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First Pakistan Table Tennis Super League from April 12

F.P. Report

MULTAN: The selection of players will be conducted on April 3 for first Pakistan Table Tennis Super League being organized by Pakistan Table Tennis Federation (PTTF) from April 12 in Islamabad.

President Table Tennis Federation (PTTF) Khawaja Hassan Wadood told APP here on Saturday that players selection would be made during the presence of PTTF representatives. He said that ten table tennis teams from across the country including Rawal Jugni, Peshawar Dilawar, Faisalabad Sherdil, Quetta defender, Multan Sufee, Karachi Kararay, Lahori Ustaad, Sargodha Shaheen, Bahawalpur Nawab and Islamabad Metropolitan are participating in the event. The table tennis super league would be held at Pakistan Sports Board Islamabad from April 12 to 15, 2018. There would be no single & double event while only team event on davis cup basis would be held.


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2024 Paris Olympics at risk of running €500m over budget

Monitoring Desk

Paris:The cost of hosting the 2024 Olympics in Paris is at risk of running half a billion euros over budget and some sites may not be ready in time if plans are not revised, a French government report warned on Friday.

The report by finance, sports and infrastructure inspectors called for Olympic village plans to be revised to take account of remnants of archaeological value at the site, a residency for migrants and a high school. It said plans for a media village should be scaled down and it warned that the swimming centre and surrounding developments were at risk of running as much as €170 million over budget.


“At this point the total potential risks identified by the cases under consideration stand at €500 million,” the report said, adding the figure could be kept to €200 million if its recommendations were followed.


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Lukaku scores 100th goal in win against Swansea

MANCHESTER (BBC): Romelu Lukaku scored his 100th Premier League goal as Manchester United strengthened their grip on second place and dented Swansea’s survival hopes.

Lukaku gave United an early lead when he collected Alexis Sanchez’s pass to fire in with the aid of a deflection.

Sanchez’s crisp strike soon doubled the advantage – only his second league goal for United – as the hosts dominated.

Swansea improved after the break, Tammy Abraham twice denied by David de Gea, but United were always in control.

Jose Mourinho’s side re-opened a two-point gap over third-placed Liverpool, who won 2-1 at Crystal Palace earlier on Saturday.

Swansea stay three points clear of the relegation zone, but drop down a place to 15th.

Earlier, Mohamed Salah’s late goal snatched a victory for Liverpool at Crystal Palace and left their hosts two points above the relegation zone.

The Egyptian took a touch before firing past keeper Wayne Hennessey after Andy Robertson had crossed in from the left.

Luka Milivojevic had converted from the spot early in the first half to give Palace the lead after Liverpool keeper Loris Karius took out Wilfried Zaha.

And Sadio Mane turned in James Milner’s cross shortly after the break to level.

Liverpool had plenty of chances to score in the first half at Selhurst Park as Salah’s curling effort tested Hennessey and Mane came close with two headed efforts.

Karius’ early error looked costly as Palace clung on until half-time but Liverpool responded within four minutes of the restart when Milner and Robertson combined down the left to set up Mane.

Christian Benteke then missed two clear goalscoring chances in as many minutes before Patrick van Aanholt’s fizzing free-kick was palmed away by Karius.

There were appeals for Mane to be shown a second yellow card – he was booked for diving in the first half – after he picked up the ball on the edge of the area but referee Neil Swarbrick settled for a free-kick.

The Reds then completed the comeback when Salah scored his 29th Premier League goal of the season – equalling the league record of scoring in 21 matches in a 38-game season.

Liverpool headed to Selhurst Park knowing they have an important week ahead.

The Reds host Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday before making the short trip to Merseyside rivals Everton in next Saturday’s Premier League derby.


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Walmart talking with Humana on closer ties; acquisition possible

NEW YORK (Reuters): U.S. retailer Walmart Inc is in early-stage talks with health insurer Humana Inc about developing closer ties, with the acquisition of Humana being discussed as one possibility, people familiar with the matter said.

Should the talks lead to a tieup, it would be the latest deal to bring together a retail chain and a health insurer in the last few months, following CVS Health Corp’s $69 billion deal to acquire Aetna Inc and Cigna Corp’s $54 billion deal to buy Express Scripts Holding Co.

Walmart approached Humana earlier this month and the deliberations are preliminary, two of the sources said. While the conversations have focused on new partnerships, an acquisition of Humana by Walmart is also something being discussed, the sources added. The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Humana and Walmart declined to comment. Walmart and Humana have market capitalizations of $264 billion and $37 billion, respectively.

An acquisition of Humana would represent a significant strategic shift for Walmart, which is the world’s largest retailer and has been focused on fending off Inc in online shopping.

Amazon has also been looking at entering the healthcare sector. Earlier this year, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co, said they would form a company aimed at cutting healthcare costs for their U.S. employees.

“The risks (for Walmart) of becoming entangled in the complex U.S. healthcare industry are considerable, especially at a time when Walmart is grappling with the competitive challenges of a rapidly shifting retail market,” Neil Saunders, managing director of retail consultancy GlobalData Retail, wrote in a note.

“The hammering out of any agreement, which would be Walmart’s largest ever corporate deal, would, of itself, be an enormous distraction,” Saunders added. Walmart currently has a co-branded Medicare drug plan with Humana that steers patients to Walmart stores. The partnership offers a prescription drug plan that can save up to 20 percent in drug costs for customers.

Closer ties between the two companies could allow Walmart to tap into Humana’s patient population, expanding low-level medical services in its pharmacies to avoid ER visits. They could allow it to better manage prescription drug use though access to medical records.

Humana’s biggest business is managing Medicare Advantage health plans for older and disabled people, a heavily regulated business that Walmart would have to take on in an acquisition.

Memberships in retail Medicare Advantage plans – where individuals sign up directly with Humana – rose about 1 percent to 2.86 million, as of Dec. 31. Employer or other group-based Medicare Advantage membership climbed 24 percent to 441,400.

Last month, Walmart reported a sharp drop in profit and online sales growth during the critical holiday period and forecast annual profit at the lower end of expectations.


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India’s electronics ministry moots duties on key smartphone component

NEW DELHI (Reuters): India is exploring new duties on the import of a key smartphone component, according to two government sources, the latest in a series of moves aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing in the world’s second-biggest smartphone market.

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has mooted a proposal to levy a 10 percent duty on the import of populated printed circuit boards (PCBs), two government officials told Reuters this week, declining to be named as the matter is not public.

A PCB is a bed for key components such as processors, memory and wireless chip sets that are the heart of an electronic device. Once populated with components, PCBs account for about half the cost of a smartphone. Currently, most manufacturers of smartphones import PCBs which are already loaded with components to India and then assemble them locally.

If India’s finance ministry clears the recommendation on new duties, these could be levied in a matter of days, say government and industry sources, thus making populated PCB imports more expensive and pushing players to locally mount components instead.

India’s finance, electronics and trade ministries did not respond to requests for comment.

In the near-term, such actions could spur players like Apple Inc to widen their limited manufacturing and assembly capabilities in India and give an edge to those like Korea’s Samsung Electronics and homegrown firm Lava, which already have machines to mount components onto PCBs. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China’s OPPO is also putting up surface mounting machines in a new facility it is building in north India, a company executive told Reuters in a recent interview. The local unit of Foxconn, one of the biggest global contract manufacturers of electronics, also has the capability, according to two industry sources.

Foxconn was not immediately reachable for comment.

“This will be a step in a good direction. This is how full-scale manufacturing happens,” said S.N. Rai, co-founder of Lava, adding the move will gradually also boost local production of components such as smartphone cameras and screens.

The move, if implemented, would be the latest step in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s phased manufacturing programme (PMP), a plan unveiled in 2016 to step up local value addition every year in the smartphone manufacturing space.

About 134 million smartphones were sold in India last year, the world’s second-biggest market after China. Modi’s government has since raised duties on a range of low-value items such as batteries and chargers and on imported phones.

Any move to impose duties on populated PCBs, however, could risk a backlash from several countries and heighten trade war concerns. China, Canada and the United States among others last week raised concerns at the World Trade Organization around India’s imposition of duties on such devices.

In its annual budget last month, India’s government outlined higher duties on products including imported smartphones and a range of components.

Modi hopes to turn India into a global manufacturing hub in a bid to boost growth and create tens of millions of new jobs.

While his flagship ‘Make in India’ drive is still a long way from delivering on lofty job promises, Modi has had some success with the PMP. Over 100 local factories currently assemble mobile phones and accessories like chargers, batteries, powerbanks and earphones in India, says tech research firm Counterpoint.

The PMP currently envisions local assembly of camera modules and printed circuit boards in the fiscal year beginning April 1, according to a public electronics ministry document.

“India has a plan to raise duties for all components bit by bit,” said Tarun Pathak an associate director with Counterpoint, adding this will gradually force more domestic manufacturing.


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Snapchat cuts 7% of its workforce

NEW YORK (Reuters): Snap Inc (SNAP.N) on Friday said it cut 7 percent of its global workforce in March, as disclosed by it in a regulatory filing here.

The social media company said it would incur about $10 million of cash expenditure due to severance costs to be reflected in the current quarter ending March 31.

As a result of the layoffs, primarily in its engineering and sales teams, the company said it sees savings of about $25 million in 2018.

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CPEC to spur insurance industry growth: Mamnoon Hussain

F.P. Report

KARACHI: President Mamnoon Hussain Saturday said the insurance industry in the country would get significance in the near future after development of industries and generation of business activities as result of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The president opined that fruits of CEPC could be reaped through effective team work.

He was addressing at a seminar arranged by the Federal Insurance Ombudsman. Governor Sindh Muhammad Zubair was also present on the occasion, said a press release.

He underlined the importance of holding of seminars to guide and educate the people and the business community in particular.

The president said during the last few decades, the trade sector in the country had not only strengthened, but also it had made strides in innovations.

The youth equipped with relevant professional education in the trade and investment sectors had introduced new trends, he said and stressed upon further improvements in these sectors.

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FPCCI urges govt to reduce penalty

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) in one of its Pre-Budget proposals being prepared under the guidance of its Senior Vice President, Syed Mazhar Ali Nasir has urged the government to reduce the penalty for failure to furnish statements U/S 115; 165; 165A or 165B of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 from Rs. 2,500/day to Rs. 500/day subject to a maximum penalty of Rs. 10,000.

The proposal argued that the present quantum of penalty worked on the above basis is too harsh and highly unreasonable. It elaborated that in many cases, practically the quantum of penalty is much more than the actual tax liability of an assesses.

It added, “The taxpayer is required to pay default surcharge at a much higher rate than the compensation paid to him by the FBR for delay of his refund U/S 171 @ KIBOR+0.5% and therefore, the rates of default surcharge and compensation may be brought at par”.

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ICCI for construction of water reservoirs to achieve sustainable economic growth

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) Sheikh Amir Waheed has called upon the government to focus on urgent construction of water reservoirs in the country to ensure achieving sustainable economic growth.

In a statement issued here on Saturday, Sheikh Amir Waheed said that being an agriculture economy, Pakistan was heavily dependent on water resources, but according to a recent report of IMF, Pakistan was 3rd among the countries facing rising water shortage, which should be a cause of concern for policymakers. He said the rising water crisis could jeopardize the economic future of the country.

The President ICCi said in 1951, per capita water availability in Pakistan was 5260 cubic meter that had come down to 940 cubic meter in 2015. He said if no urgent measures were taken for water reservoirs, per capita water availability would further reduce to 860 cubic meter by 2025 in Pakistan that was an alarming.

Sheikh Amir Waheed said that according to a WAPDA’s report, due to lack of water reservoirs, Pakistan was wasting water worth Rs.25 billion every year. He said Pakistani rivers were receiving average annual inflow of 145 million acre feet of water out of which only 14 million acre feet was preserved while the rest was going waste.

He said that during the last 70 years, only two major dams were built in Pakistan that showed that our successive governments paid no attention to build water reserves in the country. He said China has built over 87000 dams while India has built around 3200 dams, but Pakistan has built only 150 dams of 15-meter height which were insufficient to store water of required quantity.

Sheikh Amir Waheed said the underground water tables were rapidly going down in Pakistan and if water reserves were not built on urgent basis, the economic growth of the country would badly suffer. He said government was spending just 7 percent of development funds on water sector that was insufficient and stressed that at least 20 percent of development funds should be spent on water sector to improve water security.

Senior Vice President ICCI, Muhammad Naveed and Vice President Nisar Mirza said that the CCI in its last meeting had agreed to adopt the National Water Policy and stressed that urgent measures should be taken by the federal and provincial governments to achieve the targets set in the said policy for building water reserves and curbing wastage of water so that the country could achieve water security and ensure sustainable growth of the economy.


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Islamic Development Bank gears up for Tunisia summit

ANKARA (AA): Business leaders from Muslim nations will gather in the Tunisian capital on Sunday to review last year’s performance by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and discuss and approve its development agenda for the year ahead.

Representatives of 57 member states, senior government officials and ministers of finance, economy, planning and international development will attend the 43rd annual meeting of the bank in Tunis from April 1-5.

Several events have been organized on the sidelines of the conference from April 1-3 which deal with a wide range of issues, such as women empowerment, youth, preventing blindness, sustainable development, fintech, efficient water usage, global partnerships and Islamic bonds.

The governing board of the bank, which has been rated AAA by the three major credit rating agencies of the world for the past 14 years, will meet on April 4-5.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Bandar Hajjar, group president for the bank, said: “We are committed to the development needs of our member countries.

“In the last one year, we have introduced several initiatives that would help in building capacity of our member countries, particularly by leveraging on the opportunities offered by science and technology.”

He added that the bank will decentralize its operations in order to be closer to its clients.

“No institution can solve development challenges alone. That is why the annual meeting in Tunisia is focusing on partnerships for sustainable development,” Hajjar said.

$11.2B for Turkey’s development

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek will represent Turkey at the summit, where Ankara’s participation in a major international humanitarian health project in cooperation with the Alliance to Fight Avoidable Blindness (AFAB) will be announced. The project will span across 12 African countries.

Turkey is among the founding members of the bank and a major development partner.

The bank maintains an office in the Turkish capital Ankara and another in Istanbul, from where it handles projects in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Albania and Bosnia Herzegovina.

Since its inception, the bank has provided $11.2 billion in funds to 483 different projects in Turkey.

On April 3, the bank will officially launch a $500-million fund called TRANSFORM to provide direct and immediate support to scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs from all over the world, to find solutions to socio-economic challenges member states face.

The bank will also present awards for women empowerment, science and technology, and Islamic banking and finance.

The 2018 IDB Prize for Women’s Contribution to Development will be presented to three winners from Togo, Uganda and Nigeria. The award for Islamic banking and finance will be presented to a scholar from Sudan.

$128 billion of funding

In recent years, the institution which is the most successful Multi-lateral Development Bank (MDB) of the Muslim world, has been boosting its cooperation with major players in the global development arena while focusing on innovative ways of financing.

The Jeddah-based bank started operations in 1975, as the development arm of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the largest such entity in the Muslim world.

Since starting operations 43 years ago, the bank has provided nearly $128 billion of funding to various development projects in all its member countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America.

The institution is also focusing on fighting poverty and preventable diseases and epidemics, capacity building, and creating job opportunities, especially for the youth.