Posted on

‘National Single Window’ for trade to be established in one year: Afzal

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan Wednesday expressed the confidence that a National Single Window (NSW) for trade would be established within a period of one or two years to process all import, export and transit-related regulatory requirements efficiently under one umbrella.

“It (NSW) will take one or two years to start as Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has been authorized to complete the task. Funds are pouring in. The Window’s lead department is the Customs and its all sort of requirements will be fulfilled,” he said while talking to media after addressing the inaugural session of a two-day conference on establishment of NSW for trade here. The moot, jointly organized by USAID and FBR, was attended by more than 100 government officials from key trade regulators to better understand the challenges involved in institutionalizing the initiative, ‘National Single Window For Trade.’

Currently, the minister said, Pakistan had around 42 departments regulating imports and exports through the Customs, and the new initiative would help get rid of typical time-consuming file work, adding, under the one window operation each department would upload the ‘single sourced databank’ and all the required information would be shared with all the concerned departments.

“For example, customs duty, port charges and federal excise duty will be fed just by one click, and all will be cleared within minutes. Our cost of customs clearance is 200 percent higher than others, and this initiative will not only save time and money but also bring national efficiency and increase tax recovery ratio,” he said. Afzal said the NSW would also help increase profitability of entrepreneurs, which would ultimately increase tax recovery ratio and expand tax-base, adding “We are far behind of the world as this initiative should have been adopted 10 years before, but it is never too late, we are stepping into it which will be a superb integrated, computerized and electronic system, providing great scope for the country’s information technology sector to further flourish.”

He said a number of such initiatives were about to take place in the country, and “If we have to increase our exports rapidly, move forward step by step with the world and get growth beyond eight percent, this NSW initiative will be greatly helpful for the purpose.”

Commenting on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, the minister said it was the facilitation and infrastructure through which additional electricity was arriving, efficient sea connection achieved, information technology sector getting further strength and efficiency of railways improving.

“The CPEC is a physical infrastructure for real time movement of goods, and the NSW is of its facilitation, and we are switching over from paper to paperless mechanism. These are the pillars of Pakistan’s development as one (CPEC) is the hardware and the other (NSW) is of its software,” he remarked.

Earlier, addressing the conference, the minister said the NSW was one of the most critical reform efforts initiated in the trade-related public sector, which has the capacity to transform and modernize traditional way of doing business by introducing various trade- related processes and procedures in an automated and paperless environment leading to significant saving to Pakistan’s trade in terms of time and costs. “This development will have a positive impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector regulatory bodies,” he said.

The initiative would expedite the process of cross-border trade, enabling businesses to expand their operations and the government to reduce unnecessary documentations.

FBR Chairman Tariq Mahmood Pasha in his opening remarks highlighted importance of the initiative and its various aspects for promotion of trade. Country Director World Bank-Trade Facilitation in Pakistan Patchamuthu Illangovan said Pakistan was located where Central Asia, South Asia, Far East and Middle East come together, terming Pakistan a ‘true global trading hub.’ He urged that Pakistan would have to increase its ratio of trade to GDP by taking advantage of its strategic location and improving trade, adding “Our experience from South, East and Asia and elsewhere is that economies grow faster with better trade regimes.”

He hoped that the National Single Window should turn into a joint single window at the international level, wishing that the NSW initiative would be a moment of turning around for Pakistan’s performance in export sector.

He said the World Bank was ready to support Pakistan in increasing its exports performance and wanted to see its trade to GDP ratio at around 60 percent in near future. Acting USAID Mission Director Helen Pataki said “For Pakistan, boosting exports and enhancing the competitiveness of Pakistani industries is integral to overcoming the current trade imbalance. By making trade simpler, the NSW will unlock Pakistan’s economy.”

She said Pakistan could achieve its great commercial impact potential by streamlining and simplifying rules and regulations for doing business. “The USAID and Pakistan have partnered to capitalize this potential by establishing the NSW for trade and customs duties. We are working together to streamline Pakistan trade and customs procedures.”

She said the NSW concept had already stimulated trade in many other countries and achieved desired results of increasing business activities by adopting paperless mechanism.


Posted on

Turkey keen to meet digital transformation challenges

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: Technological and digital transformations create social and economic changes in not only individuals but also institutions, Turkey’s head of Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the 6th Microsoft Ankara Technology Summit in capital Ankara, Omer Fatih Sayan said: “Information and communication technologies that develop at an unprecedented pace create changes not only in economic and social life, but also it leads to new chances and opportunities for individuals, institutions and states.”

He said the world faces “a new industrial revolution”, which is Industry 4.0.

The fourth industrial revolution, known as Industry 4.0, offers technology and digital-based working conditions, which may have negative effects on the workforce in the near future.

The Industry 4.0 approach is the new production concept of the future and reflects the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies.

“Industry 4.0 will become an extension of mental capacity,” he said.

Sayan added the symbol of Industry 4.0 would be big data and cloud computing.

He said one of the most important challenges for Turkey while meeting this transformation is to establish an infrastructure that would meet future potential developments.

“Supporting this infrastructure with domestic and national elements is one of our indispensable conditions,” Sayan said.

Addressing the summit, Microsoft Turkey General Manager Murat Kansu said the countries that are part of the digital transformation will succeed, both in economic development and in providing welfare to the people.

Kansu said the tech company was continuing efforts, both in Turkey and in other countries, since the last 25 years to realize this digital transformation.

He added 25 percent of the world economy will be digital by 2020, according to research by a consultancy company.

“Within this context, both our companies and public institutions need to have a digital transformation strategy,” Kansu said.

He said Turkey is the 53rd most competitive nation in the world out of 137 countries, according to Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum.

“We use latest technologies, we create the most innovative applications and use them, but there is much progress to be made.

“As a country that wants to be among the top 10 economies of the world, we need to make digitalization and technological transformation,” he added. AA

Posted on

PSQCA team visits at Chase Departmental Store Karachi

F.P. Report

KARACHI: PSQCA team headed by Deputy Director Conformity Assessment South Waiz Akram ul Haq conducted surprise inspection with mobile testing lab along with Chairman CRPC and Electronic Media Shakeel Baig at Chase Departmental Store Jail Chorangi Karachi. Different samples of coming oils, banaspati ghee and conola oil were collected and on spot testing were done of Cooking Oil Soya Supreme Brand, Dalda food Cooking Oil, Mezan Brand, Olivola Brand, Barkat Brand, Habib Brand, Pure Brand and Conala Oil Eva Brand, Banaspati, Eva Brand, Banaspati Naz Brand, Banaspati Shama Brand, Banaspati Pure Brand and Banaspati Andaz.

Four samples were non-confirmatory for following Brands, Banaspati Naz, Pure, Eva Brands and Cooking Oil Pure Brand notices of non-confirmatory were served on spot and de-shelved of their products. The products “Jam, Jelly, Marmalde, Pickles, Honey, Chillies, Turmeric Powder and Detergent Powder” without PSQCA licesence, the above products were de-shelved, seized and detain.

Posted on

ICCI calls for constitution of reconciliation committee

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: A delegation of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by President Sheikh Amir Waheed visited G-10/4, Islamabad to congratulate the newly elected President Zafar Gujar, General Secretary Usman and other office bearers of Traders Welfare Association, G-10/4, Islamabad.

Speaking at the occasion, Sheikh Amir Waheed said that government should constitute a Reconciliation Committee under the control of ICCI to resolve rent disputes of traders. He said the rising incidents of forced evictions of traders from shops have created concerns in the trading community and called upon the government to arrange early promulgation of new rent control act in Islamabad to curb such unfortunate incidents.

He said the absence of rent control law in Islamabad was the major cause of rising rent disputes and forced evictions of traders and emphasized that government should pay urgent attention to this serious issue. He said that an amended bill of a balanced rent restriction law for Islamabad was lying pending in the National Assembly since long and urged that government should arrange its early passage into law from the parliament to resolve this serious issue once for all.

He said incidents of forced evictions from shops were badly affecting the business activities and the only solution of curbing such incidents was to promulgate the new rent law as soon as possible.

Muhammad Naveed, Senior Vice President, Nisar Mirza Vice President ICCI, Zubair Ahmed Malik Chairman Founder Group, Khalid Chaudhry former SVP, ICCI said that in consultation with all stakeholders, an amended bill of rent control act for Islamabad was prepared that was presented long time ago in the National Assembly.

However, no action has been taken so far to pass the said bill into law and delay in its enactment was creating frustrations in the trading community. They stressed that government should get the bill passed from parliament without wasting further time to resolve this major once for all.

Zafar Gujar President, Usman Khan General Secretary, TWA G-10/4, Islamabad and Ch. Irfan Group Leader thanked ICCI delegation for congratulating them. They said the absence of rent law was the most serious of the traders of Islamabad and government should arrange passage of new rent law on top priority basis to provide a sense of security to the traders.

Posted on

Turkey sees almost 18% rise in air passengers

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: The number of passengers traveling through Turkish airports surged by 17.6 percent year-on-year in February, according to official data released on Tuesday.

Data from Turkey’s General Directorate of State Airports Authority revealed that airports across the country served more than 13 million people last month.

The number of international passengers reached nearly 4.7 million in the month, rising 22 percent from February 2017. The number of domestic fliers totaled 8.4 million, marking an increase of 15.5 percent during the same period.

According to Tuesday’s data, Turkish airports served 129,972 planes, up 6.4 percent compared to the same month last year. Air cargo traffic was also on the rise during the same period.

The total amount of air cargo in February increased 18.5 percent year-on-year to reach 238,485 tons.

Istanbul’s Ataturk and Sabiha Gokcen airports and capital Ankara’s Esenboga Airport considerably contributed to the February figures.

Ataturk Airport served over 4.7 million passengers alone, up 18 percent on an annual basis. AA


Posted on

PIAF urges govt to ensure payment of exporters’ Rs. 250b refunds

F.P. Report

LAHORE: The Pakistan Industrial and Traders Associations Front (PIAF) chairman Irfan Iqbal Sheikh has urged the government to ensure early and timely payment of stuck-up refund claims of the export-oriented sectors worth Rs 250 billion which had already promised many times by the concerned government officials. He further contended that customs rebate claims of approximately Rs50 billion are also pending with FBR, whereas sales tax refund claims including deferred claims total approximately Rs200 billion.

The PIAF chairman Irfan Iqbal Sheikh in a statement along with senior vice chairman Tanveer Ahmed Sufi and vice chairman Shahzeb Akram said that the businessmen were bearing huge financial costs on their own hard earned stuck-up money; therefore, the FBR chairman should look into the matter and ensure early release of sales tax and income tax refunds.

The PIAF appreciates for paying sales tax refunds of Rs26 billion of ROPs up to April 2017 through the electronic system; and clearing sales tax refunds of over Rs15 billion of ROPs issued up to August 2017. He revealed that after the payment of limited amount in 2017 now pending amount includes Rs 40 billion sales tax refund claims, Rs 10 billion customs duty rebate and Rs 5 billion Duty Drawback of Local Taxes (DLTL) and Rs 20 billion is yet to be paid to the exporters under the Prime Minister’s incentive package for exporters.

These are verified refund claims, but if the deferred claims are included in the pending amount, total figure of pending refund claims would be around Rs150 billion. He further said that the government has so far released Rs 16.5 billion out of the Rs46 billion PM export incentive package announced in October.

The association’s members have now started feeling the pinch as they were already facing troubles and experiencing toughest times because of multiple internal and external challenges, he said.

He urged the Minister of State for Finance Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan to take notice of the situation and issue directions to the FBR authorities to expedite stuck-up sales tax and income tax refund claims as promised.

He said the authorities concerned should take realistic view of the matter and allow the refunds of sales tax and Income Tax to exporters and manufacturers at the earliest, who were facing severe hardships.

Posted on

Turkey again a top tourist destination for Germans

Monitoring Desk

BERLIN: Turkey has made a strong comeback on the German tourism market with significant growth in early bookings, the German Travel Association (DRV) announced on Tuesday.

“Sales figures for Turkey bookings are double compared to the same period last year,” Norbert Fiebig, the group’s head, told a press conference at the ITB Berlin tourism fair.

“Turkey is making a comeback this year, that’s for sure,” he stressed, adding that together with Spain and Greece, Turkey would be among the top holiday destinations this year.

Despite its huge popularity, the number of German tourists visiting Turkey fell over the last two years, largely due to political tensions between Ankara and Berlin, and conflicts in countries neighboring Turkey.

The number of German tourists dropped from 5.5 million in 2015 to 3.9 million in 2016, according to official figures.

In 2017, around 3.5 million German tourists traveled to Turkey.

Ankara and Berlin recently took steps to normalize their relations, and during a visit to Berlin on Feb. 15, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said they were expecting a new era in relations.

EU heavyweight Germany remains Turkey’s main economic and trade partner, despite political disagreements between governments on a number of issues. In 2017, the bilateral trade volume reached €37.6 billion.


Posted on

PTCL inks agreement with Netflix to provide online subscription video

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) has inked an agreement with Netflix, the world’s leading online entertainment company, to provide Netflix Gift subscriptions for 6 months to PTCL’s 8 Mbps and above internet subscribers. PTCL is the first telecom operator in Pakistan to launch a partnership with Netflix.

Chief Commercial Officer PTCL, Adnan Shahid, met with Netflix’s Global Head of Business Development Bill Holmes at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where details of the agreement were discussed.

PTCL already hosts advanced caching servers for Netflix in Pakistan for better viewing experience. Both companies have been offering Netflix content to PTCL customers since last year as a trial. Seeing the excellent results and traction from customers, PTCL has now ventured into this agreement for enabling quality entertainment content for the consumers in Pakistan.

Under this agreement, PTCL 8 Mbps and above internet subscribers are able to redeem up to 6 months of unlimited access to premium Netflix content, enabling them to catch their favorite on-demand TV shows, movies, original Netflix critically acclaimed content and more on their smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and gaming consoles etc. Furthermore, PTCL will provide its customers the ease of paying for their Netflix subscription through PTCL’s monthly consolidated billing, instead of payment through credit cards.

Chief Commercial Officer PTCL, Adnan Shahid said, “The alliance between PTCL and Netflix is in line with PTCL’s vision of providing seamless premium content to its subscribers. Supporting digital lifestyle, it has opened new doors of entertainment with easy access of Netflix original series, TV shows, documentaries and feature films for our customers in Pakistan.”

Bill Holmes, Global Head of Business Development at Netflix said, “We’re thrilled about this partnership with PTCL, which marks an important milestone in bringing Netflix’s catalog of premium content from around the world, as well as the best video streaming experience, to consumers in Pakistan. We believe that together with PTCL, Netflix will be able to fulfill our mission of giving consumers the control to choose whatever they want to watch on our service, anytime, anywhere.”

PTCL subscribers can now stream to their heart’s content with their truly unlimited broadband plans to enjoy a sublime, buffer-free Netflix experience. Ends

Netflix is the world’s leading internet entertainment service with over 117 million members in over 190 countries enjoying more than 140 million hours of TV shows and movies per day, including original series, documentaries and feature films. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on nearly any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited is the largest integrated Information Communication Technology (ICT) Company of Pakistan. With a humble start from a telephone and telegraph department in 1947, it has evolved to offer latest digital and telecommunication technologies today. It acts as the communication backbone for the country with the largest fiber cable network that spans from Khyber to Karachi and submarine cables connecting Pakistan to the world.


Posted on

ABPL appoints Shuja as new CEO

F.P. Report

KARACHI: The Chairman and Board of Directors of Al Baraka Bank (Pakistan) Ltd. (ABPL) appoint Ahmed Shuja Kidwai as ‘Chief Executive Officer’ of the Bank.

Kidwai is a seasoned banker with over 40 years of diversified experience in local as well as international markets. His association with Al Baraka goes back to 1996 where he served in different capacities before becoming the Chief Operating Officer, in 2011. Due to his commitment and leadership skills, Al Baraka Pakistan made strong presence in Islamic Banking Industry.

Board of Directors wish him success in his new assignment and are confident that Kidwai will take the Bank to the newer heights under his headship. He has replaced Shafqaat Ahmed who was associated with Al Baraka Bank for over 25 years.

Adnan Ahmed Yousif, President and Chief Executive of Al Baraka Banking Group and Chairman of Al Baraka Bank Pakistan Limited said, “While thanking Shafqaat Ahmed and wishing him well in his future life, I am delighted to welcome Ahmed Shuja Kidwai as the new Chief Executive Officer of the Bank.”

ABPL is a subsidiary of Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) (B.S.C), which is licensed as an Islamic wholesale bank by the Central Bank of Bahrain, listed on Bahrain Bourse and Nasdaq Dubai stock exchanges.

It is a leading international Islamic banking group providing its unique services in countries with a population totalling around one billion. Al Baraka offers retail, corporate, treasury and investment banking services, strictly in accordance with the principles of the Islamic Shari’a. The authorized capital of Al Baraka Banking Group is US$ 1.5 billion, while total equity is at about US$ 2.1 billion. Total assets of ABG as of date stand at US$ 25 billion.

The Group has a wide geographical presence in the form of subsidiary banking units and representative offices in 16 countries, which in turn provide their services through over 700 branches. Al Baraka currently has a strong presence in Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Bahrain, Pakistan, South Africa, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, including two representative offices in Indonesia and Libya.


Posted on

Industry asked to upgrade itself for CPEC partnerships

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Syed Kaukab Mohyuddin, Chairman, State Engineering Corporation (SEC), visited Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry along with his team and urged that the local industry should focus on its up-gradation to establish effective joint ventures and partnerships in CPEC with Chinese counterparts.

He said the industry in world had adopted 5th generation technology and machinery to grow fast, but industry in Pakistan was still operating with 2nd generation technology due to which the country was lagging behind in industrial development.

He said that to catch up with the world in trade and exports, local industry should adopt latest technology and machinery otherwise it would perish in the race for progress.

Highlighting the role of his organization, he said that SEC was working to promote industrialization through developing indigenous manufacturing of capital goods and heavy machinery utilizing local resources and through acquisition of technology.

He said Heavy Electrical Complex, Pakistan Machine Tool Factory, Pakistan Engineering Company and ENAR Petro-tech Services Limited were working under SEC. He said these companies have developed a strong engineering base for the design, engineering and manufacturing of variety of light, medium and heavy engineering products.

He stressed that SMEs and local industry should take benefit of the infrastructure and expertise of these companies to improve their productivity.

He said that SEC in collaboration with ICCI was ready to support SMEs in upgradation so that they could achieve better growth.

Speaking at the occasion, Sheikh Amir Waheed, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that most of the industries of this region including pharmaceutical, steel, flour and light engineering belonged to SME sector and emphasized that SEC should help in adaption of latest technology and machinery by these SMEs so that they could improve productivity and enhance exports.

He said over 600 pharmaceutical units were operating in the country but there were only 4 to 5 raw material producing industries in the country due to which most of the pharmaceutical companies were importing raw material.

He said SEC in collaboration with private sector should consider setting up raw material producing industries to meet the needs of pharma industry.

Sheikh Amir Waheed said that SMEs were the backbone of the economy, but most of them were depending on old technology and machinery due to which they could not achieve growth up to their real potential.

He urged that government should provide tax concessions to SMEs on import of latest technology & machinery that would help in accelerating industrial growth and promoting exports.

He assured that ICCI would work with SMEs so that they could take benefit of SEC infrastructure and facilities for up-gradation and growth.