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UBL, PMIC partner to digitize microfinance operations

F.P. Report

KARACHI: United Bank Limited (UBL) and Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company (PMIC) recently signed a MoU to digitize microfinance operations across the country. PMIC was represented by Zubyr Soomro, Chairman PMIC and UBL was represented by Sima Kamil, President & CEO, UBL. Also present at the event were Zia Ijaz, Group Executive Retail Bank, UBL, Yasir Ashfaq, CEO PMIC and senior executives of both organizations.

The MoU identifies areas of collaboration between the two institutions whereby as the apex institution and sector developer, PMIC will link eight of its partner microfinance institutions with UBL Omni, one of the leading branchless banking service providers. Linking of these eight borrowing institutions with UBL Omni completes the digitization of microfinance operations.

Speaking on the occasion Sima Kamil, President & CEO, UBL said, “UBL has always prided itself on being a progressive and innovative bank. Digitization of financial services will go a long way in bringing the most underprivileged segments of the society to mainstream financial services. This strategic partnership with PMIC will augment the customer centric services being offered by UBL and provide impetus to the already dynamic and progressive technology based financial sector of Pakistan.”

Yasir Ashfaq, CEO PMIC said, “PMIC is pleased to lead the microfinance sector towards complete digitization to enhance financial inclusion with the overall objective to provide convenient access to financial services to the underserved segments of the society resulting in reduction in delivery cost and lowering of pricing of loans to the clients. We, through our partner institutions, aim to create greater social impact through our financing aimed at the unbanked segments of the society and would strive to develop innovative financial products and approaches that meet their needs and add value to their income generating ventures.”

United Bank Limited (UBL) is one of Pakistan’s largest banks in the private sector. The bank operates a network of over 45,000 customer touch-points which include 1,385+ branches across Pakistan and 19 branches overseas. It was declared Pakistan’s ‘Best Bank for Corporate Finance & Capital Market Development’ at the Pakistan Banking Awards 2017. The Bank’s entity ratings are AAA/A-1+.

The Bank maintains its leadership in branchless banking through UBL Omni which has an agent network of over 42,100 Dukaans. The network also boasts 1120 ATMs and 480+ Contact Centre Agents across Pakistan. With a customer base of over 4 million, it leads the banking and financial services sector in Pakistan. Customers across the world have 24/7 access to the bank via UBL’s world class Internet Banking.

Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company Limited (PMIC) is registered as an Investment Finance Company under NBFCs regulations with Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).

It is setup jointly by, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), Department for International Development (DFID) through Karandaaz Pakistan and the German Development Bank (KFW) to catalyze and lead the next phase of growth in the microfinance sector of Pakistan.

The purpose of the Organization is to improve financial inclusion, employment and wellbeing of the poor by providing wholesale financing to the microfinance service providers in the country.






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Overseas Pakistanis send $4.8bn in first 3 months of Fiscal Year 2018

F.P. Report

KARACHI: State Bank of Pakistan has shared that the overseas Pakistani workers send US $4,790.01 million in the first three months of the fiscal year 2018 (FY18) which is more comparing with same period of the last year US $4,740.37 million.

The SBP issued a statement in this regard and adding that during September 2017, the inflow of workers’ remittances amounted to US $1,293.88 million, which is 33.79% lower than August 2017 and 19.75% lower than September 2016.

The country-wise details for the month of September 2017 show that inflows from Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA, UK, GCC countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman) and EU countries amounted to US $308.05 million, US$ 302.77 million, US$ 171.9million, US $194.76 million, US $141.02 million and US $45.07 million respectively compared with the inflow of US $437.87million, US $361.9 million, US $211.14 million, US $210.22 million, US $182.18 million and US $43.60 million respectively in September 2016.

Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during September 2017 amounted to US $1,30.31 million together as against US $165.45 million received in September 2016.

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Petroleum products prices in Pakistan are lowest comparing to oil importing countries: PM Abbasi

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that petroleum product prices are much lower in Pakistan comparing to the other oil importing countries of the region.

This he said while responding to a question in National Assembly on Monday which is moved by MQM-P lawmaker regarding the increases of prices of petroleum products.

PM Abbasi added that petroleum prices were fixed on a monthly basis as petrol and diesel reached every month and the fluctuation of prices in petroleum products because of international market as Pakistan is importing petroleum from other countries.

He claimed that Pakistan had the lowest prices and even 30 per cent lesser than the neighboring countries. Government trying to prevent the rights of people in terms of increasing the prices of petroleum in international market and giving them on lesser prices to masses comparing to the other importing countries of the region and neighbors, he added.

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Turkey urges US to review visa suspension as lira, stocks tumble

ANKARA (AFP): Turkey urged the United States on Monday to review its suspension of visa services after the arrest of a US consulate employee sharply escalated tensions between the two NATO allies and drove Turkey’s currency and stocks lower.

Relations between Ankara and Washington have long been plagued by disputes over US support for Kurdish fighters in Syria, Turkey’s calls for the extradition of a US-based cleric and the indictment of a Turkish former minister in a US court.

But last week’s arrest of a Turkish employee of the US consulate in Istanbul marked a fresh low. Turkey said the employee had links to US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for a failed military coup in July 2016.

The US embassy in Ankara condemned those charges as baseless and announced on Sunday night it was halting all non-immigrant visa services in Turkey while it reassessed Turkey’s commitment to the security of its missions and staff.

Within hours Turkey announced it was taking the same measures against US citizens.

On Monday the Turkish foreign ministry summoned a US diplomat to urge the United States to lift the visa suspension, saying it was causing “unnecessary tensions”.

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said that if Washington had serious security concerns about its missions in Turkey, steps would be taken to address them.

“But if it’s an issue regarding the arrest of the consulate employee, then this is a decision the Turkish judiciary has made,” Gul told A Haber television. “Trying a Turkish citizen for a crime committed in Turkey is our right.”

Turkish media reported that authorities had issued a detention warrant for a second US consulate worker. Reuters could not immediately confirm the reports, which also said the employee’s wife and child were being questioned by police.

Investors rattled

The diplomatic spat spooked investors. The lira dropped 2.4 percent and stood at 3.7030 against the dollar after being quoted overnight as touching a level of 3.9223.

The main BIST 100 stock index fell as much as 4.7 percent and was down 3.21 percent at 100,800 points at 1137 GMT.

Airline shares were particularly hard hit, with flag carrier Turkish Airlines falling 8 percent.

The central bank said it was following developments closely.

“This looks like a really serious situation,” said Blue Bay Asset Management strategist Timothy Ash, adding that the central bank would need to move quickly to calm market nerves and possibly hike interest rates – something President Tayyip Erdogan has resisted.

Turkey’s leading business association, TUSIAD, warned that the dispute would harm bilateral economic, social and cultural ties, and called for disagreements to be settled calmly.

The dispute with the United States coincides with deep strains in Turkey’s relations with Germany, another key ally, and with Turkish military activity at the Syrian and Iraqi borders, though their market impact has so far been limited.

US-Turkish tensions have risen in recent months over US military support for Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria, considered by Ankara to be an extension of the banned PKK which has waged an insurgency for three decades in southeast Turkey.

Turkey has also pressed, so far in vain, for the United States to extradite Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, viewed in Ankara as the mastermind behind the failed coup in which more than 240 people were killed. Gulen denies any involvement.

Friction with the United States has also arisen from the indictment last month by a US court of Turkey’s former economy minister Zafer Caglayan, charged with conspiring to violate US sanctions on Iran.

Sinan Ulgen, an analyst and former Turkish diplomat, said those underlying disputes had created a “crisis of confidence” which made this latest fallout particularly bitter.

“This harshness is a result of a build-up,” he said. “We should not consider this as solely a reaction to the detentions of consulate employees”.

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Pakistan’s macroeconomic uncertainties rising, says World Bank report

KARACHI (Monitoring Desk): The macroeconomic factors are far from encouraging and vehemently on the rise during the fiscal year 2017, according to a World Bank report published recently.

The WB’s ‘South Asia Economic Focus Fall 2017’ report mentioned that the macroeconomic uncertainties are increasing due to which the balance of payments is disrupted.

The ongoing fiscal deficit is primarily due to lack of foreign reserves, the World Bank report stated.

Making the right fiscal policies can alleviate Pakistan’s economic woes, asserted the report. It suggested that an increase in exports can help improve the balance of payments.

Higher exports, decrease in imports, and stable remittance flows can ensure stability vis-à-vis balance of payments, it said.

The global financial institution stated that due to the upcoming general elections in 2018, the fiscal situation may deteriorate, adding that due to the ouster of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, political uncertainties have grown.

The report mentioned that the problems pertaining to the financial framework can decrease the ratio of growth of the economy.

APP adds: Pakistan’s economic growth is expected to accelerate to more than five percent this and in the coming years if the country’s fiscal deficits are well managed and external stability is maintained.

Efforts to reverse the trade and fiscal imbalances and continued implementation of reforms will be needed for sustaining and accelerating growth and improving welfare,” said World Bank in its report.

The report says that Pakistan has potential to accelerate its growth rate upto 5.5. percent in Fiscal Year 2017-18 and to 5.8 percent in Fiscal year 2018-19.

Giving overall picture of growth of South Asia, the report said that after leading global growth for two years, the region has fallen to second place, after East Asia and the Pacific.

The region’s slowdown is due to both temporary shocks and longer-term challenges.

Regional economic growth is expected to slow to 6.9 percent in 2017 from 7.5 percent in 2016, but growth could rebound to 7.1 percent in 2018 with the right mix of policies and reforms.

The just released twice-a-year South Asia Economic Focus (SAEF) finds that the slowdown in South Asia has mostly been driven by internal factors, most notably in India, such as a decrease in private investment, and an increase in imports and government spending.

This edition, Growth out of the Blue, explores the potential of night-time light satellite imagery to improve measurement and understanding of economic activities.

While growth rates in South Asia largely remain robust given the economic shocks that some countries in the region have faced, countries should continue to actively address their growing trade and fiscal deficits, said Annette Dixon, the World Bank South Asia Region Vice President.

With the right mix of policies to respond to challenges, we remain confident that South Asian countries can accelerate their growth to create more opportunities and prosperity for their people.

The report also highlights that South Asia was once at the cutting edge in economic measurement and analysis, pioneering techniques such as the use of household surveys.

With the rise of big data, traditional ways to measure economic phenomena like prices and GDP can be supplemented.

To improve economic measurement in South Asia, a greater reliance on big data may help, but a clear agenda toward stronger statistical systems is a necessity.

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Governor SBP inaugurates Helpline to facilitate Banking Consumers

F.P. Report

KARACHI: A dedicated Helpline to facilitate Banking Consumers has been established at State Bank of Pakistan Karachi, having UAN 111-727-273, to facilitate the banking consumers in resolving their complaint against Banks, Microfinance banks and Development Finance Institutions.

The Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Mr. Tariq Bajwa inaugurated the Helpline today and expressed his best wishes. He advised concerned officers to make the general public aware of the helpline and ensure that the banking consumers are properly facilitated.

After the establishment of this dedicated helpline, all calls relating to consumer grievances against banks shall be entertained at this number only which will remain available during working hours of SBP. The banks have been advised to display this helpline number in their branches for convenience of consumers.


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Star-Studded UBL Cricket Team awarded the ‘UBL Colour’

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Sima Kamil, President & CEO UBL recently awarded the ‘UBL Colour’ to the Bank’s Cricket Team. She met with the team at the UBL Head Office in Karachi, where all players and the team officials were awarded the UBL Team Colour (Blazer). Senior executives of UBL were also present on the occasion.

The UBL Cricket Team, winners of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in the past, consists of various players who have represented Pakistan officially in the various formats of the game. Rumman Raees, Shan Masood, Hammad Azam, Muhammad Asghar, Sohaib Maqsood, Mir Hamza, Ehsan Adil, Sohail Khan and Muhammad Nawaz are members of the UBL Cricket team and have played for the Pakistan Team as well. Legendary batsman, Younus Khan is the team’s captain. Team Manager is ex-Pakistan Cricketer, Nadeem Khan.

UBL has a rich tradition of being an advocate of sports, especially cricket. This is manifested in UBL fielding one of the most acclaimed cricket teams in Pakistan’s domestic circuit. 32 UBL cricketers have gone on to play for the Pakistan Cricket Team. This representation includes six Pakistan Cricket Captains who have led the Pakistan Cricket Team to many victories.


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FFC join hands with Kaus-e-Kaza to support the under privileged population

F.P Report

ISLAMABAD: Fauji Fertilizer Company Limited (FFC) has signed a MoU of strategic partnership with Kaus-e-Kaza Organization (KKO) to help the vulnerable and privileged population.

Mou has been signed between the official non-profit organization of FFC, Sona Welfare Foundation (SWF) and a leading NGO in Pakistan, KKO in Rawalpindi. The aim of the strategic partnership is to share expertise, resources and available platforms to reach out to deprived population in remote areas, especially women through skill development, vocational training and other initiatives for poverty alleviation.

The MOU was signed by chief operating officer of SWF Brig Abid Mahmud and Executive Coordinator of KKO Dr. Fauzia Mughees.  Senior fficials of FFC and KKO were also present at the ceremony.

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Bearish trend continues as PSX loses 900 points

KARACHI (PPI): A bearish trend at the Pakistan Stock Exchange was witnessed as the KSE-100 index closed below 41,500 points on Tuesday after witnessing a negative change of 2.15 per cent.

The index lost 903 points during the day’s trading session with investors trading shares valuing more than Rs5.74 billion.

The market closed at 41,115 points, reaching a high of 42,043 points during the day’s trading. A constricted trading session was witnessed with KSE-100 volume trading 62.8 million shares today.

Cement stocks led the volumes with 21.4m shares being traded followed by technology and communication with 14.6m shares traded.

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People will soon be able to pay taxes via ATMs

F.P. Report

KARACHI:  Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) claimed that soon people will be able to pay their federal taxes and customs duties through internet banking and ATMs.

As per the issued on Monday, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and 1LINK signed an agreement to initiate a mechanism with the aim to facilitate the people and providing them assistance in paying the taxes and customs duties and the system will be operational by the end of 2017.

Speaking on the occasion, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar congratulated the SBP and FBR for initiating the project, which will revolutionize the tax collection mechanism.

SBP Governor Tariq Bajwa said the initiative is part of the SBP Vision 2020, which envisages the development of a robust payment system.