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Mian Zahid demands reintroduction of zero-rating to lift exports

Chairman of National Business Group of FPCCI, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said government borrowed Rs14.7 trillion in last two years.

Foreign debt stood at $95 billion on 2018 which jumped to $113 billion in June 2020 which is a threat to the economic stability.

Borrowing can be reduced by reforms on lower and energy sectors, increased exports and reduced imports, reducing unnecessary imports and non-developmental expenditures, leasing out state land to the business community through transparent auctions, tacking failed state-run companies, improving tax administration and paying refunds to exporters.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said power tariff was irrationally increased over the past two years but it has not helped tackle circular debt rather it has jumped to record levels and it added to the losses of masses, business community and bleeding enterprises.

The former government increased total debt by 27 percent while the present government is also relying heavily on borrowing.

He said that now the electricity tariff has been reduced for the industrial sector which is laudable but refunds worth Rs700 billion are still pending which is hurting exports.

Payment of stuck up refunds coupled with cheap electricity and tax reforms can result in big boost to the export sector which is the only way to reduce reliance on borrowing, he added.

He said that the government should consider the revival of zero-rating for the export sector which will infuse confidence in the exporters which is imperative for the national development.

The government spent 79 percent of total revenue receipts on debt servicing in 2019-20. SO far it has secured $26.2 billion loans out of which $19.2 billion were used for debt servicing and this situation is not sustainable.

He said that the agriculture sector also merits some attention as despite being an agricultural country we are compelled to import wheat, sugar, cotton and tomatoes because farmers are being ignored and the incentives for agriculture sector hardly reach to the farmers, he said.

UBL records profits of Rs 26.4 billion for 9m-2020

UBL posted Profit Before Tax of Rs. 26.4 billion for the nine months ended September 30, 2020. The Profit After Tax stood at Rs. 16 billion with 12% growth over last year. The Bank maintained its momentum across core businesses as gross revenues were recorded at Rs. 71 billion, up 14%. Earnings Per Share (EPS) stood at Rs. 13.13 for the nine months ended Sep 30th 2020. The Bank’s capital ratios remained strong with the overall Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) at 22.8% as at September 30, 2020, well above the minimum regulatory requirement of 12.5%.

ZRG awarded gold trophy at the 8th FPCCI achievement award

ZRG International (Private) Limited, a specialist provider of the unified CTI Contact Center and CRM solutions for service providers and enterprises, announced that the ZRG is the recipient of the achievement award in the category of ICT & Telecom, Introduction of New Technology, Outsourcing & Solutions at the 7th FPCCI Awards event in Islamabad on July 25, 2019 at the President House.

ZRG offers innovative capabilities for managing customer communication and relationship in a collaborative environment while supporting management need for documentation, monitoring and reporting.

“We are thrilled that FPCCI continues to acknowledge the innovations and fantastic results that merit oriented ICT companies like ZRG are delivering to the market,” said Ayub Butt, CEO of ZRG. “For over 25 years, ZRG has been consistently introducing newer capabilities in media processing, business applications, and system integration that are enhanced by our in-depth knowledge of CTI and computing technology.”

Mr. Ayub said, “Support for new features, in addition to an extra tenancy layer, give ZRG the flexibility to address the needs of the customers, user teams and the management.”.ZRG combines the power of real-time communications and CTI with business application development know-how into a one window technology platform that delivers fast and hassle-free results.

“Today’s contact center is constantly evolving with changes taking in business and technical environment with new systems, new regulations and new user requirements being introduced very frequently”, said Ms Tooba Kiran from ZRG marketing team. “This requires the business apps and integration with data sources to be fully customizable. The ability to easily customize the platform to meet multiple market segment needs gives ZRG and our customers an advantage over the competition.”

ZRG has introduced advanced features with multi-applications, virtualization and distributed multi-site setups that enterprises call for. The unique multi-modal architecture by ZRG supports an additional tenancy layer that allows a business group to use a single platform to run independently operate contact centers of multiple companies of the group.

For more information, visit www.zrg.com.

Domestic bank leads with strong earnings

The Bank has a large and growing customer base of over 10 million, led by branch banking which remains the cornerstone of the franchise. The Domestic business recorded Profits Before Tax of over Rs. 36 billion in the current period, up 36% from last year. The depth and coverage of the UBL branch network across Pakistan continues to pay strong returns as the deposit base stood at Rs. 1.35 trillion, growing by 11% over Dec’19. Financial inclusion across all segments of society is one of the core pillars of UBL’s strategy as it acquired close to 400,000 new current accounts.

The current quarter has already witnessed a rebound to pre-Covid levels across core segments with the resumption of business activity across the country. All core fee lines — ATMs commissions, commercial trade, bancassurance, consumer, etc. are up by an aggregate of 22% vs the last quarter. This is a very positive sign as transaction flows are now heading back to pre-Covid levels. With 1,361 branches and 1,455 ATMs nationwide, UBL is one of the largest private sector banks operating in Pakistan. The Bank maintains a strong presence in the SME space, as a reliable partner with its operations extending across all the major trade hubs of the country. The Bank shall continue to play a leading role in the economic recovery of the country as industrial sectors gear up for future growth and expansion.

UBL leads with largest home remittance market share

UBL maintained its leadership position in the home remittances space with a market share of approx. 24%. Over USD 6 billion of remittances have been channeled to Pakistan in the last one year through UBL. The Bank remains the most trusted partner for overseas Pakistanis with its presence in the GCC for over 50 years. UBL believes that expanding the suite of services for Non Resident Pakistanis (NRPs) is a key strategic initiative for the country and the Bank shall remain at the forefront of deposit mobilization under the ‘Roshan Digital’ account. UBL is committed to make a valuable contribution to the Naya Pakistan Housing initiative. The Bank believes this will provide affordable housing for all Pakistanis and also create a mortgage market which in the long term will re-lay the foundations of the economy.

UBL’s aspiration is a “digitally enabled Pakistan”

UBL was declared Pakistan’s Best Digital Bank for 2020 by Asiamoney, an associate of Euromoney. The award recognizes UBL’s contribution in extending financial services through digital channels and its leading role as one of the most progressive and innovative banks in the country. The ‘UBL Digital’ app has been gaining a very positive response as the digital customer base stands at 1.2 million as at September 30, 2020, with around 20% of the Bank’s branch customers now conducting transactions through the platform. Its branchless banking proposition, UBL Omni, maintains a large network allowing customers to make payments in a secured manner at over 37k ‘Omni dukaans’ throughout major cities as well as small towns and also in remote regions of the country.

“Our most valuable asset is the UBL team”

As the Bank announced its results for the nine months ended Sep 30, 2020, Mr. Shazad Dada, UBL’s President & CEO stated, “Customers remain at the heart of our corporate philosophy. We will continue to invest in and develop innovative and technologically superior solutions. We aim to create operational efficiencies within our businesses with a clear approach to deliver ‘Simpler, Better, Faster’ across all channels. We believe that a well-motivated and diverse workforce is crucial to drive excellence and infuse the ‘where you come first’ spirit. A number of strategic initiatives are underway which will have a strong impact on core and emerging business segments, in the medium to long term. Strengthening compliance and control standards in line with international best practices is an ongoing journey where we remain fully committed as an organization. While we reinvest and grow the domestic business, repositioning international remains a strategic priority for the Bank”.

Power tariff relief to industrial sector lauded

– Power tariff, taxes should not be hiked on IMF’s demand: Mian Zahid Hussain

Chairman of National Business Group of FPCCI, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday lauded the decision of the Prime Minister Imran Khan to provide relief in power tariff to the industrial sector.

He said that inflation rate cannot be controlled unless food prices are brought down as the government will be unable to bring down inflation if the wheat support price is fixed at Rs2000 per 40 kg, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that inflation is more widespread in rural areas as compared to urban areas where it has set new records necessitating steps aimed at relief.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that presently wheat is being sold at Rs2200 to Rs2400 per 40 kg and it can come down to Rs1800 to Rs1900 if the wheat price is fixed at Rs1600.

However, he said that Sindh and some politicians want price to be fixed at Rs2000 which will frustrate attempts to reduce inflation, rather it can increase it adding to the miseries of the masses.

Proper import of wheat can also reduce price in the market but lack of governance has emerged as a great challenge, he said, adding that price of tomato has increased by 47 percent in one week while sugar has jumped by 4.2 percent.

A good sugarcane crop may slightly reduce the price of sugar in the open market in the months to come, he added.

The business leader said that circular debt is increasing while IMF is pressurising the government to hike power tariff and taxes which will unleash another wave of inflation hitting masses, production, exports and increasing unemployment, he warned.

He noted that exports have shown negative growth in the first four months of this fiscal for which the government has improved power tariff for the industrial sector which is a good step.

The gas scarcity is hitting masses and the business community, therefore, import of LNG should be expedited without further delay, he said.

Jazz registers significant growth in 4g subscribers in q3 2020

Pakistan’s number one 4G operator and largest internet and broadband service provider Jazz invested over PKR 3.7 billion during the 3rd quarter of 2020 with a strategic focus to expand 4G services. During this period, 4G users reached 22.2 million, a 70% increase YoY.

This increase in data subscribers, coupled with strong demand for data and network expansion, saw data revenue grow by 25.4% YoY. Jazz’s overall subscriber base grew by 8.5% YoY reaching 64.2 million. Overall, with organic/underlying revenue growth of 7% YoY, Jazz showed encouraging signs of recovery following COVID-19 induced lockdowns in Q2 2020.

“Jazz’s third quarter was driven by continued investment in network expansion and our digital businesses, including financial services,” said Aamir Ibrahim, CEO, Jazz. “This performance is a testament to the important role our services play in our customers’ lives and to Jazz’s relentless expansion and innovation. We remain committed to empowering the masses with digital tools necessary in creating equal opportunities in today’s world.”

During the reporting period, Jazz strengthened its leading position in digital financial services as monthly active users on JazzCash reached 9.7 million, an increase of 56% YoY.

The company’s other digital services also enjoyed strong levels of customer adoption. Jazz’s self-care app, Jazz World, saw its monthly active user base grow by four times to reach 6.6 million, cementing its position as the largest telecom app in Pakistan. Jazz TV’s monthly active user base rose to over 1 million, representing a YoY growth of 85%.

Mian Zahid suggests to execute new plan to promote documented economy

Chairman of National Business Group of FPCCI, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday said efforts of present and former governments has not succeeded to discourage cash economy, therefore, a new plan to promote the documented economy should be executed.

Taxpayers and tax collectors should be brought closer to reduce the volume of the cash economy which is increasing despite efforts, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that amnesty schemes, withholding tax on transactions and high interest rates during 2019 has not worked and a good number of people still prefer to remain out of the documented economy.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that according to a report the people held 29 percent of the money outside banks in 2015 and now the ratio has jumped to 42 percent.

Repeated increase in withholding tax on bank transactions has not helped as many prefer to pay a higher tax than becoming part of the documented system which should be considered by the policymakers.

He noted that the business community prefer to keep local and foreign currency with them despite the risks involved which call for renewed efforts in the right direction.

Government can consider luring money to banks by offering incentives, online transactions should be promoted through different encouragements, digital infrastructure should be established and a ban could be imposed on keeping cash in lockers, he opined.

Such steps may discourage the tendency of millions of people to keep cash with them for business and other purposes which will be beneficial for the economy as it will reduce the volume of undocumented economy, he said.

Standard chartered Pakistan announces q3 results

The Bank delivered a resilient financial performance in Q3 2020 with year to date Profit Before Tax of PKR19.9 billion as compared to PKR 19.7 billion in the corresponding period last year.

With Revenue of PKR 32 billion, the overall revenue growth was 12 per cent, whereas client revenue increased by 19 per cent year on year with positive contribution from Financial Markets, Retail Products and Transaction banking. Cost discipline continues with only 5 per cent year on year increase in operating expenses.

The current slowdown in the economic activity due to COVID-19 impacted the advances momentum. The Bank is closely monitoring the portfolio in the backdrop of the uncertain economic environment and is maintaining adequate provisions, where required.

The Bank achieved another milestone as total deposits crossed PKR 550 billion. With a growth of 22 per cent year to date, total deposits closed at PKR 570 billion, with current and saving accounts constituting 94 per cent of the deposits base. The incremental liquidity generated is currently deployed in government securities and interbank lending thereby resulting in an increase of 17 per cent in total assets, which crossed PKR 700 billion milestone to close at PKR 728 billion.

Commenting on the results, Mr. Rehan Shaikh, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Bank (Pakistan) Limited said, “I am pleased to announce the third quarter 2020 results. The Bank has delivered a resilient financial performance.

While the external environment remains challenging, we expect a gradual recovery from the impact of pandemic. Our results demonstrate our strong business fundamentals. The bank continues to invest in its digital capabilities to enhance our clients’ banking experience by offering innovative solutions. Having strengthened our foundations on controls and conduct, we are well equipped to effectively manage our risks, capital and liquidity. The prudent and proactive measures that we are taking now will make us agile and nimble to take advantage of the opportunities that will come up in the future.”

NBP records highest ever profit for the period ended September 30, 2020

The Board of Directors of National Bank of Pakistan “the Bank” in its meeting held at head office in Karachi, approved the condensed interim financial statements of the Bank for the period ended September 30, 2020. With strong growth in core earnings, the Bank recorded excellent results and reported unconsolidated profit after tax of PKR 26.1 billion, up by PKR 9.8 billion or 60% compared to the corresponding period last year. Earnings per share increased to Rs. 12.28 against Rs. 7.68 of Sep ’19 and Return on Assets and Return on Equity improved from 0.7% and 14.0% in Sep ’19 to 1.2% and 19.7% respectively in the nine months period ended September 30, 2020.

During the period, the Bank earned gross mark-up/interest income of PKR 206.0 billion (+23.1% YoY), with Investments contributing PKR 124.9 billion (+49.5% YoY) and Loans & Advances generating PKR 78.0 billion (+0.6% YoY). The average interest-bearing liabilities increased 17.5% to PKR 2,458.5 billion and total cost of funds increased to PKR 126.2 billion (+11.1% YoY). However, the cost of deposits dropped by 46 bps to 5.57% for 9M ’20 (9M ’19: 6.03%). Overall, net mark-up/interest income closed at PKR 79.8 billion (+48.2% YoY). The Bank generated non mark-up income of PKR 27.7 billion (Sep ’19: PKR 25.6 billion) constituting 25.8% of the total income (Sep ’19:32.2%). Accordingly, total revenue closed 35.4% higher at PKR 107.6 bn.

Operating expenses of the Bank increased 8.8% YoY to PKR 45.0 bn. However, the Bank’s cost-to-income ratio improved to 41.8% as against 52.1% for the same period last year. NPLs increased during the current nine month by PKR 24.0 billion to PKR 172.7 bn. The Bank follows a prudent approach to strengthening the balance sheet by maintaining a robust level of provisions. Provision charge of PKR 21.8 billion (Sep ’19: PKR 5.9 billion) was created during the period, increasing total provisions to PKR 167.8 billion that translates into a coverage ratio of 97.2%.

The Bank’s balance sheet stood at PKR 2,783.5 billion, which is 10.9% lower than the PKR 3,124.4 billion at December 31, 2019. This drop is mainly because the Bank reduced its money market borrowings by PKR 329.16 billion in line with its funding & liquidity position. Investments, that constitute the bulk of the asset-mix, dropped marginally by 4.9% to PKR 1,368.4 bn. Due to reduced private sector credit demand and some seasonal adjustments, net advances also registered a decline of 11.5% over Dec ’19 level and closed at PKR 892.6 billion. On the liabilities side, deposits remained stable throughout the period and closed at PKR 2,174.9 billion, marginally 1.1% down YoY. The Bank’s Liquidity Coverage and Net Stable Funding Ratio stood at 182% and 263%, comfortably above the statutory requirement of 100%. Also, CASA ratio improved to 83.0% from 81.8% at the year-end 2019.

Higher profitability, coupled with reduction in required conservation buffers as well as total RWAs, has improved the Bank’s Tier-1 capital adequacy ratio to 15.68% (Dec ’19: 12.11%) and the total capital adequacy ratio (CAR) to 20.75% (Dec ’19: 15.48%). In June 2020, VIS Credit Rating and PACRA Credit Rating reaffirmed the Bank’s credit rating as “AAA” (Triple AAA), the highest credit rating awarded by the rating company for a bank in Pakistan.

In recognition of the successful deals and innovative initiatives that have made a positive impact for its clients, the Bank was recently awarded two prestigious awards i.e. ‘Corporate Client Initiative of the Year–Pakistan’ and ‘The Innovative Deal of the Year–Pakistan’ by Asian Banking & Finance Magazine.

Given its systemically important role in Pakistan’s financial and business ecosystem, NBP is endeavouring to mitigate the economic impact of Covid-19 on individuals and businesses by extending appropriate financial solutions to the communities it serves. Strengthening its resilience to shocks, the Bank continues to set aside high levels of provisions. The Bank’s business strategy encompasses inclusive development through reaching and supporting the underserved sectors including SME, Microfinance, Agriculture Finance and Housing Micro-Finance on a priority basis.

MCB Bank profit up by 39pc to Rs 38.35 billion in nine months

The Board of Directors of MCB Bank Limited (MCB) met under the Chairmanship of Mian Mohammad Mansha, on October 27, 2020 to review the performance of the Bank and approve the condensed interim financial statements for the nine months period ended September 30, 2020. In compliance with SBP’s instructions, Bank has not declared dividend for the third quarter ended September 30, 2020.

During the nine months ended September 30, 2020, MCB achieved significant financial growth by focusing on its operational resilience and continuity planning to successfully navigate through the downside risks posed to operating and economic outlook by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak while concurrently playing a central role in supporting Governments’ key pandemic responses for credit extension and provision of essential banking services to the general public.

With strong build up in core earnings, MCB’s Profit After Tax (PAT) for the nine months period ended September 30, 2020, posted an year on year growth of 41% to reach Rs. 22.94 billion; translating into an Earnings Per Share (EPS) of Rs. 19.35 against an EPS of Rs. 13.74 posted in the corresponding period of 2019.

Sizeable growth in current deposits, timely shift in maturity profiling of investments and favorable re-pricing lag enabled the Bank to increase its net interest income by 29% to Rs. 55.35 billion.

Fee income for 9M’20 was reported less by 4% over the same period last year, primarily due to lower transaction volumes and business activities induced by the lockdowns; however, with their lifting, fee income is normalizing, growing by 25% over the previous quarter in 3Q’20. Amidst evolving yield curve expectations, proactive duration management of the investments portfolio resulted in capital gains of Rs. 2.80 billion during the period under review. Hence, the total non-markup income posted a robust growth of 18% to reach Rs. 13.56 billion.

On the operating expenses side (excluding pension fund reversal), despite sustained inflationary pressures, expansion in branch outreach and continued investment in technological infrastructure together with regular performance and merit adjustments for the Human Capital, the Bank’s strategic focus of balancing short term tactical cost reductions with long term cost initiatives has assisted in containing growth in administrative expenses; in turn registering a decline of Rs. 292 million during the period under review.

In anticipation that customers affected by the pandemic might require provisioning once SBP’s relaxations and waivers expire in 2021, the management has exercised prudence and booked a general provision of Rs. 5.30 billion during the period under review, hence providing insulation and loss absorption capacity against emerging risks to asset quality. With respect to equity investments, ensuing volatility in the stock market amidst rising systematic risks and realization of other idiosyncratic factors led to the recognition of an impairment charge of Rs. 1.74 billion.

On the financial position side, the total asset base of the Bank on an unconsolidated basis was reported at Rs. 1.67 trillion depicting an increase of 11% over December 2019. Analysis of the asset mix highlights that net investments increased by Rs. 216 billion (29%) whereas due to subdued domestic demand gross advances decreased by Rs. 46 billion (-9%) over December 2019.

The Non-performing loan (NPLs) base of the Bank recorded an increase of Rs. 784 million and was reported at Rs. 50.21 billion. The increase was primarily on account of currency devaluation impact of foreign currency denominated NPLs with no significant accretion in the number of cases. The Bank has not taken FSV benefit in calculation of specific provision and has increased its un-encumbered general provision reserve to Rs. 5.87 billion. The coverage and infection ratios of the Bank were reported at 96.89% and 10.17% respectively.

On the liabilities side, the deposit base of the Bank registered an unprecedented increase of Rs. 130.11 billion (+11%) over December 2019, with over 43% growth contributed by current accounts, improving the current account mix to 37.7% and CASA ratio to 93.2%.

Return on Assets and Return on Equity improved to 1.92% and 20.35% respectively, whereas book value per share was reported at Rs. 131.08.

While complying with the regulatory capital requirements, the Bank’s total Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) is 21.84% against the requirement of 11.50% (including capital conservation buffer of 1.50% as reduced under the BPRD Circular Letter No. 12 of 2020). Quality of the capital is evident from Bank’s Common Equity Tier-1 (CET1) to total risk weighted assets ratio which comes to 17.20% against the requirement of 6.00%. Bank’s capitalization also resulted in a Leverage Ratio of 7.11% which is well above the regulatory limit of 3.0%. The Bank reported Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) of 235.06% and Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSFR) of 187.78% against requirement of 100%.

MCB has been declared the Overall Most Outstanding Company in Pakistan – 2020 and Most Outstanding Company – Financials Sector in Pakistan-2020 by Asiamoney, an associate of Euromoney. The Annual report of MCB Bank has also been adjudged 1st by ICAP/ICMAP in the financial sector category. MCB has won this award 10 times in last 11 years with 8 consecutive wins.

The Bank enjoys highest local credit ratings of AAA / A1+ categories for long term and short term respectively, based on PACRA notification dated June 26, 2020.

High food prices becoming a security issue and enraging masses: Mian Zahid Hussain

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said high food prices are enraging masses to become a national security threat.

Profiteers have corroded the buying power of masses forcing millions to rely on less than required food, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that Prime Minister Imran Khan issued directions for wheat import six months ago while he repeatedly directed action against mafia but to no avail.

The inaction by authorities provided opportunity to hoarders to skin masses which warrants an action against food bureaucracy and other concerned officials.

Recently a federal minister said that reason behind high food prices is hike in the international market but he has also claimed that food items will be imported and provided to masses without any subsidy so that people can get economical food which is amazing.

He said that authorities continue to blame opposition, weather, rains, climate, locust, profiteers and reduced production while it has now asked Tiger Force to control prices making the whole affair a laughing stock.

He said that masses don’t need assurances but relief which is not in sight which has raised questions about the working efficiency and intentions of authorities and bringing a bad name to the government.

“Prime Minister should take note of the situation and take strict action to bring the prices of essentials down,” he demanded.

Global ethics day celebrated in Pakistan, ACCA takes the lead

To mark the Global Ethics Day 2020, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) joined forces with CFA Society Pakistan, HBL, ICMA Pakistan, Pakistan Stock Exchange Limited (PSX), and the Pakistan Business Council’s Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business (CERB) for a series of panel discussions engaging country’s top business leaders.

The conversation leaders constructively discussed the pressing ethical and environmental challenges of today and exchanged views and solutions on how organisations can blaze the trail of sustainability and cultivate a culture of workplace ethics.

The business leaders stressed that businesses can continue to deliver financial returns while generating positive value for society and being environmentally responsible for the planet. As our world strives to recover from the impact of Covid-19, they feel that there is a growing demand for organisations and nations to become fairer and more sustainable.

Global Ethics Day is an annual, international day dedicated to exploring the role of ethics in today’s world. Founded by the Carnegie Council, organisations are encouraged to hold programmes focusing on ethics, such as lectures, film screenings, debates, panel discussions, or activities to protect the environment.

In addition to these virtual panel discussions, to celebrate Global Ethics Day 2020, ACCA in Pakistan also conducted several other activities such as a Virtual Film Festival & Teach-in, Ethics Essay Competition in partnership with CFA Society Pakistan, the release of ACCA’s latest research into sustainable public finances, and a global prize themed ‘Ethics and Trust in Finance for a Sustainable Future’.

UBL presents approval letters to its first Mera Pakistan Mera Ghar customers

United Bank Limited (UBL) presented ‘Approval Letters’ to its first qualifying female and male customers under the Prime Minister’s “Mera Pakistan Mera Ghar” low-cost housing finance scheme at the State Bank of Pakistan Head Office. Through this scheme, the customers will be able to have their own respective houses under Riba Free affordable financing from UBL Ameen, the Islamic Banking wing of UBL.

Present at the occasion were Ms. Sima Kamil, Deputy Governor SBP, Mr. Samar Hasnain, Executive Director SBP, Mr. Shazad Dada, President & CEO UBL, Mr. Zia Ijaz, Group Executive Branch Banking & International UBL and Mr. Tanveer Farhan Mahmood, Head Islamic Banking UBL along with other senior executives from their respective teams.

Jazz condemns sealing of its office by FBR

– Jazz contributed PKR 251 billion to the national exchequer in taxes and duties in the last 6 years

Pakistan’s number one 4G operator and the largest internet and broadband service provider is amongst the largest taxpayers and the biggest foreign investors with an investment of over US$ 9.5 billion during the last 25 years. In the last 6 years alone, Jazz has contributed over PKR 251 billion to the national exchequer in the form of taxes and duties.

Jazz has always been a law-abiding corporate citizen and has been in the forefront for contributing to Pakistan’s economy in monetary and development terms, and as the market leader in telecom and internet services with over 63 million customers. The company has also discharged its social responsibility in floods, earthquakes, and recently in COVID-19 relief response worth over PKR 1.2 billion.

According to Jazz spokesperson, “We have received a notice from Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for the recovery of a disputed tax demand and we have serious reservations on these alleged taxes. The proceedings were carried out on plea of a tax recovery notice for a disputed amount from 2018 which is under legal proceedings. Due to the drastic measures our corporate reputation and pride has been hurt and shakes the confidence of foreign investors of Jazz and others. Despite being the largest taxpayers, we are treated in an unfortunate way. While the government is making efforts to improve the business environment in the country, such drastic measures would unfortunately severely affect investment prospects.”

Jazz seeks resolution of the matter and has always been willing to conduct dialogue as well as rightful legal course to reach merit and right interpretation. Jazz also assures its valued customers that despite the challenges, we will continue to provide uninterrupted services.

NBG concerned over terror incidents, escalating political frictions

– Promotion to agriculture and education sectors demanded

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday expressed concern over terror incidents and rising political temperature in the country.

Political confrontation between government and opposition is not good for the struggling economy, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that Rs200 hike in support price of wheat is a good move which will provide relief to farmers, increase production and end artificial crisis to reduce the price of flour.

Speaking at the launching ceremony of National Business Group (NBG) he said that the government should also consider steps to discourage sub-standard seed, fake pesticides and ensure affordable urea to ensure food security. Inflation and crisis have troubled masses and exchange rate uncertainty has raised concerns among the exporters, he said.

He noted that one of the major victims of coronavirus remains the education system, which is not getting proper attention of the government.

At the occasion, leaders of the NBG Alauddin Marri, Saqib Fayyaz Magoon, Ch Muhammad Hussain Zahid, Col (Retd) Tauqirul Islam, and Shahid Leghari said that the agriculture sector should be promoted while water scarcity should be tackled immediately.

Import of wheat and sugar should be expedited to provide relief to the masses reeling under inflation, they demanded.

The leaders of NBG said that overseas Pakistanis should get more relaxations so that they can play a more important role in national development.

The education sector was in a shamble before the pandemic and now the situation has worsened as almost half of the children are not going to schools.

According to the World Bank estimates, this will hit GDP by 67 to 155 billion dollars over the next two decades, they warned.

Amid pandemic the government and private sector tried distant education through the internet but the focus of private schools remained on minting money.

The number of enrolled students must be increased by waiving off fees or providing cash support to poor parents otherwise, the country will suffer a lot, they warned.

BankIslami 9m20 profit after tax grows by 81pc

The Board of Directors of BankIslami Pakistan Limited in their meeting held on October 29, 2020 in Karachi approved the Bank’s financial results for the nine months ended September 30, 2020.

BankIslami posted profit after tax of Rs. 1.76 billion during 9M20, depicting a growth of 81% vis-à-vis same period last year. Similarly, operating profit of the Bank has increased to Rs. 4.79 billion i.e. 72% growth from same period last year. The growth in profit was achieved on the back of rise in Core CASA deposits by 20%, persistent growth in earning assets, along with improvement in net spreads and cost to income ratio. Total Deposit base of the Bank grew by 11%, while total Assets grew by 8% during the nine months of 2020. Keeping in view the credit risks emanating from COVID-19, the Bank has recorded additional provisioning so as to improve the risk appetite of the Bank.

To fortify its overall capital adequacy, the Bank successfully completed the issuance Pakistan’s first ever Listed Islamic Additional Tier-I Capital Sukuk (ADT-1 Sukuk’) during the current year. The instrument has been branded as ‘Ehad Sukuk’ which is consistent with BankIslami’s commitment to offer authentic Islamic Banking products and provide Halal returns to its customers. The total issue size of this ADT-1 Sukuk was Rs. 2,000 million.

BankIslami being a responsible institute actively participated in various schemes launched by Government of Pakistan and State Bank of Pakistan to provide relief to masses and enhancing the country’s capacity to combat the adversities caused due to COVID-19. Additionally, pursuant to the deferment related relief schemes announced by SBP, the Bank, remain engaged with its customers so that they can utilize these packages and get financial assistance against challenges ensuing from COVID-19.

In order to deal with current challenges along with SBP supportive monetary policy stance, the Bank will continue with a strategy to enhance its CASA deposits base so as to generate stable net revenue stream. As the economic indicators are gradually improving, the Bank is working on building a steady financing book through its Corporate, SME, Agri and Retail clientele.

IBA testing department conducts largest single day recruitment drive in history

– Around 5,000 candidates appear for the Sindh Revenue Board sanctioned position

The Testing department at the IBA Karachi conducted the largest single day recruitment drive in its history as around 5,000 candidates appeared for the position of Sindh Sales Tax Officer sanctioned by the Sindh Revenue Board. The test was conducted in three cities across Sindh including Karachi, Hyderabad, and Sukkur. Special arrangements were also made for differently abled candidates. The successful candidates will undergo group discussion and interview process after which up to 40 candidates may be offered the coveted position by the Sindh Revenue Board.

The IBA Testing department has been offering recruitment services for multi-tiered positions including Directorial level posts for renowned private and public sector organizations. Last year, the IBA Testing department became the first testing agency in Pakistan to conduct recruitment tests across the globe simultaneously. The candidates residing in United Kingdom, Canada, UAE, and Pakistan took the test for the position of Trade Officers sanctioned by the Ministry of Commerce, Government of Pakistan.

During 2019-20, a staggering total of around 20 recruitment tests were conducted in which around 10,000 candidates were tested for different key positions at Sindh Revenue Board, Sindh Healthcare Commission, Ministry, PWC Ferguson, Sindh Universities & Boards Department, Ministry of Commerce, Pakistan State Oil, PAK-ARAB Refinery, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Department, Ministry of Commerce & Textile Commerce Division, National Insurance Company Limited and Total PARCO, to name a few.

Besides offering testing services to organizations, every year the IBA Testing department conducts admissions tests for its undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programs which attracts more than 11,000 candidates across Pakistan. This year, due to the spread of Covid-19, the Testing department introduced an Alternative Assessment Criteria to replace its admission tests for all degree programs and received commendations from academic circles for ingenuity, adaptability, and execution.

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