports which should be a matter of concern for the policymakers.

Governor Sindh Imran Ismail performs ground breaking of ratodero-shikarpur section of indus highway

– 2-Lane Ratodero-Shikarpur additional carriageway to cost more than Rs4.94 billion

– Project to gear up pace of socio economic development in interior Sindh

Governor Sindh Mr. Imran Ismail has said that upgradation and rehabilitation of Indus Highway will gear up pace of socio-economic development of the country, particularly in interior parts of Sindh Province. As the chief guest, he was addressing the Ground Breaking ceremony of Ratodero-Shikarpur section of Indus Highway at Shikarpur Bypass, last week. NHA’s Member South Zone Mr. Tufail Ahmed Shaikh also addressed. Senior officers from Ministry of Communications, National Highway Authority, Provincial Government and local administration were also present.

In his address, Governor Sindh Mr. Imran Ismail said, project for construction of 2-Lane additional carriageway is being undertaken under Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program and that Asian Development Bank is providing financial assistance for this project. Under this program, eight sections of Indus Highway will be upgraded in four phases which include Phase-I: Petaro-Sehwan Section (64KM), Ratodero-Shikarpur Section (43KM) & Dara Adam Khel-Peshawar Section (34KM), Phase-II: Shikarpur-Rajanpur Section (224KM), Phase III-IV: D. G. Khan-D. I. Khan Section (208 KM), Rajanpur-D.G Khan Section (122 KM), Jamshoro-Sehwan Section (130 KM) & Ratodero-Shikarpur Section (43 KM). He further said, Ratodero-Shikarpur project possesses extra-ordinary significance for people of Interior Sindh as it will pave the way for the agricultural and industrial development. The project will not only provide better transportation facilities but agricultural produces of the area will easily be taken to big markets. Ratodero-Shikarpur will also generate new employment opportunities for the youth, he added.

NHA’s Member South Zone Mr. Tufail Ahmed Shaikh in his address said 43.4 Km long Ratodero-Shikarpur section will be completed at the cost of Rs. 4.94 billion in 2 years period. Speaking about background of CAREC program he said that CAREC program is a partnership of eleven (11) countries and development partners working together to promote development through cooperation, leading to accelerated economic growth. Member countries include Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Pakistan road network is connected to CAREC Corridor 5 which connects Central Asian Nations and Arabian Sea, specifically Indus Highway N-55. He further said, Indus Highway in the country is an alternative shorter route between Karachi and Peshawar as compared to National Highway N-5. Upgradation and Rehabilitation of Indus Highway will reduce load of commercial traffic on N-5 and accelerate pace of economic activities.

Furthermore, In line with directive of Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan on reaching out to the public through holding Khuli Kachehris by organizations under the Federal Government, Member Planning NHA Muhammad Naveed Iqbal Wahla held E-Kachehri at head office of the Authority through NHA official Facebook Page and answered to the questions placed by the people all over the country.

In his opening remarks Member Planning NHA Muhammad Naveed Iqbal Wahla said, responsibility for construction and maintenance of motorways, national highways and strategic roads in the country is assigned to National Highway Authority. A major chunk of trade traffic and transportation of passengers is associated with NHA road network. Presently, NHA is developing epoch making China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project gradually.

Giving answers to the questions in E-Kachehri, he said, Maintenance units of NHA have started working for repair and maintenance of roads affected by the previous spell of heavy rains. Speaking about Rate of NOC Fee of NHA Right of Way (ROW) he said, income received for NOC’s and Toll Plazas is used for Maintenance of road network and NHA is endeavoring to enhance its fund generating resources. In order to ensure quality construction of roads, consultants are appointed. Documentary work is being completed for undertaking Sukkur-Hyderabad motorway, he added. Maintenance of Potholes on road near Kohinoor Mills Rawalpindi will be started soon. He informed that advertisement has been published for appointment of Consultant on Multan-Muzaffargarh Road. He said, Balkasar-Mianwali road has recently been handed over to NHA, while steps are being taken to improve Quetta-Karachi National Highway.

Pakistan cables e-store wins 8th FPCCI achievement award for innovation in e-commerce

Pakistan Cables e-store won the 8th Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Achievement award for being the first in the wires and cables industry to enter the e-commerce segment in Pakistan.

The awards ceremony was hosted by FPCCI in recognition of the praiseworthy contributions in development of different sectors of national economy. The President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi, conferred the award to Mariam Durrani, Head of Marketing & Brands Pakistan Cables Ltd. during the ceremony.

Pakistan Cables e-store was launched in September 2019 to offer consumers a hassle free and convenient way of buying general wiring, delivered directly to their door step. With this service now offered in 50 cities and towns, Pakistan Cables has paved the way to ensure its customers are facilitated through various channels . “We launched the e-store anticipating the evolving needs of our customer base, even well ahead of COVID19. We knew that as a leader we wanted to be disruptive and truly empower our customers through innovation”, said Mr. Fahd Chinoy, CEO Pakistan Cables Limited.

This was the Company’s second consecutive win for innovation in Pakistan. PCL was also recognized in 2019 by FPCCI for introducing Technological Advancement through ACCC® Conductors in Pakistan.

Mian Zahid lauds PM’s move to take top businessmen into confidence for economic future

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday lauded the decision of the Prime Minister Imran Khan to personally meet with the leading businessmen to get their input for economic improvement.

The recommendations of business community will help the government improve economic situation and trigger industrialisation to reduce unemployment and boost revenue.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that PM is also eager to support neglected sector of SMEs and some positive steps are expected shortly.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the export sector should get special attention as export earnings are necessary to run the country.

Presently all the energy of exporters is being sucked by government officials, taxation issues, energy scarcity and ending refunds which would never allow them to properly focus on exports.

He said that pandemic and closure of factories in India and some issue in other regional countries have diverted their attention of foreign buyers to Pakistan. Many foreign buyers have been preferring India over Pakistan for two decades but now the situation has changed.

Many local textile exporters have booked orders according to their capacity and now they are turning down orders while some others have started upgrading and expanding manufacturing capacity.

The government should benefit from the changing trends to gain lost share in the international market for which policy of borrowing from exporters in the name of refunds should be stopped.

The refund system is very faulty which should be improved to improve the situation otherwise, exporters would not be able to deliver according to their potential.

The refund powers should not be discretionary but institutionalised so that businessmen can be freed from the clutches of the corrupt bureaucracy.

Women chamber of commerce and industry Karachi south holds 4th annual general meeting

Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WCCI) Karachi South held its 4th Annual General Meeting and fifth anniversary celebrations here at a five-star hotel, last week. The event started off with a welcome speech by the host of the evening Bissma Bader followed by tilawat, naat and then national anthem played on guitar and sung by actor and singer Tipu Shareef, with the audience joining in.

After Bader gave a background to last year’s developments in WCCI Karachi South, general secretary Basit was called upon for the adoption of audited accounts. Announcement of new team 2020-21 by judges was followed by the highlight of the day – the oath-taking ceremony of the new office bearers and executives by chief executive of the organization, Hina Mansab. The annual general meeting was then declared closed.

A presentation was made by 2019-20 VP Naheed Kamal of the previous year’s achievements by the office bearers and executive committee. The newly sworn-in president, Shanaz Ramzi then spoke and shared her plans for her tenure as president. Chief executive Hina Mansab Khan then spoke of the journey of WCCI Karachi South over these last five years. Speech by DC South Irshad Sodhar was followed by speech by special guest of honour for the event, Administrator Mr Ifthikar Shallwani who congratulated the new executive body and office bearers, expressing the conviction that they would contribute in a valuable way to the Chamber.

The chief guest Madam Shehnaz Wazir Ali then gave an inspiring speech about the contribution of women entrepreneurs to Pakistan’s economy. Representatives of Pink Ribbon then spoke about their Breast Awareness Campaign.

Certificates were distributed by the chief guest to executives and office bearers, as well as to the guest of honour Tipu Shareef. The chief guest was presented a flower arrangement by president, chief executive and founder president. Bouquets were also presented to special guest of honour, Mr Shallwani, DC South, Mr Irshad Sodhar as well as to Hina Mansab, Farida Qureshi, Tipu Shareef and Shanaz Ramzi.

Cake-cutting ceremony took place with all the important guests present participating, followed by high tea.

Mian Zahid lauds govt efforts to end monopoly in gas sector

– Breaking of monopoly in power sector demanded

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday lauded the decision of the government to bring an end to the monopoly of state-run companies in the gas sector.

He said that government should also consider breaking monopoly of certain companies in the power sector to provide relief to masses and trigger national development.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that presently LNG is cheaper than local natural gas, therefore, there is no justification in shortage of gas and crisis.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the government has allowed the private sector to import and distribute gas which will have a positive impact on investments, production, exports, employment and environment.

He said that state-run utilities have become famous for corruption, nepotism, mismanagement and favouritism resulting in a gas sector circular debt of Rs250 billion.

The utilities would never serve masses and would not allow others to serve the masses and business community through conspiracies.

Now the government has allowed private sector to step into this field which will also compel gas companies to improve their working and reduce losses.

He said that if private sector was insulated from conspirators, it will reduce the gas shortfall during upcoming winter season and bridge it completely by next winter.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that Karachi is the economic and commercial hub of the country and being a port city it should not face shortage of energy but unfortunately the gas and power companies seem more interested in blaming each other than resolving problems.

He said that power generation and distribution should be separated in Karachi and import of gas should be expedited.

The local gas production has less than half of the demand, the shortfall will jump to 2.7 billion cubic feet per day by 2023 and it will go up to almost five billion cubic feet per day.

A provincial government is blamed for hindering the LNG project which should be tackled in the council of common interests, he said, adding that presently imported gas is cheaper than the local gas, therefore, the shortfall can be bridged easily which need insulation of the private sector from plotters.

First Women Bank and sehat kahani in partnership to promote SMEs

11First Women Bank Limited (FWBL) signed an MoU with Sehat Kahani — one of the fastest growing health tech companies in Pakistan, to launch an E-Health Financing Loan to female health workers to allow them to set up their clinics, where patients can get connected to a doctor through the Sehat Kahani application. The MoU was signed by Mr. Ali Raza Head Business FWBL and Dr. Sara Saeed Khan CEO Sehat Kahani. Ms. Shahida Javed Acting President FWBL, Ms. Faiqa Naseem Deputy Director State Bank of Pakistan and other officials of both companies also attended the ceremony.

Under this partnership, the healthcare providers can get loan based financing through First Women Bank Limited facilitated by Sehat Kahani. This will allow health workers desirous of starting or scaling digital health services to open e-health/telemedicine clinics.

On this account, State Bank greatly appreciated the efforts of Sehat Kahani and First Women Bank Limited, as they expressed “State Bank commends the collaborations between First Women Bank and Sehat Kahani for uptake of SBP subsidized refinance facility for loans to female nurses and health care workers, to upgrade their clinics into Sehat Kahani enabled Telemedicine centers. This is a true example of Two Women Led Organizations coming together to help more women stand up on their feet and help many patients get qualified healthcare in Pakistan.”

Sehat Kahani is a health Tech Organization that connects a large pool of female doctors to patients who need health care using a telemedicine based platform creating E-Clinics in low-income communities and a mobile application for the masses. Sehat Kahani has a network of 27 clinics all across Pakistan and has provided consultations to 250,000 plus patients till date through its clinics and mobile application.

First Women Bank Limited’s team is also very delighted with this partnership as they express “FWBL takes pride to be a part of this great initiative in health sector from Sehat Kahani’s platform and hope that this partnership will lead towards development of women entrepreneurship and social uplift of low income communities by providing them affordable E-Health services at their doorsteps.” “We look forward to this partnership between Sehat Kahani & First Women Bank Limited and hope this will be a steppingstone in facilitating women healthcare providers.”

Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram, CEO and Co Founder Sehat Kahani is overwhelmed with this collaboration, she added that this would allow health workers to become E-Health franchisees to Sehat Kahani and take more ownership of their clinics, increase their productivity and create long term partnership with Sehat Kahani. COO and Cofounder, Dr Iffat Zafar highlighted the importance of this partnership as she expresses it will greatly help in rapidly expanding the E- Health Clinics network as setting up of clinics will allow a greater number of people to be benefitted from Sehat Kahani’s vast network of doctors.

Distinguished lecture on ‘leadership under crisis: pandemic and civic issues’ by cm Sindh at IBA Karachi

The Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi organized a distinguished lecture on Leadership under crisis: Pandemic and Civic Issues by the Chief Minister of Sindh and Patron IBA Karachi, Syed Murad Ali Shah, at the IBA City Campus. Attendees included the IBA faculty, students and alumni, media, members from the academia, corporate sector and diplomatic corps.

Dr. Zaidi began the discussion by enquiring the CM Sindh on the readiness of the Sindh government in the face of the pandemic. While the response to the pandemic was swift, Mr. Shah emphasized that it was essential that all health facilities in the province were analyzed first to gauge if the pandemic could be controlled. After a thorough examination of all hospitals across the province, private sector doctors were mobilized, and hospitals were equipped as quickly as possible. Facilities were enhanced and additional spaces were allocated to treat patients as quickly as possible.

When quizzed on the lockdown, Mr. Shah defended his actions by reiterating that a number of crises involving mass gatherings of people prompted the government to expedite the treatment process. Every single individual was tracked down and isolated for more than a month in Sialkot to prevent them from spreading the virus. As a consequence of these mass gathering, Sindh increased its testing from 100 tests per day to almost 7,000 tests per day in most health facilities. As a result of these tests, Sindh has now tested almost twice the number of people per day as compared to the rest of the country. Delving further into how the Sindh government tackled the issue, Mr. Shah said testing, isolation and closing down early were the mainstay of his policy.

With the pandemic governing most actions of the government, Dr. Zaidi spoke about disruptions in the lives of students as well as those associated with the education industry. Mr. Shah agreed that all citizens must be worried about the developing situation in terms of the second spike but strict adherence to the SOPs and social distancing protocols must still be maintained at all spaces.

Reflecting on how this pandemic helped to deal with other civic issues, Mr. Shah remarked, “The Covid-19 situation allowed us to deal with multiple challenges at once. The biggest challenge for us, however, was how to use this experience and adapt to upcoming challenges such as the flooding.” The solution to this was a combined effort from the public and private sector, stressed Mr. Shah.

With the 18th Amendment aiding the efforts of the Sindh government, Mr. Shah was optimistic that the freedom to act swiftly and make timely decisions was the catalyst to perform well in such a situation. When pressed on matters related to business activity, Mr. Shah stressed that keeping business hours open throughout the day and night was not feasible as people preferred to come out when they felt the activity is minimal, often at late hours of the night, thus contradicting the social distancing protocol.Following the lecture, a Q&A session between Mr. Shah and the audience ensued. Responding to one of the questions, the CM Sindh argued that the political leadership has a vision, but the bureaucracy has been hesitant in implementing projects.

Dr. Zaidi presented a memento to the CM Sindh at the end of discourse.

CEO IMC Ali Asghar Jamali elected as new chairman PAMA

The Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (PAMA) has announced the results of its elections for the term of 2020-21 under the terms of Trade Organization Rules 2013. The newly elected office bearers and Executive Committee members of the association will take charge effective 1st October.

Mr. Ali Asghar Jamali has been elected as the association’s new Chairman whilst Mr. Saquib H. Shirazi and Mr. Muhammad Kuli Khan Khattak as Senior Vice Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively.

All the office bearers have a long association with the local auto industry and are well-known and highly respected in the auto and business sectors.

Mr. Ali Asghar Jamali has an extensive relationship with the automobile industry and has been associated with Indus Motor Company for the last 20 years and currently serves as its Chief Executive since 2017. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan and has attended the Advance Management Program at the Harvard University, USA.

Expressing his views, the newly elected Chairman said, “The automobile industry in Pakistan has seen rapid growth over the years. It is an honor to serve the sector and I am fully committed to address the challenges and to steer the industry towards a better future especially during these turbulent times of a global pandemic.” He further said that, “the prosperity of Pakistan lies in the ‘Make in Pakistan’ approach and it will be our endeavor to give our very best to promote it.”

Careem makes a permanent shift to ‘remote-first

Careem, the Super App for the greater Middle East and Pakistan, is now a Remote-First company. Careem colleagues in 36 offices have the freedom to work from a remote location. The company’s physical offices will remain open and are being re-designed into spaces that facilitate collaboration and team building while also providing flexible workspaces for individual colleagues.

Careem anticipates that permanent remote working will increase productivity, reduce costs, and lead to an even stronger value proposition for talent. In the recent work-from-home arrangements, colleagues reported higher productivity and stronger relationships with peers in other countries — leading to strong business recovery in the last two quarters. The shift will also save real-estate costs as offices get reimagined and optimised for collaboration and flexible working rather than day-to-day. And most importantly for a business that is still growing rapidly, the Remote-First approach will allow Careem to attract and retain top talent globally with a strengthened colleague value proposition.

“As a digital business with operations in more than 100 cities, we always invested in tools and mindsets to effectively collaborate with remote colleagues. When the pandemic hit and our movements were restricted, we were able to seamlessly adapt while continuing to support our customers and partners. As the work from home continued, our colleagues started reporting higher productivity and found they valued the flexibility. That’s when we went to the drawing board to challenge our set of beliefs on work and productivity,” said Mudassir Sheikha, CEO and Co-Founder of Careem.

He added: Going Remote-First is deeply aligned with our values of ownership and trust which drove this strategic decision. “Fundamentally, we believe Remote-First is better for business and for colleagues. This is the future of work, and just like in other aspects, we would like to inspire our region to embrace it.”

Careem colleagues are now able to work from anywhere they like in the country in which they were hired, and from anywhere in the world for up to 60 days each year. All processes within the business will be designed to facilitate this remote presence. In order to enhance collaboration and continue to build and sustain relationships, colleagues are expected to spend one day per week in the office.

As the COVID-19 pandemic drives profound social changes, Careem and other organisations in the region have the opportunity to rethink the future of work and use that as an additional means to leapfrog. Becoming a Remote-First organisation allows Careem to benefit from accelerated digital adoption to drive strong productivity gains and attract a global talent pool that is aligned with its purpose of “simplifying lives and building an awesome organisation that inspires.”

Metro Pakistan concludes charity-day donation drive

– METRO employees collected and donated clothes, garments, and toys to Akhuwat Cloth bank for distribution to the unprivileged communities

METRO Pakistan concludes its charity donation drive as part of the International Charity Day commemorations, in collaboration with Akhuwat Foundation, a leading non-government organization, working on improving the lives of the underprivileged communities.

The internal charity drive started as part of the International Charity Day commemoration earlier this month and ran at all METRO stores across Pakistan. The response from employees was tremendous, with a large number of employees donated clothes, unused garments, and toys. A good number of METRO vendors and suppliers also joined in and donated their products. All collected goods were handed over to Akhuwat cloth bank, where the goods were washed, dry-cleaned, repaired, packed, and distributed to the unprivileged communities.

The International Day of Charity is celebrated annually on the 5th of September which is a global platform for all charity related activities conducted by individuals and organizations. Recognized by the United Nations as a day to promote and spread awareness about philanthropy and charity, this day serves as a reminder that it is everyone’s responsibility to support fellow human beings and take them along on the path of development.

Mian Zahid wants govt to prevent another wheat, flour crisis engulfing country

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday said another wheat and flour crisis has started engulfing the country.

The government should take flour mills association in confidence to ward off the crisis which can result in widespread protests, he said.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said a fertiliser crisis is also becoming visible which will damage the agriculture sector and trigger the food security issue in the country.

He said that national Assembly’s Standing Committee on Commerce not only issued a warning of nationwide flour crisis in December but it has also observed that the whole process of import of wheat was marred with mismanagement which jacked up prices of wheat and flour.

The government has allowed private sector and Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) to import wheat but taxes and duties were not waived in time which resulted in import of only three lakh tonnes of wheat while TCP is yet to import it.

The wheat imported by the private sector is insufficient to cater to the needs of population and there is less likely that they would import the required quantity, he said.

He noted that the TCP response to the crisis has encouraged the profiteers and the prices could not be reduced in the market and it is adding to anxiety among the masses.

The concerned authorities failed to predict the situation and take timely measures, which has created problems for low-income group people.

Government should start importing wheat itself if it wants to arrest the trend of rising prices in the market or risk protests, he warned.

He said that the government should take stock of urea and fertiliser availability in the country and take steps to import it without any delay.

Al Baraka Bank partners with Pak Qatar Family Takaful to facilitate ‘Al Baraka Tabeer saving plan’ customers

Al Baraka Pakistan has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Pak Qatar Family Takaful in a recently held signing ceremony at their head office. This partnership will enable the Bank to provide Takaful coverage for its ‘Tabeer Saving Plan’ customers in a Shariah-complaint manner.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Ahmed Shuja Kidwai, CEO Al Baraka Bank Pakistan said, “Al Baraka is always keen to provide unique and innovative products to its customers; through this we will be able to provide another Shariah-complaint financial solution for their saving needs.” He added, “I see this alliance with Pak Qatar Family Takaful as a long-term and promising solution towards our customers’ financial needs.”

Commenting on the partnership, he stated “Al Baraka Pakistan and Pak Qatar should further engage in mutually beneficial projects which are equally helpful for both our customers and will enhance our customers’ loyalty towards the brands. With this partnership, our customers can benefit from Riba-free takaful coverage along with the peace of their heart and mind.”

Al Baraka Tabeer Saving Plan is an innovative Shariah-compliant, customer-friendly alternative to Banca Takaful/assurance that offers a unique combination of saving, investment and protection. Customers will be able to consistently save for their future needs such as child education, child marriage, retirement or any other future financial needs.

Al Barak Bank (Pakistan) Limited is part of the Al Baraka Banking Group B.S.C. (ABG) Bahrain which is a leading international Islamic banking group providing its unique services in countries with a population totaling around one billion.

The Group has a wide geographical presence in the form of subsidiary banking units and representative offices in 17 countries, which in turn provide their services through over 700 branches. Al Baraka Banking Group has operations in Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Sudan, Turkey, South Africa, Algeria, Pakistan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Morocco and Germany, in addition to two branches in Iraq and two representative offices in Indonesia and Libya.

IBA Karachi and Aga Khan University sign mou for collaborative research

The Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi and the Aga Khan University (AKU) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on research and innovation initiatives in education and healthcare. The agreement was signed by IBA Executive Director Dr. S Akbar Zaidi and AKU Vice-Provost Dr. Anjum Halai.

The MoU will provide opportunities for faculty, researchers, students and innovators at the IBA Karachi and AKU to explore potential activities ranging from joint research projects and training to professional development programmes and the creation of a shared pool of mentors.

Dr. Zaidi welcomed the agreement between both institutions as it offers enormous opportunities for research, student training and development and innovations. “Our institutions will have the ‘space’ to collaborate on projects focusing on big data, knowledge, training expertise and human resources, that can be potentially beneficial locally, nationally and even globally,” he added.

While addressing the ceremony, Dr. Halai emphasized that IBA Karachi and AKU recognize the importance of partnership, of positive academic engagement and the contributions that institutions of higher education can make to the society. He said, “We share a mutual desire to collaborate on initiatives that can positively contribute and expand upon creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in education and healthcare.”

In the closing remarks, AKU’s Chief Data and Analytics Officer Mr. Farhan Sabzaali said, “This agreement should enable both institutions to leverage their expertise in machine learning and data analytics to expand the number and breadth of projects in areas of common interest.”

Chairman PTA visits Jazz digital headquarters

Chairman Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) Major General (retired) Amir Azeem Bajwa; Muhammad Naveed (Member Finance); Dr. Khawar Siddique Khokhar (Member Compliance & Enforcement) and other senior members of PTA visited Jazz Digital Headquarters, last week. Jazz’s executive leadership team presented a detailed corporate overview, its commitment to 4G acceleration, especially in underserved areas.

The overview also highlighted the work being done in the areas of ed-tech, e-commerce, digital payments, affordable mobile technologies, Agri-tech, and the proliferation of high-speed internet under the Universal Service Fund (USF) project. Additionally, the Chairman was also apprised of Jazz’s PKR 1.2 billion COVID-19 relief package and how it was rolled out for benefit of the public.

Chairman PTA appreciated Jazz’s role in providing internet access to rural and underserved areas of the country. “Internet penetration has improved from 31 percent to over 40 percent with the cooperation of all operators like Jazz,” said Chairman PTA. He was also briefed about Jazz’s efforts in improving start-up infrastructure in partnership with the National Incubation Centre. “We are exploring areas to ensure that the masses have safe and easy access to the benefits of an increasingly digital world,” He further added.

“By far the greatest power that connectivity holds is the ability to instantly empower millions of Pakistanis to break the socio-economic barriers in an increasingly interconnected world. Without the Internet and telecom connectivity, our Covid-19 lockdown, and economic struggles would have been more pronounced. We are glad to find a digital advocate in PTA and hope to work closely to make Pakistan improve its global ICT rankings,” said Aamir Ibrahim.

Jazz facilitates Namal institute with an innovative learning solution

Jazz, Pakistan’s number one 4G operator and the largest internet and broadband service provider facilitated Namal Institute during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown in teaching students without access to the internet or a smart device. The product, ‘Business Line’, introduced by Jazz Business, the country’s largest digital and ICT solutions provider, gave students access to pre-recorded lectures on a free-of-cost mobile number.

Using this feature of Business Line, the institute’s professors record their lectures over the phone and share them with the students via a mobile number. The students then call the number and listen to the lecture.

“The remote learning solution we offer demonstrated our commitment to quality education in terms of content and interactive digital tools. During the lockdown, it was clear that we had to combine technology and education to ensure that our learning outcomes are not negatively impacted, especially for students from underserved regions”, said Syed Ali Naseer, Chief Business Officer at Jazz.

“Namal serves a large variety of students mostly coming from remote areas. Pandemic posed a huge challenge to us as more than 50% of our students had to face connectivity issues. In this troubling scenario, we needed a solution to keep teaching our students. Thankfully, Jazz came forward with an innovative solution that gave access to pre-recorded audio lectures to all our students,” said Dr. Umar Farooq, Assistant HOD of Business, Namal Institute.

Jazz also partnered with several other educational institutes to facilitate e-learning. Jazz Business provided special internet packages and MiFi devices to the staff of AIOU, LUMS, University of Lahore and Root Millennium, fixed-line data solutions to the staff of LGS, and an exclusive package for access to Knowledge Platform’s online educational libraries. Affordable weekly and monthly data & voice packages were also introduced for easy utility of teachers as well as students.

Even prior to the pandemic, Jazz has actively been working to utilize its resources and digital tools to provide better learning opportunities to students. The mobile operator also launched Jazz Parho, an Android-friendly mobile app, which gives students free-of-cost access to learning resources.

NBP wins two awards at the 8th FPCCI achievement awards-2020

The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) during its 8th FPCCI Achievement Awards-2020 has bestowed two achievement awards to National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) for its outstanding services in the categories of ‘Contribution to National Economy (Corporate & Investment Banking)’ and ‘Best Corporate & Investment Banking Services’.

The President, Islamic Republic of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Affairs Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, and Federal Minister of Industries & Production Muhammad Hammad Azhar, graced the occasion.

NBP President & CEO Mr. Arif Usmani collected the achievement award for “Contribution to National Economy (Corporate & Investment Banking) while Syed Jamal Baquar, SEVP & Group Chief – Corporate & Investment Banking Group (CIBG) collected the achievement award for “Best Corporate & Investment Banking Services”.

The FPCCI is a forum for the industrial, business, and professional community of the country and is deeply entrenched in every sector of Pakistan’s economy. FPCCI provides a good opportunity for the domestic business community to analyze new and emerging trends in the local and international markets and devise innovative strategies for the promotion of their businesses. The awards each year recognize the services of organizations and individuals in different sectors for their contribution to the progress of Pakistan.

On winning these prestigious awards, Mr. Arif Usmani, President & CEO said, “these Awards acknowledge the high quality services NBP renders to its clients and highlight the fact that the Bank continues to be a preferred and trusted long-term partner of its clients. The “Nations Bank” has worked tirelessly over the years to extend support to all stakeholders that are integral to Pakistan’s economy. We are honored to accept these Awards, which are a testimonial to our hard work and an acknowledgement of NBP’s outstanding services to the business community at large.”

Syed Jamal Baquar, SEVP & Group Chief CIBG added, “our strong balance sheet, universal product offerings, and highly qualified team of business professionals gives us the confidence and the ability to undertake financial transactions of any quantum or complexity to provide much needed sustenance and impetus to the economic growth of Pakistan. We continue to explore and support all sectors where Pakistan’s GDP is expected to expand in the future and to further build and support the country in its economic transformation. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our valued clientele for their continued patronage of our services. We also take this opportunity to extend our sincere appreciation to the NBP leadership and business teams who are second to none, and have made this possible.”

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