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Turkey: External loan burden on private sector falls

ANKARA (AA): Outstanding loans of Turkish private sector received from abroad dropped in December, the country’s Central Bank announced Tuesday.

Private sector’s short-term loans — excluding trade credits — amounted to $15.2 billion, falling a $3.3 billion on a yearly basis.

According to the official figures, nearly 75 percent of the amount consists of liabilities of the financial institutions.

As of end of 2018, long-term loans went down $10.9 billion year-on-year to $210.6 billion.

According to the bank, non-financial institutions’ share in long-term loans was 51.1 percent.

“Regarding the currency composition, of the total long-term loans in the amount of $210.6 billion, 59.5 percent consists of US dollar, 34.9 percent consists of euro, 4.2 percent consists of Turkish lira and 1.4 percent consists of other currencies.

“… And of the total short-term loans in the amount of $15.2 billion, 43.9 percent consists of US dollar, 34 percent consists of euro, 21.7 percent consists of Turkish lira and 0.4 percent consists of other currencies.” it said.

For the next 12 months, principal repayments of the private sector’s total outstanding loans received from abroad amounted to $64.8 billion.

Official figures also revealed that the top three multilateral creditors are the European Investment Bank, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, and the International Finance Corporation.

Meanwhile, Turkey plans to invest 122 million Turkish Liras in 2019, equivalent to around $23 million, for the land section on Turkish soil of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline, according to the government’s 2019 investment plan released on Monday.

According to the official announcement, the Turkish government will spend a total of 217.91 million liras for the project on Turkish soil.

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Sustainable development indicators released

ANKARA (AA): Turkey’s sustainable development indicators for the 2010-2017 period were released by the country’s statistical authority on Tuesday.

“As a result of inventory study, 83 indicators and definitions including global indicators identified as currently available and also additional indicators considered as appropriate to measure relevant target are published,” TurkStat said.

The institute noted that a set of 232 global indicators were constituted to monitor achieving the goals and targets stated during the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015.

Within the framework of 2030 agenda for sustainable development, a total of 17 main goals and 169 targets were determined. One of the most remarkable improvements was recorded in net official development assistances in 2010-2017.

“The total amount of net official development assistance made by Turkey as donor country increased by over eight times to $8.12 billion in 2017.

“While net official development assistance as a proportion of GDP was 0.13 percent in 2010, it increased to 0.95 percent in 2017,” TurkStat said.

Relative at-risk-of-poverty-rate falls

TurkStat said that the relative at-risk-of-poverty-rate fell 3.4 percentage points from 16.9 percent in 2010 to 13.5 percent in 2017.

“While at risk of poverty rate for individuals under 15 years of age was 24.8 percent in 2010, this rate realized as 21.3 percent in 2017.

“Poverty rate for young population representing the 15-24 age group was 18.5 percent in 2010 and decreased to 15.8 percent in 2017,” it said.

Over the same period, the proportion of the young people neither in employment nor in education or training declined to 24.2 percent, down from 32.3 percent.

Research and development expenditures up

TurkStat stated that research and development expenditures/GDP ratio rose from 0.80 percent to 0.96 percent in the 2010-2017 period.

In the same period, fixed internet broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants increased to 14.7 from 9.6.

“While the proportion of individuals using the internet was 37.6 percent in 2010, it was 64.7 percent in 2017,” the institute said.

As of 2017, share of population with access to electricity was 100 percent, while 59.8 percent of households have natural gas subscription.

Official figures showed that 28.6 percent of Turkey was forestland in 2017, up from 27.2 percent in 2010.

Maternal mortality and under-five mortality rate down

“While maternal mortality ratio was 16.4 per hundred thousand live births in 2010, this ratio decreased to 14.6 in 2017.

“Under-five mortality rate was 11.2 per thousand live births in 2017, compared to 15.5 in 2010,” the institute said.

Neonatal mortality rate — probability of dying during the first 28 days of life — dropped from 7.6 to 5.8 per thousand live births.

TurkStat said proportion of births attended by skilled health professional reached 98 percent in 2017, up from 91.6 percent in 2010.

“In the same period, number of physicians per hundred thousand population increased from 167 to 186,” it added.

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Turkey to invest $23m for TurkStream in 2019

ANKARA (AA): Turkey plans to invest 122 million Turkish Liras in 2019, equivalent to around $23 million, for the land section on Turkish soil of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline, according to the government’s 2019 investment plan released on Monday.

According to the official announcement, the Turkish government will spend a total of 217.91 million liras for the project on Turkish soil.

In 2018, the country invested around 95.91 million liras for the project, and this year aims to invest another 122 million liras.

The TurkStream’s first line, which will carry Russian gas to Turkey for the country’s use, is set to be 100 percent completed with the construction of the 69-kilometers-long land section. The pipeline plans to be up and running by late 2019.

The project has a total capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters, out of which the first line will carry a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to Turkish consumers.

The second line, which will carry another 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe, is expected to route from Turkey through Bulgaria, then Serbia, Hungary and Slovakia.

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SME finance by banking industry achieves historic high of over half-a-trillion rupees

F.P. Report

KARACHI: SME financing by banks in Pakistan has first time crossed the milestone of Rs 500 billion. SME financing was recorded at Rs 513 billion at the end of CY 2018 compared to Rs 450 billion in the corresponding period last year, exhibiting growth of 14 percent. The growth in SME financing was even more prominent in the last six months of CY 2018 (July-Dec, 2018) wherein it registered an increase of 25%.

This increase in SME financing attracts greater significance keeping in view the fact that SBP policy rate during CY 2018 witnessed a rising trend. Due to continued focus of State Bank for facilitating SMEs access to formal sources of finance, SME financing increased significantly during CY 2018. The substantial increase in SME financing is mainly attributable to implementation of the policy for promotion of SME finance issued by the State Bank of Pakistan in December 2017.

The SME policy ensured provision of enabling regulatory environment for SME finance, prescribing SME financing targets for banks/DFIs, sensitizing banks to adopt SME financing as a viable business proposition, advising banks to provide non-financial advisory services for making SMEs bankable, simplifying procedures for SME financing and introduction of new SBP refinance schemes for SMEs through banks/DFIs. Under the policy so far more than 2,500 bankers have been trained through focused trainings by the training institute of the central bank. Similarly, awareness has also been created among more than 20,000 stakeholders including SMEs through special programs held by SBP and SBP BSC all across the country.

The impact of SBP interventions resulted into significant rise in outstanding SME finance by banks/DFIs coupled with 2.3 percent decrease in non-performing SME portfolio of banks over last year. It is pertinent to mention that Government of Pakistan is also providing all out support to promote SME sector. The substantial tax incentives to the banks on their incremental financing to SMEs announced in recent economic reforms bill is in line with measures identified in government’s 100-day agenda for development of SME sector. This will continue to encourage banks to fulfill the financing needs of SMEs.

It is worth mentioning that SME sector is contributing 30 percent towards country’s GDP, employ more than 80 percent of non-agricultural workforce and generate 25 percent in export earnings. Thus, SME sector has huge potential for employment generation and poverty alleviation.

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Huawei Founder Slams U.S. Charges as ‘Politically Motivated’

Raymond Zhong

BEIJING: Ren Zhengfei, the founder of the Chinese technology giant Huawei, has accused the United States of having political motivations in leveling criminal charges against the company and his daughter, a top Huawei executive.

The comments, made in an interview with the BBC that was published Monday, mark a rhetorical escalation. Mr. Ren and the firm had previously declined to say much on the case, citing respect for the legal process. But he appears to be sharpening his language as a hearing nears on whether his daughter should be sent to the United States to stand trial.

“I object to what the U.S. has done,” Mr. Ren told the BBC. “This kind of politically motivated act is not acceptable.”

Late last month, the Justice Department unveiled sweeping charges against Huawei and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, outlining yearslong efforts by the Chinese firm to steal American industrial secrets, obstruct a criminal investigation and evade economic sanctions against Iran.

Ms. Meng, who is Mr. Ren’s elder daughter, was arrested in December by Canadian authorities acting at the request of the United States. She remains in Canada while awaiting a decision by its legal authorities about whether she will be extradited to the United States to face charges.

The criminal case against Huawei and Ms. Meng coincides with a campaign by American officials to pressure Western governments not to use Huawei’s equipment in their mobile networks. Washington has long held that the company’s networking gear could be used to help Beijing spy on Americans, charges that Huawei has consistently denied.

Relations between China and the United States have already been tense as efforts to resolve their monthslong trade war plod forward.

Mr. Ren, 74, has generally preferred to avoid the spotlight as he built Huawei into the world’s largest supplier of the equipment that enables modern telecommunications.

In an interview last month with a group of journalists from international news outlets, Mr. Ren said: “I trust that the legal systems of Canada and the United States are open, just and fair, and will reach a just conclusion. We will make our judgment after all the evidence is made public.”

Mr. Ren’s latest comments appear to be aimed at a Canadian audience. A Canadian judge is set in the coming weeks to hear arguments about whether Ms. Meng should be extradited.

One issue that is likely to factor into the Canadian authorities’ decision is whether her arrest was politically motivated. Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, has warned the United States not to use the extradition process to pursue political ends. And last month, John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China at the time, said Ms. Meng had a good chance of avoiding extradition because of remarks by President Trump, who had said he was willing to intervene if it would help secure a trade deal.

Mr. McCallum backpedaled on his observation. But he was pushed out of his job soon after.

Courtesy: (nytimes.com)

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Brent oil eases from 2019 highs as markets await trade talks outcome

SINGAPORE (Agencies): Brent crude oil prices eased away from 2019 highs on Tuesday on caution that economic growth may dent fuel demand this year, although supply cuts led by producer cartel OPEC still meant markets were relatively tight.

International Brent crude oil futures were at $66.08 per barrel at 0220 GMT, down 42 cents, or 0.6 percent from their last close, but still not far off the 2019 high of $66.83 a barrel hit in the previous session.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $55.71 per barrel. While that was up 12 cents from their last settlement, it was below the $56.33 2019 high from the previous day.

Traders said the slight downward correction was driven by concerns about the health of the global economy this year.

China’s vice premier and chief trade negotiator, Liu He, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer lead a round of trade talks this week in Washington.

Considering the economic outlook and supply and demand balances, the bank said it expects Brent prices to average between $50 and $70 per barrel, “anchored around $60.”

Despite some caution around trade, global oil markets remain relatively tight because of supply cuts led by the Middle East dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), with top crude exporter Saudi Arabia cutting the most.

Saudi seaborne crude exports fell in the first half of February, with departures standing at 6.204 million barrels per day (bpd), a 1.341 million bpd decline on the previous month and 0.91 million bpd decline on the year, data intelligence firm Kpler said.

Further providing oil markets with support are U.S. sanctions against petroleum exporters Iran and Venezuela.

Venezuela is a major crude supplier to U.S. refineries while Iran is a key exporter to major demand centres in Asia, especially China and India.

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How gender lens investing is becoming a roaring business trend women business

Monitoring Desk

LONDON: When Prince Charles announced a $100 million fund with the aim of reaching thousands of women and girls in South Asia to provide them support in the form of education and professional opportunities in the next five years, the British Asian Trust (BAT) was tasked with playing the role of the investment banker for the project.

“The sustainable development goals endorsed by 193 member states at the United Nations cannot be achieved unless radical new approaches are developed,” Philanthropy Women quoted Prince Charles, upon unveiling the new fund last week. “I am very proud that the British Asian Trust is at the forefront of developing such innovations,” he added.

This is one of the latest examples in gender lens investing, a business trend that has been catching up at a rapid rate. After the term was coined about 2009, it became a steadily prevalent practice in the mid-2010s. The phenomenon is a sub-part of the broader “impact investing”, which signifies investments that are made into organizations or companies with the objective of generating not just a financial return, but also a quantifiable and profitable social or environmental effect.

When this kind of investment is made in women-centric organizations to benefit women whilst keeping an eye on profits, it is called gender lens investing. Such an investment can aim to improve economic opportunities for women and bring about their social wellbeing.

“Women launching and expanding ventures around the world have an estimated collective credit gap of $320 billion”

The early days of gender lens investing can be traced back to 2005, when the French money-management firm Conseil Plus Gestion created the Valeurs Feminines fund, an organization set up to invest in European businesses that were women-owned or women-led. The fund received gender lens investment strategies from the likes of Trillium Asset Management, Morgan Stanley, Root Capital, Merrill Lynch, U.S. Trust, Veris Wealth Partners, Goldman Sachs, Illuminate Ventures, Gray Matters Capital, the Calvert Foundation, and Golden Seeds.

In the current impact investing landscape, we see many examples of gender lens investment in the world. Often such investment aims to benefit women by improving their lives through products and services. A case in point is BNY Mellon Investment Management’s Dreyfus Japan Womenomics Fund, which assigns funds to companies listed in Japan that could benefit from Womenomics.

The Japanese government’s Womenomics is an enterprise that targets economic growth by raising gender equality. It aims to not only grow the participation of female labour force, but also, to ensure that 30% of leadership positions are filled by women by 2020.

“Channelizing funds through women also helped women to be economically empowered”

Champions of gender lens investing have come up with data that shows investments in women quite profitable. Gender lens investing can include funding women-owned businesses, businesses with a strong track record of employing women, or companies that. Sarah Kaplan, Associate Professor of Strategic Management at Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and Jackie VanderBrug of US Trust said about the practice in the paper, “The Rise of Gender Capitalism”.

“Women launching and expanding ventures around the world have an estimated collective credit gap of $320 billion (the difference between the capital they are seeking and the credit to which they have access), which creates a major opportunity for investors.”

Hence, we see investments that can lead to pure commercial profits, while causing women to benefit. Last October, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the US government’s development finance institution, dedicated a $100 million loan to IndusInd Bank Ltd., which will be further loaned to women across India.

“The microfinance experience over the last two decades has shown that the business case for funding through women is compelling. The utilization of funds is proper, discipline is adhered to and repayment is good. Channelizing funds through women also helped women to be economically empowered leading to having a say in the decisions in a family, helped in improving better quality of food, better education to children etc. For us, lending to women is, therefore, smart economics as it leads to increased efficiency, productivity, better portfolio quality, employee satisfaction and is sustainably viable,” the IndusInd Bank said in a blog.

Gender lens investing has become one of the winners within the impact investing arena, with its lens focusing on places where women often get undermined, such as refugees and migrants, forced labour, and modern-day slavery.

Courtesy: (sociable.co)

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Istanbul angel investor forum sees two int’l deals inked

ISTANBUL (AA): Two international agreements were signed Monday as part of the World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF) in Istanbul.

The WBAF, Kosovo’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ministry and Ghana Business Development Ministry signed an economic cooperation agreement to boost start-up economy and innovation.

With the agreement, entrepreneurship and angel investment will be included in both countries’ action plans for 2019. The agreement was signed by Kosovo’s Minister of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Besim Beqaj, Ghanaian Minister for Business Development Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, and Baybars Altuntas, the chairman of the WBAF.

The other agreement, “The Implementation Agreement for the WBAF Master Plan for African Economies”, was signed between the WBAF and Ghana.

The agreement provides a financial road-map for African entrepreneurs over the next two years.

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Nearly 73,000 houses sold in January

ANKARA (AA): Turkey saw a 24.8 percent fall in house sales in January with a monthly total of 72,937 houses sold, the country’s statistical office announced Monday.

TurkStat said 31,048 newly-built houses were sold while the remaining were second-hand sales last month.

“Istanbul had the highest share of house sales with 18.4 percent and 13,455 sold houses,” the statistical institute said.

The capital Ankara and the Aegean province of Izmir followed Istanbul with 6,785 and 3,795 house sales, respectively.

Official figures showed that mortgaged house sales across the country had fallen to 6,537, down 77.2 percent on a yearly basis.

TurkStat noted that mortgaged sales represented 9 percent of all house sales in during the month.

Last year, over 1.37 million property sales were recorded in Turkey, while around 650,000 of them were newly-built houses.

Sales to foreigners up 81.9 percent

Property sales to foreigners totaled at 3,168 units in January, climbing 81.9 percent year-on-year.

TurkStat said Istanbul was the most preferred city with 1,361 sales — followed by the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya with 601 sales.

Iraqis purchased the most houses in January, buying a total 605 properties.

These were followed by Iranians with 305 purchases, as well as Russian, Afghan and Jordanian nationals making 195, 191 and 151 purchases each, the institute said.

In 2018, house sales to foreigners posted an annual hike of 78.4 percent, reaching 39,663 units.

TurkStat will release its next property sales report on March 18.

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PSO reports profit after tax of Rs.4.2b in 1H FY19

F.P. Report

KARACHI: The Board of Management (BOM) of Pakistan State Oil Company Limited (PSOCL) has reviewed the performance of the Company for first half of the financial year 2019 (1HFY19) in its meeting.

The challenging economic trend in the country fueled by rupee devaluation and adverse balance of payment position resulted in negative growth of 27% in the cumulative liquid fuel market with negative contribution of white oil and black oil of 12% and 60% respectively. Black oil volumes have been impacted significantly due to power production shift towards RLNG in the country, based on a GoP decision.

Despite the challenging economic scenario, PSO lead the liquid fuel market in 1HFY19 with an overall market share of 40.9% (increase of 0.7% market share vs. Sept 18 quarter). In spite of soaring outstanding receivables (inclusive of LPS) from the Power Sector, PIA and SNGPL as of December 31, 2018 which stood at Rs. 325 billion (September 30, 2018: Rs. 310 billion), PSO maintained the sensitive supply chain by importing 48% of total industry imports and up lifting 36% of total refinery production in the country.

The economic down trend and reduction in overall market size has impacted the Company’s profitability. During the period under review, the Company reported Profit after Tax (PAT) of Rs. 4.2 billion. Major reasons for reduction in PAT as compared to same period last year are lower gross profit mainly due to dip in sales volume of black and white oil, higher inventory loss due to reduction in international Oil prices, increase in finance cost due to sharp hike in discount rate by SBP and higher average borrowing levels vs. same period last year, lower interest income from power sector and foreign exchange loss on account of PKR devaluation.

Despite stiff competition in the industry especially due to an increase in the number of OMC’s and a shrinking market size, PSO is making an all-out effort to maintain its market share and leadership position with sustained profitability. The management expressed sincere gratitude to all stakeholders including Government of Pakistan, especially Petroleum division of Ministry of Energy and shareholders of the company for their continued support and guidance.

PSO is the nation’s largest energy company currently engaged in the marketing and distribution of various POL products including Motor Gasoline (MOGAS), High Speed Diesel (HSD), Furnace Oil (FO), Jet Fuel (JP-1), Kerosene, CNG, LNG, LPG, Petrochemicals and Lubricants.