SLIC ties up with NIT for Strategic Partnership, Financial Inclusion
State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan and National Investment Trust Limited signed a MoU for Strategic Partnership & Financial Inclusion at State Life Head Office, recently.
Mr. Shoaib Javed Hussain, the Chairman SLIC signed a landmark agreement with Mr. Adnan Afridi Managing Director, NIT for Financial Inclusion and Insurance Plans for Voluntary Pension System (VPS) account holders, Distribution of NIT Products, Offering Annuity plan for VPS Investors after retirement through NIT across the country. Other participants Included Mr. Muhammad Izqar Khan Executive Director SLIC & Mr. Manzoor Ahmed is Chief Operating Officer (COO) NIT and other senior officials from both organizations were also in attendance on the occasion.
State Life is Pakistan’s largest Life & Health Insurer, which protects more than 140 million Pakistanis and only Insurer in Pakistan with AAA rating. From SLIC point of view, this is an important initiative as part of its Chairman’s broader vision of providing every citizen of the country with the benefits of true social and financial protection.
The National Investment Trust Limited (NITL) is the first Asset Management Company of Pakistan, formed in 1962, and had Funds under management of over Rs. 100 billion, more than 90,000 unit holders. NIT’s distribution network comprises of 27 Branches, Investor Facilitation Centre at Karachi & various Authorized Bank Branches all over Pakistan.
The partnership between State Life and NIT is another step in State Life’s push towards creating an environment of financial and protection inclusivity in the country, serving Pakistanis across all strata society.
Shoaib Javed Hussain, Chairman – SLIC said that “We are excited to announce SLIC and NIT partnership to provide protection to the Investors of NIT through Financial Inclusion and Protection Plans. I am certain that this collaboration will build on the synergies of these two national organizations into a deep strategic partnership with the aim of ensuring life and financial protection of hardworking Pakistanis; enabling them to further expand their financial horizons with the confidence that they are being protected by SLIC. SLIC remains firm in its resolve to meet the protection and savings needs of Pakistanis across all strata of society through innovative and value-adding solutions.”
Mr. Adnan Afridi MD NIT said “While the relationship between NIT and SLIC is an old and tested one, this partnership signals the start of a deeper, more strategic collaboration. At NIT we recognize our Investors as the bedrock of our company, and we are constantly thinking of ways to benefit them. Furthermore, NIT will offer innovative, value-added services to SLIC so that the synergies between these two national organizations can be realized for the benefit of Pakistan.
Mastercard, MCB bank in deal to empower SMEs with simplify commerce
Mastercard and MCB Bank have entered a strategic partnership to boost financial inclusion in Pakistan and empower small businesses with Simplify Commerce, an all-in-one e-commerce technology solution.
The agreement was signed between Mr. J. K. Khalil, Cluster General Manager, MENA East, Mastercard and Mr. Shoaib Mumtaz, President & CEO, MCB Bank at MCB House, Lahore. Senior members from both organizations were also present at the ceremony.
Simplify Commerce, powered by Mastercard Payment Gateway Services, is specifically designed to be easy to use, making it possible for merchants with only a minimal amount of digital experience to access a convenient and secure acceptance solution and receive payments within a matter of minutes.
The partnership allows businesses to sign up for an innovative and cost-effective application that allows them to quickly embrace electronic acceptance. Extremely easy to set up, the technology enables SMEs with a suite of powerful payments and business management features that help simplify backend processes, helping MCB partner merchants to focus on core business functions as they enter and thrive in the digital marketplace.
The solution benefits small businesses who want to build their own webstores without coding knowledge, use advance payment options such as e-invoicing, integrate with social media, take informed business decision using the powerful reporting module or build payments into existing websites with hosted payment or shopping cart payment plug-ins.
J. K. Khalil, Cluster General Manager, MENA East, Mastercard, said: “Small businesses play a vital role in uplifting communities and building inclusive economies. As SMEs navigate a changing digital world, it is crucial to have access to the right insights, technologies, and solutions to grow and scale. Together with MCB Bank, we are supporting Pakistan’s SME community and providing these businesses with the digital tools and resources to help them thrive.”
Shoaib Mumtaz, President & CEO at MCB Bank, said: “Our alliance with Mastercard will provide small and medium enterprises a powerful suite of business management tools to better manage the financial and administrative aspects of their enterprises. We are confident that Simplify Commerce will greatly streamline backend processes, providing MCB partner merchants the freedom to focus on what’s important, growing their businesses in the ecommerce arena. This partnership will go a long way towards empowering entrepreneurs and fostering financial inclusion, both critical drivers of sustainable economic growth.”
According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, in 2019, SMEs constitute nearly 90% of entirely private businesses and employ almost 78% of the non-agricultural labor force in Pakistan reflecting the huge potential for digitalization of these businesses to boost the nation’s economy.
The announcement builds on Mastercard’s longstanding relationship with MCB Bank and its ongoing support to SMEs in Pakistan and across the MENA region. Globally, Mastercard has pledged to connect one billion people and 50 million micro, medium and small businesses to the digital economy by 2025 – with a direct focus on 25 million women entrepreneurs.
Govt makes revisions in power tariffs and taxes on bills
In line with the governing laws, rules, and regulations of the Government of Pakistan and NEPRA, various changes have been made to the rates of electricity and tariff structure that will be effective from July and applicable nationwide including on consumers in KE’s service territory. The determination of costs of electricity to be recovered from consumers across Pakistan in their bills comes under jurisdiction of NEPRA and the Government of Pakistan.
These changes include the non-extension of relief for zero-rated industries as well as the relief on peak-hour electricity consumption for industrial consumers. The retailer tax with revised slabs has been introduced for commercial consumers. Non-Time of Use residential consumers will also see a revision in their applicable tariff along with a change in the methodology for their calculation.
Protected and Unprotected Consumers
As per SRO 1004 dated 7th July 2022, the tariff rates and slab structure for tariff of unprotected non-ToU residential consumers (i.e. consumers with sanctioned load below 5kW) has changed.
“Protected” consumers, as per tariff terms proposed by GoP under its Power Subsidy Rationalization Plan and by NEPRA as those non-ToU residential consumers with monthly electricity usage of 200 units or less, consistently for the past 6 months. All other non-ToU residential consumers fall in unprotected category.
Previously, category of unprotected consumers were provided the benefit of one previous slab in their billing (i.e. their billing was done in two slabs), which has now been removed. Consumers in the unprotected category will now only be charged on one slab in which their units fall. Accordingly, tariff rates have also been adjusted downwards to minimise impact on consumers.
Industrial Customers Bills
Industrial consumers were previously being provided a relaxation by Government of Pakistan, allowing them to utilize electricity during peak hours at the same rates as off-peak hours. That relief was allowed until June 2022 and accordingly with no further extension. Peak rates would now be applicable on industrial consumers as well.
Similarly, zero-rated (or export-oriented) industries were being provided electricity at a fixed rate of USD 9 cents/unit, which was applicable till June 2022, has now been removed. Now, these industries will be charged as per applicable tariff rates to normal industrial consumers.
In addition to the above charges, it must also be noted that routine charges under FCA will be applicable in July bills within KE’s service territory.
Retailer Tax for Commercial Consumers
Per the Government of Pakistan Finance Act 2022 applicable across the country, retailer tax on unregistered retailers have been revised and effective from 1st July 2022. For consumers on commercial tariff, a minimum fixed tax of PKR 3,000 will be charged for bills between PKR 0 and PKR 30,000. Monthly bills between PKR 30,001 and PKR 50,000 will be taxed PKR 5,000, while those with monthly bills above PKR 50,0001 will be taxed PKR 10,000.
Important to note that inactive income taxpayers will be charged twice the taxable amounts.
Further, these taxes will apply even if the consumer’s premises are not in use.
Fuel Charges Adjustments (FCA)
Unprecedented hikes in the price of furnace oil and RLNG were translating into higher costs of electricity production for utilities, and higher costs of electricity for consumers as well. Under the tariff mechanism determined by NEPRA, incremental costs of fuel are recovered from consumers in their bills via Fuel Charges Adjustments (FCA) after the regulator’s scrutiny and approval. Within the decision for FCA, regulator also states that in which month FCA is to be charged. For example, FCA of March 2022 was charged in the month of June 2022.
Accordingly, in its determination for the month of April 2022, NEPRA has allowed KE to charge PKR 5.2718 per unit for units consumed in April ’22 to be billed in the month of July 2022. Further, NEPRA has allowed the FCA for May ’22 be recovered in two parts with PKR 2.6322 per unit charged in July and the remaining PKR 6.8860 per unit in the bills of August ’22. This means customers will see two entries for FCA in their July bills i.e., FCAs for April and May, respectively.
Speaking about the changes, Spokesperson KE stated “We understand that our consumers may have a number of questions about these revisions. To assist them during this time, we have updated our website with frequently asked questions. To reiterate, these changes are introduced under the governing laws of the Government of Pakistan and the rules of the regulatory authority NEPRA and are applicable across the country.”
Daraz and Visa collaborate to impart business skills for online sellers
As part of their joint efforts to help small and micro business (SMB) owners make confident, informed decisions to grow their businesses, Leading e-commerce platform Daraz and Visa, the world leader in digital payments, have collaborated to impart practical business skills to online sellers through the Daraz University platform based off Visa’s global Practical Business Skills digital platform that delivers free educational resources covering business skills and financial literacy training.
With this collaboration, Daraz will customize Visa’s global seller education content and deploy it on the Daraz University platform where sellers can access it in Pakistan. The content will include video tutorials, PowerPoint presentations and quizzes that will cover topics like Guide to Starting a Business, Financial Basics for your Business and Business Management. Daraz is conducting comprehensive marketing to maximize the outreach of new educational content to sellers in Pakistan. The first one thousand sellers who cover the material and pass all exams will be given vouchers sponsored by Visa that will provide free shipping credit or access to Daraz packaging materials.
Non-sellers can also participate in these tutorials to earn a Visa x Daraz University certification. If these potential sellers choose to join Daraz, they will be given vouchers and dedicated sign-up support on Daraz.
Daraz University was established in 2018 with the aim to provide free education to aspiring online entrepreneurs. Currently, the portal serves over 40,000 active sellers, and each month 5,000 new vendors learn valuable business knowledge from Daraz University.
Daraz has always been at the forefront of providing entrepreneurial opportunities to people in Pakistan. In its efforts of uplifting entire communities, Daraz is exploring new ways of instilling a sense of innovation among aspiring entrepreneurs. The Company wants to play its part in reviving the country’s economy by ensuring that the youth gets quality business opportunities.
Ehsan Saya, Managing Director – Daraz Pakistan commented on the occasion: “Daraz University aims to nurture the future of e-commerce and online business. Digital entrepreneurship is the future, and we needed a platform to train our youth to match up with the world. Our collaboration with Visa proves our commitment to fostering e-commerce in Pakistan and bringing forward future business leaders. The new endeavor will open doors to new learning opportunities for young sellers. We thank Visa for their noteworthy effort that will help us prepare for future challenges of online business.”
Commenting on the recent association, Leila Serhan, SVP & General Manager Visa said: “Visa heralds the need for a digital landscape for young business owners. The financial service platform understands that e-commerce requires vast knowledge about the digital ecosystem. Our collaboration with Daraz is the first step towards empowering youth with the necessary skills for online selling. Daraz has been the forefront runner in promoting digital merchants. The partnership will help youngsters to equip with the latest entrepreneurship knowledge.”
Syed Zeeshan Ali, Director Digital Payments – Daraz, commented on the collaboration, “Daraz University was founded with a vision to cultivate the entrepreneurial generation in Pakistan by imparting critical business skills for running successful online businesses. With our collaboration with Visa, Daraz University will expand its education content and impart business management’s skills to online sellers enabling them to succeed in their businesses. Our collaboration with Visa proves our commitment to developing an ecosystem for e-commerce in Pakistan which facilitates our sellers, customers and stakeholders.”
Kamil Khan, Country Manager Visa Pakistan, also expressed their views on the recent association, “As a company that enables digital payments for millions of merchants around the world, Visa’s priority is to help small businesses in every step of the way to successfully set up their online business. Meeting consumer demands for digital-first experiences can and should be a seamless undertaking, especially when resources can be found in a single place. We are therefore delighted to partner with Daraz University to help online merchants in Pakistan gain unprecedented access to Visa experts, technology, and resources so they can launch their business swiftly “.
Pakistan should ensure political stability to avoid debt: 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 on July 18 the world is drowning in a serious debt crisis.
More than 100 developing countries are facing financial difficulties, and dozens of them may go bankrupt, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that in order to save its economy in the current alarming situation, Pakistan should ensure political stability.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that Pakistan can pay attention to agriculture which will result in import substitution of $17 billion.
He said that the failed state-run corporations are wasting Rs600 billion annually, power losses and theft is almost Rs600 billion which should be controlled and alternate energy should be promoted.
He said that many countries in Asia, Africa and South America are facing runaway inflation and trying to cope with high prices of energy and food.
These countries have borrowed a lot and damaged their forex reserves while Sri Lanka has failed to tackle the situation resulting in bankruptcy. Many other countries can face bankruptcy after Sri Lanka, he added.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that coronavirus has damaged the global economy which was followed by costly loans to continue popular policies.
The war between Russia and Ukraine has resulted in a shortage of oil, gas, food, fertilizer and hundreds of other things which have damaged the economy of weak countries.
A few months back, the World Bank said that seventy months are facing a serious crisis including some developed economies while in March UN said that 107 countries which are home to 1.7 billion people are distressed.
Presently 69 countries are facing a serious economic crisis, their economy and currency is nose-diving and they can face insolvency soon.
International institutions and rich nations should consider waiving loans and rollover debts and push developing countries to expand the tax net and discourage corruption.
The developing world should also ensure monitoring of debt to stop wastage and leakages while Pakistani leadership should ensure political stability.
Emirates and Air Canada form strategic partnership
Emirates and Air Canada announced the signing of a strategic partnership agreement that will create more options for customers when travelling on the carriers’ networks while also enhancing the customer experience throughout the journey.
Emirates and Air Canada intend to establish a codeshare relationship later in 2022 that will offer enhanced consumer travel choices for Air Canada customers to travel to the United Arab Emirates and to destinations beyond Dubai. Emirates customers will also enjoy an enhanced travel experience when travelling to Toronto or to key destinations across the Air Canada network. Customers will have the ability to book connecting travel between both airlines’ networks with the ease of a single ticket, seamless connectivity at the carriers’ respective global hubs and baggage transfers to their final destinations.
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: “This is a significant partnership that will enable our customers access to even more destinations in Canada and the Americas, via our Toronto and US gateways. It also opens up many new route combinations for travelers across Emirates’ and Air Canada’s extensive networks in the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. We are pleased to partner with Air Canada, one of North America’s most established airlines and Canada’s flag carrier and we look forward to jointly progressing on various areas to provide even better customer flight choices and experiences.”
“As we continue pursuing our strategy of expanding our global reach in response to growing opportunities in VFR markets (Visit Friends and Relatives) that serve Canada’s large multicultural communities, we are very pleased to form a strategic partnership with Emirates, a highly respected flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates with a hub in the vibrant city of Dubai. This strategic agreement will create network synergies, and Air Canada customers will have additional, convenient options when travelling between Canada and the United Arab Emirates as well as destinations beyond Dubai” said Michael Rousseau, President and Chief Executive Officer at Air Canada. “We look forward to introducing Air Canada codeshare service on key Emirates flights, as well as adding the EK code on select Air Canada flights, and welcoming Emirates customers on our services later this year.”
To further enhance the customer experience, the carriers will also establish reciprocal frequent flyer benefits and reciprocal lounge access for qualifying customers. Further details of the partnership and specific codeshare routes will be announced when finalized and will be subject to regulatory approvals and final documentation.
Standard Chartered conducts roadshow for NRPs in UAE
Standard Chartered Bank conducted a roadshow for Non-Resident Pakistanis based in the UAE. This event was brought forth with the support of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
The Standard Chartered network is a key enabler and gives the Bank a unique advantage to information, ability to create synergies and unlock potential through seamlessly delivering best products to its client base, while keeping them abreast of the latest developments. The Pakistani diaspora has always been a core segment of the Standard Chartered UAE client base and regulatory initiatives like Roshan Digital have now integrated the diaspora into Pakistan’s economy. It is their commitment to the Standard Chartered brand that allows us to be a leading bank not only in the UAE and Pakistan but in countries across the world.
The event offered a unique opportunity to the diaspora to gain insights into the growth potential of Pakistan and the various initiatives and opportunities available to them while residing abroad.
Key speakers included Governor SBP (A) Dr. Murtaza Syed, Rola Abu Manneh, CEO Standard Chartered UAE and Rehan Shaikh, CEO Standard Chartered Pakistan. A panel discussion also took place where pressing questions of clients related to the country’s current economic challenges and future outlook were addressed by Dr. Murtaza Syed and his colleagues from SBP Mr. Syed Irfan Ali and Mr. Ali Raza Syed.
Commenting at the occasion Mr. Rehan Shaikh, CEO Standard Chartered Pakistan said, “Non-resident Pakistanis continue to remain instrumental for the economic growth of our country, not only as a major source of foreign exchange sent across to their loved ones for sustenance but also a big source of investments. We are proud to facilitate these clients at both our locations.
As the oldest, largest and leading international bank in Pakistan, non-residents remain integral part of our journey. This has only been possible on the back of a very progressive and forward-looking Regulator which has championed not only structural economic reforms, but also spearheaded modernisation of the Banking industry with focus on digitisation, financial inclusion, and opening avenues for the NRPs.”
The Chief Guest Dr. Murtaza Syed, Governor SBP (A), said “Measures taken by the Government and SBP took post Covid, kept Pakistan’s economy alive and growing. We have challenges on the economic front but I am confident that things will stabilize in coming months as prudent steps are being taken to tackle the current challenge of international commodity inflation putting pressure on our forex reserves being a net importing nation. ”
As a progressive central bank, the State Bank of Pakistan continuously strives to keep pace with the rapidly evolving digital financial landscape. SBP has been harnessing technology and innovation to promote digitization of payments for efficiencies in banking and overall economy. In line with this vision, we conceptualized the idea of providing digital banking services to millions of non-resident Pakistanis who have given so much to Pakistan and now we want to return something back. The key features of Roshan Digital Account (RDA) are convenience, efficiency, lifestyle banking products, better and attractive offerings, all in a presence less environment. Currently with 14 participating banks, RDA has become a unique proposition helping NRPs conduct essential banking transactions, invest in government securities, stocks, donate to charities, and meet their financing needs for home or car. Due to efforts of all stakeholders and overwhelming response of NRPs, around 425,000 RD accounts have been opened from 175 countries with total funds inflow crossing USD 4.5 billion.
Encouraged by the success of digital initiatives like RDA, we are endeavouring to position ourselves in the new era of digitation not only as a regulator but also as an enabler of the financial sector, where both our NRPs and resident Pakistanis can have full control of their finances in Pakistan and that too from the comfort of their homes”
In a time marked with political and economic change, Standard Chartered firmly believes that Pakistan has a good economic story to tell. It was an honour for the Standard Chartered franchise to arrange an opportunity for its clients to listen to first-hand views from the esteemed SBP Panel.
Khushhali Microfinance bank provides house-loans worth Rs.10.9b to 17,800 customers
Khushhali Microfinance Bank Limited (KMBL) is a winner of Pakistan’s ‘Best Microfinance Bank Award’, with a vision for sustainable development, through professional excellence. In 2018, it pioneered the Khushhali Home Plus loans facility, offering up to Rs one million for the low-income individuals, who need affordable housing finance for the renovation and improvement of existing houses. This facility has already provided loans worth Rs 8 billion, to more than 15,900 low-income individuals, to date, to accelerate socio-economic growth all over Pakistan.
The Government’s Markup- Subsidy Scheme introduced in July 2021, has further enriched KMBL’s high-ticket house-loan scheme to expand and enrich the bank’s portfolio. The Khushhali Apna Makaan (KAM) under the Government’s Subsidized Scheme has approved a total amount of over Rs 3 billion. It has serviced 1,400 rural-area individuals, by disbursing a cumulative amount of over Rs 01.8 billion, while the total approved amount for this segment is Rs 2.2 billion. Among these, more than 294 were female clients, who have been granted cumulative loans of Rs 409 million, while the total amount approved for the female segment to date is Rs 510 million.
The overall Housing Portfolio of KMBL comprises 17,800 Low-Income individuals, who have been serviced by disbursing a cumulative amount of Rs 10.9 billion, while the total amount approved for this portfolio is over Rs 11 billion. More than 13,000 rural area customers have been serviced so far, by disbursing Rs 8 billion. A total of 2,515 female clients have been serviced in this portfolio by providing loans worth Rs 1.6 billion.
The President and CEO of KMBL – Mr. Ghalib Nishtar stated that: “The overwhelming success of the ‘Apna Makaan’ House-Loan facility reflects the customer-centric approach and the resourceful performance of Khushhali Microfinance Bank. Improving the quality of accommodation to elevate the standard of living for the deprived masses is one of our key strategic objectives. This endeavor is also in sync with the bank’s inspirational Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, aimed at improving: Financial-inclusion, poverty alleviation, empowerment, public health, education, and environmental protection.”
U Microfinance Bank Enters into Strategic Partnership with TPL Corp Limited
President & CEO U Microfinance Bank Limited (U Bank) Mr. Kabeer Naqvi and Mr. Ali Jameel, CEO, TPL Corp Limited, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of a strategic partnership to promote a synergic partnership between the two organizations.
This strategic partnership will create a platform for strengthening the capability of organizations to provide a comprehensive range of tailor-made solutions for the U Bank’s customer base.
Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Kabeer Naqvi, President & CEO, U Bank said: “We are pleased to partner with TPL to facilitate U Bank to expand the outreach and combine our strengths to create innovative products for our last mile customers. This alliance will contribute towards digitalization and customer care, offering an eco-system of products and solutions to U Bank clients. This coalition aims to explore new avenues of business to generate more benefits and accelerate business growth. He further added this partnership will go a long way in providing innovative solutions to the consumer segments that seek quality financial security for themselves and their close ones”
The synergy will pave the way toward promoting financial inclusion in the country.
Mr. Ali Jameel, CEO, TPL Corp Limited, commented: “This partnership demonstrates our commitment to constantly innovate and provide seamless access to insurance products in Pakistan. We at TPL strive to lead in InsurTech and cater to Pakistan’s Life, Health, and General insurance needs by offering cutting-edge Insurance solutions.”
The ceremony was held at TPL Corp Head Office and was witnessed by the senior management of both institutions including Mr. Saad Nissar, CEO, TPL Life, Mr. Muhammad Aminuddin, CEO, TPL Insurance, Mr. Ali Zaidi, Chief Operating Officer, TPL Insurance, Mr. Kazim Hasan, Deputy Managing Director, TPL Life, Mr. Humayoon Asghar, Chief Strategy & Retail Officer, TPL Life, Ms. Mariam Pervaiz, Chief Commercial Officer & Chief of Staff, U Bank, Mr. Farooq Kamran, Chief Corporate & Investment Banking, U Bank, and Mr. Mohsin Aslam, Head Budgeting Planning & Corporate Finance, U Bank.
Emirates statement on operations at London Heathrow
Emirates values our partnerships with airport stakeholders across our network with whom we engage continuously, and collaboratively, to secure our flight operations and ensure minimal customer disruption, particularly over the peak travel months.
It is therefore highly regrettable that LHR last evening gave us 36 hours to comply with capacity cuts, of a figure that appears to be plucked from thin air. Their communications not only dictated the specific flights on which we should throw out paying passengers, but also threatened legal action for non-compliance.
This is entirely unreasonable and unacceptable, and we reject these demands.
At London Heathrow airport (LHR), our ground handling and catering – run by dnata, part of the Emirates Group – are fully ready and capable of handling our flights. So the crux of the issue lies with the central services and systems which are the responsibility of the airport operator.
Emirates is a key and steadfast operator at LHR, having reinstated 6 daily A380 flights since October 2021. From our past 10 months of regularly high seat loads, our operational requirements cannot be a surprise to the airport.
Now, with blatant disregard for consumers, they wish to force Emirates to deny seats to tens of thousands of travellers who have paid for, and booked months ahead, their long-awaited package holidays or trips to see their loved ones. And this, during the super peak period with the upcoming UK holidays, and at a time when many people are desperate to travel after 2 years of pandemic restrictions.
Emirates believes in doing the right thing by our customers. However, re-booking the sheer numbers of potentially impacted passengers is impossible with all flights running full for the next weeks, including at other London airports and on other airlines. Adding to the complexity, 70% of our customers from LHR are headed beyond Dubai to see loved ones in far flung destinations, and it will be impossible to find them new onward connections at short notice.
Moving some of our passenger operations to other UK airports at such short notice is also not realistic. Ensuring ground readiness to handle and turnaround a widebody long-haul aircraft with 500 passengers onboard is not as simple as finding a parking spot at a mall.
The bottomline is, the LHR management team are cavalier about travellers and their airline customers. All the signals of a strong travel rebound were there, and for months, Emirates has been publicly vocal about the matter. We planned ahead to get to a state of readiness to serve customers and travel demand, including rehiring and training 1,000 A380 pilots in the past year.
LHR chose not to act, not to plan, not to invest. Now faced with an “airmageddon” situation due to their incompetence and non-action, they are pushing the entire burden – of costs and the scramble to sort the mess – to airlines and travellers.
The shareholders of London Heathrow should scrutinise the decisions of the LHR management team.
Given the tremendous value that the aviation community generates for the UK economy and communities, we welcome the action taken by the UK Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority to seek information from LHR on their response plans, systems resilience, and to explain the seemingly arbitrary cap of 100,000 daily passengers. Considering LHR handled 80.9 million passengers annually in 2019, or a daily average of 219,000, the cap represents greater than a 50% cut at a time when LHR claims to have 70% of ground handling resources in place.
Until further notice, Emirates plans to operate as scheduled to and from LHR.
China, Pakistan hold largest tech forum in Beijing
- Over 4,500 Chinese firms and govt representatives join China-Pakistan Technology Investment Conference
- Multi spectral cooperation, investment in technology sector explored
The Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA), Cabinet Division, Government of Pakistan, the Pakistan’s Embassy in Beijing, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Zhongguancun Belt and Road Industrial Promotion Association (ZBRA) of People’s Republic of China, jointly organized the first ever China-Pakistan Technology Investment Conference (CPTIC) virtually. More than 4500 representatives of the Chinese technology ecosystem, including science and technology parks, high tech production enterprises, technology companies, investment organizations, research and development centers, Chinese state-owned infrastructure companies, and Chinese agencies of national, provincial, and municipal governments attended the conference.
The conference can probably be termed as one of the biggest ever forum held between Pakistan and China in terms of participation from Chinese companies. STZA aims to create new linkages with the technology sector in China and pave way for the Pakistani and Chinese technology players to cooperate in the field of technology, and attract Chinese investments, knowledge and technology capabilities through ensuring world-class customer experience and ease of doing business for their operations in Pakistan’s Special Technology Zones (STZs).
The Honourable Ambassador of Pakistan to the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Mr Moin ul Haque opened the forum by welcoming the Chinese representatives. Acknowledging the strong diplomatic ties between the two nations, the Honorable informed the participants that joint working groups with the Ministry of Science and Technology, and Ministry of Information and Technology, have been established under the CPEC framework. He recognized China as a global leader in the technology industry and stated that both countries have many avenues to cooperate in the field of technology sector. The Ambassador appreciated the role of Chairman STZA and his able team in enabling the technology ecosystem in Pakistan and create effective linkages with Chinese technology companies.
Mr Amer Hashmi, the Chairman of STZA stated that China is a leading partner in developing the knowledge ecosystem in Pakistan, revealing that STZA had set up a dedicated China desk to help Chinese technology companies and large-scale enterprises investing in Pakistan’s STZs. The STZs are being developed under the Triple Helix Model of Innovation, bringing together the Government, Industry and Academia to remove barriers and create ease of doing business for domestic and foreign technology sector companies. He thanked the Ambassador of Pakistan to the People’s Republic of China for facilitating the virtual conference and pledged his resolute support for the Chinese technology investors.
The conference was also facilitated by the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, which was represented by Mr Cao Zhouhua, the First Secretary of Science and Technology. He said that both sides are exploring multi spectral cooperation in the technology sector including, knowledge sharing, zone development, research, policy development, joint training of professionals, and management of STZs as per international benchmarks.
Director of Strategic Planning at STZA, Hamza Saeed Orakzai, who also heads the China desk at STZA, gave a detailed presentation to the representatives including the tax incentives, regulatory support and one window facilitation for the perspective Chinese technology investors. He highlighted several large-scale Chinese tech companies that are already in the application process. He further explained that the STZs are planned under the purview of sustainable development goals and hence purposefully designed to be eco-friendly. He said that STZA has already notified STZs in Islamabad, Lahore and Haripur, while more STZs in Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir were in the pipeline under the national roll-out plan.
Mr Zhang Xiodong the President of ZBRA stated that due to the technology boom in China, the taxation revenue increased by 2000 times over the last 30 years. He called for the integration of Chinese and Pakistani Universities for joint R&D to enable and support the China – Pakistan Innovation Centre in China and said that ZBRA and STZA under a partnership are exploring avenues of cooperation for the development of STZs in Pakistan.
Mr Javaid Iqbal, the Chief Commercial Officer of STZA urged Chinese technology sector companies, investors and large-scale enterprises to engage in strategic conversation with STZA to explore future opportunities, stating that Pakistan’s demographic advantage stood for a unique investment base for Chinese technology companies and research organizations, and both countries could enormously benefit by working together in R&D, especially in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud and quantum computing, semiconductors, internet of things and smart devices design and manufacturing.
The STZA remains committed to job creation, technology transfer and human capital development in Pakistan with a special focus on youth entrepreneurship and innovation. Through its international partnerships and agreements, STZA aims to create a technology-driven knowledge economy in Pakistan to diversify economic indicators and create a new engine for rapid economic growth in the country.
Software for digital population and housing census 2022 inaugurated
Secretary Planning, Syed Zafar Ali Shah inaugurated the software of 7th Population and Housing Census, 2022, as Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) is planning for first ever digital population and housing census. During his visit to PBS, Secretary (PD & SI) was also briefed about Data Dissemination Dashboards specially, Price Information Management System (PIMS). The listing and enumeration applications of 7th Population and Housing Census, 2022 were also displayed to the Secretary (PD & SI).
Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Secretary PD & SI, while addressing to PBS Staff, emphasized that a good leadership, efficient team and vigilance at operating level can be beneficial for an organization’s development. Then he requested for a quick round of introduction with the PBS team present at the occasion.
Chief Statistician, Dr. Naeem uz Zafar, welcomed secretary on behalf of PBS staff. He further appraised him that data collection exercise for pilot census has been started by PBS field staff for testing the tools, mechanism and field operation. Through this exercise PBS will be able to point out and rectify all minor and major issues regarding software and field execution plan before undergoing full roll out. He informed that the meeting is conducted to present a brief of two important activities i.e. population and housing census and national accounts and requested relevant Members for presentations in their areas.
Muhammad Sarwar Gondal, Member (RM/SS) in his presentation on 7th Digital Population and Housing Census, informed that with the approval of results of 6th Population and Housing Census by Council of Common interest (CCI), it was advised to conduct next census immediately by using latest tools and technologies and following world’s best practices. It was also recommended that for wider acceptability of census results, all the stakeholders must be part of census process from planning till finalization and dissemination of results through an effective communication strategy.
A census monitoring committee comprising of important provincial functionaries, researchers and demographers was constituted to monitor all activities of population census. Geo tagging, data collection and listing software, standardized concepts of field force through extensive trainings and real time monitoring are the innovations recommended by the Census Monitoring Committee for reliability, acceptability and reducing time between field operation and results announcements.
Syed Ejaz Ali Shah Wasti, Member National Accounts, gave an overview of system of national accounts, prices, macroeconomic statistics, PSDP projects and compilation of national accounts. He further discussed with National Price Monitoring Committee, its composition and functions. The methodologies of different activities and future milestones were also discussed.
UN statistical system, World Bank policies and IMF guidelines were discussed in the scenario of Pakistan. He also threw light on gross value addition regional comparison in rebasing and rebasing interval.
Secretary, PD & SI, Syed Zafar Ali Shah, appreciated the efforts of leadership and supporting officers of PBS and showed keen interest in both fields. He said that both the activities i.e. population census and national accounts are crucial for policymaking and planning. Further, he showed satisfaction over the preparations of PBS for upcoming 7th Population and Housing Census. He directed to strictly follow the timelines so that as per decision of CCI next general elections may be conducted on upcoming census. In the end, he said that reliable data leads to correct policy making therefore, being a data provider the role of PBS is very important in development of country.