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Weekly inflation: Prices of 15 essential items increase

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Average prices of 15 essential items increased during the week ended on March 8, 2018 as compared to the previous week. According to data of Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) based weekly inflation for the week under review released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the average prices of 08 items registered decrease, while that of 30 items remained unchanged.

The weekly SPI has been computed with base 2007, 2008=100, covering 17 urban centers and 53 essential items for all income groups.

The items, which registered increase in their prices during the week under review as compard to the previous week included chicken farm (5.3%), garlic (1.7%), washing soap (1.16%), bananas (0.97%), sugar (0.87%), tea (0.78%), lawn printed (0.77%), red chilly powder (0.34 %), vegetable ghee (0.2%), mutton (0.2%), cooking oil (0.19%), gur (0.16%), rice basmati (0.16%), and pulse masoor (0.08%).

The items, which registered decrease in prices included potatoes (3.37%), onions (2.69%), tomatoes (2.42%), LPG cylinder (1.57%), eggs farm (0.66%), pulse moong (0.62%), pulse gram (0.51%), and pulse mash (0.21%).

The items with no change in their average prices during the week under review included wheat, wheat flour, rice itti-6, bread plain, beef, fresh milk, curd, powdered milk, mustard oil, salt powder, cooked beef, cooked pulses, tea prepared, cigarettes, long cloth, shirting, georgett, gents shoes, ladies shoes, electricity charges, gas charges, kerosene oil, firewood whole, electric bulb, match box, petrol, Hi Speed Diesel, telephone local call, and bathing soap.


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Hammond: Might be able to relax budget squeeze in autumn

LONDON (Reuters): British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Sunday that he might be able to relax his grip on public spending at the end of this year but he stuck to his plan to cut the country’s high public debt levels.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel because what we are about to see is debt starting to fall after it’s been growing for 17 continuous years,” Hammond told BBC television ahead of a half-yearly update on the public finances on Tuesday.

“That is a very important moment for us. But we are still in the tunnel at the moment. We have to get debt down,” he said.

Britain’s budget deficit probably fell to about two percent of annual economic output in the current financial year, its lowest since 2002 and way down from 10 percent in 2010 when many government departments began cutting spending sharply.

Faced with uncertainty about what Brexit will mean for the world’s sixth-biggest economy and frustration among voters with eight years of austerity, Hammond has already pushed back a target of wiping out the deficit into the mid-2020s. He came up with extra spending in a budget plan in November.

But he remains under pressure from the opposition Labour Party and some lawmakers in his Conservative Party to spend more on the over-stretched health system and other services.

Stressing the limits on his room for maneuver, he told the BBC on Sunday it was not clear that recent improvements in Britain’s economy – such as a pickup in weak productivity growth – represented a long-term change.

“We should be very careful at looking at single figures – one quarter or two quarters. We need to look at what is happening sustainably in the economy,” he said.

“But if there is the flexibility, the space to do something, then we will decide in the autumn how to do that,” he said, adding the government would continue to balance the need for investment against the push to bring down public debt levels.

Britain’s overall public sector net debt stands at around 85 percent of gross domestic product, more than double its level before the financial crisis and potentially restricting Britain’s ability to respond to future economic shocks.

Hammond confirmed he plans no new tax or spending measures in Tuesday’s budget statement which instead will be largely a low-key update of official economic forecasts. He is also due to launch some policy reviews.

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Broadcom promises on security, Qualcomm revamps board

NEW YORK (Reuters): Broadcom Ltd (AVGO.O) has promised not to sell critical national security assets to foreign buyers if its deal to buy chipmaker Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) is approved, another effort by the Singapore-based firm to appease U.S. security concerns.

Separately, Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) said it discontinued the role of executive chairman and named a new non-executive chairman as it seeks to curry favor with shareholders ahead of a proxy fight with Broadcom now slated for April 5.

Qualcomm also said Tom Horton would continue as its lead director. Horton has been a member of the company’s board since December 2008, having previously served as chairman and chief executive officer of American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O).

Broadcom’s $117 billion bid for Qualcomm has warped into a complex fight over regulatory approvals, security nerves about China’s influence on global mobile networks and the best way forward financially for one of the world’s dominant chipmakers.

In an open letter to the U.S. Congress on Friday, Broadcom promised to invest $3 billion in research and engineering and $6 billion in manufacturing in the United States annually. It did not say how those numbers compared with current spending by the two companies.

Broadcom spent about $3.3 billion in 2017 on research and development and $2.7 billion in 2016, while Qualcomm’s R&D investment was significantly higher with about $5.5 billion in 2017 and $5.2 billion in the year before that.

Qualcomm’s annual shareholder meeting, now slated for April 5, was postponed by 30 days after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) this week ordered a national security review of the takeover.

The U.S. government has raised concerns that Chinese companies, including the big network equipment and mobile phone maker Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL], will take advantage of any openings to take the lead in the next generation mobile phone networks known as 5G.

“Broadcom will not sell any critical national security assets to any foreign companies,” the letter said. “Of course, any dispositions of assets to foreign buyers would be themselves subject to CFIUS review.”

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ICCI holds reception in honor of winner of Gothia Cup

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted a reception in honor of winner of Islamabad Football Association (IFA) soccer team that had won the Gothia Cup China Under-18 Football Tournament 2017 after defeating hot favorites Zhaoqing Lixun FC, China in the final played at Shanyang, China last year.

IFA President Saleem Chaudhry, Secretary Syed Sharafat Hussain Bukhari, Team Manager Syed Tanveer, Coach Muhammad Zaman, Team Captain Abdullah Shah, team players, Secretary Information of Pakistan Football Federation Rana Tanveer and ohers were also present at the occasion.

Speaking at the occasion, Sheikh Amir Waheed, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry congratulated IFA soccer team for winning Gothia Cup which showed that Pakistan has great talent of football. He said government should declare football as an industry for its better development. He emphasized that CDA should develop more football grounds in Islamabad to facilitate its better growth.

Muhammad Naveed Senior Vice President ICCI thanked IFA soccer team for visiting ICCI. He said those nations achieve better development that focused on promoting sports in youth. He assured that ICCI Sports Committee will cooperate with IFA in promoting football in the region.

Saleem Chaudhry, President, Islamabad Football Association said that IFA soccer team went China on self-finance basis as no one had sponsored it. He urged that corporate and private sectors should patronize sports activities in the country including football. He said FIFA had put ban on Pakistan Football Federation for the last 3 years due to which our football players could not go abroad.

He said 50 football clubs were registered with IFA while 10 academies were working under its patronage to promote football talent in the region. He said about 5000 football players were playing in Islamabad current.

He said during next 2-3 months a professional football league would he held in Islamabad in which 8-10 teams would participate including some international players. Abdullah Shah, Captain of IFA soccer team said that 56 teams had participated in the Gothia Cup and Pakistan won the tournament by defeating India, Ethiopia, Balgladesh, China and others in the tournament.

Nasir Chaudhry Chairman ICCI Sports Committee, Rana Tanveer Ahmed Information Secretary Pakistan Football Federation, Baser Daud, Ashfaq Chatha, Sheikh Abdul Waheed and others also spoke at the occasion and congratulated the winner of Gothia Cup 2017.

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PRGMEA discusses stuck up payment of PM package with minister

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Central, Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PRGMEA), Shaikh Mohammad Shafiq, discussed the stuck up payments of PM package Duty Drawback of Taxes Order 2017-18 with Mr. Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, Commerce Minister and Mr. Mohammad Younus Dagha, Federal Secretary Commerce.

Shaikh Mohammad Shafiq, Chairman Central, Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) brief about the facts that The Textile and Clothing Industry has been the main driver of the economy for the last 50 years in terms of foreign currency earnings and jobs creation.

He also pointed out the severe cash flow crunch has squeezed the productivity resulting in reduced exports as billions of rupees are blocked.

Both Secretary and Minister, assure that they are doing their best to overcome these issue and informed that government has leased Rs. 5 billion to State Bank of Pakistan for the payment of  DDT PM package scheme and will release another Rs. 6 Billion by the next week and special tariff for Textile is also in the process.

High cost of doing business were also discussed, The Minister express his point that the export is increased, which Shaikh Mohammad Shafiq totally refuse, and said that I have a different point of view, if we cross the export by 25 Billion $ then is said to be increased. Shaikh Mohammad Shafiq also enquired about the time barred cases, Mr. Mohammad Younus Dagha, Federal Secretary Commerce assure that they will also consider the same.

Shaikh Mohammad Shafiq also had a meeting with Mr. Ahsan Iqbal the Federal Minister for Ministry of Planning, Development & Reform at Islamabad on Friday 9th March, 2018.

The project of establish 1000 Industrial Stitching Units were discussed there. Chairman PRGMEA said that by setting up 1000 Industrial Stitching Units in Pakistan will encourage the value addition. It believes this will result additional $20 billion in export potential in a year.

He further said that we have full confidence in Mr. Ahsan Iqbal’s ability and expertise to uplift the economy. However, the government needs to provide a conducive environment by reducing cost of inputs to achieve export targets and special strategy may be formulated to strengthen Pakistani brands in the international market as well as support local SMEs to develop their own brands locally as well as in international market. Small schemes may be launch, to re-initiate with more vigor and government support.


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‘Microsoft aims to spread cloud computing in Turkey’

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: Microsoft is determined to spread the use of cloud computing in Turkey, where a digital transformation has already begun in several sectors of the economy, said the tech giant’s senior executive in the country.

“We give the highest priority to cloud computing due to the advancing technology. We believe that cloud computing is the technology of the future,” Murat Kansu, the head of Microsoft Turkey, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

“Microsoft is one of the leading companies in cloud computing, and we’re doing our best to make it widespread in Turkey.”

Kansu said that for 25 years now the tech company has been trying to raise awareness among Turkish public and private institutions of the benefits of digital technology and software.

Cloud computing, in which users rely on remote, shared resources rather than local servers or devices, ensures a “great democratization” and is “very useful,” he said, as it enables companies anywhere — including those in Turkey — to use the same technologies as in more developed countries.

“It provides great equality. It’s also critical for us to go further,” he said.

Cyber security

Kansu said the development of cloud computing will also add to the importance of cyber security.

“With the development of cloud computing, cyber security will become more important since our customers’ data is under our protection,” he added. He said Microsoft has allocated more than $1 billion for cyber security research and development.

“Microsoft sees security as the first priority, and everything else fall under this main principle,” he added.

Kansu said hackers dream of hacking Microsoft.

“We have a structure and departments that develop measures against this. One of the most important features of cloud computing is making our customers feel safe,” he said.

He said it is not important where the data is being kept but who is keeping it.

“Microsoft is one of the few companies in the world that provides this trustworthy environment.”

Digital transformation

Kansu said a digital transformation has started in several sectors in Turkey such as the media, music and travel, adding: “We’re heading in the right direction, but we need to do more.”

He said Turkey needs a digital transformation strategy.

“It’s important not to fear new technologies. I believe it’s critical to use technologies like cloud computing.”

Instead of always using traditional technologies, Turkey should be an “innovator” and support the development of new technologies, he said.

Artificial intelligence

Kansu also said Microsoft is a leading company in artificial intelligence and is making a “huge” investment in it.

“In our view, artificial intelligence helps people,” he added.

Though many people have warned of the dangers of artificial intelligence, including Tesla mogul Elon Musk, Kansu said: “I’m not pessimistic; I think it will be benefit humanity.” AA


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Melbourne meets Turkey’s rich culture during festival

Monitoring Desk

MELBOURNE, Australia: The eleventh Turkish Bazaar Festival in Melbourne, Australia started on Saturday to share Turkey’s rich culture down under. Organized by the Moreland Turkish Association, the two-day festival is held at the Queen Victoria Market, one of the busiest spots in the coastal city.

The colorful festival gives visitors a sampling of Turkish culture through a dazzling array of Turkish handicrafts, music, and cuisine at numerous stalls.

Visitors can get a taste of Turkey’s rich cuisine, including Turkish delight and gozleme — a flatbread filled with cheese, potatoes, or other offerings — while enjoying a cup of Turkish coffee or tea.

On its first day, the festival attracted countless people from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds, while musicians from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus performed Anatolian and Cypriot folk songs. Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Cemal Akdeniz, head of the Moreland Turkish Association, said that the festival also serves to promote Turkish tourism.

“For 11 years we have been striving to promote our cultural values to the Australian community here and spotlight the Turkish community in the best possible light,” he said.

Akdeniz said that Turkish tourist attractions need to be better promoted, as Australians take a great interest in Turkey.

The bazaar started in 1997 and is a featured event on the Melbourne festival calendar.

Peter Dutton — then-immigration minister, now home affair minister — said last year that Australia has a 150,000-strong Turkish community, “immersed in society in business and academia, people who are working hard to make a great contribution to modern society.”AA


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Ronesans Holding’s net profit almost doubles in 2017

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: Net profits at leading Turkish conglomerate Ronesans Holding almost doubled last year to reach 1.05 billion Turkish liras ($287.1 million), the holding announced on Saturday.

Profits at the Ankara-based holding, active in construction, automotive, real estate investment and development, energy, health and education, surged 98.8 percent to 527.3 billion liras ($174 million) in 2017, according a statement issued on the Public Disclosure Platform (KAP) of Turkey’s Borsa Istanbul exchange.

Ronesans’ revenues also jumped over 50 percent to 15.4 billion liras ($4.21 billion) in 2017, up from 10.2 billion liras ($3.37 billion) the previous year.

The holding’s profit rise is based on core earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), reaching 1.34 million liras ($368.2 million) in the year.

The total equity of the holding last year reached 8.64 billion liras ($2.37 billion).

The U.S. dollar/Turkish lira exchange rate was 3.65 in 2017 and 3.03 in 2016, according to Turkey’s Central Bank.

Forbes magazine’s world’s billionaires list named Ronesans Holding founder Erman Ilicak Turkey’s second-richest person, with his $4 billion fortune.

The holding established in 1993 operates in over 20 countries, including Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Qatar, Finland, Belgium, Gabon, and Japan. AA

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Digital transformation roadmap finalized, says Turkish minister

Monitoring Desk

MERSIN: Turkey’s digital transformation roadmap is in its final stage and will be unveiled in the coming days, Science, Industry and Technology Minister Faruk Ozlu said on Thursday. “We cannot leave behind our efforts for production and industrialization due to security problems in our region,” Ozlu said during his speech at Mediterranean Economic Forum in southern Mersin province.

Stating that technology is the biggest power of the current era, Ozlu noted, it was at the center of the government policies. “Countries which equip their schools, factories, cities and armies with technology become powerful and continue to be strong,” Ozlu said. We aim to see Turkey as a science center, a hub of technology and an advanced industrial country.

Highlighting the strategic role of the Mediterranean Region, Ozlu said: “Being powerful in the Mediterranean means being powerful in the world. Having a voice in the Mediterranean means having a voice globally.”

Turkey, which ranked fourth among 21 countries in the region based on gross domestic product, is a rising star of the Mediterranean.

Pointing out that women labour force participation rate in Turkey was around 30 percent while it was around 60 percent in the EU, Ozlu suggested that increasing women employment rate should be adopted as Turkey’s social goal. “In this case, our ministry considers women entrepreneurship not only as an economic activity but also as a social responsibility,” Ozlu said.

According to the latest data from Turkish Statistical Institute, the labour force participation rate for women was 33.8 percent in November 2017, rising 1.1 percentage points compared to the same month in the previous year.

He added that the government puts social gender equality in all its plans and programs in order to achieve Turkey’s development targets.

Turkish ministers, bureaucrats, economists, local directors, industrialists and exporters are among participants of the Mediterranean Economic Forum, which was held on March 7-8.

The forum is being held by Organization Company Ozgencil Group, broadcast channel NTV and Turkey’s Ministry of Development.

Main sessions to be discussed at the forum include macroeconomic developments, stable growth in economy, sustainable innovative agriculture and food, and Industry 4.0.AA


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European Central Bank holds interest rates steady

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: The European Central Bank has decided to keep interest rates unchanged.

The ECB held interest rates on the main refinancing operations unchanged at 0.00 percent, according to a statement from the bank after Governing Council on Thursday.

Interest rates on the marginal lending facility and on the deposit facility will remain steady at their current level of 0.25 percent and -0.40 percent, respectively, the ECB said.

“The Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of the net asset purchases,” the statement read. The ECB added that monthly net asset purchases of €30 billion were intended to run until the end of September, or beyond, if necessary.

“The Eurosystem will reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the asset purchase program for an extended period of time after the end of its net asset purchases, and in any case for as long as necessary,” it said. AA