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Syed Ibne Hassan, Vice President (VP) and the head of Media & External relations department National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) died of Covid-19 pandemic here on Thursday. He was 50 and laid to rest in Wadi-e-Hussain graveyard, amid tears and anguish.

Hassan left behind four sons and a widow to mourn his dead.

With Masters Degree in Journalism, Hassan was an active and competent official whose professional carrier spanned over three decades. He has served on different positions mostly on public relations at various financial institutions, government and media organisations, including, PICIC, NIB Bank, and Sindh government.

Hassan was a member of various professional bodies pertaining to media as well as professional and philanthropic organisations such as FPCCI, Pakistan Management Association, Karachi Pres Club (KPC), and Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) etc.

PAGE condolences

We expressed the profound sorrow over the sad demise of our renowned business leader and industrialist Mr Siraj Kassam Teli, who died on December 8, 2020 while under treatment in Dubai. He was 67.

The deceased was an asset of this country as he has given the platform to industrialists and businessmen by founding a Businessmen Group. He was the leader of the business community not only in Karachi but across the country.

Born in Karachi in May 1953, Mr Siraj KassamTeli graduated from the Government College of Commerce and Economics in 1974. He had been actively involved in business politics since the late 1970s.

He was elected the 27th president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and also enjoyed the same office at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

He was the nicest person and a close friend and we have learnt many good things in doing business by his experiences.

May Allah grant him a place in heaven and give patience to his family, business community and friends, Ameen.

Jazz expresses grief over the demise of Rashid Khan

Jazz has expressed grief over the demise of Rashid Khan, the company’s former CEO (2008-14).

Expressing his deepest condolences, Aamir Ibrahim, CEO, Jazz said, “Rashid Khan was a wonderful human being and a thorough professional. In this loss, we experience the grief one feels for a father figure who often went off the beaten track and paved a new path where none existed before. May God grant strength to his loved ones.”

Being a renowned corporate leader and a stalwart of the telecommunications industry, Rashid Khan leaves a legacy of kindness. His contributions to the industry and the overall corporate sector were both long and profound.

Current account situation very encouraging, says Mian Zahid

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 the current account situation is continuously improving since five months which is a very encouraging sign.

The current account surplus is strengthening forex reserves and this momentum should continue to help the economy remain on the positive side, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the current account was in surplus to the tune of 447 million dollars in November as compared to a deficit of 326 million dollars during the last year.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the current account surplus has remained 1.64 billion dollars during the first five months of the ongoing fiscal while it was negative by 1.75 billion dollars during the first five months of 2019.

He noted that a reason behind the surplus is jump in exports due to problems in other markets and tensions between the US and China while the more important season is disruption of illegal channels to transfer money which has resulted in legal inflows.

The Pakistanis residing in foreign countries are sending remittances through legal channels which has resulted in an improvement of 27 percent but it can be short-lived as vaccines have been introduced and normalisation may result in a fall in exports and remittances.

The country needs to keep momentum in exports and remittances for which steps should be taken otherwise the current account situation may deteriorate, he warned.

The business leader said that the price of steel bars has increased by Rs18000 per tonne while the price of cement is also increasing. Steel millers cite a hike in price of raw material in the international market for hike while the builders and developers are terming it a conspiracy against construction activities, he said.

Grohe Pakistan launches first flagship store in Lahore

GROHE Pakistan in collaboration with one of their key partners Faucet Emporium has launched their first Flagship Store in Lahore centrally located in commercial business hub of DHA Phase VI, Main Boulevard.

GROHE is a leading global brand for complete bathroom solutions and kitchen fittings and a global brand, dedicated to providing innovative water products.

For many decades, GROHE has been committed to the brand values of technology, quality, design and sustainability that all illustrate GROHE’s commitment to creating exceptional experiences. With our engineering, innovation and design activities firmly anchored in Germany, GROHE products bear the badge of quality “Made in Germany”, ultimately strengthening the customers’ confidence in the brand. All plants of the GROHE manufacturing network make use of high-precision production engineering to ensure compliance with consistently high GROHE standards. This way GROHE ensures that its products live up to the most uncompromising demands in terms of workmanship and functionality.

Numerous high-profile projects around the globe are fitted with GROHE products, testifying to architects’, designers’ and developers’ preference for the brand.

In 2014, GROHE became part of the LIXIL Group Corporation, a publicly listed company on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. LIXIL is the global market leader in the sanitary ware industry and also Japan’s leading provider of housing and building materials.

Quality, technology, design and sustainability. Four brand values that illustrate our commitment to creating exceptional experiences. We set our standards extremely high to ensure that every time you turn on a GROHE faucet or step into a GROHE shower you can feel the difference.

Recommendations should be considered to overcome wheat crisis: Mian Zahid

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 the coronavirus and wheat crisis has ruined household budgets while pushing millions into abject poverty.

Wheat is the most important crop in the world and Pakistan is seventh largest wheat producer in the world but the mafia operating in this sector has created a serious food security issue, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the powerful mafia has contributed to poverty and it has emerged as a great challenge for the authorities.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that before the wheat crisis a man on the street used to spend up to 22 percent of his income on buying wheat flour but now it has doubled while virus has compromised their earnings.

The government has set wheat support price at Rs1650 to avoid further inflation but it has disappointed the masses and it will promote smuggling creating scarcity as the price of wheat in the regional countries is more than that, he added.

The business leader said that the system of wheat procurement, storage and distribution is flawed and muddy resulting in heavy losses to the government as well as resulting in a circular debt which is transferred on the poor therefore it should consider limiting its role in the wheat market.

The government should keep an eye on the demand and supply situation and retreat gradually for the market to save billions which can be used to develop the agriculture sector, he demanded.

He said that the recommendations of the flour mills associations should be considered to overcome the problem.

K-Electric earns LEEDs gold green building certification

At an inauguration ceremony held on World Energy Conservation Day, K-Electric (KE), in a power industry first, re-opened its Integrated Business center located at Tipu Sultan Road, Karachi, following renovation using energy efficient materials and processes which have earned it the prestigious LEED Gold Green Building certification.

LEED is an international green building certification system, awarded by the US Green Building Council, verifying that a construction is designed compliant with global standards of energy performance and conservation, reduction in carbon emissions, indoor environment quality and water efficiency. Adoption of the latest energy management technologies, including energy efficient lighting & air conditioning, heat transfer prevention measures, energy monitoring & automation systems, plus water conservancy, will potentially conserve 124,000 kWh per annum at the KE Centre while installation of photovoltaic (PV) system will reduce up to 30% energy consumption annually and reduce CO2 emissions by 64 metric tons per annum.

In addition to its LEEDS certification, the re-opened IBC will augment KE’s growing focus on improving overall customer experience. The IBC, which will be the first of KE’s 30 IBCs to serve customer seven days a week, will stay open till 7pm, Monday to Saturday and till 3pm on Sundays. In addition, there are separate counters for senior citizens and industrial customers. Wi-Fi has also been enabled to accommodate customers in downloading the KE Live App. During the renovation, processes were also streamlined to allow for first contact resolution.

Visiting the newly re-opened IBC to observe KE’s customer service efforts and take feedback from the general public, Member (Incharge), Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman)’s Secretariat Regional Office Karachi, A.D Khowaja said, “I am pleased to see KE’s initiative in driving environmental sustainability and laud them for being the first power sector entity to take this step. At the same time, I would strongly encourage other organisations to adopt these measures as well in order to preserve and protect our precious ecosystems and resources.”

Reiterating KE’s commitment to its customers and the environment, Moonis Alvi, Chief Executive Officer KE said, “As the energy market evolves, connecting with the customer is paramount. We aim to provide our valued customers with an experience that exemplifies convenience, accessibility, and excellent service. With environmental sustainability a driving factor as well, in the past eleven years, KE’s power generation units became Pakistan’s only ISO 50001 Energy Management System certified power plants. Our flagship 560 MW power plant at Bin Qasim, in 2018, became the first-ever Pakistani power plant to be declared a WWF-Green Office for its Environmental Management System. Till date our overall energy conservation efforts (from 2009-2020), have resulted in approximate reduction of 1,000,000 MT CO2 emissions and optimization of 940 MW electrical load.”

Representing KE at the event were Syed Moonis Alvi, Chief Executive Officer, Naz Khan, Chief Strategy Officer and Amer Zia, Chief Distribution Officer. Guests of Honor at the event were, Abid Hussain Shaikh – Advisor NEPRA, Naeem Ahmed Mughal, Director General, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency, Waqar Hussain Phulpoto, Additional Director General, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency, Dr. Tahir Rasheed, Director South (Sindh and Balochistan) — WWF and Shabina Faraz, Environmental Journalist & LEAD fellow.

Mian Zahid wants all duties on import of metals should be waived

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 said rising metal prices in the international market is hitting construction and other industries therefore all duties on import of metals should be waived.

Taxes and duties on steel, iron, copper and aluminium should be waived to support the construction package which was introduced to support economic activities.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that pandemic has increased prices of iron, steel, copper, brass, aluminium, rubber and many other things hitting manufacturing of iron and steel, electronics, refrigerators, air conditioners, auto parts, cables, wires, pipes, tyres and tubes, fans and motors and rubber parts etc.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the price of steel bars has increased by Rs6000 per tonne in a week while the price of wires and cables as well as aluminium is also rising constantly damaging construction activities.

He said that the price of bricks have also been increased to 30 percent in some parts of the country which must be noticed as it discourages construction.

The price of raw material needed for the export industry has also jumped threatening commitments of the exporters who have signed long-term contacts with western importers.

The revival of economic activities in China may not permit a reduction in prices of important metals in the international market therefore the government should avoid increasing prices of energy and reverse the recent increase in the tariff of electricity, he demanded.

UNDP, Jazz to work together for promoting youth-led social innovation in Pakistan

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pakistan and Jazz have signed a funding agreement worth USD 400,000 to promote youth-led social innovation in Pakistan through a series of SDG Bootcamps across the country.

The training boot camps will engage 800 social entrepreneurs in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and ICT/GB/AJK. Given the current COVID-19 crisis, one of the key focus areas will be to find innovative solutions to address the challenges posed by the pandemic. The most promising social venture ideas will be provided seed money to start their initiatives.

During the event, Amir Goraya, Assistant Resident Representative of Crisis Prevention and Recovery Unit, UNDP Pakistan said, “There is a need to enhance the ecosystem of social entrepreneurship in Pakistan as it creates employment, addresses societal issues and contributes towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. The partnership between UNDP and Jazz presents an exciting opportunity to promote economic empowerment of vulnerable youth. Together, we will facilitate young entrepreneurs to enter this space and launch their creative ideas.”

According to Syed Fakhar Ahmed, Chief Corporate & Regulatory Affairs Officer at Jazz, “Jazz supports various sustainable initiatives to strengthen the digital ecosystem and empower young people to make a positive difference through increased access to education, digital skills and social entrepreneurship. Through this initiative, we are aiming to further strengthen the startup ecosystem and provide young people with opportunities to lead societal change and increase employment avenues.”

This partnership is aligned with Pakistan’s 2025 Vision with Jazz continuing its commitment to developing digital skills and literacy among the youth.

UNDP, through its Kamyab Jawan – Youth Empowerment Programme, is supporting the Government in developing innovative and sustainable entry points for social engagement and economic empowerment of young Pakistanis. One of the key components of the Programme is to support youth entrepreneurship which not only empowers young people economically, but also spurs change and ensures inclusive development of the country.

Interior minister Sheikh Rashid inaugurates Jazz drive-in cinema

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid inaugurated The Jazz Drive-In Cinema at F-9 Park, Islamabad, last week.

The initiative is a collaboration of Jazz, Pakistan’s number one 4G operator and the largest internet and broadband service provider, Activemedia and the Capital Development Authority (CDA). Following the inauguration, the audience enjoyed popular movies in a safe and comfortable environment following all COVID-19 SOPs.

Visitors were given space to park their vehicles in an orderly manner with the movie audio individually heard through each vehicle’s stereo via radiofrequency. Food stalls were also arranged for snacking at the venue within the serenity of the park. People from different walks of life were present at the premiere to get the drive-in cinema experience.

JazzCash being the official digital payment partner for the Jazz Drive-In Cinema offered discounted payment solutions at the food stalls and ticket counters, and will continue to do so for a limited time. After the success of the first show, the Jazz Drive-In Cinema will be screening movies every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the evening, following a week-wise theme ranging from classics to action, science fiction, fantasy, and animations – a movie for each member of the family.

“I would like to congratulate Jazz, Activemedia and CDA on bringing back a retro favorite to provide the masses entertainment during the new normal,” said Sheikh Rashid during the inauguration.

Speaking at the movie screening, Jazz CCO, Asif Aziz, said, “As a digital lifestyle partner, we realized that the country-wide social distancing measures limited entertainment avenues for the public. By partnering with Activemedia and CDA, we aimed to introduce adaptive solutions for people to be able to receive the cinematic experience in a safe environment. Drive-in cinemas are ready to make a comeback in Pakistan and after the success of the pilot, we hope to extend this opportunity to other cities as well.”

On this occasion, spokesperson CDA said, “We applaud Jazz and Activemedia’s initiative to create the ultimate drive-in experience for audiences. For many families, today was the first proper outing in the last few months in a safe and comfortable environment with strict SOPs enforced.”

“I would like to thank Jazz and CDA for assisting us in bringing the drive-in cinema experience to the people of Islamabad. As the country’s top experiential marketing agency, we are managing the platform after fulfilling all concerned formalities with respect to the screening of the movies. After the month-long pilot in Islamabad, the next step is to take this project to Karachi and Lahore,” added Saad M. Khan, CEO – Activemedia.

Delayed purchase of wheat, sugar, lng to burden masses by trillions: 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 Friday said failure to buy wheat, sugar and LNG in time have burdened masses by trillions of rupees.

Different cartels are also bleeding the masses white with no ray of hope in sight, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that masses are now facing an LNG crisis following the wheat, sugar and other disasters making life difficult for the masses.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that now masses are braving the crisis of poultry and vegetables while consuming one of the costliest imported gas.

The LNG cargoes were not booked in summer as routine and now expensive gas is being purchased which is a record in the last six years in the Asian market and masses will pay the price for the blunder.

He noted that the gas sector circular debt has also surpassed Rs350 billion which is increasing in absence of reforms and vacant positions in important departments.

Establishing gas distribution companies on district or division level may improve things in the gas sector but such proposals have never been entertained.

Similarly, the private sector is being discouraged systematically from importing gas which is a conspiracy against the masses who deserve affordable gas.

He noted that power sector circular debt has reached to almost Rs2.5 trillion and it is increasing in absence of any plan to tackle it. The government will be unable to secure IMF loan in absence of a plan; increasing electricity price will add to inflation while subsidy will add to the deficit.

The claims to control circular debt have not materialised as reforms are being ignored in this critical sector.

ICAP kicks off national finance Olympiad 2020 in the ‘new normal’

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP), in collaboration with Unilever Pakistan, is organizing National Finance Olympiad (NFO) for the sixth consecutive year. It is the flagship event of the Institute and is one of the biggest finance competitions in the country. The competition attracts finance professionals participatingas teams, from industry, firms and educational institutes from across Pakistan.

The competition is divided into three rounds spread over two weeks beginning with the Qualifying Round where teams attempt a 2-hour competitive online test, revisiting their concepts and technical knowledge. The top successful teams then progress to the Assessment and Simulation Round based on Harvard Business Review case studies in collaboration with Karachi School of Business & Leadership and a role play segment competing to secure position in the top 6 teams advancing to the Grand Finale.

This year, incorporating the ‘new normal’ and adhering to the SOPs for the COVID pandemic, ICAP transformed the Qualifying Round and the Assessment and Simulation Round into Virtual rounds, allowing teams the comfort of participating remotely through a transparent and effective proctoring system while also experiencing for the first time the thrill of competing against other teams virtually.

The Finale features top six teams as they go through a Debate Round evaluated by a senior jury panel and a Buzzer Round testing their agility and knowledge. The team with the best performance in these Roundsis crowned National Finance Champions for the year. The winning team is recognized both within Pakistan and internationally.

This year the NFO started with 36 teams with 100+ participants competing in the Qualifying Round, which was held on December 15, 2020. The Assessment and Simulation Round scheduled for December 17 and the Grand Finale on December 22. NFO is an initiative of the Professional Accountants in Business (PAIB) Committee of ICAP that works for the professional development of Chartered Accountants and finance fraternity at large.

National Finance Olympiad is a unique initiative by ICAP providing a distinctive platform to finance professionals working in industry and firms to come together, compete and celebrate their competence. It aims to exhibit and celebrate the talent of finance professionals in Pakistan while providing a networking opportunity to meet the bright young minds of the profession.

Pakistan sports awards in collaboration with gatorade launches ‘Mai Hoon Sitara’

Pakistan Sports Awards and Agent Haq in collaboration with world’s No.1 sports drink Gatorade presents Mai Hoon Sitara, Pakistan’s first sports anthem. The anthem got an exclusive premier as part of the launch of Gatorade Pakistan Sports Awards held at the Punjab Football Stadium, Gulberg, hosted by the Sports Board Punjab.

The program kickstarted at 5pm with Sikandar Bakhat as the main host, while the Red Carpet was hosted by Arsalan Ishan, Mishayl Hussain, and Hira Hussain. The press conference featured representatives from PepsiCo along with the Chief Guest Minster Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti, Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports, Punjab and Chairman of Sports Board Punjab. Notable figures present at the event include, Ahmad Shahzad, Asim Azhar, Aima Baig, Secretary Sports Punjab Fawad Hashim, Abdullah Haris, Sohail Tanveer, Director General Sports Board Punjab and Youth Affairs Adnan Arshad Aulakh, Vice Chairman Sports Board Punjab Zahid Qayyum, HSY, Atif Rana, owner Lahore Qalandars, Aqib Javed, Cricketer, Inam Butt, Gold medalist and two times World Beach Games champion, Afshan Noreen, Hockey player and winner of Best Player 2019, Nighat Kauser, Rowing Champion, Asfar Yaqoob, Hockey Player, Ahmad Ali Baig Golf champion and winner of Qatar Open 2019, Parkha Ijaz, Golfer amongst the many others.

The setup for the event was specifically developed with all SOPs in mind, including keeping a 6 feet distance in an outdoor area where there was an ample amount of breathing room for guests. Wearing of masks for all attendees was also made obligatory, with hand sanitization stations, and a digital PAX count display.

Commenting on the steps the Pakistani government is taking to help the sports industry grow further, Rai Taimoor Khan Bhatti, Provincial Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Punjab stated, “Sports is such a crucial part of any country. Therefore, the government of Pakistan has pledged to not only allocate funds for sports facilities but also for the rising stars who have continue to perform for Pakistan. Our partnership with Pakistan Sports Awards is one of many initiatives in the direction of recognizing the accolades of our sports persons have achieved for our country”

Asim Azhar, who also composed and wrote the song said “I was so proud of being a Pakistani when I found out that we have more than 75 world titles across so many sports that includes hockey, javelin, squash, snooker but also was disappointed that I didn’t already know all of this, and I wish through this song the whole of Pakistan realizes that sport heroes are real life heroes”

Aima Baig said “I feel honoured to be representing the women of Pakistan in sports and I was impressed to find out that in 2019 more women won International titles than men for the first time as we now have a female badminton champ Mahoor Shahzad and also an ice-skating champ Malak Faisal! Just shows if we get a chance, we can also have female sports icon who can inspire not only women in Pakistan but across the world.”

“Pakistan’s burgeoning youth population is brimming with potential. This potential is poised for greatness if we harness, mentor and celebrate it. One of the platforms to make that possible is sports. Sports can impact lives in profound ways, for the ones playing them and for the ones cheering them on. The moments of victory, sacrifice, loss and conflict cut across age, beliefs and differences. The launch of Mai Hoon Sitara in collaboration with Gatorade Pakistan Sports Awards’ aims to promote and appreciate our youth making strides and breaking down barriers across the breath of the spectrum,” commented Ayesha Janjua, Marketing Director Beverages, PepsiCo Pakistan.

The press conference was followed by the launch of Pakistan’s first Sports Anthem ‘Mai Hoon Sitara’. Produced by Ameem Haq; directed by Abdullah Haris; written, performed and composed by Asim Azhar, the anthem also features Aima Baig and Rapper Ramiz Ali. Conceptualized as a tribute to the country’s sports heroes, the anthem highlights the struggles of athletes from different sports genres who put their heart and soul into winning titles for the country.

Commenting on the initiative Ameen Haq, Founder and CEO of Pakistan Sports Awards stated, “As Pakistanis, sports mostly meant cricket for us perhaps because that’s the only sport that is celebrated on a national level and we are known for our love for cricket. While our love for cricket will continue to grow, we also need to acknowledge our sportsmen and women who excel in different genres of sports including hockey, kabbadi, boxing, snooker, gymnastics, running, etc, and are working tirelessly to mark our country’s presence in the global arena of sports.

Our partnership with Mr. Salman Iqbal, Gatorade & Punjab Sports Board collectively is our way of showing gratitude to our heroic athletes, journalists and trainers; while also rekindling the spirit of sports especially during such tough times.”

The overall agenda for the event was to promote all genres of sports. All attendees came to show their support for the sports industry of Pakistan. The event ended with fireworks to mark the launch of Pakistan’s first sports anthem: Gatorade Mai Hoon Sitara.

State Life and Bank Alfalah agree to facilitate policyholders

State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan and Bank Alfalah Limited has signed an agreement to facilitate the State Life’s policyholders where they can easily deposit their due policy premiums and loan installments in any branch of the Bank throughout the country. For the time being, this facility is available in Karachi and in all Balochistan: soon it will be available in the entire country.

State Life is the leading insurer in the country that extends the benefits of life Insurance to all sections of society, especially to the more flourishing segments of the society spread in towns and villages throughout Pakistan. Its aim is to widen the area of operation of life insurance and making it available to as large a section of the population as possible.

Besides the remarkable performance shown by State Life, it is also worth highlighting that it is the only life insurance company that has been awarded the Insurer Financial Strength rating of ‘AAA’ by PACRA. This is the highest possible rating which an insurer can get and denotes State Life’s exceptionally strong financial strength to meet policyholder`s expectation and contractual obligations.

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