Mauritius president Ameenah Gurib resigns amid scam of using an NGO’s credit card


Corporate Ambassador Monitoring Report

Mauritius President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, who is facing public fury over an alleged financial scandal, has resigned, her lawyer said on Saturday. Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female head of the state, submitted her resignation in the national interest, her lawyer Yousouf Mohamed told reporters, adding that it would take effect on March 23.


It has been alleged that Gurib-Fakim made personal purchases with a credit card provided by an NGO, whose founder has sought to do business in Mauritius and is under investigation for fraud. Gurib-Fakim said earlier this week that she “inadvertently” used the credit card from the London-based Planet Earth Institute for “out-of-pocket” expenses of about $27,000, and that she had refunded the money.

Aminah gurib2

A defiant Gurib-Fakim had on Wednesday refused to resign, claiming that she is the victim of a smear campaign, and said she was ready to testify in court to debunk the accusations. This contradicted a statement made by Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth, who had said she would quit after Mauritius celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence from Britain on March 12.

When Gurib– Fakim, 58, took the honorary position of president in 2015 she became the first woman to do so in Mauritian history.


A scientist and biologist of international renown, she had been under pressure since the Mauritian daily L’Express published bank documents showing that Gurib– Fakimhad used a credit card given to her by the London-based Planet Earth Institute to buy clothing and jewellery worth thousands of dollars.


The NGO is funded by the controversial Angolan billionaire Alvaro Sobrinho who is himself being investigated for alleged corruption in Portugal


How China minimizing US influence in Asia?

China India flags

Corporate Ambassador Monitoring Report/WASHINGTON: As China grows more powerful, it is displacing decades-old American pre-eminence in parts of Asia. The outlines of the rivalry are defining the future of the continent. The stakes could hardly be higher: The two powers are seeking to reshape the economies and political systems of the world’s most populous region in its own image.

The United States’ military capabilities still dominate Asia. But China has started to wield growing military power and economic leverage to reorder the region, pulling longtime American allies like the Philippines and Indonesia closer. The shift may accelerate under Trump, whose volatile foreign policy and rejection of trade agreements is already forcing Asian nations to rethink their strategies.

The trade deal reached last week is a powerful signal of how countries like Australia and Japan are forging ahead without American leadership. The deal replaces the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump had effectively killed. Every Asian country now trades more with China, often by a factor of 2 to 1, an imbalance that is only growing as China’s economic growth outpaces that of United States, TOI reported on Feb 17, 2018.

Every Asian country now trades more with China, often by a factor of 2 to 1, an imbalance that is only growing as China’s economic growth outpaces that of United States.

China 3

Asian leaders know that their economies — and therefore, domestic politics — rely on Beijing, which has shown it will offer investment to friends and economic punishment to those who displease it.

But another metric of great power influence, arms sales, shows United States’ enduring reach.

China 1

Countries that purchase American weapons bind their militaries and their foreign policies to the United States. The imbalance reflects the extent of American military relationships in Asia, which date back to World War II. Many of the 20 countries caught between Beijing and Washington face an impossible choice between Chinese wealth and American security.

“These countries don’t want to have to choose sides,” said Tanvi Madan, an Asia specialist at the Brookings Institution. So they’re not. Instead, most are pursuing strategies intended to draw maximum benefit from both powers, minimize risks of angering either and preserve their independence.

The result will likely be something very different from Cold War-era Europe, which was divided cleanly between two sides. Instead, the continent will fracture along many lines at once as countries accept, reject or manage China’s growing influence. Each strategy involves hard compromises and provides a model for how others in Asia, and perhaps one day globally, will cope with a Chinese-American world.

Japan: Balancing against China

Though the world is changing in Beijing’s favor, Japan is a reminder that China remains a long way from becoming an American-style power. And it provides a template for counteracting China. Japan is matching China’s rise with its own resurgence, leveraging its economy — the world’s third-largest — to build an independently powerful military and set of diplomatic relationships. It is attempting to reconstitute an informal and implicitly anti-Chinese alliance known as “the quad,” which includes India, Australia and the United States. The “quad” remains mostly aspirational, and its members so far exert only a fraction of China’s economic and military influence in the region.

Still, Japan represents the headwinds facing Beijing. Asia’s largest economies and its leading democracies, rather than bending to Chinese power, are counterbalancing it. Most countries lack Japan’s economic power, but they can still follow its lead. Rather than meekly accepting American withdrawal, Japan shows how countries can compensate for it. The region has more bad news for China. Even its sole ally, North Korea, is increasingly independent. Its nuclear and missile tests often appear timed to humiliate Beijing, and give China’s adversaries like Japan an excuse to build up their militaries. North Korea apparently hopes to one day strike a deal with Washington, allowing it to climb out from a half-century of Chinese dominance. If Beijing cannot keep even North Korea as a client state, it will have trouble cultivating others.

Sri Lanka: Aligning with China

Sri Lanka might not seem like a geopolitical bellwether. But Asia-watchers have been glued to developments here since 2014, when a Chinese submarine sailed into a port built with Chinese investment. It marked a new era, in which China is converting its economic power into military power — and, in poorer democracies, into political influence. China has since developed more infrastructure projects across Asia, particularly in strategically vital ports and transit corridors. Those projects begin as joint developments but can end up in Chinese hands. In December, Sri Lanka, unable to pay debts on the port’s construction, granted China a 99-year lease.

“The Chinese are using their abundance of labor, capital and workforce to project their influence,” said Mira Rapp-Hooper, a scholar of Asian security issues at Yale Law School. She added, “It’s mostly taking place in countries where the US does not have a lot of influence or give a lot of aid.”

This a promising model for China, whose economic strengths naturally fit the needs of small, developing countries. It is even pushing in countries where the United States has spent heavily, such as Pakistan. And it is slowly extending this model beyond Asia, giving it the outlines of what could one day be a global network.

But small, poor allies are less powerful than rich ones, which tend pro-American, and Beijing can be clumsy when dealing with democracies.

Still, China’s success in South Asia shows it can hem in a powerful adversary. It is leveraging trade and investment to build ties with every country on India’s border. Beijing’s unstated goal: encircle India before it can rival to Chinese power.


SECP, FBR launch one-window facility for Co & NTN registration  

secp fbr NTN

Corporate Ambassador/ISLAMABAD, March 14: As part of Doing Business Reforms agenda, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) have launched a one-window facility for company and national tax number (NTN) registration. Zafar Abdullah, the SECP Chairman, and Khawaja Adnan Zahir, Member (IT) FBR, jointly inaugurated the system during the launch ceremony held on Wednesday at the SECP’s head office which was attended by senior officials of SECP, FBR, BOI and PRAL.

Zafar Abdullah congratulated the teams of SECP, FBR and PRAL on putting in exhaustive efforts to develop the system. The SECP has undertaken a host of reform measures, which have resulted in a robust corporate growth in the country, leading to formalization of the business sector and documentation of economy, he added.

Khawaja Adnan Zahir said that the FBR was pleased to collaborate with SECP to provide conducive environment for doing business in Pakistan. This is the first instance of government-to-government technical integration at the process level, he added. “The creation of a cross-institution single process of registration of a company is the first step and the efforts should be continued to include more organizations. A lot more can be achieved if government organization work in such close coordination.”

Ms. Fareena Mazhar, Executive Director General, BOI, lauded the efforts of the SECP and FBR for their doing business reforms and stressed that these reforms would not only help the local entrepreneurs but would also serve as an attraction for foreign investors.

A video recording based on live company and NTN registration process, which was recorded at the SECP’s Company Registration Office, was also shown to the participants. The one window facility is based on back-end integration between SECP and FBR systems. Through this facility, the entrepreneur will login to the SECP online portal eServices, get the company registered with the SECP and will receive the NTN automatically at company’s email address.

The facility has been launched to simplify procedures for business registration, to eliminate the hassle of visiting various government agencies and to ensure an expeditious service delivery by integrating the registration procedures of SECP and FBR. This facility shall have favourable implications for investment promotion to attract investors from within and outside the country, and contribute to documentation of the economy. It is also likely to achieve higher ranking in the World Bank’s starting-a-business and the composite doing business indicator.


Euroasia Forum launched in Pakistan


Corporate Ambassador/LAHORE: The election of Euroasia Forum has been completed in a smooth and cordial polling process. Kashif Younis Mehr and Syed Afraz Ali Nazish have been elected as Chairman and President of the Forum respectively.

The other elected office bearers are: Zamir A. Naushahi Sr. Vice President, Syed Naveed Ahmed Gilani Vice President, Arshed Farooq Vice President (Finland) Zakir Ullah Khan Secretary General, Naeem Zaidi Secretary Finance, Shahnawaz Najmi Secretary Information, Shaikh Iftikhar Rasul Director PR / Coordination, and Diya Rehman Secretary Coordination. 13 members Executive Committee has also been constituted on this occasion the members of the committee are Muhammad Imran, Aamir Raza, Afaq Syed, Zara Ali Bukhari, IftikharBhatti, Kh. Nauman, Abdul Muglani, Taimoor Hassan, Ahmed Paul, Muhammad Asghar, Asmat Pasha, Dr. Anwar Ahmed, and Zulqarnain Ch.

In a press statement the President Syed Afraz Ali Nazish expressed his satisfaction over the completion of the process of the election in a peaceful and cordial manners and hoped that Euroasia Forum will make all out efforts to boost up the economic friendly and brotherly relations with all the European and Asian countries. He said to achieve development targets joint efforts are very much needed. Syed Afraz Ali Nazish stressed to explore new venues of cooperation in various sectors like industries, culture, information technology and education as well. He further said that Euroasia Forum will organize a 3 days Euroasia Expo-2018 at Lahore during last week of September this year.


Why our banks hold billions of Haj applicants for many weeks?

The Financial Daily has published my weekly column today based on exclusive information. Newspapers and TV channels are rarely highlighting banks exploitative policies. We have started this column to expose banks weaknesses and enable them to mend their ways. Worth to note is that the banks are taking remedial measures of flaws/mismanagement being pointed out through this weekly column.

Unbridled Banking Logo

Every year our commercial banks hold billions of rupees of the Haj applicants for many weeks. Banking sector experts believe that the banks collect more than 25 billion rupees from the Haj applicants every year.

This amount is collected from the applicants about 45 days ahead of Haj balloting by the government and then disbursed to the government against the allocated number of Haj quota and the amount of unsuccessful applicants is reimbursed in two to four weeks after balloting. Top banks like National Bank of Pakistan, MCB Bank, Habib Bank, United Bank, Allied Bank, Standard Chartered Bank of Pakistan and Bank Alfalah collect the lion’s share of money from the Haj applicants. Banking sector experts believe that the banks hold billions of rupees of the applicants for more or less two and a half months and take the financial advantages of this money during this period. Why the banks hold public money for many weeks without sharing an incentive with the depositors? What kind of the strategy the State Bank of Pakistan and the domestic banks should adopt to share incentives of gains from this big amount every year? These are the questions that need to be discussed.

Banks Logos

Practically, there is no check and balance of deadline on the commercial banks to receive billions of rupees from the people who apply to perform Haj under government quota much ahead of the balloting and to return the money to the unsuccessful applicants. Some branches reimburse the money in few days and some delay it for weeks and create unnecessary hassle for the depositors.

Experts are of the opinion that the banks should collect only 20 to 25 percent of the total amount from the applicants before balloting and remaining money should be collected after balloting from those who are selected through balloting. Second idea is that the banks must receive entire money from the Haj applicants in the Shariah-compliant accounts of the applicants and either pass on to the people the financial incentives gained from the money during 10 to 12 weeks or the banks should pool some percentage of the money to offer incentives, including free Haj and Umra to the people and their family members who deposit the money.

When the bank lend money to their customers, the banks charge mark up on daily basis, but in Haj applications cases the financial institutions collect billions of rupees, but do not give any incentives to the depositors – neither to those who are selected through balloting nor to those prove unlucky in the draw.

It is a common viewpoint that neither the banks would offer mark-up on the amount collected from the Haj applicants as it is ‘Haraam’ in Islam nor the depositors would like to get interest at call. Because the people deposit the money with their noble mission of performing Haj to seek blessings and mercy of Allah Almighty.

The banks, however, can share the incentives with the applicants by receiving amount in Shariah-based accounts and set aside a certain amount every year to give surprise to the Haj applicants by offering free Haj or Umra through lucky draw.

The domestic banks, however, would not like to do it on their own because of their lust of minting more and more profit and it is the government and the State Bank of Pakistan who can motivate the banks to share benefits of holding billions of rupees for many weeks with the people.

We hope that either the government or the State Bank of Pakistan would take this idea seriously and set a good precedent of providing incentives to the people and their family members who deposit money for Haj.


US drains $4.8 trillion on wars _ $1.7 trillion burnt in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria

By J. Choudhry/ISLAMABAD

US war cost till 2017

Wars cost money before, during and after they occur — as governments prepare for,
wage, and recover from them by replacing equipment, caring for the wounded and repairing the infrastructure destroyed in the fighting. Although it is rare to have a precise accounting of  the costs of war — especially of long wars — one can get a sense of the rough scale of the costs by surveying the major categories of spending. From FY2001 to 2016, the United States had drained US$1.742 trillion on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, etc. Below of table that gives break-up.

US War expenses

As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion. But of course, a full accounting of any war’s burdens cannot be placed in columns on a  ledger. From the civilians harmed or displaced by violence, to the soldiers killed and  wounded, to the children who play years later on roads and fields sown with improvised explosive devices and cluster bombs, no set of numbers can convey the human toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or how they have spilled into the neighboring states of Syria and Pakistan, and come home to the US and its allies in the form of wounded veterans and contractors. Yet, the expenditures noted on government ledgers are necessary to apprehend, even as they are so large as to be almost incomprehensible.

The United States government’s definitions of the threat and the scope of the wars, the
size of US commitments to these wars in terms of numbers of troops and equipment, and what counts officially as war-related expenditures have shifted over time. Congress and the Executive Branch describe the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). The scope of the wars has widened into Syria, and the US has slowed the pace of its withdrawal from Afghanistan. These are the major OCO discussed below. (Smaller operations are underway in Africa, Central America and Europe.) The Budget Control Act of 2011 and sequestration (automatic across-the-board spending cuts) has made it difficult to track how money is actually spent.
War spending has occurred in several categories. A large portion of the costs of these
wars are Congressional appropriations for the State Department and Department of Defense (DOD). If one simply highlights these budgetary allocations so far in the major war zones and for defense of US airspace and bases, the US has spent more than $1.7 trillion for combat and reconstruction. There is other global war on terror-related spending — including additions to the Pentagon base budget and spending in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Further, Homeland Security spending has increased by more than $500 billion for missions related to preventing and responding to potential terrorist attacks.
In addition, any reasonable estimate of the costs of the wars includes the fact that each
war entails essentially signing rather large promissory notes to fulfill the US obligations for medical care and support for wounded veterans. These future obligations will total
approximately an additional $1 trillion in medical and disability payments and additional administrative burden through 2053. Table 1 summarizes the categories and amount of spending and obligations undertaken from September 2001 to the present fiscal year,
rounded to the nearest billion dollars


Read the WhatsApp SMS secretly

whatsapp Logo

WhatsApp, a social media network, has got several new features, among these one of the most important is the read receipt feature. This is the one that turns the read message (double ticks) turn blue in colour once the recipient reads it. Although many of us might not be having any issue switching this optional feature on in WhatsApp but then there are times when you don’t want others or the sender to know that you have already read his/her message.

For this, one of the options can be to enter the settings inside WhatsApp and turn off the particular feature. Unfortunately, this turns off the feature for all and doesn’t let you know if the other person has read your texts or not.

So the easiest alternative using which you don’t switch off the feature for yourself and others but you can still prevent those double ticks to not turn blue even after you go through the message? Read it here.

Step 1: When a text message arrives on your WhatsApp, first thing to do is to scroll down the notification panel and switch on the airplane mode. Step 2: Once offline, open the WhatsApp chat and read the message.

Step 3: Once read, close the app from the multi window so it doesn’t stay open in the background and sync when you go online. Step 4: After closing the app completely, switch off the airplane mode again.


It is worth adding that when you are in the airplane mode and are reading the WhatsApp message, make sure you close the app completely by swiping it away from the multi window section. If you keep simply press the back button, the app won’t close and will keep running in the background. As a result, as soon as you go online by switching off the airplane mode, the double ticks will turn blue as the app, which is actively running in the background, will sync.



Trump to impose ‘retaliatory’ tax on imports from India, China


Monitoring Report/WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump bracketed India, a middling American trade partner, along with China, for retaliatory trade tariffs if they do not ease up on taxing American imports.

“We’re going to be doing a reciprocal tax programme,” Trump said at a White House event where he simplified the tariff issue for his working class base. ”They are 50, they are 75 or they are 25, we are going to be doing the same numbers. It’s called reciprocal. It’s a mirror of tags. So they charge us 50, we would charge them 50.”

While Trump has primarily highlighted the Harley Davidson motorbike issue with India in recent weeks to underscore differences on tariffs with New Delhi, it forms only a miniscule and inconsequential part of India’s imports from the US.
In fact, India will be largely unaffected by the tariffs except for the fact that major exporting countries that face tariff barriers in the US may now divert their goods to India’s large consumer market, affecting Indian producers.

Trump also undercut his own pledge by carving out tariff exceptions for Canadaand Mexico, the third and fourth largest US trading partners. Most affected will be the European Union and China, which are the top two US trading partners, and which have threatened retaliation if Trump goes ahead with tariffs, resulting in a trade war and an all round increase in prices.

New Delhi itself is Washington’s tenth largest trading partner, and here is broadly how the tariff issue breaks down in US-India bilateral trade. India’s top imports from US in 2016 were precious metal and diamonds ($7.0 billion), machinery ($2.0 billion), optical and medical instruments ($1.3 billion), mineral fuels ($1.2 billion), and electrical machinery ($1.2 billion).

While precious metal and diamonds are part of a round trade (India also exports $ 11 billion worth of the same to US), the consequential items are machinery, optical and medical instruments etc., reducing the tariff on which will largely benefit Indian consumers even as it helps US exports to India.

The US also exports $ 1.3 billion in agricultural products to India, including tree nuts ($522 million), cotton ($250 million), pulses ($144 million), fresh fruit ($72 million), and planting seeds ($32 million). While removing tariffs on some of these items (say California almonds and Washington apples) could hurt local farmers, it will mean lower prices at stores urban Indian elites frequent.

On the flip side, the largest US import from India is pharmaceuticals ($7.4 billion in 2016) and a Trump tariff on this will simply make generic medicines more expensive for Americans (drugs imported from U.S are already expensive for Indians).

A retaliatory Trump tariff on the $ 2.1 billion of agricultural produce US imports from India (including spices ($279 million), rice ($158 million), tree nuts ($157 million), essential oils ($151 million), and processed fruit & vegetables ($114 million)), won’t kill US consumers or Indian exporters. Basmati rice in US stores is, for instance, cheaper than in India.


China-India bilateral trade mounts to a record $84 billion in 2017

China India flags

Corporate Ambassador Monitoring Report/BEIJING: The bilateral trade between arch-rivals, China-India hit the record high mark of $84.44 billion in 2017 despite border tension between the two countries and armed forces’ stand-off at Doklam border.

In 2017, India has reported 40% increase in its exports to China that totalled $16.34 billion. The bilateral trade in 2017 rose by 18.63 per cent year-on-year to reach $84.44 billion. It is regarded as a landmark as the volume of bilateral trade for the first time crossed $84 billion, well above the $71.18 billion registered in 2016.

Indian trade deficit with China too enlarged in 2017 to $51.75 billion – registering a growth of 8.55 per cent year-on-year. According to India’s trade figures, the deficit had crossed $52 billion last year. India has been pressing China to open the IT and Pharmaceutical sectors for Indian firms to reduce the massive trade deficit.

As per the Chinese trade data, India’s exports to China increased by 39.11 per cent year-on-year to $16.34 billion last year. India’s imports from China increased by 14.59 per cent to $68.10 billion. India has emerged as the 7th largest export destination for Chinese products, and the 24th largest exporter to China.

The trade touched historic high despite bilateral tensions over a number of issues including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China blocking India’s efforts to bring about a UN ban on Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Masood Azhar, Beijing blocking India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as well as the military standoff at Doklam lasting 73 days. The bilateral trade stagnated around $70 billion for several years despite the leaders of both the countries setting $100 billion as target for 2015. Though it is still about $20 billion short, officials on both sides expect trade and Chinese investments in India to pick up further this year as both the governments are trying to scale down tensions and step-up the normalisation process.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit China in June 2018 to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Qingdao. Reciprocal visits by Chinese leaders too are expected to take place this year. There were also expectations that the new commerce minister of China to be named later this week in government reshuffle was expected to visit India in the coming weeks for talks to improve bilateral trade.



First-ever CPEC container ship reaches Gwadar in Pak Navy security

First-ever CPEC ship

Corporate Ambassador/KARACHI: The first ever Container vessel MS TIGER under China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) project arrived at Gwaddar Port. Pakistan Navy’s Ships PNS DEHSHAT and KARAR escorted MS TIGER to Gwadar Port. This new Ship Container Service namely Karachi Gwadar Gulf Express will connect Gwadar Port with the Middle East hub of Jebel Ali as well as the neighboring UAE ports of Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

first ever CPEC ship2

After embarkation of more container of frozen sea food from Gwadar Port,
the ship proceeded to Jebel Ali Port. An impressive ceremony was held at port on
arrival of MS TIGER. The Reception Ceremony was attended by Commander Coast
of Pakistan Navy Rear Admiral Moazzam IIyas. The CPEC is a game changer project for Pakistan. Success of this project is a prelude to the economic prosperity of the country and hence has taken a central stage in the economic, political and security calculus of not only Pakistan but the entire region.

CPEC ship3

Considering the importance of the Gwadar Port as focal point of CPEC, its security is paramount. For this purpose, Pakistan Navy has raised Task Force 88 to undertake defence of Gwadar Port and its surrounding areas. This Task Force is providing defence to Gwadar Port from seaward approaches and Merchant Vessels visiting the Port through deployment of Pakistan Navy assets.