Corporate Ambassador focuses on the coverage of issues relating to corporate sector, economy, finance, stock markets, diplomatic events/interviews, showbiz, art, culture, organised crimes and politics.
Corporate Ambassador/KARACHI: National Bank of Pakistan and Pakistan Stone Development Company signed an MoU for collaboration between the two organizations for development and promotion of the Marble and Granite sector of the country and undertaking outreach and engagement initiatives.
Under the MOU, both organizations will collectively pursue opportunities for provision of access of finance to the Marble & Granite sector of Pakistan as well as endeavour to develop the export potential of the sector. Also amongst the objectives will be facilitation in knowledge programs, exploring opportunities for advisory services and evaluating potential avenues of joint venture projects to enhance local production of dimensional stone and exports.
PASDEC is a public limited company, incorporated under Section 42 of the Companies’ Act 2017. It is a subsidiary of Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) and working under the administrative control of the Federal Ministry of Industries and Production. PASDEC’s mission is to make Pakistan globally competitive and a socially responsible player of the international dimensional stone industry.
NBP is Pakistan’s largest public sector commercial bank, providing a diverse range of products and services to the SME sector. The Bank is taking initiatives for increasing market penetration and growth in the priority sectors of the economy. The Inclusive Development Group (IDG) within NBP is spearheading these initiatives and is engaged in focusing on financial inclusion of under-served sectors that have significant business potential.
Corporate Ambassador/KARACHI: Despite crisis triggered by corona, the National Bank of Pakistan has reported 37 percent increase in post-tax profit during first half of 2020.
With an impressive growth in core earnings, the Bank’s unconsolidated Profit After-Tax “PAT” clocked at PKR 15.2 billion, up by PKR 4.1 billion or 36.8% compared to the same period last year. Consequently, net assets of the Bank stand increased by PKR 26.4 billion to PKR 259.0 billion (Dec ‘19: PKR 232.6 billion). The Board of Directors of National Bank of Pakistan approved the financial results of the bank on September 01, 2020 along with the condensed interim financial statements of the Bank for the half-year ended June 30, 2020.
During H1 ’20, the Bank earned gross mark-up/ interest income amounting to PKR 145.3 billion which is 49% higher than PKR 97.7 billion of H1 ‘19. Total earning assets averaged at PKR 2,428.1 billion (Jun ‘19: PKR 1,931.5 billion), of which investments amounted to PKR 1,403.7 billion and generated interest/mark-up income of PKR 85.4 billion, 92.2% higher than that of H1, 2019. Whereas, net advances averaged at PKR 971.1 billion, 6.6% higher than PKR 911.3 billion of June ’19, and recorded 18.7% growth in mark-up income that closed at PKR 57.6 billion. As the Bank incurred cost of funds amounting to PKR 96.8 billion (H1 ’19:PKR 62.1 billion), net mark-up/interest income for H1 ’20 closed at PKR 48.4 billion, 36.2% higher against PKR 35.6 billion earned during the H1 ‘19. Contributing a quarter to the total income, Non-Fund Income “NFI” for this period amounted to PKR 18.3 billion, marginally higher by PKR 0.14 billion or 1% than PKR 18.2 billion of H1, 2019. Despite high inflationary pressures, the Bank did well at keeping a lid on the administrative expenses that clocked at PKR 29.5 billion, being 5.9% higher YoY, translating into Cost-to-Income ratio of 44.2% compared to 51.7% for H1 ’19.
On the financial position side, the total asset base of the Bank on unconsolidated basis amounted to PKR 3,163.4 billion which is 1.2% higher than PKR 3,124.4 billion as at December 31, 2019. On the asset front, investments continued to constitute the bulk of asset-mix and soared by PKR 203.8 billion to PKR 1,643.0 billion, whereas net advances registered a decline of 7.2% over Dec ‘19, clocking in at PKR 935.6 billion. On the liabilities side, the deposit base of the Bank registered an increase of PKR 141.2 billion i.e. 6.4% over Dec ‘19, improving the current account mix to 55.1% and CASA ratio to 83.1%. In June 2020, M/s VIS Credit Rating and PACRA Credit Rating re-affirmed the Bank’s credit rating as “AAA” (Triple AAA), the highest credit rating awarded by the company for a bank in Pakistan.
In recognition of the successful deals and innovative initiatives that made a positive impact for its clients, the Bank has recently been awarded two prestigious awards ‘Corporate Client Initiative of the Year – Pakistan’ and ‘The Innovative Deal of the Year – Pakistan’ by The Asian Banking & Finance-2020.
The bank is revalidating business assumptions with a focus on how the Covid-19 crisis may affect its asset quality and the adjustments needed to contain the impact on the overall business model of the Bank. NBP remains committed to using its earnings to bolster the balance sheet and provisions have been increased substantially. A strategy under immediate consideration of the Board and management of the Bank is that of achieving greater financial inclusion through supporting the retail and consumer segment e.g. housing, agriculture, construction, and transport. The bank aims to help these sectors that have been under pressure during the slowdown and offer opportunities for growth.
The Government of Pakistan has recently announced the introduction of the Single National Curriculum (SNC) for grades 1 to 5, as a strategy to eliminate apartheid in education, one of the priority areas in the Education Policy Framework introduced by the sitting government at the beginning of its tenure. While the SNC has been received with a lot of criticism by educationists in Pakistan, it has much to offer for Madaris.
The educational landscape of Pakistan consists of three types of schools: public schools, private schools and Madaris. Madaris is derived from the Arabic word Madrassa that literally means ‘a place of learning’ but in today’s world, the word Madrassa is mostly associated with institutes that educate its students on Islamic teachings i.e. Quran, Hadith and Fiqh. The number of Madaris has increased from 200 at the time of independence in 1947 to 35,000 today, according to the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training. However, many analysts believe that the actual number is far more than this.
Almost 3 million students are being educated in these Madaris, mostly free of cost, as most of these students cannot afford nor have access to public or private schools. Since the government does not have enough funds to establish schools in every village or district of the country or provide free education to all, it heavily depends on Madaris to cater for a large portion of the population. Madaris provide free education, food, clothing and lodging for almost all of its students who are usually from low socio-economic backgrounds and cannot afford to pay for private schools. In addition to catering to millions of students, Madaris have thousands of employees working for them including teachers, instructors and mentors. The role of Madaris in our society is more than that of just educational institutes as they work like non-governmental organisations providing shelter, food and clothing to the poor.
While most of the Madaris generally focus on delivering Islamic studies in their curriculum and other educational activities, they do not teach contemporary subjects like mathematics, physics, chemistry, English and other subjects. In some of the Madaris that do include contemporary subjects in their curricula, the concepts taught are either outdated or variations of these subjects are taught that are in line with Islamic teachings, for example, the discoveries of science mentioned in the Quran. Hence, students learn concepts that have no exchange value in the marketplace or workplace as compared to concepts that other students learn in public or private schools. The gap that exists between Madaris and public and private schools has caused a lot of problems for graduates of Madaris as they do not possess the skills to compete in the job market and are left unemployed.
This calls for policy reform that could help bridge the gap between the two systems of education and provide equal opportunities for the youth of Pakistan in terms of education and jobs. Policy reformation will also help regularize Madaris to ensure that their funding is coming through legal channels and known donors, and is used for the correct reasons. In the past, many governments have tried to modernize Madaris to introduce students to contemporary subjects and modern methods of teaching but have failed each time. With the introduction of policy reforms for Madaris, how has the current government brought Madaris on board with the SNC?
On one hand, through the SNC, the government aims to provide job opportunities to Madrassa graduates, stimulating the creation of more Madaris. Every primary school would be required to hire one Madrassa certified teacher to teach Islamic teachings in the manner that it is currently taught in Madaris. Considering the large number of public and private schools in Pakistan, thousands of Madrassa certified teachers would be employed. Not only will these Madrassa certified teachers have a high influence on the school environments but they will also have a great influence on the overall academic environment in the country. With Madaris widely cited as an important contributor to extremism that Pakistan is still not completely rid of, giving Madaris a strong position in education policy-making and political influence in the academic environment may not be very useful in producing more responsible citizens.
On the other hand, the SNC envisages the government to provide each Madrassa with three teachers, who will be paid from the public exchequer, to teach students contemporary subjects in the 35,000 Madaris across the country. Educationists have pointed this out to the government that providing teachers to Madaris for contemporary courses might not be possible considering that this will be done at a cost to public schools who are already facing a shortage of teachers.
Many critics believe that the SNC will not lead to the modernization of Madaris, but instead to the Islamisation of public and private schools. While the curricula of contemporary subjects remains more or less the same in the SNC, major changes have been introduced in the Islamiat curriculum, making it heavier in content – even heavier than the content currently being taught at Madaris. Schools will be heavily dependent on Madaris certified teachers and every Madrassa will try to impose its interpretation of the Quran, Fiqh and Hadith. The SNC requires young students to memorise Quranic passages rather than training the youth on how to interpret Islam in relation to the demands of the modern world. The fact that non-Muslim students and Muslim students from various sects will have to learn the same Islamiat curriculum not only singles out minorities but could also worsen the sectarian divide.
Therefore, it appears that the newly developed SNC has only led to a boost to the Madrassa system in the country with far-reaching implications for the youth of Pakistan that form 64% of the entire population. It does not provide students with any additional knowledge or cognitive capabilities that could help them engage critically, promote creativity, develop civic values or prepare them for the future of work. The government needs develop an environment where different educational institutes can co-exist with different curricula to try and eliminate apartheid in education, rather than compounding the already existing sectarian divide and promoting extremism in the country. (Writer Ali Haider Lodhi is an M.Phil student).
By Ali Haider Lodhi/ISLAMABAD: The Government of Pakistan has recently tabled an Amendment Bill to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) Act (Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act 1997) to recover the stock of circular debt in the power sector from current consumers of electricity in the country. This has sparked a debate on the burden that will fall on consumers through the electricity tariff spike that will follow. If the Parliament approves the Amendment Bill to the NEPRA Act, consumers will have to pay the existing circular debt worth of Rs. 1.8 trillion. Consumers will face an increase of 50% in electricity tariff if the government plans to pay off the debt within five years.
Despite the government’s plans to pay off the existing circular debt resulting in an increase in electricity tariff for consumers, this will not solve the circular debt crisis in the long run. Pakistan will continue to suffer from inadequate generation capacity, severe shortage of supply, low efficiency of operations in the power sector, poor maintenance of existing infrastructure and other constraints in the power sector. According to a recent study conducted by Engro Corporation, Pakistan’s circular debt in the power sector will increase by Rs. 1.5 trillion by 2025, particularly due to the inefficiencies that persist in distribution companies (DISCOs).
Government-owned DISCOs struggle to collect electricity bills and meet regulatory targets for transmission and distribution losses set by the government. DISCOs end up defaulting on their payments to suppliers i.e. generation companies (GENCOs) because they do not have cash or prefer to retain cash to cover their own losses. The government bails out the power sector by paying off some or all of the circular debt when the losses are too high, with a cost to the exchequer. This leads to further problems, as on one hand, DISCOs do not see any long-term consequences of operating inefficiently and lose the incentive to improve their efficiency. On the other hand, potential new GENCOs and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) are discouraged from investing in new capacity to address supply shortages by the late payments made by DISCOs to GENCOs in the past. These problems lead to continued losses and an unresolved circular debt crisis for the country, which is inextricably linked with DISCOs’ inability to collect electricity bills from consumers.
Each DISCO loses about Rs. 3 billion per month, on average, as 40% of the electricity consumers in Pakistan do not pay their electricity bills, or make delayed payments. These consumers are often engaged in electricity theft where they alter the connections to electricity meters, or tamper with the operation of the meters themselves. This can be through direct hooking from lines, bypassing electricity meters, physical destruction of meters, stopping the rotated disk of meters and fake billing. The conventional electricity meters that are installed in all domestic, commercial and industrial premises make it easier for consumers to engage in electricity theft by adopting one of these methods, avoiding payment of electricity bills.
Conventional electricity meters are post-paid meters that measure the amount of electricity consumed by consumers in all domestic, commercial and industrial premises. Based on the meter’s readings, an electricity bill is issued and consumers pay for the electricity that they have used in the previous month. The use of post-paid electricity meters allows consumers to engage in electricity theft and the two most common methods are direct hooking from lines and bypassing electricity meters. In the former, consumers tap into main power supply lines from points ahead of their electricity meters so that their meters are unable to measure the units consumed. In the latter, consumers bypass electricity meters by connecting into power lines before the meters so that they do not record the units consumed.
Electricity bills vary each month depending on the units consumed and it is onerous to keep track of the units used, as conventional electricity meters are not easy to read. This makes it difficult for low-income households to manage their electricity bills, further exacerbated when they are unable to pay their bills before the due date. Consumers who are unable to pay within a month of the due date face disconnection of electricity, resulting in loss of revenue for DISCOs.
To tackle the shortcomings of conventional post-paid electricity meters and prevent electricity theft, many countries have started switching to pre-paid electricity meters. Pre-paid meters work on a debit basis, where customers are required to buy electricity before they consume it. This resolves the issue of delayed payments as the utility receives money even before the use of electricity. Consumers can purchase electricity tokens from assigned centers or they can simply do it using mobile phone applications. This makes it easier for customers to track how many units they have used, allowing them to plan their household budgets accordingly.
Many countries across the world have successfully introduced pre-paid meters including Turkey, India, South Africa and many European countries. Studies show that the switch from post-paid meters to pre-paid meters has led to a decrease in the demand and theft of electricity in Africa. Similarly, a research study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, United States of America (USA), revealed that switching from postpaid meters to prepaid meters reduced electricity usage by 13% in South Africa. Given the advantages in improving the payment mechanism of electricity, can Pakistan switch from traditional post-paid meters to pre-paid meters to help solve the problem of circular debt in the power sector?
The benefits of introducing pre-paid meters in Pakistan will be twofold. On the demand side, it will manage customers’ consumption as it provides credit control and facilitates affordability, as they will pay for the units they need and recharge as required. On the supply side, it will enable DISCOs to collect electricity bills from consumers prior to its consumption, preventing delayed and non-payments by consumers, reducing electricity theft and allowing DISCOs to access information regarding consumers’ consumption of electricity. This could help the power sector to reduce the ever-increasing demand for electricity in the country. Although there may be an overall reduction in the collection of revenue from consumption of electricity, more of it will be recovered on time and at a lower cost. The high costs associated with the installation of pre-paid meters can be addressed by inviting foreign firms to develop pre-paid meters in Pakistan so that the costs of importing them are reduced.
In the long run, introducing pre-paid meters across residential, commercial and industrial sectors will lead to better recovery of revenue by DISCOs, which is at the heart of the circular debt crisis that Pakistan’s power sector has been facing. Timely payment to DISCOs will ensure timely payments to GENCOs and IPPs, and further to the primary energy suppliers, breaking the vicious cycle of circular debt. Coupled with power sector reforms to address the inadequate generation capacity, severe shortage of supply, and low efficiency of operations in the power sector, this could be a major step towards solving the circular debt crisis in the power sector of Pakistan. Writer is a student of M.Phil, Ali Haider Lodhi. He can be contacted at his email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Corporate Ambassador/KARACHI: Pakistan Muslim League (Qayyum group) has felicitated the nation the 74th Indendence Day of Pakistan, being celebrated on August 14 (Friday). In a statement, PML(Qayyum) President Ameer Muazzam and Secretary General Syed Faqir Hussain Bukhari said that Pakistan was achieved after a lot of sacrifices of the Muslims of the sub-continent and struggle of Muslim leaders led by Father of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
They said that the people of Pakistan must celebrate this independence day with traditional zeal and fervour. Pakistan Muslim League (Qayyum) leaders said that the countrymen must pray for the prosperity of the nation and the country.
Central Information Secretary of PML(Qayyum) Rozina Jalal said that the people must prayers for those who have sacrificed their lives to obtain Independence. She said that her party would make concerted efforts to make the country more stronger and prosperous.
She said that late Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, a close confidant of Father of the Nation joined the Muslim League of Mr Jinnah in 1945 and joined hands with Quaid-e-Azam to achieve independence and make a separate homeland for the Muslims of undivided Hindustan. Rozina Jalal, who is a renowned TV analyst and famous personality in Karachi, said that her party would promote the mission of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. She said that leadership of her party was strengthening the roots of the party at grass root level throughout the country to provide the countrymen a party that can truly serve their interests.
Corporate Ambassador/KARACHI: The Asian Banking & Finance Magazine (ABF) has awarded its prestigious Corporate Client Initiative of the Year– Pakistan and the Innovative Deal of the Year– Pakistan Awards at the Corporate & Investment Banking Awards 2020, to the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP).
Corporate & Investment Banking Group (CIBG) at NBP reflects the Bank’s strong capability of providing a wide array of plain vanilla and tailored financing, transactional, and electronic banking products and services to its diversified and growing client base. NBP is one of Pakistan’s leading provider of financial services to top-tier multi-national, governmental agencies/departments, and corporate clients across the country, serving the changing financial needs of the nation’s distinguished businesses and government entities.
On winning this prestigious award, Mr. Syed Jamal Baquar, SEVP/Group Chief, CIBG said, ‘the recognition of NBP for these Awards highlights that NBP endeavors to be a preferred and trusted long-term partner of its clients by providing a full array of financial products and solutions which continue to exceed service expectations. We undertake to continue offering our very best to our clients and are confident that this mindset will lead to many more milestones and achievement in times to come. Our large balance sheet, universal banking products, and a high quality team of professionals gives us the confidence and the ability to undertake pretty much any large, complex financial transaction or infrastructure project in the country.
We continue to explore and support sectors where Pakistan’s economy is expected to expand in the future.’
He further went on to add that ‘NBP has a proud history extending over the last 7 decades as a true “Nation’s Bank” with deep roots throughout the country and in almost every segment of Pakistan’s economy. NBP has the size, scale and diversity to serve its customers across a broad range of financial needs. Established in 1949 under the “National Bank of Pakistan Ordinance 1949”, NBP is one of Pakistan’s leading Commercial Bank offering comprehensive banking products and services in addition to being entrusted to act as an agent to State Bank of Pakistan (“SBP”). Over the decades, NBP has redefined its role into a modern growth-oriented Commercial Bank by expanding its business network across continents and capturing sizeable market share in the capital and equity markets, corporate and investment banking, retail and consumer banking, agricultural financing and treasury services in Pakistan. The Bank has an international presence through its branches and subsidiaries in the Far East, Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, Europe and North America. NBP has competitive edge over other competitor banks due to:
· Wide customer coverage through branch network of 1,500 plus branches in Pakistan and 21 overseas branches.
· AAA/A1+, the highest possible rating for any local bank by both PACRA Credit Rating and JCR-VIS Credit Rating, with a stable outlook.
· Leading financer to all the major business sectors including power, oil & gas, cement, sugar, telecommunication, etc. It is also the largest provider of credit to the corporate sector of Pakistan.
· Having a diversified product base customized to the needs of different customer segments.
· Ongoing Initiatives for development and implementation of alternative delivery channels through digitalization of services i.e. “NBP Digital”.
We take this opportunity to thank our valued clientele for their continued patronage in a very competitive environment. We also take this opportunity to extend our sincere appreciation to the NBP leadership and business teams who are second to none, and have made this possible.’
CorpoprateAmbassador/KARACHI: National Bank of Pakistan and the United States-based Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development (Winrock) signed an MoU for collaboration between the two organizations to look at increasing ways and means of credit availability to farmers, processors and service providers and enhancing financial literacy in selected areas and crops. Initial focus will be on four non-major crops namely dates, banana, tomato and red chili. Winrock is being represented via its Pakistan office through the Pakistan Agriculture Development Project (PAD) and is undertaking tasks on value chain development in the four crops in 12 districts (6 each in Sindh and Punjab).
Winrock International is a recognized leader in US and international development, providing solutions to some of the world’s most complex social, agricultural and environmental challenges. It is a non-profit organization that implements a portfolio of more than 140 agriculture, environment and social development projects in over 46 countries.
NBP is Pakistan’s largest public sector commercial bank,providing a diverse range of products and services to the agriculture sector. The Bank is taking initiatives for increasing market penetration and growth in the priority sectors of the economy by developing and strengthening value chains between producers, processors, exporters and financial institutions. The Inclusive Development Group (IDG) within NBP is spearheading these initiatives and is engaged in focusing on financial inclusion of underserved sectors that have significant business potential.
NBP and Winrock will collaborate to bring together their respective experiences and expertise to facilitate farmers and related value chain partners to promote better standards for farming and processing. Credit plays a vital role in enabling the adoption of best practices for improving crop productivity, reducing losses, value addition and consequently enhancing profitability. NBP will collaborate with Winrock to enable credit flow to farmers and agribusinesses thereby enabling the adoption of modern inputs and technologies in the farm-to-fork value chain for the four crops. The effort is expected to result in improved crop productivity, reduced post-harvest losses and consequently increased incomes. Similarly, it will facilitate processors and other potential value chain partners i.e. agri related businesses to acquire new or scale-up existing infrastructure / technology and improve business profitability.The expected outcome of the collaboration between NBP and Winrock is to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders and contribute to growth in Pakistan’s economy.
Corporate Ambassador/KARACHI: Pakistan Muslim League (Qayyum Groupu) led by its President Ameer Muazzam has appointed some renowned personalities on important positions in the party with the aim to reorganize the party in the country. A few days ago, the party has also taken important decisions to strengthen its leadership and roots in Karachi (Sindh), by giving different positions in party to famous dignitaries.
Newly-appointed Central Information Secretary Rozina Jalal told Corporate Ambassador that with the consultation of party president, Syed Faqir Hussain Bukhari, Secretary-General of Pakistan Muslim League (Qayyum Group) has appointed Sufi Zahid Hussain Daudpota as President of Sindh, while Kanwar Wajahat Hussain has been given the post of General Secretary Sindh.
Renowned social personality and TV analyst Rozina Jalal has been appointed as Central Secretary Information. Meanwhile, the PML(Q) has appointed Engineer Amjad Hussain Mughal as Central Deputy Secretary General of the party. Likewise, with the approval of the party president, secretary general Syed Faqir Hussain Bukhari has appointed Tariq Hussain Kheero as Vice President of Sindh province.
Rozina Jalal said the new leadership would extend the penetration of the party in the country, including Sindh and strengthen its presence. The party would emerge as a strong political force. Late Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan formed this political party to participate in general elections held in Pakistan in 1970.
This is very tragic incident, but how the PIA plane crashed just outside the Karachi airport, it seems very strange and disturbing. When plane was landing, the crash landing option could have been utilised. Model Colony, where the plane crashed, is just opposite the runway and Karachi airport.
Wrong Landing Altitude
According to pilot’s conversation with control tower, the ill-fated plane, while making its first approach to landing was at a higher altitude than the normal. It was at 3,500 feet at five miles. When the pilot was forewarned by the control tower about the high altitude, pilot said he was comfortable with it and was approaching runway 25-L. The aircraft should have been at 1,600 feet at that point.
Why Pilot did not opt for emergency or crash landing when he tried to land the plane although landing gear and tyres were not working at that time? Initial reports indicate that during first attempt of landing, but that was a failed attempt due to fault in landing gear. Meanwhile, both the engines too developed faults that led to crash of the plane. President of Bank of Punjab, Zafar Masood, who was also travelling in the ill-fated plane, however, he has survived and shifted to ICU. He is out of danger now. Zubair Ahmed, another passenger is among the two survivors.