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‘Provinces must strengthen resources’

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Dr Miftah Ismail while appreciating the resource mobilization efforts of the Punjab government, urged all the provinces to augment their resources through the provincial revenues.

He was talking to Finance Minister of Punjab, Ayesha Ghaus Pasha in a meeting during which she discussed financial matters relating to Punjab.

Miftah said the federal government fully believed in facilitation to all the provinces in terms of immediate transfer of provincial share in federal revenues.

The federal government would continue to follow the same course in future, he added. He said the government was focused on further strengthening of economy and making concerted efforts for achieving growth target for the current fiscal year.

He said the government would appreciate efforts and contribution of the provinces for economic consolidation.

On the occasion, Ayesha Ghaus Pasha apprised the adviser of the resource mobilization efforts being carried out by the provincial government.

She said the provincial government had laid focus on greater revenue generation, as the increased availability of resources was essential to carry out public service delivery. She also shared with the adviser the key areas of focus of the provincial government and said provision of federal transfers in a timely manner help the provincial government in undertaking its projects and programmes as per schedule.

Among others, the meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Finance Department Punjab.

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Coating show to enhance B2B concept: Allauddin

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Punjab Minister Commerce, Trade and Investment, Sheikh Allauddin has said that some one month earlier Indonesian delegation visited Punjab and showed immense interest to expanding their business in Punjab. He said that today’s exhibition is the next step to enhance the B2B concept.

He expressed these views while participating in Annual Pakistan Coating Show at Expo centre Lahore on Saturday. The exhibition was attended by President Lahore Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Malik Tahir Javaid, Vice President Mr Zeshan Khalil, former president Abdul Basit, former secretary GeneraL of SAARC Mr. Rehmat ullah Javed and foreign delegates.

Sheikh Allauddin in his address said that this exhibition will be beneficial for Manufacturer, formulators, suppliers, distributors, traders, stock-its, dealers, process-engineers and quality managers dealing in paints and solvent for the packaging printing, fabrication and chemical industries, from Pakistan and abroad.

He further said that through this exhibition more than 250 foreign & majority from coating industry Pakistan will be benefited and it is expected that more than 15000 visitors will witness of this exhibition.

At the conclusion of ceremony, a memorial shield was presented to Minister by Pakistan Coating’s Administration.



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Purchase of sugarcane at rate of Rs180 to be ensured

F.P. Report

BAHAWALPUR: Provincial Minister for Agriculture Naeem Akhtar Bhabha has said that uninterrupted issuing of permits and purchase of sugarcane at the rate of Rs 180 per 40 kilograms would be ensured and no unfair deduction in prices would be tolerated.

While addressing a meeting at Commissioner Officer Bahawalpur he said that Kisan Package of worth Rs 100 billion by Chief Minister Punjab is evident of his pro-farmer policies.

He asked representatives of farmers to avoid blocking traffic while transporting the sugarcane. Commissioner Bahawalpur Division Capt (retd) Saqib Zafar said that it would be made certain that sugarcane grown near sugar mills that have been closed also gets sold out by enhancing crushing capacity and permit limit of operational sugar mills.

Deputy Commissioner Bahawalpur Rana M. Saleem Afzal told the meeting that eight permit points have been set up in the district from where 660 permits for sugarcane sale are issued daily.

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Oil prices fall as rally falters on growing US output concerns

Monitoring Desk

HOUSTON: Oil prices ended down and broke a four-week winning streak after a rally that had taken benchmarks to three-year highs, as investors sold positions on re-emerging US production concerns.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 fell 70 cents, or 1 percent, to settle at $68.61 a barrel after hitting a session low of $68.28. On Monday, they hit their highest since December 2014 at $70.37.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 settled at $63.37 a barrel, down 58 cents, or 0.9 percent. WTI marked a December-2014 peak of $64.89 a barrel on Tuesday.

On a weekly basis, Brent settled 1.8 percent lower while WTI was down 1.5 percent. “We had such a meteoric rise in the oil market recently and we were overbought quite a bit. This is the first time we’ve taken a breath,” said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “The pullback in relationship to the recent run-up is still very modest,” he added.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its monthly report that global oil stocks have tightened substantially, aided by OPEC cuts, demand growth and Venezuelan production hitting near 30-year lows.

But it warned that rapidly increasing production in the United States could threaten market balancing.

“Explosive growth in the US and substantial gains in Canada and Brazil will far outweigh potentially steep declines in Venezuela and Mexico,” the IEA said of 2018 production.

The energy watchdog forecast US supply growth will push its output past 10 million barrels per day (bpd), overtaking Saudi Arabia and rivaling Russia.

US crude oil production C-OUT-T-EIA rose nearly 300,000 bpd to 9.75 million bpd last week, according to government data. [EIA/S]

The US oil rig count, an indicator of future production, fell by five this week but at 747, was still much higher than the 551 rigs a year ago, according to General Electric Co’s (GE.N) Baker Hughes energy services firm.

“The drop in the rig count should place a little bit of doubt about the IEA’s forecast of explosive growth. People are starting to really question the validity of demand,” Flynn said.

Overall, however, oil prices remain well supported, and most analysts do not expect steep declines.

Hedge funds have been increasing long positions steadily on expectations that tightening supply will keep prices buoyant. Money managers raised their net long US crude futures and options positions in New York and London by 40,855 contracts to 541,990 in the week to Jan. 16, a record high, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission said.

In a separate report, Intercontinental Exchange Inc said speculators trimmed positions in Brent in the week to Jan. 16 from a record the week before, dropping 3,357 contracts to 570,795.

The main price driver has been a production cut by major producers led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia since January last year.

The supply cuts, scheduled to last throughout 2018, were aimed at tightening the market to prop up prices.

Even in the United States, not part of the pact to curb output, crude inventories fell 6.9 million barrels last week to 412.65 million barrels, the lowest seasonal level in three years and below the five-year average marker around 420 million barrels.


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Iftikhar re-elected as VP SAARC chamber

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Iftikhar Ali Malik,Vice President of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), an apex body of regional chambers in the region, sets a new record in South Asia getting re-elected for the post unanimously for sixth consecutive two years term.

According to the notification of SAARC chamber issued here by its Secretary General Hina Saeed Saturday, SAARC CCI President Suraj Vaidya, a leading business tycoon hailing from Nepal and SAARC General Assembly and Executive Committee members from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan and Maldives with majority votes re-elected Iftikhar Ali Malik for the sixth term.

Iftikhar also held the offices of the Presidents Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, besides founder President Pak US Business Council.

He is currently working as Central Chairman United Business Group. He is also the chairman of the Guard Group of Industries and a chain of Mumtaz Bakhtawar Memorial Trust Hospitals.

In his statement, Iftikhar Ali Malik reiterated to continue efforts for greater economic integration by fully exploiting all indigenous natural resources for the progress, prosperity, development and welfare of the people mainly aimed at doing away with abject poverty in South Asia. The SAARC should be more active to address major challenges the region faces, job creation for the youth of South Asia and alleviation of poverty, he added.

He said South Asia comprises three per cent of the world’s area, 21 per cent of the world’s population and 3.8 per cent (US$ 2.9 trillion) of the global economy.

The respective governments were trying to give its people a much higher quality of life racked by high illiteracy, dismissal health care and sanitation.

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German, Italian, Spanish companies keen for starting joint ventures with Pakistan

F.P. Report

LAHORE: A high level delegation of Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) Saturday returned home from different European countries including Germany, Portugal, Austria, Spain and Italy after twelve days long extensive visit aimed at exploring new markets and strengthening existing bilateral trade relations with their counterparts in furniture industry during business to business contacts.

Talking to newsmen on his arrival here today, PFC Chief Executive Mian Kashif Ashfaq said this business tour provided them ample chances to explore new avenues by sharing vision, expertise for formulation of future policies, economic studies, sectoral and project specific reports besides promotional efforts. He was of the view that economic and trade relations between Pakistan and Europe possessed great potential and there was dire need for Pakistani business community to focus on improving their competitiveness in the European market.

He said that European Union is the largest economy in the world with a GDP per head of €25 000 for its 500 million consumers besides this it is the most open to developing countries and imported more from developing countries than the USA, Canada, Japan and China put together.

He said both the European Union and Pakistan should identify more areas for mutual cooperation and should also introduce more tradable items to enhance mutual trade volume. He said that visa policy for the businessmen of Europe and Pakistan should be liberalised so that they could plan their business travels with quite ease.

Mian Kashif said Germany, Italian and Spanish furniture producing companies have shown keen interest in Pakistani market and urged the Pakistani businessmen to start joint ventures with their European counterparts. “Pakistan should take full advantage of best geographical positions of Germany and Spain in the European Union, he added.

Answering a question, he said Pakistan shows the best potential of increasing its exports to the EU among all countries benefiting from the GSP (Generalised Scheme of Preferences) Plus. He said Pakistan’s business community is not only targeting to step up exports to the EU, but is also striving to strengthen the partnership that will facilitate growth in trade with major partners such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Austria, Portugal, France and Italy.

He further said the European production of furniture components is worth about Euro 5,200 million. “Italy is the leading European producer, exporter, and consumer, while Germany – being the main furniture producer in Europe – is the leading importer of furniture components,” adding he said Pakistan export can be increased if the European markets will be explored properly.


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PCJCCI launches first employment exchange programme

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Pak-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) on Thursday launched the first employment exchange programme to let people know about the employment opportunities being created under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

In order to put plan into reality, collaboration is made with and is fully operational in the Chinese, Urdu and English languages to facilitate all participants.

The launching ceremony was held at the PCJCCI Secretariat where CEO Monis Rahman appeared as chief guest, while Wang Zihai, Dr Iqbal Qureshi, Moazzam Ghurki, M Salahuddin Hanif, Mr Liu also participated in ceremony. Various dignitaries including chief executive officers (CEOs) and renowned human resource experts also participated in the ceremony to encourage the initiative, taken by both PCJCCI and

President PCJCCI SM Naveed, in his address, said that the PCJCCI was in continuous effort to overcome every barrier that comes in the way of developing relations between Pakistan and China. He said that this collaboration takes advantage of the latest online and mobile technologies to unlock over seven million highly skilled Pakistani professionals across all sectors of industry.

Wang Zihai, chairman China Affairs Committee PCJCCI, said that platforms like PCJCCI which are promoting and facilitating common people to benefit from the present opportunities are the great contributors in growing relations between China and Pakistan. The people comprehending this crucial need of time must be regarded as the real mentors, he added.

Monis Rehman, CEO paid special tribute to the Chinese communities who have built friendship and lived in harmony with the local people, and made indispensable contributions to the economic and social development of Pakistan. He expressed hope that all Chinese and Pakistani brethren will carry forward the fine Chinese culture and traditional virtues, reveal the spirit of diligence, bravery, intelligence and self-improvement, and make more contributions to a better Pakistan by fulfilling friendship between China and Pakistan.


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Chairman assures to fully advocate KCCI’s representation on SSGC’s Board

KARACHI (PPI): Chairman Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Javed Zia has said that Karachi Chamber’s valid demand for representation on SSGC’s Board of Director will be fully supported by him as it will help in bridging the gap between the Business & Industrial Community and the Utility Service Provider.

“This is a very important points raised by President KCCI which is very close to my heart. I will have no hesitation in fully advocating KCCI’s demand as soon as I receive relevant letter for comments about Chamber’s representation on SSGC’s Board from the CM House”, he assured while speaking at a meeting during his visit to Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI).

Chairman SSGC assured full support and cooperation to business and industrial community in resolving issues, besides vowing to improve the performance of SSGC, whose strengths and weaknesses have a direct impact on the economy of Pakistan.

Commenting on some of the issues raised by President KCCI in his welcome address, Javed Zia advised to hold another joint meeting at the earliest either at SSGC’s Head Office or at KCCI so that these issues could be extensively discussed with relevant officers of SSGC and accordingly resolved. He was of the opinion that other business and trade associations should also become part of the proposed meeting so that everyone could collectively devise strategies and move forward with hand-in-hand.

Referring to President KCCI’s comments pertaining to first right of every province on its natural resources under Article 158 of the Constitution of Pakistan, SSGC Chairman reaffirmed that he will fight for the rights of Sindh province. “If Sindh is largest producer of gas, it must get its due share. However, I will try to logically raise voice on this issue and come up with a model based on technical support from my team in order to create a win-win situation”, he added.

He admitted that gas pressure was low nowadays and supply remains suspended every Sunday but efforts were being made to address this issue and SSGC’s top priority is to improve gas pressure during the ongoing winter season.

Commenting on costly RLNG, he said that under the present circumstances, the industry is confronted with a choice to either have no gas/ low pressure gas or have the expensive RLNG. “If RLNG can kick start sick industries or those industries which are not moving forward, the business community should go for RLNG which will resolve many problems. RLNG has to be taken into consideration by the industrial units because of its consistent availability and qualitative advantages, Chairman SSGC stressed, adding that more than 550 applications have been received so far by SSGC from the province of Sindh and Balochistan for new RLNG connections.

Responding to concerns expressed over misuse of power by SSGC Inspection Teams, Javed Zia assured that the relevant department has been restructured in such a manner that it simply cannot be misused. “We have carried out due deliberation in placing the right people in this particular department whereas a very respectable Brigadier, who carries a strong reputation of integrity, has recently been inducted in this department to improve its efficiency”, he added.

He sought KCCI’s cooperation in making the Gas Theft Operation successful which started recently under an Act constituted in 2016, which also allows SSGC to create separate Police Stations. In this regard, police stations have been created in Karachi, Sukkur, Thatta and Quetta for exclusively dealing with cases of gas theft.

“Anyone irrespective of the fact that how high he is or how influential he is, if he is indulging in gas theft, he will be taken to task”, Chairman SSGC warned, adding that a survey revealed that compressors were being used by several industrial units to improve pressure, which only enhances gas pressure of that particular industry whereas the rest of industries in the same neighborhood suffer badly as these compressors terribly reduce gas pressure to their units. Use of compressors will not be tolerated and all such individuals will be taken to task, he stressed and asked Karachi Chamber to support SSGC in its drive against gas thieves. He informed that Consumer Response Department was also being improved through internal changes and reconstitution of some departments within the organization.

Earlier, President KCCI Muffasar Atta Malik pointed out that despite producing 69 percent of the total natural gas, Sindh hardly receives around 28 to 30 percent of gas. The abundant gas should initially be made available to Industries in Sindh and the surplus gas should be subsequently extended to other provinces, he demanded.

He said that the government, instead of providing cheaper gas to Sindh from its own resources, announced to supply quite expensive imported Regasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) which is a sheer injustice and completely unacceptable to the business and industrial community of Karachi.

“Why are we being provided RLNG when we have surplus gas resources”, he asked, adding that RLNG should be supplied to those areas and provinces of the country where very limited or zero gas reserves were available. Expressing concerns over suspension of gas supply to industrial units on Sundays, Muffasar Malik said that it creates a lot of problems, particularly for those industrialists who have to meet their deadlines for the export shipments.

“Although assurances have been given from time to time but no relief has been provided so far as the industries continue to suffer gas load shedding every Sunday which requires immediate attention”, he added.

He said that low gas pressure was also another serious issue being suffered by many industrial units and also by domestic consumers, particularly during winter season, which has to be addressed by SSGC.

To further streamline and stabilize gas distribution, President KCCI advised that gas supplies to CNG stations and the industry have to be segregated which would certainly improve the situation.

He also expressed concerns over deteriorating performance of SSGC’s Response/ Maintenance Teams nowadays as compared to what it had been in the past. “Chairman SSGC must strictly deal with this issue to improve the efficiency of SSGC’s Response/ Maintenance Team, which will be widely appreciated by the business and industrial community of Karachi”, he added.

In order to bring gas-related issues being suffered by the business and industrial community of Karachi, Muffasar Malik proposed to induct Karachi Chamber’s representative on SSGC’s Board which would yield positive results and create an enabling business environment.

Expressing concerns over refusal to give new gas connections, he said that hundreds of applications were lying pending for new gas connections who are now being provided an opportunity to go for RLNG connection but who is going to go for an expensive gas in the ongoing competitive era in which Pakistani producers and exporters have already been facing tough time from its competitors.

Referring to UFG issue, President KCCI suggested that instead of applying UFG cost across the board, it will be more prudent to pass on this cost according to the thefts taking place in different areas of country. “UFG losses should be evaluated area-wise and recovery should be applied exactly according to volume of theft in each area”, he stressed.



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Oxford hosted a discussion on Javed Jabbar’s book

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Oxford University Press (OUP) organized a discussion on the revised third edition of the book Pakistan—Unique Origins; Unique Destiny? written by Javed Jabbar. The book takes its readers on a journey of rediscovery of Pakistan by lucidly pinpointing the uniqueness of its origins and history, its strengths and weaknesses, and the achievements of its nationals. The country is often misunderstood and misrepresented as a deeply troubled ‘failed state’, headed into a disastrous future. Yet the real Pakistan, as portrayed in this candid, no-holds-barred book, is a pluralist, vibrant society–a nation pulsating with creativity and energy. This remarkable book introduces a much needed, evidence-based balance into appraisal and analysis of Pakistan. The new edition retains sharp focus on the country’s present and possible trajectories in the decades to come.

Javed Jabbar is a public intellectual with diverse interests in writing, film-making, media, international and national affairs, environment, and voluntary work. He has served as Senator for six years as well as Minister in three Federal Cabinets with portfolios of Information and Broadcasting, Science and Technology, Petroleum and National Resources, and National Affairs.

The event held at the Oxford bookshop in Dolmen Mall Clifton featured a discussion between Javed Jabbar and the academic and author, Nadya Qamar Chishty Mujahid. The conversation highlighted how the book will help identify how Pakistan can become a stable, secure, and successful country which contributes to global peace, culture, and harmony in the 21st century.

Earlier in her welcome address, Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, OUP Pakistan, introduced the author and the moderator and said, “This is an unusual book in that it describes the positive side of the Pakistani reality at a time when Pakistan-bashing seems to have become a favourite pastim.”

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NBP upgrades custom house branch

F.P. Report

KARACHI: National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) has upgraded its Custom House branch to a modern facility to provide high quality and efficient services to its customers.

According to statement issued here Thursday, Custom House Branch enhancements were initiated by Saeed Ahmad, President & CEO, NBP in April 2017 & subsequently inaugurated the recently.

NBP has been proactively working on its branch banking infrastructure to improve its systems and provide service of excellence to its customers which is in line with its vision of being the nation’s bank.

Speaking at this occasion of branch renovation ceremony Saeed Ahmad, President & CEO, NBP said, “When I visited the branch first time after taking the charge, I was very disappointed with the setup, congestion, overcrowding and mishandling.

In order to provide first class services to our valued customers who use our facilities, it is imperative that they are treated respectfully and are provided comfortable environment where they may avail our services efficiently and with respect and dignity.

Abdul Rasheed Shaikh, Chief Collector Custom (Appraisements) & Manzoor Hussain Memon, Chief Collector Custom (Enforcement) said that relation between the two government agencies is decades old and it is impressive that the promise made by NBP has been fulfilled in a very short time.

Muhammad Arshad Jamal, Chairman, FPCCI standing Committee on Customs, Qamar Alam, Chairman All Pakistan Custom Agents Association, Faisal Mushtaq, President, Karachi Custom Agents Association, Wasiq Hussain Khan, Ex-Gen Secretary KCAA along with their office Bearers were also present on the occasion and appreciated NBP’s efforts on modernizing the branch facility.

The Branch renovation ceremony was also attended by Aasim Akhtar, Group Head Commercial & Retail Banking Group, Mohsin Furqan Group Head, Operation, Tariq Jamali, Group Chief ARG. Shahid Dar Group Head Logistics. Faisal Ahmed, EVP, Network & Planning, Asad Saleem, EVP Corporate and Investment Banking, Tariq Latif Ansari, Regional Head Karachi along with RMT members.

Abdul Rasheed Shaikh, Chief Collector of Customs (Appraisements) and Manzoor Hussain Memon, Chief Collector Custom (Enforcement) at NBP Custom House Branch also graced the occasion with senior members of Custom Authority.