Press Releases

Chairman NHA holds E-Kacheri

As per directive of Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan on reaching out to the public through holding Khuli Kachehris by organizations under the Federal Government, Chairman National Highway Authority Capt (retired) Muhammad Khurram Agha held E-Kachehri at head office of the Authority through NHA official Facebook Page and answered to the questions raised by the people all over the country and issued on spot directions to undertake steps for earlier solution of public complaints.

Answering to the question placed by the people, Chairman National Highway Authority Capt (retired) Muhammad Khurram Agha said, Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway is the last missing link of Peshawar Karachi Motorway (PKM) and that bids for construction of the Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway have been received. Now NHA is in process of their evaluation. He further said, widening and rehabilitation of Balkasar-Mianwali-Muzaffargrah road is underway to facilitate the traffic. He said, contractor has already been mobilized on Chitral-Ayum Road Likewise work on Chitral-Shandur Road is in progress, and it will be completed in three years time period. Steps are being taken for earlier payments to the land owners/affectees of Gilgit-Shandur Road. He said, paper work for Kharian-Rawalpindi Project is being completed while feasibility study is being made of Mangla Mirpur-Muzaffarabad and Kharian-Basima Road Projects.

Keeping in view the importance of Kohat-Jand Road, Chairman National Highway Authority Capt (retired) Muhammad Khurram Agha said, this project will also be completed soon, while work on Peshawar-Northern Bypass is progressing gradually. He recalled, as per planning, Shahdara Flyover Project on N-5 will be undertaking on Public Private Partnership basis. Continuing Capt (Retd) Khurram Agha said, Shahiya Bridge on Hasanabdal-Haripur road will be started soon. Dera Ghazi Khan-Rajanpur road project will be undertaken next year. Layya-Taunsa Bridge has been completed and work on its approach roads is being completed. In order to provide civic and travelling amenities to people on Hazara Motorway, procurement process is being completed on priority basis. He said, reflectors will also be installed on Sukkur-Shikarpur road for ease of the traffic. He informed that NHA employees are not exempted from Toll Tax on NHA network. He reiterated commitment to upgrade and modernize NHA network as per international standards.

Shorooq partners to open its first office in Pakistan

Shorooq Partners, a leading VC firm headquartered in the UAE and with offices across Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain, has been granted approval by Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA) for a Zone Enterprise license and will be opening their first office in Pakistan in the Islamabad Special Technology Zone (STZ).

Shorooq Partners is the leading technology investor across emerging markets, partnering with startups, and building enduring businesses through seed stage equity and debt funding with a focus on the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan (MENAP).

Earlier this year, Shorooq Partners signed a MoU with the STZA to support efforts to build Pakistan’s technology ecosystem in the presence of the Honorable President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi.

Shorooq Partners was keen to establish a physical presence in Pakistan to support local founders and other local investors through a series of ecosystem initiatives. As part of its new office, Shorooq Partners intends to invest and extend its one-of-a-kind value-creation arm to its portfolio companies in Pakistan and give them a real competitive advantage in the market.

Shorooq Partners was early in investing in Pakistan and have done more than 10 investments in companies such as Airlift, Post Ex, Digi Khata, Retailo, KTrade Securities and Tazah Technologies.

Chairman of STZA, Mr. Amer Hashmi, reinforced the government’s commitment to facilitating global venture capital firms in the Special Technology Zones. “The presence of a VC firm like Shorooq Partners will be significant for Pakistan as it will bring global best practices that will enable Pakistani tech entrepreneurs and investors to forge connections on a global level, tap into other markets, and learn from top-tier founders and investors.”

Shorooq Partners already has five offices across the region and has planned for its sixth office to open in Pakistan in the Islamabad Technopolis STZ to deepen its commitment to significantly building Pakistan ecosystem and to further support its portfolio companies with its value-creation arm.

Shorooq Partners has also appointed a Country Manager lead for Pakistan who will soon join to lead the practice in Pakistan.

“At Shorooq Partners we’ve had a long-standing thesis on the growing importance of Pakistan and of Pakistani start-ups in the global tech space. As we spend more time meeting local founders and understanding the Pakistani ecosystem our conviction grows that Pakistani start-up have the ability to be a major disruptive force on a global level” said Shane Shin, Co-Founding Partner at Shorooq Partners. “We expect Pakistan’s first home-grown unicorn to emerge in the next few months, and the momentum from this will push the Pakistani tech ecosystem to the next stage of growth”.

STZA will work closely with Shorooq Partners as it expands its footprint across Pakistan as part of its mandate to facilitate inclusive growth and innovation in STZs across the country. This partnership will see a significant impact on the startup ecosystem by enabling technology growth companies to become leading players on both a regional and global level.

Dawlance hosts 2021 dealers convention

Dawlance holds the 2021 Dealers convention at DPL2 Factory, last week, hosted by famous anchor person Mr. Shafaat. The event focused on communicating with the dealers as to how year 2021 has been a successful one. The event also acknowledged the role played by the dealers in making this year a success for Dawlance.

The Chief Executive Officer of Dawlance – Umar Ahsan Khan, addressed the participants in which he highlighted the company’s vision for the upcoming year. He talked about the strategies that would benefit dealers and help them achieve higher targets.

“It has been a while since we hosted our valued business partners in such a grand fashion. In the last two years, Covid-19 pandemic has created challenges for the business. Market closures, changing purchase patterns, drastic shifts in global economies and supply chain pressures all affected businesses globally, including Dawlance. However, we worked with immense agility and determination to avoid putting pressure on our partners and stood by all of you to ensure business continuity and profitability,” said Khan in his address.

The dealers were given a tour of the newly established Air Conditioners and washing machine line. The new AC line is capable of manufacturing the units locally. A separate showcase was designed to exhibit the range of products that Dawlance offers.

CEO Dawlance also highlighted the agenda of the company about the sustainability goals and how Dawlance aligns its operations with them.

“Arcelik global is aggressively working towards the betterment of the environment by setting science-based targets to reduce carbon emission and eventually the world temperature to 1.5 degrees by2030. We, at Dawlance, are also a part of this initiative and adopting processes and making our products more and more environmentally sustainable as our future businesses and existence depend on it,” explained Mr Khan.

Dawlance aims to benefit the consumers via its products in 2022. This includes the New AC localisation project that will be the hallmark of its product excellence and cater to a broad demand from the market.

Mr Naeem Abbas Rufi ended the event with an entertaining concert, appreciated by all the participants.

Theft, line losses must be eliminated to solve power sector problems: Mian Zahid Hussain

Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, and All Karachi Industrial Alliance and Former Provincial Minister Mian Zahid Hussain said power generation is continuously increasing but nothing is being done to increase its consumption resulting in heavy losses.

The products that can be easily manufactured in the country are also being imported due to which while the process of industrialization is being affected and the power consumption is also not increasing, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that in addition to the widening current account deficit and weakening rupee due to rising imports, the circular debt of the power sector is also increasing rapidly.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the demand for electricity in Pakistan is 27,000 MW in summer and less than 10,000 MW in winter, which puts a burden of billions of rupees on the national exchequer and adds to the circular debt.

He said that most of the losses are passed on to consumers making their life difficult and fanning inflation.

He said that if the industry was promoted in the country, the demand for electricity in summer and winter would not be poles apart and the people would not have to buy the most expensive electricity in the region.

The business leader observed that in developed countries a gap of 25 to 30 percent between demand and supply of electricity is allowed but in Pakistan this gap is huge and the national treasury cannot afford it.

Mian Zahid Hussain furthered that one of the reasons for the collapse of the power sector is the preference of all governments to generate electricity from the most expensive fuels and neglect to generate electricity from cheap sources which benefited a few while causing severe damage to the economy.

In addition, no attention is being paid to prevent line losses and theft and the continuous increase in the price of electricity on the behest of the IMF is further reducing its demand which is also increasing the losses in the power sector.

The government will have to make electricity cheaper to push a large number of consumers to prefer electricity over gas if the government wants to increase the demand for electricity and reduce losses.

Increased consumption of electricity will increase the demand, solve the problem of capacity payments while eliminating the circular debt and deficit.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that payments should be made to the companies working on CPEC as soon as possible so that various development projects could be completed on time.

The mini-budget has also been finalized which will increase the industrial cost, affect the industrial process and make the life of the people more difficult.

Acting President & CEO of MCB Bank

Mr. Shoaib Mumtaz has assumed the charge of Acting President & CEO of MCB Bank Limited with effect from 21st December 2021. Mr. Shoaib Mumtaz replaces outgoing President & CEO, Mr. Imran Maqbool, whose term of employment ended on 20th December 2021.

Mr. Shoaib Mumtaz, a graduate from United States of America, is a seasoned banking professional with over 29 years of experience. He has been associated with MCB Bank since 1992 and has worked in various key roles including Branch Banking, Credit Risk and Corporate Finance. Mr. Mumtaz also led the bank’s strategy and vision of Corporate Banking and International Operations of MCB Bank in United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Bahrain and Sri Lanka.

Economist impact and Mastercard study

Middle East and Africa — a fertile ground for the growth of super-apps

From ride-hailing services to grocery delivery, and financial services such as buy-now-pay-later to microfinancing, super-apps development in the Middle East and Africa is emerging fast as the region proves to be a potentially fertile ground for its growth.

In a study commissioned by Mastercard Middle East and Africa (MEA) and carried out by Economist Impact titled ‘From online bazaar to one stop shop: The rise of super-apps in the Middle East and Africa’, the paper examines how population growth, digital access, connectivity, a diverse demographic, increasing trust, and affordability is contributing to the rapid progress of super-apps in the region.

The study also draws parallels between the ecosystems that drove the rapid rise of super-apps such as WeChat, Meituan or AliPay in China a decade ago to the Middle East and Africa region currently where the super-app model is showing early promise. Emerging players are seeking to emulate the Chinese-born concept and create regional success stories of their own.

While multi-function apps have been popular in Asia for some time, cut-through elsewhere in the world has been slower. Consumers in western and MEA markets have largely messaged, hailed taxis, summoned food and paid for things with different apps. But more recently firms including Spotify, Uber and Revolut have raced to bundle ever more features into their apps.

“With the Middle East and Africa region projected to become the most populous area in the world, with a forecast population of 3.4 billion by 2050, this expanded market presents a wealth of customer data, which regional players could leverage to add value for all stakeholders. Mastercard, with its digital-first approach, can be that single technology provider of choice to connect diverse players such as telcos, digital e-tailers and fintechs to become super-apps by providing technology solutions, platforms and propositions that enable a superior digital experience and drive greater inclusion for people across MEA,” said Ngozi Megwa, Senior Vice President, Digital Partnerships, Middle East and Africa.

While delving into the MEA region, the study found specific highlights that will enable the rapid growth of super-apps. Key findings include:

  • Locally active super-apps are proliferating across the MEA region, but larger cross-regional players remain few.
  • The prevalence of low-end mobile phones, as well as high internet costs in the MEA, make super-apps an attractive product.
  • Super-apps can be drivers for financial inclusion in the MEA.
  • The harmonization of national policies remains the biggest challenge to the scaling-up of super-app presence in the MEA region.

“Our study clearly reflects that the development and future trajectory of super-apps is highly contextual to the geography and location in which they develop. Some of the ripe sectors in MEA who could throw up players to become super-apps are insurance across the GCC, the second-hand car market, online property brokers in the UAE, and digital remittances across Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Walter Pasquarelli, Research Manager, Tech & Society, Economist Impact.

The report also threw the spotlight on governments’ role. As the biggest spenders in the region, government choices over which direction to orient industrial and data policies will be key. Beyond the policies of individual governments, the harmonization of policies across the region is expected be the core strategic choice that will determine the future of super-apps.

10th global Islamic microfinance forum successfully ends in Dubai
  • Islamic Microfinance is an Emerging Concept of Poverty Alleviation: Muhammad Zubair

The 10th Global Islamic Microfinance Forum was successfully concluded at Crowne Plaza Hotel-Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The purpose of that forum was to promote, strengthen and unite the organizations of Islamic microfinance (IsMF) with the theme of Financial Inclusion through enterprise development for accelerating poverty reduction. This Apex event was organized by AlHuda Centre of Islamic Banking and Economics and supported by Islamic Cooperation for the Development of the Private Sector- ICD. ICD is one of the premier Islamic multilateral financial institutions for the development of the private sector. The supports were Association of microfinance organizations of Tajikistan, Banking, Finance and Insurance institute of Nepal, Microlab Association, Finmaal Dubai, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Islamic Chamber of commerce industry and agriculture and many others. Caiz Holding, Codebase Technologies, StowRich Insurance, and Takaful Coin were sponsors in the forum. Our media partners in this event were Proshare Islamic finance weekly and Financial IT.

More than 25 countries participated in this prestigious event and around 20 international speakers addressed the event. Majority of the speakers were industry leaders and experts. AlHuda is striving for poverty alleviation through Islamic microfinance by providing advisory, consultancy, research and capacity building services and organized 9 annual events in different countries of the world. This event helps the industry practitioners to join the common platform and strengthen the networking for industry development in true innovative ways. Mr. Muhammad Zubair, the Chief Executive Officer of AlHuda CIBE said that 10th GIMF is a platform to explore how new and effective strategies (according to Shariah compliant procedures) can be formulated to alleviate poverty and for economic sustainability.

Addressing the inaugural session, the Chief Guest of the Ceremony Hon BGen Charito B. Plaza, Director General (Deputy Minister) Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Philippines and Hon. Datu Pax Ali S. Mangudadatu, Incoming Governor, Office of Provincial Governor, Province of Sultan Kudarat, Philippines. They said Islamic Microfinance should be utilizing as system of poverty reduction for Muslims and Non- Muslim world, he pursued the participants “There are various challenges among the Muslim World, but if we look at our figures we can see the opportunities therein. Islamic Microfinancing is a catalyst to empower enterprise development and a viable and sustainable vehicle for inclusive economic growth” Mr. Sardar Umer, Chairman StowRich Group, UAE was among the chief Guests, presenting the different aspects of Islamic microfinance and Fintech solutions. He also explains the reasons for poverty in different regions of the world and its solution through Islamic microfinance and discusses the relevant Islamic Microfinance different aspects to alleviate the poverty in order to enhance the living standards of the poor along with its implementation strategy.

Addressing to the audience, the organizer of 10th Global Islamic Microfinance Forum, Mr. Muhammad Zubair Mughal, Chief Executive Officer, and AlHuda CIBE said that there is no religion of poverty but it can be alleviated through methods defined in religion and Islamic microfinance is the best example of this. Muslims and non-Muslims can equally take advantage of this micro-financing. He added that in Muslim world, poverty is rapidly increasing to its dangerous level. The main reason for this is the non-availability of such sources which are near to their religious values. He said that recent researches of World Bank and international organizations show that there exist chances of poverty in the non-Muslim world and the only solution is Islamic Microfinance. If Islamic microfinance is overlooked in such a way then there are no chances the United Nations Organization meets the Millennium development Goal.

In MoU signing ceremonies AlHuda CIBE signed three (3) MoU with Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)-Philippines, Tawhid Bank, Tajikistan and Banking Finance and Insurance Institute of Nepal Limited respectively. The purpose of this forum is to gather the stakeholders under one platform, to find out the remedy to these problems to give strong support to the rapidly increasing Islamic Microfinance industry. A gathering of 100+ Participants attended from more than 25 different countries to participate in the forum, wherein a large variety of topics will be covered including; Islamic Microfinance, Financial Inclusion, Evidence of Impact and future potential, Rural development, use of IT in Microfinance and FinTech solutions, Micro-Takaful, Waqaf, Zakah, Small business problems and solutions, Shariah Principles and General Economic Development.

The Forum is followed by Two Days Post Event Workshop on Practical Aspects of Islamic Micro, Agriculture and Rural Finance dated for December13-14, 2021. This Workshop covered a variety of allied topics. To learn more about please visit: https://www.alhudacibe.com/gimf2021/

Second rate hike in 25 days worrisome, says Mian Zahid Hussain

Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and Former Provincial Minister Mian Zahid Hussain said the second hike in the interest rates by the central bank in 25 days is worrisome.

The move will increase the cost of doing business and hit the economic activities as the bank has increased interest rates by one percent, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the hike may prove insufficient and the State Bank may increase interest rates again in January.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that policy rates have been pushed to 9.75 percent in a bid to contain inflation and current account deficit and improve balance of payments.

One of the purposes of raising interest rates is to curb rising imports, which, if achieved, will help the rupee recover to some extent, he added.

He said that in view of falling crude oil prices in the international market, it would have been better for industry and trade if interest rates had not been raised.

The decision of the SBP will shrink the economy and employment will decline but it may not reduce inflation and the current account deficit which is set to exceed the estimates of the SBP.

Interest rates are likely to rise again in January again following the mini-budget as the continuous hike in prices of electricity, petroleum products, ghee, flour, milk and other commodities will further increase inflation while house rents are also rising which will also add to the hardships of the tenants.

The central bank believes that in the last six months of 2022, the current account deficit, trade deficit and inflation will be reduced, which could be a miscalculation.

He noted that the state of the country’s economy is not such that it can be improved by increasing exports and remittances therefore the government will have to cut several hundred billion rupees in developmental projects while also reducing its expenditure which is a difficult option for rulers.

He said that even if expenses are reduced, the government will have to borrow billions of dollars from the international market in order to avoid bankruptcy.

The country will have to pay more interest for borrowing and servicing debts after the rate hike, he said.

KASB & KTrade Annual Investor Summit

The country’s economy was under pressure from the external account and fiscal imbalances, the consequent weakening of currency and soaring inflation, according to the KASB KTrade Securities Investment Outlook presented at the “KTrade Annual Investor Summit Investing in 2022”, last week.

The outlook said that after a considerable signs of economic overheating, the government and the central bank were compelled to cut short the prevalent accommodative policies and make a structural shift towards stabilisation.

Pakistan’s external accounts have been under a considerable pressure since May 21 amid the onset of the commodity up-cycle, it said.

Elevated commodity prices in tandem with rising economic activity pushed Pakistan’s import bill to record-high levels.

Citing PBS, Pakistan’s trade deficit has more than doubled to $20.6bn (+112 percent YoY). While remittances continue to remain high, Pakistan’s CAD is projected to surge to 5.0 percent of GDP in the current fiscal year, it added.

The external account leakages, coupled with debt servicing obligations, have caused SBP’s foreign reserves balance to fall by over 20 percent in a span of three months. The import cover, in turn, has declined to 2.5 months. This pressure resulted in the Pak rupee losing over 10 percent of its value FYTD.

Inflationary pressures have rapidly picked up in the past few months in Pakistan with CPI inflation touching double-digits in Nov 21. The global commodity up-cycle has trickled into Pakistan’s economy as the prices of several constituents in the inflation basket have surged fast.

The situation was further exacerbated by domestic supply constraints and revised fuel and energy tariffs. At current pace, CPI inflation is projected to average 11 percent in FY 22, comfortably crossing SBP’s target of 7 percent to 9 percent.

Eatachi expands integration with bSecure

A pioneer in providing Online Ordering Systems for the Food and Beverage Industry, Eatachi, announced expanded integration with the leading payment gateway enabler bSecure. Eatachi and bSecure new partnership will help the Food and Beverage Industry offer easy online prepayments through an easy to integrate Online Payment System.

Together Eatachi and bSecure will offer increased capabilities for the Eatachi platform. As restaurants and eateries look to facilitate food enthusiasts by providing online payment options, integration with bSecure will help the Food and Beverage industry access fully deployed ordering systems in a matter of minutes.

Uncertainty prevails in market despite sbp assurance on interest rates: Mian Zahid

Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said despite the central bank’s announcement not to raise interest rates immediately the business community is worried about another hike.

The worries of investors despite assurance of the SBP are detrimental to the central bank’s reputation, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that investors expect SBP to raise interest rates again soon as the economic indicators worsen.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that uncertainty in the market is detrimental to the economy which should be tackled by the concerned officials.

He said that the assurances of the central bank have not calmed the market and majority of investors believe that interest rates will be raised soon as a result of pressure from the IMF while some investors are still unsure about the IMF tranche.

A section of the business community is uncertain about the implementation of the agreement with the lender and is looking at the matter with disbelief as they believe that in view of the elections, the government will not stop the policy to economic growth and pursue a policy of stabilization.

Mian Zahid Hussain further said that the government is preparing to increase the base tariff of electricity by 95 paisa per unit in the light of agreements with international organizations which will further affect the living standards of the people.

Costly electricity will also affect business activities and exports will have to face a negative effect.

In addition to the general consumers and the business community, electricity rates for the agricultural sector will also be increased, which will make agricultural products more expensive.

The increase in electricity tariffs will place an additional burden of billions of rupees on the people in addition to the upcoming mini-budget.

Mian Zahid Hussain further said that the mini budget would not only increase inflation but also further devalue the rupee in the current global scenario.

Bike rides made safe with customers’ life insurance
  • Partnering with State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan, Bykea insures its customers against hospitalization, disability, and demise

Considering the high rate of motorbike accidents and the road safety situation in the country, the widely popular ride-hailing service, Bykea, is now offering insurance coverage to all its customers if they meet any unfortunate road accident while using its service.

According to research, bikes are five times more likely to meet accidents than a normal four-wheel vehicle, making the rider and the passenger vulnerable to life-threatening injuries. The insurance offered by Bykea in partnership with the State Life of Pakistan covers hospital charges, injury-treatment charges, and compensates the bereaved families in case of human lives lost.

The Bykea users now have the option to pay a nominal amount on each bike taxi trip to get themselves an insurance cover of PKR25,000 for hospitalization and injuries. In case, the accident results in a tragic death or causes permanent disability to the user, his/her next of kin will be eligible to receive PKR400,000 in lieu of the life insurance cover.

Rafiq Malik, Chief Operating Officer, Bykea, said, “We are constantly trying to provide access to services leveraging technology for the middle class in Pakistan. We feel our partnership with State Life of Pakistan is a first in offering coverage to the most vulnerable on the roads in Pakistan and we hope that in the odd instances of road accidents, our customers are covered when traveling using our platform.”

Shoaib Javed Hussain, Chairperson, State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan at the occasion said, “This is truly a first in Pakistan of digital and protection innovation, providing social protection to working Pakistanis at a nominal price. State Life’s endeavor and vision is to transform health, life, and financial protection in Pakistan; to enable Pakistanis to achieve life goals with the confidence that State Life protects them and their families. This is the first and important step in achieving that vision through true product and tech innovation.”

“As someone who is the sole breadwinner of his family and barely manages to make ends meet, I am thankful to Bykea for introducing the customers’ protection. God forbid, if something happens to me, at least I know my family will be taken care of,” says 37-year-old Shabbir Ahmed, a resident of Gulistan-e-Jauhar.

While Bykea, along with the city administration, has been encouraging the use of a helmet for motorbike drivers and pillion riders, very few citizens have any kind of insurance cover in the event of a mishap on the road. With this optional feature on the trip, the customers can rest easy as they get the insurance cover for all sorts of injuries sustained; do not have to pay for hospitalization; and do not have to worry about their family’s well-being in case of permanent disability or demise.

The insurance cover feature is available on both Android and iOS, and users can choose to opt-in for it on bike taxi (Savari) rides with a single click while booking the rides.

UBL and PPAF partner under the ‘growth for rural advancement and sustainable progress’ initiative

United Bank Limited (UBL) and Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) recently signed an MoU to complement the roles of the organizations under Growth for Rural Advancement and Sustainable Progress (GRASP) initiative.

GRASP intuitive focuses the underserved areas of Sindh and Balochistan Provinces. Both the entities, through the institutional understanding and strategy, will combine their potentials to synergize efforts for fast tracked development of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) engaged in the horticulture and livestock sectors, to increase their capacity and competitiveness. UBL and PPAF have agreed to formalize their collaborative efforts by identifying areas of common interest, i.e. access to finance, business development and social mobilization, for the development of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and advancement Rural populace.

Mr. Zia Ijaz, GE-Branch Banking & International, UBL along with Mr. Sohail Ahmed Malik, Head SME & Rural Bank and Mr. Abdul Sattar Narejo, Head Rural Bank represented UBL in the MoU Signing Ceremony whereas PPAF was represented by Mr. Irshad Khan Abbasi, Group Head- PPAF and Ms. Robila Agha, Access to Finance Specialist GRASP Project.

While highlighting the importance of Rural Development, Mr. Zia Ijaz stated “UBL is a pioneer Institution in Rural and Agriculture Finance. Its extensive network in both the focused provinces would go a long way in achieving the desired goals of GRASP project.”

Nation insurance emerges as top earner in 2021

National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) after having gone through difficult time in the past has now emerged as one of the top earners/performers as entity of the Government of Pakistan and stands on strong financial footing and one of the highest tax payerscontributing the national exchequer under the leadership of the new CEO Mr. Khalid Hamid.

  • NICL reported a remarkable Rs 15.5 Billion plus record premium underwritten till the end of November 2021, grew by around 50% from the year 2019, supported by profitable business growth and a strong investment performance. This was the first time that a company has achieved a milestone of crossing the 15 Billion Target before year end and all time highest investment profit of Rs approx Rs 4.5 Billion in General Insurance Industry in the year 2021. By year end the additional business will be added and expected to reach, close to Rs 20 Billion, even higher mark including renewals and additional business.
  • The company’s underwriting premium was reported to be Rs.10 billion in the year 2019 and now at as the year 2021 (ending November), their underwriting premium was underwritten and collected to be over Rs.15.5 billion. This is big achievement for the current regime as the stigma associated with the company has now been completely shifted to commendation in 2021 with almost 50 % growth (as compared to Year 2019) in underwritten premium with a strong leadership of the new CEO appointed in Year 2021.
  • The year 2021, emerged as the highly profitable for the NICL with extraordinary performance to serve their valued and prestigious government clients all over Pakistan.
  • Management is optimistic that the Year 2022 will be more prospective and prosperous for NICL, for which road map is already been chalkedby the new CEO.
  • It can’t be done without the support of their valuable clients,who supported NICL during theirtough days, keeping their trust on NICL and itsmanagement. NICL have attained its objective without losing any business/clients, on the contrary new prospective clients has been added to their portfolio.
  • It is a landmark achievement for NICL to be part of beginning of a new era under Ministry of Commerce’s Silk Route Reconnect Policy and partnered this venture to promote trade of Pakistan by Road Transport for trade connectivity with neighbouring and other far countries to attain the vision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. It is a milestone in making Pakistan a Transit andTransshipment hub by trucking.
  • This is due to current management that NICL is working on paperless organization from Year 2020, and using the E-filing system all over Pakistan and becomes the only few entities in Government organization, who adopted the e-filing/digitization envision by the current regime.
Standard Chartered launches its innovative Digital-Banking solution

Standard Chartered in Pakistan announces the launch of its state-of the-art innovative Digital-Banking solution aimed at elevating client experience by offering enhanced convenience, agility and customised offerings to its existing and potential client-base. The solution has been developed in-house leveraging global expertise and best practices and partnering with local service providers under the Digital drive of the State Bank of Pakistan.

Using the newly launched platform, clients can open their accounts, perform transactions, seek a host of services and subscribe for products, without the need of visiting the branch or using other customer servicing channels. The digital solution involves straight–through processing with automated work-flows including the integration of core banking and due-diligence systems to offer minimal turn-around-time.

With this launch, Standard Chartered once again combines its international expertise in digital banking with its local knowledge to bring together a unique offering unlike any in the market.

State Bank of Pakistan has played a leading role in creating an environment to push the frontiers in this space. Standard Chartered is also the first bank in Pakistan to join hands with NADRA to offer real-time biometric verification for account opening though the Standard Chartered Mobile App.

The Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Pakistan Limited (SCBPL) – Rehan Shaikh stated: “Our App is prepared to set new benchmarks for innovation in financial services, with a primary purpose of making banking simple and convenient for everyone. This is a key milestone in our aspiration to lift participation and drive financial inclusion across Pakistan. It also signifies our commitment to not only investing in and growing the market, and also fuelling innovation through strategic collaborations and partnerships to advance an integrated digital banking ecosystem. We will continue to build on this launch and strengthen our award-winning digital capabilities by continuously incorporating client feedback in product development and aligning with different partners to solve for client needs.”

Standard Chartered recognises that technology-driven enablement and partnerships can facilitate the resolution of challenges facing various sectors and accelerate economic growth for different market segments. Through its investment into digital capabilities, Standard Chartered is committed to working with the Central Bank, local and global service providers and financial technology players to innovate and develop curated products for unbanked segments which are quite often not reachable due to the lack of infrastructure and digital platforms. With the Bank’s SC Mobile app, millions of formerly unbanked Pakistanis will be able to enrol for and utilise round-the-clock secure banking facilities with the touch of their fingers through mobile applications now.

The traditional legacy banking model status is already being challenged by consumer bias towards digital solutions coupled with the enhanced cyber security measures. Additionally, technologically driven, AI and analytics based, client due diligence and risk profiling tools integrated with digital platforms is resulting in better client experience. Building on this shift, Standard Chartered intends to serve a larger client base with a convenience at their fingertips.

Chairperson PSX Visits PMEX

Dr. Shamshad Akhter, Chairperson Pakistan Stock Exchange, visited Pakistan Mercantile Exchange (PMEX). Mr. Ejaz Ali Shah, Managing Director PMEX, welcomed the guest and thanked her for sparing time and showing keen interest in the affairs and mission of the Exchange.

Mr. Shah apprised Dr. Shamshad Akther about the role being played by PMEX in developing a vibrant and robust futures market in Pakistan. While speaking about the progress of the Exchange, Mr. Shah informed that PMEX has gone from strength to strength on the back of technological advancements, diversified product suite, expanded footprint and enhanced customer services. These steps have built trust amongst the market participants and encouraged them to actively trade in futures. As a result, the average daily trading volume has surged to PKR 11.78 billion in 2021 from PKR 3.70 billion in 2015, resulting in a tripling of trading volumes during the last 5 years.

He also briefed about the Direct Fund Model (DFM). Under DFM, the Exchange directly collects funds from customers as well as transfers funds to their bank accounts without the involvement of broker(s). The DFM empowers the customers to get complete control of their funds at all times and restricts the role of the brokers primarily to servicing the existing customers and soliciting new businesses.

Underscoring the challenges faced by PMEX, Mr. Shah highlighted operations of black-market operators in Pakistan. These black-market operators not only eat up PMEX business but also cause heavy drainage of the country’s foreign exchange reserves. Mr. Shah sought the help of Dr. Shamshad in cracking down on these black-market operators.

Mr. Shah also explained that gold is a strategic asset of Pakistan and all efforts should be made to document trading of this important commodity. PMEX being the only futures exchange of the country has experience of physical gold trading and therefore PMEX should be defined as the official platform for the trading of gold. Mr. Shah also explained that opening the import of gold and allowing free export of gold will increase the Foreign Exchange Reserves of Pakistan provided that “own resources” is defined correctly in the import policy. The documentation of gold will also increase the tax revenue of the Government of Pakistan.

Mr. Shah explained in detail about Global Commodity Trading Platform (GCTP), a wholly-owned subsidiary of PMEX. GCTP will offer an e-commerce platform that will allow Pakistani commodity producers and exporters to sell agri and non-agri commodities to global buyers with a click of a few buttons. At present, GCTP is ready to be launched and the only remaining matter is the approval of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) with respect to the timing of conversion of foreign currency, which is expected soon.

Dr. Shamshad Akhter thanked Mr. Shah for the detailed briefing on PMEX and its upcoming initiatives. She appreciated the efforts of the Exchange in streamlining investors’ funds through DFM which will help in building investors’ confidence in trading futures at PMEX. She acknowledged the need of cracking down operations of the black-market operators and assured her fullest support in eradicating this menace. Furthermore, she appreciated GCTP, which will act as a catalyst in boosting the exports of Pakistan. She also assured the best support to PMEX in its future endeavors.

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