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Million Women Mentors Initiative
US-Pakistan Women’s Council and S&P Global successfully mentor 12,000 women

S&P Global Pakistan (S&P Global) has successfully mentored more than 12,000 women as part of its pledge to mentor 20,000 under the US-Pakistan Women’s Council’s (USPWC) Pakistan Million Women Mentors (PMWM) Initiative.

The company announced this milestone during an event co-hosted by the US-Pakistan Women’s Council and S&P Global commemorating Global Entrepreneurship Month that featured S&P Global employee mentors, women mentees, and civil society partners. US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome provided opening remarks.

Launched in 2020, PMWM is a movement led by USPWC member, Pod to connect one million women and girls in Pakistan to mentors. S&P Global was the first USPWC member to support the initiative, pledging in March 2019 to reach 20,000 women and girls to advance women’s participation and leadership in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. In his remarks at the event, U.S. Ambassador Blome said, “Mentorship is critical to fostering the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs, and the Council’s Pakistan Million Women Mentors initiative is playing an important role by helping to encourage, inspire, and support future women entrepreneurs and leaders in STEM in Pakistan.

Corporations in Pakistan and the United States have pledged to mentor more than 40,000 women so far, and we hope to continue growing this number. S&P’s commitment to mentor 20,0000 women was critical to catalyzing other companies to step forward in both Pakistan and the United States.”

S&P Global partnered with leading non-profits to reach women across Pakistan including USPWC member the Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE), and the Society for International Education (SIE), She Means Work (SMW), Epiphany, xCircle and CaterpillHers. These organizations conducted outreach and assessed the mentoring needs of the diverse profiles of girls and women across all regions of Pakistan. Collectively, the program’s community partners have helped connect thousands of mentees to S&P Global Pakistan employees who serve as mentors.

Speaking at the event, S&P Global Pakistan Managing Director Mujeeb Zahur thanked the mentors for the work they have done to date. “I am immensely proud of our employee volunteers who have shown how we can all inspire positive change. Their dedication has ensured that the organization remains on track in fulfilling its pledge. S&P Global will continue to take charge of progressive workplace policies in Pakistan and work with leading organizations to enhance women’s economic participation and impact.”

More than 150 S&P Global mentors have so far delivered 190+ sessions on STEM and other diverse topics to over 12,000 women through PMWM. The initiative provided critical support to women during COVID-19 fostering Pakistani women’s economic resilience by virtually connecting women entrepreneurs and women in the workforce from diverse social, linguistic, and academic backgrounds with a network and critical tools to build their capacity.

The company’s participation in the USPWC and program is a part of its commitment towards diversity, equity, and inclusion, and aligns with its worldwide #ChangePays campaign, which provides research on the benefits of increased female participation for the capital markets and the world economy.

A.P. Moller – Maersk opens doors to 560,000 sq. ft. Integrated Logistics Park at Port Qasim in Pakistan

With its six purpose-built sheds, the new facility makes Maersk the country’s largest logistics and warehousing provider, with a total footprint of more than 1.3 million sq. ft. across seven cities.

A.P. Moller – Maersk (Maersk), the integrated logistics company, inaugurated its new Integrated Logistics Park at Port Qasim in Pakistan today. Present at the inauguration were His Excellency Jakob Linulf, the Danish Ambassador to Pakistan, Honorable Chairman Port Qasim, Rear Admiral (R) Syed Hasan Nasir Shah HI(M), Hasan Faraz, Managing Director, Maersk Pakistan, the leadership team at Maersk Pakistan and leaders from the top businesses in Pakistan.

The Covid-19 pandemic impacted economies worldwide brought most lives to a standstill and disrupted the global supply chains. However, goods did not stop moving around the world and all the essentials required to battle the pandemic kept moving. This was possible because shipping and logistics companies showed immense resilience in their operations amidst the most challenging times. Ships kept sailing, ports stayed operational, warehouses remained open, and cargo kept moving despite international borders getting closed.

During this time, Maersk’s integrated logistics solutions created maximum value for importers and exporters. Maersk’s end-to-end solutions ensured customers’ cargo kept moving. The warehousing facilities especially strengthened Maersk’s position by being able to store goods that were in lower demand and slowed down supply chains when needed. This garnered a lot of confidence in the customers’ minds about Maersk’s resilience, commitment and ability to react quickly and appropriately to the changing behaviour of the end consumers.

Building on this background, Maersk Pakistan took the bold decision to invest in an Integrated Logistics Park that would act as a warehouse, including a consolidation & fulfilment centre and cold storage, at Port Qasim. Maersk Pakistan went on from acquiring a 26-acre land parcel to carefully designing and constructing a six-shed facility spread over 560,000 sq. ft. that will answer all the requirements of its customers through a single location. This facility will cater to storage requirements of cargo from retail & lifestyle, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), automotive and technology sectors. Located within Port Qasim, the Integrated Logistics Park will be the perfect warehouse destination for customers to manage their import and export cargo with the least time delays while connecting to and from vessels.

The Maersk Integrated Logistics Park will come equipped with modern Warehouse Management Systems. With Maersk taking care of the movement of cargo – ocean transportation on one side and landside transportation on the other side of the warehouse – customers will experience lesser handovers of their cargo, leading to higher efficiencies, faster turnaround times, deeper visibility and better control over the cargo movement. All of this will result in better predictability of supply chains.

Hasan Faraz, Managing Director, Maersk Pakistan, commented during the inauguration of the facility, “At Maersk, our purpose is to improve life for all by integrating the world. With our state-of-the-art Integrated Logistics Park, we want to ensure that we play an important role in connecting and simplifying the supply chains for importers, exporters and traders of Pakistan.” He added, “I am proud of this major investment in Pakistan and is a critical building block in the logistics infrastructure. It is also apt to recognise the unwavering support our customers have extended, with whom we could have meaningful conversations that helped us design a solution that creates value in their supply chains.”

His Excellency Jakob Linulf, the Danish Ambassador to Pakistan, said, “Pakistan has incredible potential to grow, and there are enough opportunities for trade to flourish here. Despite the various current challenges, Maersk has played an important role as a trusted partner for Pakistan’s traders.” He added, “Maersk’s commitment to invest in a large facility such as the one inaugurated today in Port Qasim speaks volumes of the potential that is out there to be harnessed.”

11TH Global Islamic Microfinance forum successfully concluded in Dubai

The 11th Global Islamic Microfinance Forum was successfully concluded at Metropolitan Hotel Dubai, UAE under the patronage of AAOIFI Bahrain. The purpose of that forum was to promote, strengthen and unite the organizations of Islamic microfinance (IsMF) with the theme of financial Inclusion, outreach strategies & innovations.

Eminent speakers and industry professionals from well serving organizations related to Microfinance, Islamic microfinance, micro insurance and NGOs participated in the event. The aim of the forum was to discuss the financial Inclusion, outreach strategies & innovations by gathering stakeholders under one roof. The forum was organized by AlHuda Centre of Islamic Banking and Economics in association with Pakistan Microfinance Network and IMFN-International Islamic Microfinance Network and Wings Media.

The event is sponsored by Akhuwat Pakistan, Bank of Punjab, Innovation Biscuits Pakistan, and PPCBL Pakistan. The event supporters include Association of Microfinance Organizations of Tajikistan (AMFOT), MicroLab Association, Association of Microfinance Institutions in Rwanda (AMIR), Fintech Association of Nigeria, Nigerian Microfinance Platform, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, National Association of Microfinance Banks. The event media partners include Financial IT, Islamic Finance, MicroCapital, IFING MEDIA, and WebTV.

AlHuda arranged an impressive lineup of speakers from different countries with the revealing sessions on the subject matter to explore more options for Islamic Microfinance industry. Dr. Amjad Saqib, Founder of Akhuwat Pakistan inaugurated the forum by saying that Islamic microfinance is the need of the time and this can be used as a weapon for the poverty alleviation. He further explained how Akhuwat model and different products are playing its role to alleviate the poverty in Pakistan.

He also appreciated the efforts of AlHuda Centre of Islamic Banking and Economics. Dr Amjad Saqib, highlighted the ways of poverty alleviation through Qard Hassan in Islamic microfinance through which Akhuwat is providing small loans to more than 5 lac people across Pakistan. The services of Akhuwat, Pakistan is not only limited to Pakistan rather in other countries of the world. The research on Akhuwat Model in different universities of the world is the best example of it. He further added that poverty is a world phenomenon and mostly growing in the Muslim countries. It is recommended that we chalk an international strategy to alleviate poverty from Muslim world through the means which could be near to the Islamic traditions and religious norms and Islamic microfinance is the best solution of that.

Addressing to the inaugural session, the Guest of Honors of the Ceremony were Mr. Atty. Ubaida C. Pacasem, CPA Minister – Ministry of Finance, and Budget and Management Member of the Parliament – Bangsamoro Transition Authority, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Philippines, Mr. Atty. Paisalin Tago, CPA Minister, Minister of Transportation and Communications, Republic of the Philippines, H.E. Edouard Bizumuremyi, Minister Counsellor, General Consulate of the Republic of Rwanda, UAE, and Mr. Syed Mohsin Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer, Pakistan Microfinance Network, Pakistan said: Islamic Microfinance should be utilize as system of poverty alleviation 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”

Addressing to the audience, the organizer of 11th Global Islamic Microfinance Forum, Mr. Muhammad Zubair Mughal, Chief Executive Officer, 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 benefit of this micro-financing. He added that in Muslim world, poverty is rapidly increasing to its dangerous level. The main reason of 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 over looked in such a way then there are no chances United Nations Organization meets the Millennium development Goal.

By addressing the session on “Global Development and Future Potential of Islamic Microfinance”, Mr. Pervez Nasim Chairman & CEO, Ansar Financial & Development Corporation – Canada, discussed about Key Concepts of Islamic Financing and Interest-Free Home Ownership Program, Prof. Dr. Azmi Omar President & Chief Executive Officer, International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF), Malaysia, discussed about Research based innovation for Islamic Microfinance Industry, Mr. Sadaqat Ullah Khan Senior Executive Vice President & Head of Sharia Advisory, Audit, Compliance, & Execution, AlHuda CIBE FZ LLE – UAE, discussed about Islamic Shariah Framework of Ijarah and its global applications in IFIs.

The Session on “Islamic Microfinance and Economic Growth” was addressed by Mufti Aziz Ur Rahman A Shariah Scholar and Consultant- Dubai UAE, discussed about Shariah Aspects of Islamic Microfinance, Mr. Muhammad Zubair Managing Director, AlHuda CIBE FZ LLE – UAE, discussed about Global Development of Islamic Microfinance and Ustaz Mohd Nazri Chik Group Chief Financial Inclusion Officer, Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad, Malaysia, discussed about Development of Islamic Social Finance within Banking Industry in Malaysia.

Further, the power table on “Qarz-a-Hasan Model of Islamic Microfinance” was presented by Dr. Muhammad Amjad Saqib Founder, Akhuwat, Pakistan, Dr. Kamran Shams Chief Executive Officer, Akhuwat, Pakistan, Mr. Abu Bakr Akhuwat, Pakistan, and Mr. Agha Nabeel Khan Chief Executive Officer, Wings Media (Pvt.) Limited, Pakistan.

The emerging field of fintech and financial inclusion was discussed by Mr. Muhammad Ashfaq Ur Rehman Chief Executive Officer, Finmaal, UAE, who discussed about FinTech, the growth of Islamic Microfinance, Mr. Konstantin Vasilev Company Management, Global Bond Data FZE – UAE, who discussed about Sukuk market opportunities and trends Sheikh Muhammad Noman W3DNA/ Mortgage Hub, who discussed about Investment Development for everyone.

The least addressed topic of “Micro Takaful, Waqaf & Zakat – Supportive Elements for Islamic Microfinance” was discussed by Professor Dr. M. Kabir Hassan, University of New Orleans – USA. on Islamic Finance and Financial Inclusion, Mr. Dato Abu Ubaidah Kemin Founder/President, Waqafa International Sdn. Bhd/BankWaqf International, Malaysia, on The Significance of Waqf for Economic Development and Mrs. Fatin Al Zadjali Head – Learning and Development at Bank Dhofar, Oman on Sustainability Business Model for SMEs

The panel discussion on “Development of Islamic Microfinance” was held by Mr. Muhammad Ashfaq-Ur-Rehman Chief Executive Officer, Finmaal, UAE, Dr. Haroon Khan Finance Professor/Discipline Leader Accounting and Finance, University of Wollongong, Dubai-UAE, Ms. Yusra Ramzan Chughtai Regional Coordinator-West Africa, AlHuda CIBE, Pakistan, Mr. Ather Khalil Blockchain Lead – MateSol Research Analyst – University of Sharjah, Mr. Khurram Z. Chishti, FRM Group SCO – Habib Bank AG Zurich, UAE, Mr. Conde Sekow Mohamed Rural Credit of Guinea , Guinea.

Furthermore, Mr. Corrado Ferretti President, Association MicroLab – Italy, Dr. Mohammed R. Kroessin, Head of Islamic Microfinance and Dr. Akmal Ataullah, Advisor – Technology & Strategy, XYPHER, UAE participated the session on “Outreach, Challenges & Opportunities” and addressed the topics on Role of European Association of Microfinance in Microfinance Industry, Challenges and view of the future Islamic Microfinance and Inclusion and Impact of Technology in Islamic Microfinance respectively.

The Forum is followed by Two Days “Post Event Workshop on Practical Aspects of Islamic Micro, Agriculture & Rural Finance and Exposure Visit” dated for November 23-24, 2022. This Workshop covered a variety of allied topics. To learn more please visit:

Govt must close unnecessary departments to save country from bankruptcy: 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 November 14 said the government should reduce its expenses and close unnecessary departments and ministries to save the country from bankruptcy.

The government should also close down loss-making entities resulting in losses to the tune of trillions of rupees, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that 5.6% of the current expenditure is being spent on running the government alone, while for every one hundred rupees spent, fifty-two rupees are being spent on debt repayments, which is enough to bankrupt the country.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the energy import bill has become a big problem for the government, the solution of which is foreign and private investment in this sector because the government companies have failed to maintain or increase production.

He said that from July to September 2022, the current expenditure of the central government was 1.832 trillion rupees, out of which 954 trillion rupees was spent on the repayment of local and foreign loans.

This situation is weakening the economy and the rupee while the government has no option but to borrow to improve matters and there is no hope of improvement in production, exports, remittances, and investments.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that as resources dwindle, the government will have to take loans at high interest, an example of which is the recent loan of five hundred million dollars from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank on five percent interest.

From July to September 2022, fifty-two percent of the amount was spent on debt servicing, seventeen percent was spent on defense expenditure, 9.3 percent was spent on pensions of government employees, 5.6 percent on running the government, five percent on subsidies, and 10 .9% was spent on grants, while during this time not a single rupee was obtained from the sale of failed government institutions.

The government spends Rs 900 billion rupees per year, i.e. four billion dollars to keep failed entities alive artificially.

Similarly, losses of 600 billion rupees per year, i.e. three billion dollars, continue in the electricity sector.

In these circumstances, the resources for development purposes are constantly decreasing, which is causing economic, political, and social problems in the country and if the government does not make fundamental changes in policies, the country will again soon come close to bankruptcy and once again the country will have to be temporarily saved by taking loans.

Soneri Bank employees hold tree plantation drive at turtle beach

Marketing and Green Banking Departments organized a plantation drive for Soneri Bank employees in collaboration with WWF Pakistan. 130 employees participated in a Green Banking workshop and a mangrove plantation drive at Turtle Beach Karachi followed by lunch and a group activity session.

The initiative brought together Soneri Bank employees from various units and engaged them in taking steps to improve the environment through volunteer tree plantation. It also provided an educational experience along with the opportunity to do something positive for the local community in an open, friendly environment which has a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. Mr. Shahrukh Alam, Head of Operational Risk and Green Banking stated “We strive to mitigate the decreasing forest-cover, strengthen communities that are dependent on natural resources, and also brace Pakistan against environmental deterioration.”

Through such activities Soneri Bank continues its vision to contribute towards a greener and cleaner Pakistan for ourselves, for the people of Pakistan, and the upcoming generations.

Roshan Har Qadam!

Amir S. Chinoy Foundation pledges to support Dawn Relief Rehabilitation efforts for the flood victims

The Amir S. Chinoy Foundation (ASCF) is associated with the Amir S. Chinoy Group which comprises of three publicly listed companies; International Steels Limited (ISL), International Industries Limited (IIL) and Pakistan Cables Limited.

International Steels Limited’s partner Cargill has also pledged to support Dawn Relief along with ASCF. Together ASCF and Cargill have committed to rebuilding over 90 homes in villages devastated by the floods, starting with Bajara Sindh.

“With the devastation caused by the floods and winter approaching, it has now become critical to provide permanent shelter to communities as we transition from emergency relief to resettlement,” said Samir M. Chinoy, Chairman ASCF. “ASCF and Cargill are proud to support Dawn Relief’s rehabilitation efforts, considering the organization’s credible record in disaster management,”

In the immediate aftermath of the devastating floods, the ASC Foundation contributed towards immediate flood relief efforts through various other non-profits. The funds helped provide food, comfort kits and other relief supplies to families and individuals impacted by the floods in Sindh.

Economy at critical crossroads, says 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 said on November 16 Pakistan’s economy is at a critical crossroads.

At this critical juncture, Pakistan cannot afford to annoy the IMF or any other international institution.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that violations of the agreement with the IMF should be stopped otherwise Pakistan will have to pay a heavy price.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that if the agreement made with the IMF is not respected, the arrival of its staff mission will be further delayed, which will have a negative impact on the economy.

He said that the IMF has objected to some of the government’s measures because it will reduce income and increase expenditure, but the government is adamant about implementing these measures, which has led to problems.

The IMF believes that in the future the income of the government will be less and the expenditure will increase, so responsibility should be shown in this regard so that the IMF’s ninth review can be started.

Mian Zahid Hussain further said that if the IMF staff is not satisfied with the performance of the government, the executive board of the international organization may take tough decisions, while the possibility of getting any concession from this organization in the near future may end.

If this happens, the attitude of other institutions and countries may also change, which will affect the restoration of infrastructure and people affected by floods.

He noted that nine million people are going below the poverty line due to the floods, which requires resources for rehabilitation, for which loans are essential.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that due to the sit-in in the country a few years ago, the important visit of the Chinese President was delayed for a year, which delayed the investment of 65 billion dollars, while now due to the ongoing political instability in the country, the visit of Saudi Crown Prince has been delayed due to which the total package of 17 billion dollars has been delayed which is unfortunate.

Political instability along with our breach of promises has also played a role in the delay in the visit of the IMF mission, he said.

Medicines by Bestway Group arrives from UK to help needy flood victims

Over 20 tonnes of vital medicines, have left the UK heading for Pakistan where it will be distributed to victims of the recent flooding disaster and resulting humanitarian disaster.

The medicines, donated by Bestway Group are being flown to Islamabad by Virgin Atlantic Cargo who is transporting the medication.

The medicines landed on the ground on 24th November 2022, to help the 3.2 million people who have lost their homes & livelihoods and been displaced by the flooding which left more than a third of the country under water, and damaged more than 4 million acres of crops. Ongoing heavy rains are continuing to complicate rescue and recovery efforts and disease has been widespread as the humanitarian disaster increases.

Bestway Group is one of the largest privately owned businesses in the UK and the leading overseas investor in Pakistan. Haider Choudrey, Chief Financial Officer of Bestway Group, said: “Our teams are on the ground in Pakistan and are seeing first-hand how desperately these medicines are needed to help combat disease that has taken hold where fresh water supplies have been destroyed and families have lost their homes along with everything they own. We would like to thank the team at Virgin Atlantic Cargo who has helped us make this happen and are transporting what is a sizeable cargo of medicines out to where it is needed the most.”

Virgin Atlantic Cargo is one of the leading players in the global cargo industry and played a vital role in the airline’s survival following the Covid-19 pandemic, keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential goods around the world. On 21st March 2020, the first ever cargo only flight in Virgin Atlantic’s history took to the skies and over the next 12 months, the airline’s cargo business went from strength to strength operating over 5,000 cargo only sectors, launching 12 new routes as well as carrying over 8.5 million kilos of PPE and essential equipment for the NHS.

Now, the airline’s essential assistance will facilitate the delivery of the much-needed aid to the most vulnerable with the onset of the winter season in Pakistan.

Virgin Atlantic has dedicated special climate control vehicles for the collection and delivery of the medicines to its cargo handling facility at London Heathrow. Phil Wardlaw, Managing Director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo said: “We are deeply saddened by the humanitarian disaster that has unfolded in Pakistan following the recent flooding. We are so grateful to have been able to partner with The Bestway Foundation and Well Pharmacy to ensure these important medicines reach those in need and will continue to use our business as a force for good in these devastating times.”

Bestway Group continues the efforts of its Pakistan Flood Relief Appeal, for which it has raised over $2.5 million. Through its charitable arm, Bestway Foundation, it is overseeing the distribution of ration bags, blankets, mosquito nets and water filtration units to over 20,000 families in the worst affected areas of southern Pakistan provinces of Baluchistan and Sindh.

The Bestway Foundation has donated more than $46 million to notable causes since its formation in 1987. It operates in the UK and in Pakistan and is focused predominantly in the areas of education and healthcare as having the great impact on social mobility and advancement.

U Microfinance bank receives commercial license for extending nationwide Islamic banking services

U Microfinance Bank (U Bank), Pakistan’s fastest-growing microfinance bank, has received the commercial license for launching full-scale Islamic Banking services across Pakistan.

U Bank commenced its pilot Islamic Banking operations earlier this year, starting with five branches, and later on extended it further across the country to include cities of Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Gujranwala, Sahiwal, and many more. After its promising performance, U Bank has now received the license from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to commercially launch its Islamic Banking branches across Pakistan.

Speaking on this remarkable new feat, Mr. Kabeer Naqvi, President & CEO – U Microfinance Bank stated, “I am glad to announce that we are now spearheading Islamic Banking in the microfinance ecosystem in Pakistan. This is a landmark achievement for the microfinance industry in general and U Bank in particular. This step will enable the bank to further the agenda of financial inclusion by catering to the Shariah-based banking needs of the people. There is a huge unmet demand for Shariah-based banking services and U Bank is looking forward to playing a significant role in bridging this gap. This is just the beginning – with continued support from the SBP, we will be penetrating further into Pakistan, bringing us closer to our ambition of bringing the unbanked population into the banking net and serving all segments of the society.”

U Bank Islamic Banking provides a full suite of tailor-made, Shariah-compliant financial solutions to its customers. Its product offerings include financing facilities against housing, business, and agricultural needs of up to PKR 3 million, along with Current, Savings, and Term Deposit account services.

Improving ways for maternal nutrition

Healthcare professionals in both the public and private health system play key role in reaching, engaging, and influencing women and their gate keepers -husbands, mothers-in-law, on essential health and nutrition actions, said Dr. Asif Niazi, Deputy Director IRMNCH &Nutrition Program Punjab during a technical session “Role of healthcare providers and frontline health workers for improving maternal nutrition”, organized by Nutrition International at the 5th PMS Biennial Conference by Pakistan Medical Association held on November 11-13.

Addressing at the event, Dr Sher Shah Syed, President-Pakistan National Forum on Women’s Health shared that Pakistani Women of Reproductive Age (WRA) bear the triple burden of malnutrition – undernutrition, overweight/obesity and micronutrient deficiencies, . Inadequate nutrition particularly during pregnancy can have a range of adverse effects on the health and wellbeing of both the mother and the child – maternal mortality, pre term birth, baby low birthweight, stunting, wasting etc.

Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Irshad Dansih, Senior Advocacy Advisor, Nutrition International stated that healthcare professionals including frontline health workers, can play essential role to educate and counsel pregnant women for making informed decisions during their pregnancy.

Sharing Nutrition International commitment to improved maternal and child nutrition, Dr. Danish said that, this year marks three decades of Nutrition International works to fight against malnutrition. Nutrition International is long-standing partner of Government of Pakistan to address malnutrition issues in the country. We are specifically focusing women and children for addressing micronutrient deficiencies, through Vitamin-A, Iron Folic Acid supplementation and large-scale food fortification interventions across Pakistan, he added.

Sharing overview of Maternal Nutrition Strategy Pakistan 2022-27, Dr. Khawaja Masuood Ahmed, Nutrition and National Fortification Alliance said that Federal Government developed the strategy with the support of all relevant stakeholders and provincial government to support optimal nutrition, health, and well-being of all women in Pakistan, as well as prevent all forms of malnutrition among vulnerable women during preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum. The strategy focused to enhance Maternal Nutrition (MN) outcomes through creating and sustaining an enabling environment, comprehensive MN package for ANC & PNC, integrating MN interventions across different sectoral programs, and guide evidence-based programming through monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning.

Discussing the need of integrating nutrition counseling at first point of contact in healthcare delivery, Dr. Muhammad Aslam Bajwa, Associate Professor Fatima Memorial Hospital (FMH) Medical College that poor healthcare seeking behavior as well as suboptimal health provision behavior of doctors lead to poor health and nutrition outcomes. Healthcare providers command trust and respect of the community, thus they have a greater responsibility to counsel the patients and their families for positive and healthy behaviors and motivate for adherence.

Highlighting dietary and caloric recommendations during pregnancy, Dr. Farhana Shahid, Country Nutrition Advisor for Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) said nutrition counseling of women during pregnancy is important however the healthcare providers need to be equipped with the relevant knowledge and improved counseling skills to deliver the message effectively. She added that we should not only emphasize on the diet during pregnancy but balanced diet, regular exercise, maintain appropriate weight gain, timely mineral and vitamin supplementation.

The session was attended by large number of public health and medical professionals, academia and government officials, who expressed keen interest in the information provided during the session and emphasized continuation of such awareness raising events.

ACCA, IFAC guides on public financial management reforms globally

A new joint guide by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) released at the World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) aims to boost PFM reforms across the globe by defining for the first time the idea of professionalisation specifically in the context of public sector finance.

The guide also features case studies of good practice from Tanzania, the UK, Cyprus, the Philippines, Pakistan, Malaysia and Wales.

A global guide for professionalisation in public sector finance provides a definition of what professionalisation means in public sector finance, sets out the benefits of professionalisation, and offers a high-level roadmap to support global good practice in professionalisation.

Discussing the global guide ahead of a panel discussion at WCOA, Joseph Owolabi, ACCA president, said: “Professionalisation brings credibility, trust and confidence in public finances by supplementing the systems and public finance processes with the right skills for accountability, transparency, good governance and external scrutiny. A professionalised workforce within a finance function supplies more than accounting information. It brings wide value to public sector finances – providing improved revenue collection, effective budgetary controls, and the data required to support policy decision making.”

Kevin Dancey, IFAC CEO, said: “We are looking to rebalance the focus so that it is not only on the process, but also on the people. The value of the accountancy profession, whether in the public or private sectors, comes from the experience, skills, judgement and ethical behaviour of its people. By increasing the number of professional accountants working in the public sector, we will no doubt add to the credibility and effectiveness of PFM, and reinforce trust in public services and spending.”

Achieving professionalisation brings multiple benefits to the economy, governments and individuals. It means greater financial credibility for economies, improved financial management discipline for governments, and greater access to diverse career options for individuals.

Alex Metcalfe, ACCA’s head of public sector, said: “Political leadership and commitment for professionalisation is the most important factor for sustaining PFM reforms over time. In some countries, there is a lack of recognition that change is needed at all. In other countries, PFM reforms have concentrated on moving from cash-based to accrual-based accounting. But now more effort is urgently required to professionalise public finance staff and provide opportunities for training for professional qualifications.”

Standard Chartered donates $249,000 for flood relief

Standard Chartered has donated a total of USD 249,000 towards emergency relief and rehabilitation of communities impacted by the recent floods that have caused large-scale devastation all over Pakistan. The selected partners are The Citizens Foundation and Orange Tree Foundation for immediate relief and British Asian Trust for rehabilitation. Both these organisations have extensive experience and resources to expand the outreach of such philanthropic efforts, promising relief to the flood affected people and communities. The donation is in line with the humanitarian initiatives supported by Standard Chartered, globally.

This donation has enabled distribution of more than 50,000 meals and grocery packs (sufficient for a family of five) to the flood victims, who are left without food, shelter and healthcare across Pakistan. In addition, hundreds of tents have been distributed to provide shelter and relief for those who were left homeless in various areas of Sindh and Punjab.

The emergency effort is also directed towards rehabilitation of communities which includes providing cash grants to 240 households, rehabilitation of 140 water points to enable access to clean drinking water, and distribution of seeds for key cash crops such as wheat and sunflowers to farmers.

Rehan Shaikh, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Bank (Pakistan) Limited said, “We are deeply shocked by the devastation of the floods in Pakistan. Our commitment is absolute, and we are totally focused and determined towards rehabilitation and relief of the flood affected people. We are fully committed to providing maximum relief to our brethren who have suffered tremendous losses due to the massive floods in Pakistan.

By working with these leading NGO partners, we are able to support the delivery of rapid and effective relief efforts that aims to address some of the key challenges created by the devastating floods.

SWDF, FWBL to provide subsidized credit to women entrepreneurs

Sindh Enterprise Development Fund (SEDF) and First Women Bank Limited (FWBL) have signed an institutional collaboration agreement to provide subsidized credit to women entrepreneurs in Sindh. Mr. Khizar Pervaiz, CEO-SEDF and Mr. Farrukh Iqbal Khan, President and CEO-FWBL signed the Agreement. The ceremony was held at FWBL’s Head Office in Karachi and was specially attended by Mr. Syed Qassim Naveed Qamar, Special Assistant to the Chief Minister of Sindh for Investment and PPP Projects.

Under the said Agreement, FWBL will provide project financing and SEDF will give mark-up subsidy on loans provided by the bank. The expected outcome of the collaboration is to create a win-win situation for the stakeholders and create an enabling environment that is conducive to the promotion of investment opportunities in the province.

This is a step towards financial inclusion for a neglected yet vital segment of the economy, with a focus on modernising the rural economy of Sindh. Insha’Allah this will pave the way for balanced growth and financial inclusion of women entrepreneurs.

SEDF has been established by the Government of Sindh with a vision to encourage investment in the SME sector to inculcate entrepreneurial ability and provide a major push to the wider economy. It aims to promote opportunities in Agri value chains, Horticulture & Floriculture, Green Energy and Innovation & Technology for multiple economic benefits on growth, intermediary services and productivity. It seeks to introduce interventions to improve efficiency and profitability through various initiatives of technical assistance and mark-up subsidies. SEDF places special focus on development of women entrepreneurship for the financial inclusion of this vital sector of the economy.

FWBL is a unique financial institution and commercial bank that has a mandate to cater to the financial and business needs of women and provide them with easy access to credit for enterprise development. FWBL model worked in catering to women at all levels of economic activity – small, medium and corporate.

Syed Mansoor Abbas Rizvi, Secretary to the Government of Sindh Investment Department, and other senior officials of both organisations attended the ceremony.

A.P. Moller – Maersk adds Khazaen Dry Port to its global network of port calls

Khazaen Dry Port is now bookable on as a port of origin or destination and offers Maersk’s customers a time- and cost-efficient solution through Muscat, Oman

A.P. Moller – Maersk (Maersk) has added Khazaen Dry port (KDP), part of Asyad Group, to its extensive ‘Port of Call’ network offering business transportation, container terminal, and reefer container services to easily import and export goods.

Maersk is committed to designing and implementing services for its customers that offer integrated logistics solutions. KDP enjoys a strategic location closer to Maersk’s customers’ manufacturing hubs around Muscat and the gateway it opens to global markets. By adding KDP to the network of ports and offering land freight and value-added solutions to and from KDP, Maersk is implementing time-and cost-efficient solutions for its customers.

The long-term commercial agreement with Maersk falls in line with Asyad’s role to facilitate trade and support local merchants to do business efficiently at global standards. It further bolsters KDP’s global positioning as an import, re-export and transhipment centre as the country forges ahead to become one of the leading logistics hubs in the region. Underlining Asyad’s role as a market growth leader, this integration is yet another step in the Group’s carefully designed scheme to improve efficiencies and adopt higher standards across the logistics sector.

Mads Skov-Hansen, Head of Ocean Customer Logistics, Maersk West & Central Asia, said, “At Maersk, our ambition is to connect and simplify our customers’ supply chains by providing them integrated logistics services across land, sea and air network. Our customers can swiftly move their goods worldwide through our network that spans over 130 countries on more than 730 of our vessels.” He added, “Oman has been a key logistics destination for Maersk, especially when it comes to the accessibility to global markets. We have worked closely with Asyad Group over the years to foster our relationship to offer best-in-class integrated logistics solutions supporting Oman 2040 Growth Vision. We are happy now to add Khazaen Dry Port to our network and work even more closely with Asyad in the coming years to continue developing our logistics investments supporting Oman’s growth ambitions.”

“By integrating KDP within Maersk’s network, we are able to improve international market accessibility, facilitate trade and increase the flow of products and services to and from Oman at the touch of a button,” said Juma Al Maskari, Executive Director of KDP. “We are home to more than 80 local and global companies with an annual capacity of 50,000 TEU. This integration with a powerful global network facilitates business and trade for the private sector, providing them with operational efficiencies and cost optimisation by simply leveraging Maersk’s global routes to best suit their supply chains,” he added.

Khazaen Dry Port is strategically located within easy reach of the booming economies in the region, with proximity to the Saudi-Omani border, UAE-Oman border, the Port of Sohar, the Port of Salalah, and the Port of Suwaiq. It is purposely designed and built over an area of 100,000 m2; KDP is a one-stop shop for custom clearance, inspection and handling and storage of containers, and cargo movement at Muscat’s doorstep.

Since starting its operations, KDP has leveraged its unique value proposition in Khazaen Economic City to attract major corporations and global players to invest in Oman. As the country’s first integrated in-land dry port, it connects the City and other economic areas in the Sultanate to seaports, airports and land borders through a network of roads designed to accommodate land transport and shipment.

Current account deficit major problem of Pakistan

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 Monday said the current account deficit is one of the major problems of Pakistan.

Our economy has suffered current account deficits for 72 years to indiscriminate consumption of foreign goods, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that we sell less of our goods to the outside world but buy more from foreign countries which have led the country to bankruptcy dozens of times.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the only way to avoid bankruptcy in Pakistan is to borrow to repay loans which is unsustainable.

Now the debts are becoming unpayable but the policymakers never bothered to learn any lesson, he added.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that our exports, remittances, grants, etc. are not equal to our imports but no serious effort was ever made to increase productivity and no specific steps were taken to reduce consumption of foreign goods.

In the past, Pakistan’s exports have been more than Bangladesh, South Korea, Vietnam, and many other countries, but now Pakistan cannot even think of equaling them.

South Korea’s exports are eighteen times more than Pakistan’s. Last year, Pakistan’s exports were 31 billion dollars while its imports were 80 billion dollars, which is equal to playing with the future of this country.

Pakistan’s tax system is also a major obstacle in the way of development which punishes taxpayers and does nothing to defaulters.

Currently, government agencies have the data of 22 lakh shops, out of which only 30 thousand are paying tax, while the rest are not paying a single rupee as tax, which is surprising.

According to former finance minister Miftah Ismail, the risk of Pakistan’s default is increasing, while current finance minister Ishaq Dar denies it. In order to improve the economic situation, government institutions that lose three billion dollars annually must be privatized. There is an annual loss of four billion dollars in the electricity and gas sectors, which must be eliminated.

He said that such reforms must be made that may reduce the political popularity of the government, but will improve Pakistan’s reputation in the international community and restore the trust of international institutions.

For this, national interest will have to be prioritized over political interest, in which delay may prove very dangerous for the future of Pakistan, he said.

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