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Mian Zahid lauds import of tomatoes and onions from Iran

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday lauded the move of the government to allow the import of tomatoes and onions from Iran which will reduce its price in Pakistan.

Dozens of trucks loaded with these vegetables have arrived in Pakistan to discourage profiteers and bring the price down, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that all the steps against price hike have remained counterproductive therefore import of edible items from all the neighbouring countries should be allowed while import regime should be relaxed.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the existing system has failed to deliver therefore a new price control mechanism should be implemented which is equally responsive to all the stakeholders.

He said that inflation cannot be controlled through meetings, tweets, claims and talk shows as it requires full energies of the government to crush profiteers.

Fruit and vegetable markets should be properly monitored through a balanced and effective system and an action should be initiated against those who are involved in artificial price hike.

He said that the government should also think about the Utility Stores which have failed to provide relief to the masses while Sunday Bazaars and cheap bazaars should be revived through administrative action.

The business leader noted that masses are waiting for real action against food mafia and they are considering as to why the import of wheat and sugar was delayed for months which provided a golden opportunity to profiteers to skin masses.

He said that owners of flour mills should not be harassed and their quota should be enhanced to improve supply in the market.

The upward revision in the tariff of K-Electric should be reversed as it will trigger a new wave of inflation, he demanded.

SAPM Dr Moeed Yusuf discusses Pakistan’s narrative on national security at IBA Karachi

The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Security Division and Strategic Policy Planning, Dr. Moeed Yusuf, delivered a lecture on ‘Pakistan’s Narrative on National Security, Challenges and Way Forward’ at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi.

The SAPM also engaged in an interactive conversation with the students and the faculty members. Welcoming the SAPM, the Executive Director, IBA Karachi, Dr. S Akbar Zaidi urged Dr. Yusuf to enlighten the students on the relationship between economics and the state’s national security. Stressing on its importance, Dr. Yusuf said his number one goal at present is to inculcate and internalize an economic security conversation in Pakistan.

Dr. Yusuf expressed his reservations of the public sector being almost 50 years behind in terms of technology and the future of Pakistan, which is the youth.

“Pakistan or any country and the young citizen of the state must be on the same side to move the country forward,” the SAPM said, adding that the one thing he has noticed during his time in the office is that there is apathy for the state when it comes to young minds. He further said that with this mental state there is no possibility for the state and the youth to move forward as partners.

Urging for improved and better communication between the government and the youth, the SAPM added that this apathy is a function of lack of communication and not due to something the state has done.

Referring to Pakistan’s key security issues, the SAPM remarked that there is no terrorist incident in Pakistan today that does not have India’s fingerprints all over it. “So, sitting in my position I have got to have my eye on the ball every single day,” he added.

The lecture was followed by a question and answer session, where the students quizzed the SAPM on Pakistan’s role in regional peace. The ED presented Dr. Yusuf with a memento at the end of the session and thanked him for interacting with the students and faculty members.

Coronavirus impact on BRI, CPEC temporary: Mian Zahid Hussain

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said the affect of coronavirus on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC is temporary.

Presently the world has access liquidity while interest rates are low which can be used by Pakistan and other developing countries to benefit from it, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the countries opposing BRI and CPEC are fighting a lost war in which they will never succeed therefore they should also consider becoming a part of the biggest project of the century.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that some economic powers are worried that this project will trigger the shifting of power from west to east and it will multiply the influence of China.

The project will link billions of people are helping them come out of poverty as around 125 countries and 40 international associations have become part of this project while others are weighing options.

Despite best efforts of the forces opposing this project it is being accepted which indicate the inclination of countries to adopt the Chinese economic model for rapid development.

Developing countries are of the opinion that the western economic system is based on exploitation which has trigger poverty and conflicts and forces many nations to allocate 30 to 40 percent of their budget for loan repayments.

The western loans has not helped nations but enslaved which is the reason behind the popularity of the Chinese model.

He said that Pakistan should bank on the opportunity, improve its struggling economy and adopt a clear strategic stance to benefit from the opportunity as hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent on the initiative.

Pakistan should frustrate the desire of western nations to make India a dominant power in the region and it should not annoy a tested friend like China at any cost, he said.

Inflation become a threat to masses, economy, says Mian Zahid Hussain

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday said runaway inflation has become a serious threat to the masses and economy.

Inflation and diminishing incomes have left people with no option but to take to streets regardless of virus threat which can spread infection at an alarming level leading to a lockdown which will bring masses and economy down once again, he said.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that apart from political workers, government servants and health workers etc. have taken to streets for better wages and other demands.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that protestors are not ready to buy threatening statements against hoarders and claims that the former government is responsible for the whole mess.

He said that the government needs to take meaningful steps to contain inflation and use all resources in its power to stop profiteers from the artificial price hike to counter public anger.

The protests will never die down unless some relief is offered to the masses which are enraged over the loss of incomes and high food inflation touching 14 percent.

He said that creditors have extended the deadline for repayment of loans which has strengthened value of rupee and reduced debt and liabilities by Rs400 billion.

The retreat of the US dollar has not reduced prices, therefore, the government should consider cutting its expenditures which may provide some relief to the masses dissatisfied over rising prices, he said.

Aamir Ibrahim called upon overseas Pakistanis to play their part in supporting local startups

In a message for budding entrepreneurs and investors, Jazz CEO, Aamir Ibrahim has stated that Pakistan offers an abundance of opportunities that are linked to the national challenges. The Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs Silicon Valley (OPEN SV) featured Aamir Ibrahim as a guest speaker in its webinar titled ‘Realities of Investing in Pakistan’.

The interactive session was moderated by Asif Aslam, Managing Partner, Arbitrium Technology, with Silicon Valley representatives and young entrepreneurs from other parts of the world in the audience. Aamir spoke at length about the digital ecosystem, financial access, the art of investing in Pakistan, the country’s scorecard in terms of ease of doing business, and the need for integrated technology.

“For now, our focus is on expanding access to 4G because we have over 80 million telecom users who are not using mobile broadband. This is a challenge and an opportunity in itself. We are working with the government in this regard, so no one is left behind in an increasingly digitized economy,” said Aamir Ibrahim, while answering a question on the future of 5G in Pakistan. Citing the example of South Korea, Aamir stated that they launched 5G once the country crossed 80% 4G penetration – at less than 30% 4G penetration currently, Pakistan needs to do more.

Talking about digital financial services, Aamir suggests that mobile operators are best positioned to bridge the prevalent banking divide with JazzCash itself servicing more than 9 million users monthly. “With biometric verification, we already have people’s data at hand. This eases the documentation process for new accounts. Moreover, given our model, we have at least 3 to 4 times more branchless banks in the shape of retail agents in comparison to brick-and-mortar bank branches. The only impediment to exponential growth is the low smartphone penetration and lack of awareness about the benefits of using digital financial services among masses,” he said.

“The pandemic highlighted more than ever the need for a robust digital financial ecosystem. Although the number of online transactions went up, there is still a broken e-commerce layer that needs to be filled. The good thing is that I believe that the government has changed its outlook a bit on the telecom sector given we provide a host of services that are crucial,” he further added.

His views also included the need to focus on not just international investment, but local investors and local innovation too. “We cannot just wait around for PayPal to enter to solve our issues.”

When asked about the telecom sector’s contribution during the COVID-19 pandemic, Aamir replied that Pakistan was much better off globally in part due to the sector’s contribution. “There are peripheral ways that private institutions could help the government. Our role was on the smooth provision of mobile internet, digital financial services, and online education. And apart from our PKR 1.2 billion relief package, we supported the government with the smart lockdown system in Test, Trace and Quarantine, public service messages and zero-rated call and money transfer charges,” he said. Jazz also supported local EdTech needs by offering subsidized data bundles, sophisticated service offerings and launching an app called Parho.

About the National Incubation Centre (NIC), Aamir says that in Pakistan it is important to team up with experts and the government. “There are a lot of startups that have come through the NIC in Islamabad. And every cohort has been better than the last. We are yet to find a unicorn, but I see encouraging signs. My advice to entrepreneurs is that do not waste time incorporating a company and rather focus on fixing your product. This is what we do at the NIC. Jazz provides these founders with the necessary components for a company and asks them to focus on UI/UX and fulfilling the customer demand.”

Aamir also called upon overseas Pakistanis to play their part in supporting local startups. “If you bleed green, then there is no place for pessimism. You have to give back by taking a leap of faith in the local startups because there are certain ecosystem challenges but there is a great opportunity given the ideas and the technology some of these young founders are working on.” He suggested that NIC startups are not just looking for funding but also mentorship from Pakistani Americans in the Valley.

The session ended with Aamir taking questions from the audience on a host of topics e.g. the failure rates of startups, the possibility of large E-commerce platforms, Pakistan’s unique advantages, Pakistan’s low tariff rates and high tax environment; energy crisis affecting investment prospects, etc.

Business community fully supports appointment of Tabish Gohar as sapm on energy: Mian Zahid

Senior Vice Chairman of Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and Chief of FPCCI Standing Committee on FBR, Public Utilities and Fair and Exhibitions and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday supported the decision of the Prime Minister Imran Khan to appoint Tabish Gohar as Special Assistant to PM on energy.

Mr. Gohar is a foreign qualified and globally known energy expert and has a lot on his credit including bringing K-Electric to profit therefore the business community is pinning high hopes on him, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that putting the power sector back on track will be a challenge for him and the business community will fully cooperate with him.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said notorious power sector circular debt has jumped to Rs2.28 trillion by September and it is increasing at a worrying pace of Rs1.5 trillion per day.

The IMF programme which was suspended in January cannot be resumed unless the issue of circular debt is settled according to the wishes of the lender by increasing power tariff to unsustainable levels which is being resisted by the government.

He said that presently many old and inefficient power stations are being operated in the country adding to the debt, power production is more than consumption while government is bound to pay for it, heavy capacity charges are hitting power sector while the faulty transmission system is unable to transmit power generated by the power plants.

He hoped that Tabish Gohar will tackle these issues, close, sell or relocate old power plants, bring an end to power theft worth Rs400 billion, and improve transmission system. He will also focus on improving the power distribution system, ensure merit, pay attention to renewable energy, and push early completion of hydropower projects to provide affordable energy to domestic consumers and industrial sector.

He said that no economic policy can be fruitful unless the power sector is fixed and Mr. Gohar is well aware of this fact.

IBA CEIF and Sindh HEC hold online workshop on Islamic finance curriculum development

IBA CEIF successfully conducted an online workshop with HEC Sindh and State Bank of Pakistan on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 on Strategic Roadmap of Islamic Finance, an Overview & its Curriculum Development. The online session was conducted for major public and private sector Universities of Sindh.

During the workshop Ms. Bushra Shafiq, Joint Director, Islamic Banking Department (IBD) and Mr. Umair Ahmed, Senior Joint Director of State Bank of Pakistan highlighted the importance of Islamic Finance as part of National Financial Inclusion Strategy for Pakistan and stressed that academic institutions need to play a positive role by creating awareness of Islamic finance among the students.

Mr. Ahmed Ali Siddiqui, Director IBA CEIF lead the workshop and gave an overview of local and international landscape of Islamic Finance, its brief history and achievements. He further elaborated on how curriculum of Islamic Finance can be / has been developed and offered support from IBA CEIF platform in development of curriculum for graduates and undergraduate business students.

The session was attended by a number of senior officials from HEC Sindh, State Bank of Pakistan and academic representatives & faculty members of public and private sector universities from Sindh.

Mr. Javed Ahmed, Academic Director HEC Sindh concluded the session and appreciated the leading role of IBA CEIF and SBP in promotion of Islamic finance in Pakistan.

IBA career development center hosts IBA corporate leaders advisory board meeting

The IBA’s Career Development Center (CDC) hosted the IBA Corporate Leaders Advisory Board (ICLAB) meeting at the City Campus. The meeting was attended by representatives from more than 40 organizations including CEOs, Heads of HR, and Talent Acquisition leads. The Executive Director, IBA Karachi, Dr. S Akbar Zaidi chaired the meeting. The prime agenda of this event was to gather feedback on the quality of IBA graduates and its academic programs.

The Director, Alumni and Corporate Relations, IBA Karachi, Ms. Malahat Awan presented the Employer Feedback Survey analysis which was recently conducted by the CDC. More than 70 companies participated in this survey from various sectors including FMCG, IT, Industrial Manufacturing concern, Banking, leading conglomerate, and Telecommunication. The presentation was followed by a discussion moderated by the Executive Director.

Referring to the overall reputation of other top tier universities in Pakistan, Dr. Zaidi, said, “It is important to know where we lie in the space of things and it’s an agenda which comes under discussion quite frequently. The purpose of this forum is help us reformulate our programs and strategy.”

The participants were asked about their experience with the recent IBA graduates. Generally, organizations were positive about the quality of IBA graduates with few areas of concern and gaps. However, future job trends remained the major spotlight of the discussion.

The Head of Human Resources and Learning, Bank Alfalah, Ms. HafsaAbbasy quoted, “The IBA graduates have strong academic background but we as industry experts should mutually contribute in developing the relationship building skills across all levels.”

The Managing Director & CEO, Pakistan State Oil, Syed Muhammad Taha said, “The students should be given stimulated environment to prepare them for real life challenges. Graduates generally face a cultural shock when they enter public sector organizations.”

The Head of HR, Abu Dawood Pakistan, Ms. SabikaKiyani said, “We should collaborate on building mentorship programs where industry experts can guide students about current market dynamics and how to thrive in this competitive environment.”

The institute acknowledges the suggestions and ideas shared by the participants and strongly believes that this discussion will assist its leadership team in making valuable improvements to its programs and other academic endeavors.

Greenstar and the first lady enable breast-cancer awareness with ‘ride-for-a-cause’

Greenstar Social Marketing (GSM) recently collaborated with the popular group of Cycling enthusiasts named – ‘The Cycologists’, to sponsor a cycling-ride aimed at creating public-awareness about Breast-Cancer.

The First Lady of Pakistan — Begum Samina Alvi, is graciously supporting this cause by leading the GSM awareness campaign, to consistently increase awareness, availability and access to affordable, quality healthcare and informed-choice for women through Family-Planning.

The masses need to be cautious because, Pakistan suffers with the highest incidence of Breast-Cancer in Asia, as 1 out of every 9 women in the country are at risk of this deadly, but preventable, disease. Among all the types of cancers prevailing in Pakistan, Breast-Cancer has the highest ratio of incidence in the country. GSM arranged this ride to highlight awareness of Breast self-examination for early detection of Breast Cancer, which can save the lives of many women in Pakistan. Women are encouraged to actively examine themselves every month as early diagnosis is key to cure Breast Cancer.

As the largest private-sector provider of Family-Planning, GSM is providing over 53% of all contraceptives distributed by the private-sector in Pakistan. October is celebrated annually, as the ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’, across the globe, as all the relevant health-organizations and social-wellbeing institutions highlight this ailment as a serious health-concern for women in all segments. Many informative events are held to highlight the low CPR & fertility-rates, and the rise in induced abortions to finish unwanted pregnancies. Other issues are also discussed, like; too many miscarriages and 9,700 maternal deaths (10 to 12% annually), due to unsafe settings.

The CEO of GSM — Dr. Syed Azizur Rab said: “Greenstar’s long term mission is to reduce the mortality rate of Breast-Cancer, through early detection and more awareness. Crucial Maternal and Child-Health is now a focal part of our national healthcare agenda. This has encouraged Greenstar Social Marketing to ensure regular follow-up, advocacy and coordination at the Provincial and Federal level.”

GSM is an independent network member of ‘Population Services International’, which seeks innovative solutions to ensure reproductive-health, to reduce the prevalence of Breast-Cancer, Post-Abortion Care & Family-Planning. Its panel of experts help the female population learn more about causes, symptoms, treatment and preventive measures and reduce the stigma of these health-challenges. Today, the GSM Sabzsitara logo is synonymous with reliable information, products, and services all across the country.

The ride started from Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) campus at 90 Clifton around 6:30 am. Men and women from all walks of life enthusiastically participated in the ride. Cycologists is a Karachi-based non-profitable, easy-Cycling and Social meet-up group that regularlty brings together those interested in improving their health and fitness. Cycologists are also passionate about philanthropy, environmental-sustainability, health and social issues as part of their CSR activities.

Global economic conditions survey shows recovery in confidence in q3 but a ‘weak and precarious’ global economy

A global survey of senior accountants reveals an improvement in optimism in Q3 after a torrid first half of the year which saw confidence at record lows. Activity measures, such as orders, capital spending and employment, also improved in the latest survey but only modestly — they remain at low levels consistent with the global economy operating well below the pre-COVID-19 level into 2021.

Specific COVID-19 related questions also show increasing expectations from respondents that significant economic recovery will be pushed well into 2021.

But GECS Q3 comes with stark warning signs as results point to the weak and precarious state of the global economy in the latter part of 2020.

Commenting on the findings, Michael Taylor, ACCA’s chief economist says: ‘Despite the jump in confidence, the overall message from the GECS is still one of weakness with the global economy on course this year for its largest peace time contraction since the 1930s.’

The report Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS) that also includes responses from Pakistan, jointly published by ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) reveals:

  • Global confidence jumped to a three-and-a-half year high, although this reflects the change in confidence compared with June when many economies were in varying degrees of lockdown.
  • There was a slight reduction in concerns that customers and suppliers may go out of business, but they remain at extremely high levels
  • The orders indices in North America and Western Europe recovered by the largest margin in Q3. Lifting of lockdowns in these regions, especially from July onwards has lifted their economies and the orders balance reflects this and points to continued recovery. There is little variation across regions, with South Asia a relatively weak outlier.
  • For access to finance the pattern is the same in the latest survey as in June 2020. More generous government support and guarantees mean that firms in North America and Western Europe have better access to finance than those in Emerging Markets.
  • Expectations of substantial economic recovery have shifted decisively towards later in 2021 over the last three months. Over 60 per cent of respondents in Western Europe are now of this view, and more than 50 per cent in Asia-Pacific and North America too. South Asia has the highest percentage not expecting recovery until 2021 Q1 or after.

“The nature and prolonged duration of the COVID-19 shock means that it is likely to result in permanent changes to the structure and potential growth rates of economies,” said Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, IMA vice president of research and policy.

“Higher private sector savings may be one outcome: households and companies limit consumption and investment respectively as they remain cautious in the face of extreme uncertainty. This suggests that the public sector may have to run significant fiscal deficits for some time in order to support overall demand. For now, at least mounting public sector debt can be sustained since interest rates are exceptionally low.”

Looking ahead to 2021, Michael Taylor concludes: “The Q3 recovery has been driven mainly by the consumer, where the rebound in retail sales has been especially strong. But our view is that the consumer will lose momentum in coming months and into 2021.Increasing, COVID infections in some countries and continued social distancing measures everywhere will undermine consumer confidence and spending. In addition, fiscal support is being scaled back in many cases, contributing to a rise in unemployment. World GDP is not likely to regain its pre-crisis level until at least the second half of 2022.

“The nature and duration of the COVID-19 economic shock is such that it is likely to result in permanent changes to the structure of economies and to the trend rate of economic growth. Households and companies may well increase their savings rates, hampering private sector demand. This means that the public sector may have to run significant fiscal deficits for the foreseeable future in order to support overall demand.”

BOP and TEVTA in novel accord for youth growth plan

In a first of its kind initiative in Pakistan, Chairperson TEVTA Ali Salman and Mr. Zafar Masud President and CEO of the Bank of Punjab signed an agreement for provision of subsidized loans under the Prime Minister’s Kamyab Jawan Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme and Punjab Government. Punjab Rozgar Scheme to applicants trained, certified, shortlisted and referred by TEVTA (Technical Education & Vocational Training Authority). Unlike past, the strategically important MoU (Memorandum of Understating) will provide students opportunity for entrepreneurship and skill training to enhance their capacity for maximum utilization of loan.

Askari Bank records 87pc increase in profit

Askari Bank announced post tax profit of Rs.8.21 billion for the nine months ended September 30, 2020, showing a strong growth of 87% over the corresponding period of last year. Earnings per share were reported at Rs. 6.50 compared to Rs. 3.48 for the same period last year. Customer deposits increased by 13% and are reported at Rs. 764 billion. CASA ratio improved from 82% to 86%. The results are remarkable amidst Covid-19 challenges in the economic environment.

Askari Bank has been reporting consistently good results in recent periods. Leveraging its brand strength and technology with focus on key drivers for customer experience, the Bank’s strategies have delivered consistent growth in revenues, and a broadened customer deposit base. Askari digital banking services offer a wide range of banking solutions for the retail customer. The Bank actively supported businesses affected by Covid disruptions through participation in SBP’s relief schemes. Askari was ranked amongst top five banks to support SBP Rozgar Scheme, a refinance scheme introduced by the SBP to support continuity of employment under Covid-19.

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