Dar convinces heads of Chinese banks to invest in Pakistan

PakChina flags

BEIJING: The Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar met with several top ranking heads of China’s financial sector and also called on his Chinese counterpart Finance  Minister Lou Jiwei here in Beijing on Tuesday.

In a meeting with Hu Xiaolian Chairperson of the Export and Import Bank of China ( EXIM) the Minister congratulated the newly appointed chairperson on assuming office and expressed hope that EXIM’S cooperation with Pakistan would gain further momentum under her leadership. He hoped that the bank would gain from her previous  rich experience particularly in foreign exchange management as Vice President of the Central Bank of China.

During the meeting, the Minister apprised the chairperson of the economic outlook of the country and said that owing to present governments successful economic reform agenda Pakistan’s economy had been put on right track with all macroeconomic indicators showing a positive trend. He said that the foreign exchange reserves had doubled, the relationship with multilateral donors had been revived, the credit ratings for Pakistan had improved, Pakistan recently successfully passed the 7th IMF review, its investment bonds were heavily subscribed and the GDP growth rate had touched new highs.

The satisfactory state of the economy was reassuring not just for Pakistan but also for prospective banking and financing institutions, he added. Both sides discussed status of several CPEC projects undertaken with EXIM’S funding and expressed satisfaction over the progress achieved so far.

Minister Ishaq Dar also met President of China Development Bank ( CDB)  Zheng Zhijie They discussed progress on financing of various projects in Pakistan.  President CDB said that several projects were being carried out with the involvement of the bank and implementation of those projects was being stepped up. The Minister emphasized the need for Pakistan-China Investment Company to play a more active role in promoting economic cooperation. The Minister also invited the President of CDB to visit Pakistan.

Minister Ishaq Dar also held a meeting with Li Keping, President of China Investment Corporation in Beijing. He apprised the President that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government had introduced deep rooted structural reforms and stabilization features, financial consolidation and fiscal discipline which was yielding promising dividends. The revenue collection had gone up.

The reserves had a significant increase and the GDP growth rate had also increased. The international credit agencies had also upgraded ratings for Pakistan.  Pakistan got approval from the 7th IMF review board and the country was back in international bond market.  He said that the country was also carrying out privatization as part of its reform agenda.
He said that out of the 46 Billion CPEC projects, 34 Billion were energy projects which offered high return on equity and investment and attractive investment prospects. Li Keping said that CIC was focused on furthering cooperation with Pakistan which was an important country of one belt one road initiative. Minister Ishaq Dar described his meeting with CIC as one that offered news ideas to the two sides to work together.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also called on Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei here today.  Both sides expressed satisfaction over the progress on the Chinese initiative of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank ( AIIB) . The Minister congratulated Lou Jiwei on materializing the vision of AIIB and signing of its Articles of Agreement by more than fifty countries in a record time.  He offered all out support to the Chinese endeavor and hoped that the bank would play a pivotal role in transforming the infrastructure deficit in the region. He said that following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan CPEC related projects had made progress owing to Chinese side’s continued cooperation and support. He emphasized the need for speedy implementation of energy projects so as to overcome the electricity shortfall by end of 2017. The Chinese Finance Minister appreciated improvement in Pakistan’s economy and reform agenda of the government. (PCNN)

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Silkbank signs accord with Arif Habib to raise Rs 10b through right shares

Silkbank

KARACHI: Silkbank has entered into an underwriting arrangement with M/s Arif Habib Limited as part of its capital raising initiative through the recently announced PKR 10 Billion Rights Issue.

Chairman Silkbank Shoukat Tarin and Chairman Arif Habib Group, Arif Habib signed the agreement on Tuesday. This will provide substantial capital adequacy to Silkbank for it to pursue its long term growth objectives besides ensuring regulatory compliance.

With the conclusion of this arrangement the aforementioned Rights Issue is expected to be completed in the next 45 days. All relevant regulatory approvals in this regard have already been obtained by the Bank. (PCNN)

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Pak-Turkey businessmen can explore IT, computer sectors

Flags-Pakistan-Turkey

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Turkey have huge potential for mutual trade and business opportunities in different sectors of economy. The opportunities in IT and computer sector could also be explored by enhancing interaction between the business communities of the two countries.

This consensus view point was emerged during the meeting between the delegation of Pakistan Computer Association (PCA) and Ruhi Deniz, commercial councilor at Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Pakistan.

Munawar Iqbal, President, Pakistan Computers Association (PCA) who led the delegation comprising PCA members AR Tahir, Saleem Farooq, Jamal Yousaf and others, presented various aspects of the working of PCA, its objectives and vision for strengthening IT and computer industry in Pakistan.

Munawar Iqbal informed Ruhi Deniz that PCA being the only representative body of computer industry in Pakistan including hardware, software and other related ranges of business aims to contribute in enhancing international trade of Pakistan in the IT and computer sector.

The members of delegation AR Tahir, Saleem Farooq and Jamal Yousaf said that PCA is working all over Pakistan with chapters in all the major cities and the association was linked with thousands of the stakeholders.

The delegation was of view that the avenues of joint ventures in IT related business and trade could be explored.

Ruhi Deniz while appreciating the propositions presented by the members of the delegation suggested that PCA may form a committee as fellow up of this meeting to identify areas of business cooperation between the two countries. (PCNN)

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PICG becomes member of Global Network of Directors Institutes

PICG

KARACHI June 28, 2015: Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance (PICG) is pleased to announce that it has been inducted as a member of the Global Network of Director Institutes (GNDI).

GNDI is an exclusive international network of director institutes from across the globe. It currently represents more than 100,000 directors worldwide and works towards the sharing of international expertise in directorship and corporate governance. GNDI also offers a unique program known as the ‘Global Passport’ which gives the member access to director resources from across the world.

“PICG is the first institute from the sub-continent to have been granted the prestige of joining the GNDI network. This is an exciting opportunity for our current and future members to benefit from sharing experiences with global directors, learn from international colleagues and to stay updated on business and emerging governance trends impacting boardrooms across the world.” said Najia Ansari, spokesperson for PICG.

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Pakistan becomes founding member of AIIB

AIIB

BEIJING: Pakistan has signed the articles of agreement (AoA) amongst 57 other founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) here Monday.
Finance Minister, Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar represented Pakistan at the signing ceremony in the Great Hall of the People where delegates from all the founding member countries of AIIB had converged for the event. He also met President Xi Jinping of China following signing of the document.
Earlier in May this year, the prospective members of the bank after deliberations had finalized the articles of agreement for the AIIB as a result of a three-day policy meeting. It is believed that the bank would be operational by the end of this year.
Ministry of Finance said on Monday that Pakistan has been actively involved throughout in the consultations at all levels and  after intensive consultations amongst the members the AoA signing was made possible in a short span of nearly eight months since the MOU on establishment of the AIIB was signed in October 2014.
“We believe that the Bank will be an important platform to convert the abundant savings available in the region into investment to help regional economies achieve sustainable and rapid development and thereby contribute to the world economy,” said the Finance Minister following the ceremony adding that Pakistan hoped to draw financing support for communications and energy infrastructure projects including projects for construction of roads, dams, power generation.
“Energy and communications infrastructure development is much needed in the region and we believe that AIIB would cater to the needs of the region and compliment the availability of resources in the region,” said the Minister.
The Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that in Asia, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) mega project which involves a cluster of communications infrastructure and power generation projects would provide an integrating platform for over three billion people in Central, West and South Asia, the Middle East and Africa Regions.
The increase in financial flows, investment, trade, digitalization etc would bring peace and prosperity to the region, enhance the competitiveness of the economies of these countries, contribute to reducing regional disparities and social inequality, and improve life expectancy and quality of life in the country and in the region, he added.
The Minister during his meeting with President Xi Jinping extended warm wishes and regards of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain and congratulated him on the wonderful idea of AIIB.
Later, the Minister led Pakistan’s delegation at the Ministerial Meeting that included Ambassador of Pakistan to China, Masood Khalid and Economic Minister at the Embassy. (PCNN)

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Jews population in world grows to 14.2 million

Jews

JERUSALEM: The world’s Jewish population has grown to be nearly as large as it was before the Holocaust, an Israeli think tank said in its annual report Sunday.

The Jewish People Policy Institute said there are currently 14.2 million Jews in the world. When factoring in individuals with one Jewish parent and others who identify as partially Jewish, the figure approaches 16.5 million– the Jewish population on the eve of World War II. The Nazis and their collaborators murdered about 6 million Jews in the Holocaust.

The report said the rise has been due in part to natural growth, mainly in Israel, which has about 6.1 million Jews and one of the Western world’s highest fertility rates.

But it also linked the growth to “changing patterns of Jewish identification.” It said that 59 per cent of adult children in the US who have just one Jewish parent now identify as Jewish, a majority “for the first time in memory.”

Avinoam Bar-Yosef, the institute’s president, said more of those Jews were probably identifying as Jewish because it is more “respectable” to be Jewish in the US than it was years ago. He also said Birthright-Israel, which organises educational trips to Israel for young Jewish people, is likely having an impact.

Still, the report said that the number of Jewish Americans who are not Orthodox, yet who have strong Jewish identities and are integrated into American society, is shrinking. It attributed that decrease to a rise in intermarriage and low birth rates.

The United States has the world’s second largest Jewish population, at 5.7 million. France is a distant third with about 475,000 Jews, followed by Canada.

Facilitators of Kuwait mosque suicide bomber arrested

Kuwait blast

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwaiti police have arrested the driver and the owner of a house who facilitated suicide bomber to carry out terrorist attack in Shia mosque in Kuwait, official media reported.

The police have arrested the driver who transported a suicide bomber to a Shia mosque where he blew himself up, killing 26 and injuring 227 in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group, official media reported.

Authorities have also detained the owner of the house where the bomber was staying, a Kuwaiti national who subscribes to fundamentalist and deviant ideology.

The driver, named Abdulrahman Sabah Eidan Saud, was described as an illegal resident born in 1989, who took the bomber to the Al-Imam Al-Sadeq mosque in Kuwait City on Friday, it said.

The arrest came after thousands of Kuwaitis braved scorching summer heat on Saturday to attend the funerals of 18 out of 26 victims of the bombing, claimed by the Islamic State group.

The bodies of the remaining eight victims were flown to Iraq’s holy city of Najaf for burial, State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah said.

Draped in Kuwaiti flags, the bodies were borne by mourners chanting religious slogans. Mourners turned out in large numbers despite the Ramazan daylight fast and as temperatures hit 45 degrees Celsius.

“This crowd is the proof that the objectives of the criminal act have failed,” parliament speaker Marzouk al-Ghanem told reporters.

The mourners, who included women clad in black Islamic dress, carried Kuwaiti flags and black and green banners bearing religious slogans.

The health ministry said that 40 wounded are still in hospital following the attack, one of the country’s worst bombings and its first ever on a mosque.

The interior ministry said authorities will “continue efforts to uncover the conspirators in this criminal act and to reveal all of the information and circumstances behind it”. (PCNN)

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HSBC Bank Oman to sell its business in Pakistan to Meezan Bank

meezanbank

KARACHI: HSBC Bank Oman has agreed to sell its banking business in Pakistan to Meezan Bank , a sharia-compliant Pakistani lender, it said on Sunday.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory and other approvals, is expected to be completed during the second half of 2015, the bank said in a statement. Meezan Bank is Pakistan’s first and the largest Islamic bank.

The business had one branch and gross assets of around $40 million as of March 31 in Pakistan, it said.

The sale, at a small discount to the net asset value of the business, will not materially impact the full-year profits of HSBC Bank Oman, it said. The bank is an indirect 51 percent-owned subsidiary of HSBC Holdings. (PCNN)

Scotland Yard team reaches Islamabad to probe 2 accused of Dr Imran Farooq’s murder

ScotlandYard

ISLAMABAD: A team from Britain’s Scotland Yard (London Metropolitan Police) arrived in Islamabad on Saturday in relation to the investigation of the murder of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Dr Imran Farooq.

Islamabad had requested UK to send a team of Scotland Yard to Pakistan and assist in an ongoing investigation into the murder case as under way in Pakistan. The team is also expected to be taken to meet suspects who are in custody of Pakistani authorities. The team is scheduled to start its investigation from Monday and will carry out its operations under high security.

Earlier this week, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had said that the accused said to be linked to the murder of Dr Farooq would be brought to Islamabad where British authorities would question them in this murder case.

In April this year, the interior minister had announced the arrest of Moazzam Ali, a man from Karachi whom he had described as the primary suspect in Dr Farooq’s murder case.

Meanwhile, last week, two men identified as Mohsin Ali and Khalid Shamim wanted in the murder case of Dr Farooq were said to have been taken into custody from Pak-Afghan border in Chaman.

MQM leader Dr Imran Farooq, aged 50, was on his way home from work when he was murdered in Green Lane on September 16, 2010 outside his London home. A post-mortem examination found that he died from multiple stab wounds and blunt trauma to the head.

Farooq claimed asylum in Britain in 1999. He was wanted in Pakistan over scores of charges including torture and murder but always claimed the accusations were politically-motivated.

He had twice been elected as a lawmaker in Pakistan but went into hiding in 1992 when the government ordered a military crackdown against MQM activists in Karachi. The latest developments come as a recent report by the BBC claimed that MQM may have received funding and military training from Indian authorities. (PCNN)

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IMF board approves $506.4 million tranche for Pakistan

IMF

ISLAMABAD: The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on June 26, 2015 completed the seventh review of Pakistan’s economic performance under a three-year program supported by an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement. The Board’s decision enables the immediate disbursement of an amount equivalent to SDR 360 million (about US$506.4 million), bringing total disbursements under the arrangement to SDR 2.88 billion (about US$ 4.05 billion).

On September 4, 2013, the Executive Board approved the three-year extended arrangement under the EFF in the amount of SDR 4.393 billion (about US$6.18 billion, or 425 percent of Pakistan’s quota at the IMF).

Following the Executive Board discussion on Pakistan, Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, said:

“Progress toward macroeconomic stabilization is encouraging, thanks to strong performance under the program and despite significant legal, political, and security challenges. Macroeconomic imbalances are being gradually addressed. Building on these gains, continued efforts are needed to make the economic reform more sustainable and boost inclusive growth.

“The planned fiscal adjustment in the context of the FY2015/16 budget is appropriate. The authorities’ plans to broaden the tax base, including eliminating tax exemptions and concessions, are welcome, though significant scope remains for increasing tax compliance and enforcement. The authorities are implementing plans to reduce costly and inefficient electricity subsidies, and steps are being taken to contain arrears in the electricity sector, while boosting support for the most vulnerable. Legal challenges might still pose risks to the authorities’ efforts, and their commitment to contingency measures is encouraging. Building on recent success in diversifying budgetary financing and reducing the reliance on central bank financing, continued strengthening of public debt management remains a priority.

“Foreign exchange reserves have continued to increase and monetary policy has remained appropriate under current macroeconomic conditions. Following the planned amendments to the central bank law that will already address some important shortcomings to central bank independence, further efforts will be needed to bolster the SBP’s governance structure and autonomy. Building on the recently started implementation of the improved interest rate corridor, efforts to strengthen central bank operations should continue, including through strengthened risk management and internal operations.

“The financial sector remains stable and progress in bank capitalization is welcome. A number of legislative reforms to strengthen financial stability and inclusion are underway. Efforts to combat financing terrorism, anti-money laundering, and tax offenses should continue.

“Structural reforms are progressing, although more needs to be done, and the risk of legal challenges remains. While regulatory reform continues, the power sector remains a key bottleneck for growth and a drain on public finances. The authorities’ adoption of a comprehensive medium-term plan to deal with the accumulation of arrears in the electricity sector is welcome in this respect. Continued efforts are needed in the areas of privatization of public sector enterprises, trade policy, and business climate reforms.” (PCNN)

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