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Some news you may have missed out on part 134.
-Rupee continues to recover, gains Rs4.16 in four months The Pakistani rupee has maintained a gradual uptrend against the US dollar since the beginning of current fiscal year in July and is anticipated to gain more ground in the remaining eight months amid expectations of increase in foreign currency inflows. The rupee gradually strengthened Rs4.16 or 2.60% in the past around four months to Rs155.88 to the US dollar in the inter-bank market on Friday, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). “The rupee may recover to 145 to the greenback by June 30, 2020,” Forex Association of Pakistan (FAP) President Malik Bostan projected while talking to The Express Tribune. Further: -In a positive development, Pakistani Rupee hits highest level of four months against US dollar The Pakistani rupee has shown recovery against the US dollar as the US currency reached the lowest level in four months. -ExxonMobil to help build LNG terminal in Pakistan After getting a liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply contract from private-sector consumers, US energy giant ExxonMobil is planning to build the third LNG terminal in Karachi as a joint-venture partner. Some time ago, ExxonMobil, in collaboration with Pakistan’s exploration and production companies, drilled an offshore well to search for hydrocarbon reserves in the Arabian Sea. However, the effort could not prove successful. Now, in a new venture with Energas consortium, the US firm is going to invest in setting up an LNG terminal in Pakistan. -Pakistan's Hindu community celebrates Diwali today in a renovated temple reopened by the Pakistan government after 72 years he country’s Hindu community is celebrating the annual religious festival of Diwali. The religious festivities are expected to take place in Shawala Teja Singh Temple, located in Sialkot, after 72 years. All preparations for the upcoming festival have been completed. The festival of Diwali is being seen as more of a cultural than a religious one as people from other faiths will celebrate alongside members of the Hindu community. The temple, where the festivities will take place, was closed down in 1947. The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) and certain members of the Hindu community decided to open the temple a few months ago, after which the renewal and renovation work had begun. Now, for the first time, this temple is going to celebrate a religious ceremony. -Tax Returns Filed Per Day in 2019 Have Increased by 127 Percent: FBR Chairman Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) Chairman Syed Shabbar Zaidi has announced that on average, tax returns filed per day in 2019 have risen by 127 percent compared to last year. In a Twitter post, Zaidi shared details of the tax returns filed so far. As per the records, the number of tax returns filed in 2019 till October 25 stands at 918,027, as compared to 585,209 tax returns filed in the same period last year. Zaidi said that as of November, the FBR will impose strict measures against unauthorized interactions and harassement between its staff and the business community. The business community is suggested to report to FBR if any person contacts them through any manner without proper authorization. -Pakistan, Nepal agree to enhance trade ties President Dr. Arif Alvi on Saturday held a meeting with the Nepal’s Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli on the sidelines of 18th Non Aligned Movement Summit in Baku, ARY News reported. According to a statement issued by the ministry, both the leaders affirmed to enhance trade ties between the two countries and expressed their desire to further strengthen the bonds of friendship. Matters of mutual interest, bilateral relations, regional peace, grave human rights violations and humanitarian crisis in occupied Kashmir and other issues were came under discussion in the meeting. Speaking on the occasion, President Alvi briefed the Nepalese prime minister on Indian illegal actions in occupied Kashmir. He expressed hope that Nepal will play its role as SAARC chair, for strengthening peace and stability in the region. -CPEC enters into 2nd phase: Poverty, agriculture, B2B initiatives prime focus: Khusro Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar Wednesday said the CPEC has now entered into its second phase with focus on poverty alleviation, agriculture and B2B industrial cooperation. “The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government's economic reform measures will strengthen the country's economy as the investors' confidence is rebounding due to corrective measures," the minister expressed these views while talking to Australian High Commissioner Dr Geoffrey Shaw who called on him on Wednesday. Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan was also present in the meeting. While discussing bilateral relations and foreign investment in various sectors in Pakistan especially in Gwadar, the minister said that ongoing phase of CPEC will bring about socioeconomic benefits for the welfare of the people. He said that CPEC offers enormous potential to boost national economy and reduce poverty. -Pakistan's Defence Exports have reached USD 212.6 MILLION IN 2018-2019 According to the Pakistan Ministry of Defence Production’s (MoDP) “First Year Performance Report,” the country had registered $212.6 million US in defence exports from August 2018 to August 2019. Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) booked the highest value at $184.38 million US, which was followed by Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) at $7.13 million US and Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) at $1.3 million US. In addition, private sector firms booked $19.36 million US in sales. No additional breakdowns were provided by the MoDP. It is likely that PAC’s exports were fueled by co-production work for FC-1/JF-17 sales to Myanmar and/or Nigeria. Though an agreement was signed with Turkey for the sale of 52 Super Mushshak basic trainers, it is unclear if PAC has started manufacturing these aircraft. -DRAP to launch countrywide drive against substandard, spurious medicines The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) is launching a countrywide campaign against substandard medicines, the PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza said while addressing the federal and provincial drug inspectors in Islamabad on Thursday. He said a crackdown is being launched throughout the country to eradicate the menace of unregistered, spurious and sub-standard medicine. In addition to medicine quality, he added, DRAP will also take stern action against violation of fixed prices of medicines. -Foreign exchange: SBP reserves increase $79m to $7.89b The foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank increased 1.14% on a weekly basis, according to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Thursday. Earlier, the reserves had spiralled downwards, falling below the $7-billion mark, which raised concern over Pakistan’s ability to meet its financing requirements. However, financial assistance from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and other friendly nations helped shore up the foreign exchange reserves. On October 18, the foreign currency reserves held by the SBP were recorded at $7,892.7 million, up $79 million compared with $7,813.7 million in the previous week. The report cited no reason for the increase in reserves, which stood below the $8-billion mark. -Ease of business: Pakistan up 28 places on World Bank index Pakistan has jumped up 28 places on the World Bank’s (WB) Ease of Doing Business Index and secured a place among the top 10 countries with the most improved business climate – a development that will greatly improve Islamabad’s image abroad, Pakistan carried out six reforms that helped improving its ranking from 136 to 108, according to the WB’s annual flagship report, ‘Ease of Doing Business 2020’, released on Thursday. It turned out to be the sixth global reformer and first in South Asia that brought ease in doing business in the last one year. The fewer are the regulations the better is the ranking on the index. The key to attain perfection is to cut the bureaucracy hindering business activities in the name of various regulations and procedures. -CM approves Rs 500m for Punjab Housing & Town Planning Agency Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has given approval of Rs 500 million for Punjab Housing & Town Planning Agency. He gave approval while presiding over a high-level meeting at CM Office here on Monday. During the meeting progress on Naya Pakistan Housing Project for low-income persons was reviewed and detailed briefing was also given to the participants on Naya Pakistan Housing strategy. While addressing the meeting, Usman Buzdar said that obstacles should be removed in order to ensure completion of Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme and financial conditions of common man should be kept in mind while chalking out housing policy of the project. All out attention should be paid while constructing small houses in the province, he added. It has also been decided during the meeting to launch rural housing project in 17 model villages. -KSE 100 gains 204 points amid improved sentiments The benchmark KSE 100 Index depicted remarkable progress as it gained around 204 points and concluded at 33,861-level.It was a busy start to the week at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) with earnings season hitting its peak, while volumes remained at par with previous weeks’ average. Biggest single day investment in treasury bills in the previous week of estimated US $87.5 million, increasing total investment to US$440 million since July 2019 was the major rally point in the market sentiments. The bourse recorded an intraday low of 33,572.36 soon after the commencement of the session. However, after regaining the momentum, the index marked its day’s high at 34,008.35 adding 350.89 points. It settled higher by 204.13 points at 33,861.59. The KMI 30 Index accumulated 386.53 points to settle at 55,155.92, while the KSE All Share Index managed to gain 86.13 points, ending at 24,543.78. -Sindh to reserve 0.5% job quota for transgender persons The Sindh Cabinet on Wednesday agreed to reserve 0.5 per cent quota in government jobs for transgender persons. “I want to bring transgender people into the mainstream,” said Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah during the cabinet meeting. “We want to make them an asset for our society.” CM Murad congratulated the transgender community on behalf of the cabinet and advised them to improve their education. Around 41,000 positions are vacant in different government departments across Sindh out of which 206 will be given to transgender people. A spokesperson from the chief minister’s house stated that out of the 41,000 available jobs 16,000 positions will be filled this fiscal year. Rest of the positions will be filled in the period of next three years. -Malaysia's Mahathir stands by Kashmir comments despite India palm oil boycott Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday he would not retract his criticism of New Delhi’s actions in occupied Kashmir despite Indian traders calling for an unprecedented boycott of Malaysian palm oil. The impasse could exacerbate what Mahathir described as a trade war between the world’s second biggest producer and exporter of the commodity and its biggest buyer so far this year. India’s top vegetable oil trade body on Monday asked its members to stop buying Malaysian palm oil after Mahathir said at the United Nations General Assembly last month that India had “invaded and occupied” Kashmir. -“World’s two major companies setting up solar panel plants in Pakistan” Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry announced on Monday that the world’s two major solar panel firms will establish their plants in Pakistan. The minister tweeted saying “good news gets lost in political plays, yet I am very happy that the world’s two major companies are setting up solar panel’s plants in Pakistan.” Chaudhry added that China’s second-largest Lithium battery producer will also set up its workshop in Pakistan. The Lithium battery-powered buses will also be manufactured in Pakistan, the tweet further said. The Minister for Science and Technology was recently on a visit to Beijing where he met various Chinese officials and the country’s business leaders. -Pakistan Navy organizes free medical camp in Balochistan Navy organized a free medical camp in the village Dam of Balochistan in collaboration with Sahil and Ulfat welfare foundations. According to the spokesperson of Pakistan Navy, specialist doctors of surgical, medical, skin, gynecology, child and general medically inspected patients at the camp. Over 700 patients were provided with free medical treatment, medicines and ordinary surgical facilities. -Lahore to get Tram service soon Citizens of Lahore are getting a modern-day tram service soon, based on the famous British-era tram service. In this regard, the Punjab Transport Department has inked an agreement with CRSC International, a Chinese company specializing in rail transportation control systems, and Inkon Group of the Czech Republic. The development of the project is divided into several phases. In the first phase, a 35 km track will be constructed on Canal Road, Lahore. Up to 50 trams will run on this track. Once operational, the trams will be able to carry 35,000 passengers in 1 hour. The trams will be powered through electricity and batteries. A single tram will have a service life of around 40 years. 2 tram depots will be constructed at different locations as well. -10 Pakistani Universities Ranked Among the World’s Best in ‘University Impact Rankings 2019’ Ten Pakistani universities have been ranked among the top universities in the world in the Times Higher Education (THE)’s list. THE is a weekly UK-based magazine that issues its annual list of world’s most influential universities. The list called ‘University Impact Rankings 2019’ has included 10 Pakistani varsities in different categories, including Gender Equality, Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education, Decent Work, Economic Growth, and others. According to the magazine, the rankings assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. -PM Imran Khan inaugurates China-Hub Power Generation Plant in Balochistan Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has said that Pakistan is moving forward through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. Addressing inaugural ceremony of China Hub Power Generation Plant in Balochistan, he said this is the first joint project under the CPEC umbrella and he is very happy after inaugurating it. “The government will facilitate joint collaboration between Pakistani and Chinese businesses in various sectors.”, he said. PM Imran Khan said with the help of coal reserves in Thar, Pakistan can generate huge amount of electricity, which can be enough for at least 100 years. -Punjab Forest Department develops ‘record keeping’ mechanism Department of Forest Punjab is managing 1.6 million acres of forest land area – 67 per cent of the entire forest land area in Punjab – under the Geographic Information System (GIS), Pakistan Today learnt reliably on Friday. The program enabled the forests department to ensure sound management and introduce state of the art record-keeping and mapping methods. ‘Development of GIS-Based Forest Management Information System in Punjab’ was approved at PC-1 with a cost of Rs75 million and a gestation period of 36 months (2016-2019) has allowed for transfer of all forest resources and inventories into IT-based inventory systems and achieved extensive field surveys, rapid data collection and its processing for development of the forestry sector on efficient lines. -Hutchison Port Holdings announces $240m investment in Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has welcomed $240 million foreign investment from Hutchison Port Holdings, a Hong Kong-based port operator. A delegation of Hutchison Port Holdings, led by its Group Managing Director Eric Ip, called on Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday. Other delegation members included HPH Middle East & Africa Managing Director Andy Tsoi and Middle East & Africa Business Director Eric Ng. Maritime Affairs Minister Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razzaq Dawood, Special Assistant to PM on Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Ambassador-at-Large for Foreign Investment Ali Jehangir Siddiqui and Board of Investment Chairman Zubair Haider Gilani were also present on the occasion. Group Managing Director Eric Ip apprised the prime minister of Hutchison’s fresh investment into Pakistan approximating $240 million which will enhance the new container terminal capacity at the Karachi Port, and increase Hutchison Ports’ total investment in Pakistan to $1 billion. -Punjab's tax collection jumps 44% Punjab’s tax collection registered a 44% growth to Rs77 billion in first quarter of the ongoing fiscal year compared to the corresponding period of previous year, despite tough conditions of the federal government for the provinces to get a share in the federal divisible pool of resources. Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht disclosed this at a review meeting of the Finance Department on Monday. The meeting was briefed that despite the financial backlog left by the previous government, the current government gave a surplus budget of Rs233 billion in order to meet financial requirements of the federal government to comply with conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan programme. -‘SECP recognised as 7th most effective regulator in world’ The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has been recognised as the “7th most effective regulator” by the World Economic Forum in its ‘Global Competitiveness Report-2019’. “Pakistan was ranked as the 52nd most dynamic economy in the world. The country secured this by improving 15 points from last year, as it stood at 67th in 2018,” said a statement issued by Mishal Pakistan, Country Partner at WEF’s Institute of the Future of Economic Progress System Initiative, on Wednesday. “The progress of Pakistan’s competitiveness was due to the achievements made during the last 12 months.” The most effective improvements were made due to the initiative and strategies adopted by the apex regulator for the corporate sector and the capital markets; supervision and regulation of insurance, non-banking financial companies and private pension schemes. The SECP improved Pakistan’s competitiveness rankings by improving the “number of days to start a business”, where Pakistan was ranked at the 90th position compared with 96th in 2018. -Pakistan China bilateral trade crosses $19 billion, highest ever in history Pakistan Ambassador to China , Naghmana Hashmi has said the bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and China has now touched US $ 19.08 billion and both countries aimed to raise it further. “The bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and China has now touched US$ 19.08. We aim to raise it further,” Ambassador Hashmi said joint ventures in defence production have led to the manufacture of the MBT 2000 Al-Khalid Tank and JF-17 Thunder, a fighter aircraft. “On the diplomatic front, the two countries are committed to protecting and promoting multilateralism and upholding the United Nations (UN)Charter, while our cooperation has extended to science and technology, socioeconomic sectors and nuclear cooperation for peaceful purposes,” she added. -Foreign Company Agrees to Drop $6 Billion Penalty, Re-Invest in Reko Diq: Reports The International Center of Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) had slapped the country with a $6 billion penalty for revoking the contract without prior knowledge back in 2009. Soon after the development, the Prime Minister had empowered his financial team to contact the executives of the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) to reach an out-of-court settlement and avoid the penalty. Reportedly, after the Pakistan authority’s approach, the company has not only agreed to take back the penalty but has also agreed to invest in the project again. As per media reports, PM Imran Khan contacted the TCC management and discussed the prospects of the matter. He assured the company his full support if they wanted to revise the investment plan for the project. The company will reportedly withdraw its appeal from the ICSID, while Pakistan will compensate for their damages due to the cancelation of the contract. -Current account deficit shrinks massive 64pc The country’s current account deficit (cad) in the first quarter of current fiscal year declined by a huge 64 per cent mainly on the back of a 21pc reduction in the imports bill. The State Bank’s latest data issued on Friday showed the current account deficit for July-September FY20 clocked in at $1.548 billion compared to $4.287bn in the same period last fiscal year; a decline of $2.739bn. The reduced current account deficit is a positive omen for the government, which is struggling with slow economic growth and high inflation. However, despite massive decline in rupee’s value, the country’s exports have failed to register any noticeable increase during the period. -Food imports down 24pc, exports up 14pc in Q1 FY20 Food group imports into the country during the first quarter of the current financial year (July-Sept 2019-20) decreased considerably by 24.7pc, whereas exports increased by 13.98pc compared with the corresponding period of last year. The import of food commodities into the country during the period under review came down from $1.45 billion to $1 billion, whereas the exports increased from $864 million to $984.7 million, according to latest data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). -Chinese Smartphone Company Realme to build mobile phone manufacturing factory in Pakistan Chinese company Realme's Director of Marketing in Pakistan Mr He Shunzi in an interview disclosed that Realme is planning to set up the mobile phone manufacturing factory in Pakistan. He told that company is inspecting locations in Islamabad, Peshawar, and Faisalabad Industrial Estate for suitable land. Pakistani mobile market offers guaranteed capital as Realme ranked top five android brands in Pakistan in less than nine months, capturing 8% of total market share, he added. -Chinese Coal Giant Wants to Convert Thar’s Coal to Diesel China’s Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Group will help convert Thar’s coal into oil and the talks between the two parties are underway. The Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Group is a subsidiary of China’s biggest coal producer, the Shenhua Group and the company already has the world’s largest plant for converting coal into diesel, with an annual production capacity of 4 million tons in Ningxia in its portfolio. The agreement, if signed, will be a ‘game-changer’ for Pakistan, believes Adviser to Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar, who accompanied Imran Khan on his recent visit to China. The Pakistani delegation held talks with the Shenhua Group during the trip: -In a positive development, Pakistan projected among top 20 rising economic growth engines of the World Pakistan projected among 20 top rising economic growth engines of the World that would dominate the global growth in next 5 years. Pakistan has been projected as one of 20 countries that will dominate global growth in five years time in 2024, an assessment made by Bloomberg using data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). -In a positive development, Pakistan textile exports register increase Textile exports from the country increased by 2.95pc during the first quarter of the current fiscal year (July-Sept FY20) compared with the corresponding period of the last fiscal year. The textile exports during the period under review were recorded at $3,371.974 million as against the exports of $3,275.303 million during July-September 2018-19, according to latest data by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). The textile commodities that contributed to the positive growth included raw cotton, exports of which grew by 53.65pc, from $7.047 million to $10.828 million. Similarly, the exports of yarn (other than cotton yarn) increased by 21.95pc, from $7.759 million last year to $9.462 million, while that of knitwear surged by 11.14pc, from $701.393 million to $779.548 million. -Kartarpur Corridor will open to public on November 9: PM Imran Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced that Pakistan will inaugurate the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9. The premier’s announcement came via a Facebook post in which he said that construction work on the Pakistani side had entered the final stage. “Pakistan is all set to open its doors for Sikhs from all across the globe,” he wrote. “World’s largest Gurdwara will be visited by Sikhs from across India and other parts of the world,” he said. -'$1.2b penalty in Karkey case likely to be waived' Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and senior lawyer Babar Awan has said that the $1.2 billion penalty that Pakistan has to pay to Turkey’s Karkey rental power plant is likely to be waived. “International institutions, through high-level backdoor contacts, have agreed to waive off the penalty. This is very good news for Pakistan,” said Awan while addressing the media on Friday. “International institutions have shown their trust in Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he added. -Punjab Govt to Introduce a Unified Tax Collection System Punjab government is contemplating the introduction of a unified tax collection system in the province. The unified system will streamline the tax collection process and facilitate the taxpayers. At the moment, Punjab Revenue Department, Excise and Taxation Department, and local administrations collect taxes in Punjab. On Sunday, Finance Minister of Punjab, Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, headed a meeting of Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA). Bakht said that a special tax management unit will be set up at the Punjab finance department that will unify tax collection all across the country. -PM To Launch Clean Green Pakistan Index for Multiple Cities Prime Minister’s Adviser on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, said that Imran Khan will launch the Clean Green Pakistan Index (CGPI) at a grand launching ceremony on October 30. The initiative is aimed at introducing competition among cities on various indicators, including public access to clean drinking water, safe sanitation, effective solid waste management, and tree plantation. The prime minister will announce a six-month competition among 19 cities of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces, he added. The adviser said that after six months, these cities will be ranked again and those with prominent progress will be rewarded with special federal and provincial government funds and more cities will be joining the competition. -PM Khan Will Lay The Foundation of Baba Guru Nanak University on Oct. 28 Prime Minister Imran Khan is going to lay the foundation stone of Baba Guru Nanak University on October 28. The establishment of this university in Nankana Sahib was announced earlier this year when PM Khan was in the town for a Spring Tree Plantation Campaign. -Sindh govt invites bids for Dhabeji SEZ The Sindh government has launched the well-connected Dhabeji Special Economic Zone in district Thatta near Port Qasim, according to a statement issued on Monday. In this connection, the Sindh Economic Zones Management Company (SEZMC), being the provincial SEZ custodian, has invited proposals for the development and operation of Dhabeji project through an advertisement published in leading national and international newspapers. Dhabeji SEZ was highlighted in the recent meeting of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Joint Working Group on Industrial Cooperation. The senior officials of China’s National Development Reforms Commission (NDRC) appreciated the Sindh government on the progress made so far. The Sindh government launched the project through an international competitive bidding process as a build-up to the upcoming 10th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting between China and Pakistan, which would be held next month. -Rice exports surge 51pc in first quarter FY20 Rice exports from the country during the first quarter of the financial year 2019-20 grew by 50.76pc as compared to the corresponding period last year. During the July-September period, about 839,356 metric tonnes of rice, worth $470.584 million, were exported as compared the exports of 551.5,86 metric tonnes, valuing $312.147 million, during the same period of FY19. According to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the exports of basmati rice increased by 47.29pc, as 212,873 metric tonnes of basmati rice ($194.669 million) were exported during the first quarter of FY20, as compared the 127,669 metric tonnes ($132.166 million) in the same period of last year. Meanwhile, 34,090 metric tonnes of fish and fish preparations worth $79.549 million were also exported in the period under review as compared to the exports of 25,859 metric tonnes valuing $67.294 million during the same period of last year.
Thanks to all who gave me such wonderful appreciation and to the mods who gave me platinum, I don't deserve your praise, I just love our country. I want it to succeed. Now let's get riiiiiiiiigt into the neeeeeeewwws. -PM Khan makes it to Foreign Policy magazine's 2019 Global Thinkers list Prime Minister Imran Khan has been named among Foreign Policy magazine's 2019 list of 'Global Thinkers'. The short writeup on the premier states that Khan, "a former cricket star, finally got the job he had long coveted ─ prime minister"."His reward was an incredibly difficult to-do list, starting with Pakistan's looming fiscal and debt crises," it added. Prime Minister Khan shares the spotlight with other world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and US lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. -Atletico shoot for football future in Pakistan Spain´s Atletico Madrid are taking on a challenge tougher than winning La Liga — developing football in cricket-mad Pakistan, where bat and ball are king, pitches come with stumps not goalposts, and even the prime minister is a former World Cup winner. During a recent session at the club´s new facility in Lahore — the country´s first European football academy — a cabal of Spanish coaches watched as a new class of young Pakistani hopefuls fired off penalty kicks. -National Job Programme to be launched for providing jobs to youth The National Job Programme will be launched under the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme for providing job opportunities to the educated youth. In this connection Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Muhammad Usman Dar held a meeting with Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit in Islamabad on Monday to explore avenues of collaboration for the development of an effective National Job Programme. The special assistant to the prime minister appreciated GIZ for its role in the development of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector in Pakistan. He expressed hope to leverage their expertise in the field for creating better employment opportunities for the youth. The National Job Programme would include vocational training of youth in best Technical and Vocational Training Institutes and their placements in relevant industries to spur national economic growth. -You Can Even Sleep in This New Luxury Bus Service from Karachi to Quetta The 9-hour journey between Karachi and Quetta has now been made easier thanks to a newly launched luxury service. ‘Super International’ is aiming to make the experience of traveling on a bus as comfortable as possible. For that, apart from the usual amenities, it offers an onboard sleeping facility. Hence, the company’s slogan ‘Sleep Well, Live Well.” According to details, the bus will depart from Sadar area of Karachi on alternate days throughout the week. The ticket price is still to be confirmed but it will be around Rs. 3,000 per person. -KSE 100 picks 237 points on foreign inflow news The benchmark KSE 100 index of Pakistan Stock Exchange surged by 237.27 points or (+0.60%) closed at 39,543 on Monday. Analysts at Arif Habib Limited said that the Market moved upwards on the back of positive news flow on financial support from friendly countries in Gulf, as well as anticipation of China’s support in the offing. Higher international crude prices helped E&P sector to perform better, with OGDC and PPL scoring 4M and 3.1M shares respectively. Besides, expectation of improvement in Core Delta for EPCL, helped stock reach new highs and last half hour’s trading pulled the price back above 41. -Federal government released Rs 233 billion under PSDP The federal government has released Rs233.4 billion against the total allocation of Rs675 billion under its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2018-19 for various ongoing and new schemes. The released funds include Rs86.5 billion for federal ministries, Rs111 billion for corporations, and Rs25.6 billion for special areas, according to a data released by Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform on Monday. Out of these allocations, the government released Rs101.46 billion for National Highway Authority out of total allocation of Rs185.2 billion, whereas Rs9.6 billion have been released for NTDC and PEPCO for which an amount of Rs33.36 billion was allocated under PSDP 2018-19. Similarly, Rs4.6 billion have been released for Communication Division (other than National Highway Authority) for which the government has earmarked Rs13.97 billion under PSDP 2018-19. Railways Division received Rs8.07 billion out of its total allocation of Rs28.06 billion whereas Aviation Division received Rs443.5 million out of total allocation of Rs3.65 billion. The government also released an amount of Rs11.8 billion for various development projects of Higher Education Commission out of total allocation of Rs30.9 billion. The government also released Rs2.2 billion for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Division, for which an amount of Rs10.9 billion have been allocated. An amount of Rs1.44 billion has been released for Finance Division out of its total allocations of Rs12.34 billion and Rs540.68 million have been released for Climate Change Division out of its total allocations of Rs802.7 million for the current year, Rs20.3 million for Human Rights Division, and Rs408.5 million for National Food Security and Research Division. -Discussions Continue on Economic Bailout Package for Pakistan: IMF International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Pakistan are continuing discussions for a bailout package. Fitch Solutions stated in its latest report that the latest round of Chinese largesse has given Islamabad the confidence to snub the IMF’s more stringent requirements for obtaining funds. However, should Pakistan experience acute signs of a currency crisis over the coming months, we would not be surprised to see talks between Pakistan and the IMF resume, it added. -PM Imran Khan holds important meeting with Qatari PM, followed by official dinner Prime Minister Imran Khan met Prime Minister of Qatar Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani at his residence in Doha on Monday. Bilateral relations, with a focus on economic cooperation between the two countries, were discussed during the meeting. The Qatari Prime Minister also hosted a dinner in the honour of Prime Minister and his delegation. -USD likely to trade in Rs138 and 139 range, positive news expected from Qatar: Malik Bostan President Forex Association of Pakistan (FAP), Malik Bostan Khan has said that at positive news is expected from the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit of Qatar, adding that if Pakistan is able to get deferred payment facility on imported gas from Qatar, the country will sail out of economic crisis in three years. He said Pakistan’s delegation visiting Qatar would also discuss human resource and security exports to Qatar, which will give a boost to remittances. -Over 3.9 crore children under age of five to undergo polio immunization across Pakistan The first nationwide polio vaccination campaign of 2019 started across the country on Monday to immunize over 39 million children despite harsh cold weather with continuous rainfall and snowfall on hilly areas. According to an official of National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), as many as 260,000 front line workers started going door to door across all provinces and towns to ensure more than 39 million children under the age of five receive two drops of the vaccine to protect them against the polio virus. -Pakistan sees increase in IT exports, government targets $7 billion The Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunication industry of the country has contributed US $ 540 million foreign exchange to national kitty through exports during first two quarters of this fiscal year 2018-2019. The telecommunication, computer and information services managed to export IT and IT-enabled services worth US $ 540 million, seeing an increase of US $ 20 million as compared to exports figures of same period last year, statistics of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) revealed. It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan's IT industry achieved a benchmark of US $ 1.065 billion of exports in last financial year 2017-18. Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui Monday said that IT sector would bring a change in the country in future, so it is need of the hour time to digitalize the country. Talking to the media persons during his visit to the Virtual University (VU) here, he said that Pakistan was earning one billion dollars per annum through software development and its volume could be increased up to seven billion dollars per annum in the next five years Similarly: IT exports fetch $540m in six months According to Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), Pakistan’s IT & ITES-BPO industry comprises more than 2,500 companies, and this number is growing each year. The industry employs over 300,000 English-speaking professionals with many world-class experts in current and emerging IT products and technologies. -UNGA president acknowledges Pakistan's peace-keeping history President of the United Nations General Assembly(UNGA), Ms Maria Fernanda Espinosa Monday acknowledged Pakistan’s meritorious contributions to the United Nation peacekeeping missions and termed it one of the largest countries to have contributed to bringing peace in areas marred by insecurity and unrest. Ms Fernanda stated this while interacting with faculty members and students of National University of Science and Technology (NUST) during her visit to the university. Ms Fernanda, accompanied by Ms Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, paid a visit to Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS) at NUST. Lt Gen Naweed Zaman, HI (M), (Retd), Rector NUST, along with NUST senior management and faculty received the esteemed guests upon arrival at the main campus. She also lauded NUST for providing peacekeeping training both to local and foreign troops. -More than 40 World Nations to participate in Pakistan Navy International Exercise Pakistan Navy will host AMAN 19 exercise in February this year under the slogan of 'Together for Peace'. According to Pakistan Navy , more than forty countries will participate in the exercise. It is aimed at fostering maritime cooperation, promoting safe and security maritime environment for regional and global stability and for preserving oceans which is the common heritage of mankind. -Gwadar to be made a modern port city The Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar chaired a meeting to review progress on Gwadar City Master Plan project here on Monday. The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Commander Southern Command, Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, Balochistan Provincial Minister for Information Zahoor Ahmed Buledi, Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan and other officials, said in statement issued by Ministry for Planning, Development and Reform. Director General Gwadar Development Authority, Dr. Sajjad Hussain and Project Director China Pakistan Economic Corridor Hasaan Duad briefed the participants regarding the master plan. It was agreed to develop Gwadar as a modern smart port city, keeping in view the international standards being followed across the globe. -Top Pakistani company announces completion of mega construction project in Iraq Attock Cement on Monday announced it had finished civil, mechanical and electrical work on its Iraq project and the cement grinding unit was at commissioning stage. In a notification sent to the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX), Attock Cement said it was in the process of obtaining permission for the import of clinker. It added once it got the approval, the company would start the process of import of clinker and thereafter commence trial production. -European Union to provide 40 Million Euros for Balochistan Water Conservation Projects European Union and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have agreed to work in Balochistan in Water Conservation projects. This was told by EU Ambassador to Pakistan Jean-Francois Cautaian and IUCN Country Representative Mahmood Akhtar Cheema who called on Advisor to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam. Under the agreement European Union will provide forty million Euros and IUCN will provide technical and human resource assistance.The Advisor briefed the delegation about the Ministry of Climate Change performance in environmental protection and conservation and apprised them the" Recharge Pakistan Project " which aims at raising the under water table by conserving flood water in the right and left bank of Indus River reservoirs, that water could be utilised for domestic as well as horticulture purposes. -Pakistan, Turkey could increase bilateral trade between through FTA Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Turkey could potentially increase bilateral trade with direct impact in the emerging geo-political scenario, said Secretary General of The Businessmen Panel (BMP-Federal) and former chairman of FPCCI standing committee Ahmad Jawad on Monday. -Punjab government to construct tunnel at Baba Guru Nanak birthplace for Sikh Pilgrims Provincial Minister Human Rights & Minority Affairs Aijaz Alam Augustine Monday said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had planned the construction of a tunnel from the railway station Nankana Sahib to the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak to facilitate the Sikh pilgrims. The minister was talking to a delegation of minorities, led by MPA Mahendra Pal Singh, here. He said that after completion of the project, the Sikh pedestrian pilgrims would be able to reach the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak more comfortably. He said that under the PTI government, equal opportunities were being provided to the minorities in each sector besides protecting them. He said that provision of special funds for upgradation of the minority communities' worship places, upkeep and protection of their graveyards and their residential areas would be ensured. MPA Mahendra Pal Singh acknowledged the efforts made by the PTI government for the Sikh community. -$1 billion export opportunity for Pakistan Chief Executive Officer Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) Mian Kashif Ashfaq has said Pakistan has great potential to export at least one billion dollars handmade wood furniture annually if the government properly patronizes furniture industry. In a statement, he urged the government to introduce a skill development programme for the export-oriented furniture industry with a view to promoting the country’s value-added sector. He said that a tax exempted furniture sector in Pakistan will enliven the economy in general, create new jobs and increase production level -Bakhtiar calls for investor-friendly regulations in Gwadar Planning, Development and Reform Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar on Monday called for the provision of basic facilities to uplift Gwadar. He was chairing a meeting in the federal capital to review progress made on the Gwadar Master Plan project. The Gwadar Development Authority director general briefed the meeting about the master plan. It was decided that Gwadar would be made a green, clean and environment-friendly city. The minister instructed the authorities to initiate the process of preparing investor-friendly regulations in order to attract maximum investment in the port city. -‘Govt taking all possible measures to facilitate private sector’ President Dr Arif Alvi said on Monday that revival of the economy was among his top priorities, adding that the government was committed to taking all possible measures to facilitate businesses. “The government is committed to developing the private sector through investment promotion, improvement in the ease of doing business, employment generation and fast growth of manufacturing sector,” he stated while talking to Amreli Steels Chairman Abbas Akberali. The president underscored that investment in value-added products, where the country enjoyed a comparative advantage, was vital for economic revival. He said despite all challenges, the incumbent government was striving hard to develop an ecosystem which could attract investment in the country. -FBR resolved 20% of total tax evasion and fraud cases involving billion of rupees in 2018, unearthed tax evasion worth Rs170 billion throughout Pakistan last year Around 20% of the overall tax evasion and fraud cases involving billions of rupees have been resolved by the tax department during 2018. The Director-General Intelligence and Investigation-Inland Revenue department has unearthed tax evasion worth Rs170 billion throughout Pakistan. Moreover, official data regarding these cases shows around 50,000 real estate transactions worth around Rs600 billion at deputy commissioner (DC) rate have been unearthed. However, the market value of these transactions unearthed is possibly going to be higher than the stated amount. Out of these, around 7,500 transactions included people who were not present in tax rolls. Likewise, cases of people not on the tax rolls who purchased vehicles more than Rs10 million were also unearthed. According to an official, the number of these kinds of people numbers in the thousands in Islamabad alone. And all case reports were forwarded to the Federal Board of Revenue’s regional tax offices (RTOs) and large taxpayers’ units (LTUs) for recovery and execution. -Govt to install 0.1m digital meters by Feb-end Federal Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan has directed electricity distribution companies to immediately undertake GIS (geographic information system) mapping of all 11-kilovolt feeders and replace 100,000 electromagnetic meters with digital meters by the end of February 2019 in order to reduce line losses. The directives were issued in a meeting with chief executive officers of all the power distribution companies at the committee room of the Power Division on Monday. The minister directed the CEOs to personally inspect the power transformers of various capacities on a random basis to ascertain their mechanical fitness. He also called for launching a clean-up operation in the highly populated areas and removing hazardous wires and other such things. -Peshawar airport to commence night-time flight operations after five years After a gap of five years, Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar will start night-time flight operations from January 22. The first flight, after the resumption of 24-hour flight operations, will be to Sharjah. Night flight operations were ceased in 2014 after gunmen fired at a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft while it was landing. One passenger was reported dead in the incident while a member of the cabin crew was injured. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan was apprised about the plan and has been requested to appear for the inaugural flight. On January 3, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) installed a state-of-the-art full body scanner at the terminal to check for smuggling and money laundering. -Weekly review: KSE-100 index posts gains for third successive week The stock market had a somewhat decent performance during the outgoing week as the KSE-100 index advanced 258 points or 0.66% to settle at 39,307. It was the third successive weekly rise, indicating that the cloud of uncertainty that hovered over the market was finally vanishing. The renewed interest was seen ahead of the upcoming mini-budget announcement, hinting that the new finance bill may bring good news for the investors. Expectations of a possible reduction or abolition of advance tax of 0.02% on brokers fuelled positive sentiments at the bourse. The positivity was evident on first trading day of the week as the benchmark index rallied, following Finance Minister Asad Umar’s reassurances to the business community during his visit to Karachi at the weekend. Additionally, anticipation of measures to improve ease of doing business and reduction in input cost for the export-oriented sector also helped boost sentiments. -Mazari underscores need for restructuring in Sindh, Punjab police Underscoring the need for restructuring in Sindh and Punjab police, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari on Monday accused Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government of politicizing police. Mazari said that time has come to end the decades of tolerance for killing through encounters. She said that cops involved in Sahiwal shootout should be given exemplary punishment. The minister clarified that Prime Minister Imran Khan had not appreciated the counter terrorism department.
-Pakistan to host ‘AdAsia – Asian Advertising Congress’ this year In a logo unveiling ceremony held at Faletti’s Hotel Lahore, on Sunday, it was revealed that AdAsia 2019 —Asian Advertising Congress is going to be held in Pakistan this year. AdAsia is the largest and most prestigious advertising congress in Asia, organized bi-annually by the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations (AFAA). The AdAsia 2019 Congress will be held in Lahore at the Lahore International Expo Centre from December 3 to 5. The theme for the Congress is ‘Celebrasian: Celebration of Advertising and Creativity in Asia’. -IDB to lend Pakistan oil worth $4.5 bn The spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance on Saturday claimed that the Saudi-backed Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) will lend Pakistan oil worth $4.5 billion. “The IsDB will lend Pakistan oil worth $4.5 billion over three years. The oil will be lent in three installments of $1.5 billion each every year,” the spokesperson added. The Ministry of Finance spokesperson further said that in the first phase they have received oil worth $100 million and oil worth $270 million will be lent in the second phase. “We are also in talks with the IsDB regarding lending of liquefied natural gas (LNG),” the spokesperson added. -Economic revival: PTI government relief package earns Rs 125 billion immediately The federal government’s relief package for the stock market in the ‘Mini-budget’ on January 23 has brought positive impact. KSE-100 index settled at 40,254 points with a rise of 958 points within one week. The business-friendly concessions including abolition of the advance tax of 0.02pc on share trading under Presumptive Tax Regime and super tax in the mini-budget have been welcomed by the stockbrokers and industrialists altogether. -69 women constables complete elite commando training in K-P Over 7,000 personnel of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) police, including 69 women constables, have successfully completed a grueling Elite Commando Training Course. As per a statement issued by K-P police’s public relations, the police personnel completed training in 15 basic courses conducted at different training centres. Most policemen, including the women constables, voluntarily opted for the tough four-month long course. The communique also said another batch of women commandos is currently being trained and shall soon be elevated to the rank of elite commandos. -Karachi police chief makes surprise visits, suspends four police officials In a surprise move, Additional Inspector General Police Dr Amir Shaikh on Saturday visited different areas of the city, disguising himself as a common citizen to witness the performance the police force. A police spokesperson said that the Karachi police chief suspended four police officials, including two ASIs over violation of duty rules and harassing public. He said that the police officials were found harassing people instead of controlling traffic at MT Khan Road in Sultanabad. The officials were from Jackson and Sultanabad police stations, said the spokesperson and added that the police chief had directed SP Traffic city and DSP to submit report over the issue. In-charges of Jackson and Sultanabad police stations along with record keepers were also summoned by the AIG Dr Amir Shaikh, said the spokesperson. -In a historical move, Pakistan elected as Vice Chair of Asia Pacific Ministerial Forum Pakistan was elected as the vice chair at the third UN Environment’s Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific that was held in Singapore from January 23 till January 25. The newswas revealed in a tweet by Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam. He said Pakistan got elected to the position owing to the country’s ‘sincere and dedicated’ environment preservation endeavours. -Pakistan Army achieves historic milestone on Pakistan Afghanistan border fencing Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor Sunday said work on about 900 kilometer fence along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border had been completed. Briefing a team of journalists and anchor-persons at Ghulam Khan, a bordering village in North Waziristan Agency,he said the work on erection of about 1200 km chunk, the most sensitive portion out of the total 2600 km long border with the neighbouring country, had commenced last year. Zero Point is the entry and exit point of Pakistan from Afghanistan where a formal border post was constructed last year Major Gen Asif Ghafoor said the project would cost about Rs 70 billion, which also included the cost of gadgets and surveillance equipment to keep strict vigil on the illicit movement from across the border. He said the fence had amply helped check the movement of terrorists from across the border and it would further assist after completion of the project which was expected to culminate next year. The visit of media-persons was conducted for the first time in the country's history as no such activity could have happened as all the area had been “no go area” for the civilians or even by the security forces themselves. -Foreign Media representatives visit North Waziristan, stunned with Pakistan Army successes against terrorism Local and foreign media representatives on Sunday visited Peshawar, Miranshah, and Ghulam Khan Border terminals along with Director General ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor for the first time after military operations. It was the first direct interaction of the media with local people, who while standing in Miranshah Bazar, talked to reporters about improved peace situation and administrative issues in the area. They lauded Pakistan Army for its efforts in restoring peace and development. -Pakistan Cement Exports register significant rise in first half of FY 2018 - 19 The export of cement from the country witnessed increase of 32.4 percent during first half of current fiscal year as compared to same period of last year. The export of the commodity increased to $157 million in July-December (2018-19) against the export worth of $118.586 million in sameperiod of last year, a latest data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) said. In term of quantity, the cement export recorded 55.52 percent increase to 3.671 million Metric Ton (MT) during the period under review as compared to export of 2.36 million MT cement during same period of previous year. On year-on-year basis, the cement export jumped by 78.02 percent to $25.89 million in December 2018 from $14.54 million of cement export during December 2017, the data revealed. The overall export of goods during first half of current fiscal year recorded an increase of 2.19 percent to $11.216 billion against the exports of $10.976 billion recorded during same period of last year. -KP Tourism. Potential stuns audience at International Tourism Fair in Europe A large number of visitors, tourists and investors thronged the stall of Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP) at the tourism trade fair at Feria de Madrid, Spain, and showed keen interest in the KP’s tourism potential. The TCKP team highlighted salient features of the cultural and tourist resorts through video documentaries, pictures, brochures and posters. The visitors were informed that 70 percent of tourist resorts were located in KP and the foreign tourists can now visit any place without any restriction and obtaining Non-Objection Certificate. The KP participation in fair encouraged the international tour operators to bring cultural and mountaineering expeditions to the province, which will highlight Pakistan as one of the best tourist destinations for international tourists. -Foundation stone laid for $200 million knowledge city in Pakistan, first ever in County's history Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday inaugurated the first academic block of the NAMAL Knowledge City. The vision behind Namal Knowledge City is to create a hub of knowledge exchange and research in Mianwali. The Knowledge City will include academic blocks, a knowledge center, a sports complex, sports grounds, a hospital, technology parks, business centers, shopping malls, a dairy farm, a resort, software houses, hotels, a primary school, and a housing colony for the faculty. A total of US$ 200 million will be spent on the construction of the Knowledge City which will be built on the concept of a zero carbon foot print and completed by the year 2027. It will have a population of 11,000 with construction spread over 4 million square feet. It will accommodate 7,000 students with 600 faculty members. -E Rozgar Programme launched, Click for Registration The Punjab IT Board and Ministry of Youth Affairs has jointly launched a three-month free E-Rozgar Training Programe for the youth, aimed at imparting vocational training to the jobless, enabling them to earn their livelihood honourably. In this regard, the admission has started for enrollment in these technical courses and the last date for the on-line registration is the 9th of the next month. The requisites of getting admission include that the applicant should have an NCIC, his minimum age 16, maximum age 35 and should be jobless. -Pakistan China ink deal worth billions of dollars today: Report A Chinese company will invest billion of dollars in mineral exploration and processing projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A Memorandum of Understanding in this regard has been signed in China today. According to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Mineral Development Dr. Amjad Ali, the Chinese company will setup mineral industrial park in Rashakai Special Economic Zone. -Pakistan's NESPAK completes 3,900 mega projects in Pakistan and across 37 countries of World worth Rs 19,000 billions National Engineering Services Pakistan (NESPAK) has successfully completed 3,900 development projects within Pakistan and 37 in other countries with an accumulative cost of Rs 19,000 billion since its establishment, 45 years ago. NESPAK Managing Director Dr. Tahir Masood told media here Saturday that foreign countries where NESPAK has extended engineering consultancy services were mostly located in the Middle East, Far East, Central Asia and Africa. In this way, he added, NESPAK had placed the country on the export map of the world and was committed to provide multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy services with the highest level of professionalism and dedication. -Government launches Dominted Bank bond PTI government is launching yet another economic initiative for overseas Pakistanis to attract billions of dollars for balance of payment and enhancing reserves. PTI government is launching dollar-denominated diaspora bond named Pakistan Banao Certificate (PBC) on January 31st. The diaspora bond is being launched to take advantage of international savings of overseas Pakistani’s and bolstering its foreign exchange reserves. According to details shared by the Finance Minister Asad Umar , the certificates would be of two types, one of three years offering 6.25% return and the other with five-year maturity offering 6.75% return. Mr Umar said four banks had been selected to complete the transactions. -Rupee hits seven-week high at 138.78 Pakistani currency has recovered to a seven-week high at Rs138.78 against the US dollar in inter-bank market on Friday, according to the State Bank of Pakistan, after the country successfully mitigated the risk of default following receipt of $2 billion from friendly countries. Simultaneously, the rupee revived to a four-week high at retail market to 139 against the greenback on Saturday, according to a forex website. “The $2 billion inflows from the UAE and Saudi Arabia (on Thursday and Friday) has partially eased the panic at currency markets,” said a banker on condition of anonymity. -PM Imran discusses major proposals to revive PIA As Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) struggles to rein in mounting losses, Prime Minister Imran Khan discussed major proposals presented at a high-level meeting to turn around the financially troubled national flag carrier. The prime minister chaired the meeting at the PM Office earlier this month, which was attended by top cabinet members, civil bureaucracy and military officers. The premier directed the authorities to arrange additional guarantees of Rs15 billion as interim relief for PIA. A proposal was endorsed to freeze PIA’s outstanding dues, amounting to over Rs80 billion, which were payable to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) along with late payment surcharge, according to minutes of the meeting available with The Express Tribune. -World Bank releases $58m for house financing The World Bank has disbursed $58 million for house financing in Pakistan and the federal cabinet has approved the transfer of the fund to Pakistan Mortgage Refinance Company (PMRC). “It ($58 million – Rs7.8 billion) is a World Bank credit line for PMRC,” PMRC Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Mudassir Hussain Khan told The Express Tribune. “The cabinet has approved the transfer of the fund. It will take around a week to 10 days before the money reaches PMRC account.” -Talks between Pakistan, China for FTA to begin next month Federal Secretary for Trade, Younus Dagha has said that the talks between Pakistan and China for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will commence next month. Talking to a delegation of the Trade Development Authority’s officials in Lahore, he expressed optimism that the new trade agreement with China will help thrive national economy and would be in the best interests of both the friendly countries. “The trade deficit of Pakistan has decreased by five per cent during the incumbent government and our exports are increasing day by day.” He said the expansion of the trade volume with India depends on the decisions of the governments of both the countries. He informed that trade with Afghanistan is also improving. -Amended finance bill to reduce cost of doing business: PEW The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said the recently amended finance bill will reduce the cost of doing business which in turn, will reduce the prices of many items. The move will support businesses and help exporters regain ground in the international market as the government has reduced and abolished several taxes to lift economic activities, it said. The government will lose almost seven billion rupees in revenue but it will gain more in the shape of foreign exchange, said PEW President Dr. Murtaza Mughal. He said the recommendations will be applicable from the next fiscal term but it has already elevated business sentiments as many leading business groups are planning to boost investments. -Economic reforms help PSX gain 958 points in week The benchmark KSE-100 index accelerated by 958 points in the outgoing week and settled at 40,265 points, providing a weekly return of 2.44pc, owing to improved sentiment on account of the economic reforms package announced by the government. The Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 was broadly focused on improving ease of doing business, incentivizing export-oriented/industrial sectors and elimination of domestic growth hampering impediments. A key demand from the stock market to abolish the advance tax of 0.02pc was accepted, while the government also allowed capital losses to be carried forward for three years, thereby impacting the investor sentiment positively. -Govt to announce medium-term economic framework in coming week: Hammad Azhar The Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar on Friday said the government will announce a medium-term economic framework in the coming week. The forthcoming medium-term economic framework will bring measures that will enhance exports and investments, said Azhar while speaking at a seminar on “Economic Reforms: Way forward”, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), reports an English daily. He shared the government is moving towards execution a direct taxation regime whilst gradually restricting indirect taxes. Mr Azhar underlined that the supplementary budget which was announced on Wednesday didn’t target fiscal and monetary measures but was an economic reforms package to resuscitate and enhance growth and investment. -Economic reforms package to help boost exports, trade and investment State Minister for Revenue Hamad Azhar on Friday said that economic reforms package announced by the PTI government will help in boosting exports, trade and investment. Talking to a private news channel, he said the economic reforms package will prove to be helpful in overcoming the trade and fiscal deficit. Mr Azhar said due to effective economic policies of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, the international investors are desirous of investment in Pakistan. The government is taking many steps for the revival and betterment of the economy, he added. -Tale as old as time: Labyrinth of tunnels discovered under Lahore Fort A labyrinth of underground tunnels, as well as hidden basements, has been discovered under Lahore Fort. Immortalised in short stories, these passages have always been hidden from the naked eye. However, during excavation, the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) has discovered two underground tunnels and an arsenal which are currently under restoration. A symbol of the opulence of the Mughals, Lahore Fort has kept many a secret for hundreds of years; secrets which are now slowly being revealed. During excavation and restoration work, WCLA recently discovered a passage of underground tunnels which run underneath the fortress. This has caused tourists, hungry for information on the underground tunnels, to throng to the citadel and present their own theories on how the passages were used. -Indonesia, Pakistan ties poised for a quantum leap, says envoy Counsellor and head of cultural section Embassy of Republic of Indonesia Deny Tri Basuki has said Indonesia and Pakistan share strong socio-cultural and religious bond rooted in history. Pakistan and Indonesia stand proudly together as two of the largest Muslim populated countries and emerging economies of creative and talented people. He expressed these views on the occasion of a business gathering organised by tourism ministry of Indonesia in collaboration with the Indonesian embassy. A large number of stakeholders hailing from the travel and aviation industry of Pakistan attended the event. -Japanese aircraft take part in pre Aman-19 exercise The Pakistan Navy is hosting the 6th series of AMAN-19 – a Multinational Maritime Exercise – in February 2019 in Karachi, and two Japanese Naval P3C aircrafts of Deployed Maritime Force for Anti-Piracy Enforcement (DAPE) visited the PNS Mehran in Karachi for the pre-AMAN-19 exercise. According to a press statement issued by the navy’s Director General Public Relations (DGPR) on Saturday, the Japanese aircrew participated in various events including search and rescue (SAR) and counter piracy (CP) exercises along with the navy aircrew. The Japanese contingent also visited maritime and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) museums to learn about the historic achievements of the two forces. -‘Chinese, Russian firms keen to invest in PSM’ Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood revealed that three Chinese and three Russian firms have shown interest in investing in Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). Addressing a ceremony held for the inauguration of International Steels Limited’s new plant, he said that the committee tasked with revival of PSM has drafted its recommendations and the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) will make a decision by March. -China has given Pakistan additional access to its market: Dawood Prime Minister’s Adviser for Trade and Industry Abdul Razzak Dawood on Saturday said the government is working to hammer out national industrial and tariff policies, ARY News reported. Dawood while talking to industrialists in Karachi, said that China has granted Pakistan an additional access to its market. “We are working to slash unnecessary imports and increase exports”. He said unnecessary items will be removed from shelves of super markets and precious foreign exchange will not be spent on such imports. The adviser said the government has taken effective steps to facilitate business in mini budget, which will be approved in next seven day. -Pakistani Teacher Shortlisted for Cambridge’s Most Dedicated Teacher Award Cambridge University Press has shortlisted a Pakistani teacher, Ahmed Saya, for the ‘Most Dedicated Teacher’ award. Ahmed Saya, an A-level teacher from Karachi, is one of the six brilliant minds around the world to be shortlisted for the prize. The competition included entries of 3500+ teachers from over 140 countries for the prestigious award. Cambridge’s official Twitter handle said it was a tough call, but they shortlisted six teachers for this year’s Dedicated Teacher Awards. -Swiss Investor to Open A Chain of Luxury Hotels in Pakistan Swiss International Hotels & Resorts is mulling to open a chain of its luxury hotels in different cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The President and CEO of Swiss International Hotels & Resorts, Henri (Hans) WR Kennedie informed this to Chief Minister KP Mahmood Khan during a meeting on Friday. During the meeting, Henri told CM Khan that they were already working on a plan to establish luxury hospitalities in various parts of the province.
Press Conference with the Governor of the People's Bank of China 任中国人民银行行长 Yi Gang 易纲 on current monetary and regulatory matters in the People's Republic of China for the year 2022
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen The People's Bank of China (PBOC) is gladdened to announce that the efforts made by the Bank to consolidate financial markets and reign in unproductive credit and the misappropriation in debt lending are seeing bountiful returns. For the 2022 year forecast, we are thus heartened to state that the economy has exponentially preformed to bring growth above 7 percent, beating negative analysis on efforts on the PBOC and government's meaningful reforms to address core structural issues that have threatened the Chinese and global economy. While we have identified specific measures in relation to consumer demand and business growth, in conjunction with the improving regulatory framework, we foresee promising inflationary movement and are pleased to see an adaptive labour market take hold in overall trends for key benchmarks. In regards to the current developments in the Banks's stimulus efforts, we shall maintain the current level of market guidance and capital assistance. While we continue this approach, we are constantly assessing the Mainland's capital markets liquidity and should concerns be spotted that identify general overheating, the PBOC is ready to address those concerns and enforce targeted measures. Now, onto the main elements of the year's statement: the current status on the internationalisation of the Renminbi and policy responses to optimise a favourable environment as well as new guidelines on capital market The following discussion shall be complimented with the following handout:
The Renminbi - The People's Currency, and Soon the World's?
The Continued Dollar Dominance
First, a blunt fact: while multiple reserve currencies have co-existed before, and of course dominance today does not guarantee dominance in the future, with the British pound's fall as a gentle reminder of this, the PBOC is pragmatic in stating that dollar's demise looks a long ways off. Part of this is the on-the-ground data indicating that the drive to internationalisation has indeed lost much of its momentum as a reserve currency.
There is no better reminder that the US dollar is dominant than the rout across emerging market economies sine 2016-2020. The worst-performing currencies of 2019 shared a disproportionate reliance on the greenback. In 2015, 62 per cent of countries anchored their currencies to the dollar and about the same percentage of developing countries borrow in the currency.
On the other hand, less than 30 per cent of countries use the euro as an anchor for their exchange rates and only 13 per cent of external debt for developing countries is euro-denominated. The pound and the yen barely show up in the data.
When it comes to global currency reserves held by central banks, the dollar is unrivalled. While its share of global foreign-exchange reserves has fallen for five consecutive quarters, global central banks have more or less held some 60 per cent or more of their reserves in the greenback since 1996. Even with a loss of confidence in US markets, forex holdings in the Renminbi have been somewhat insignificant.
Chinese Efforts to Open Up the Renminbi - An Uneven Effort
In March 2019, China introduced its first renminbi-denominated oil futures contract, an attempt to have an alternative for domestic and international investors and traders to the petro-dollar order. However until the central government creates bilateral agreement with major oil-producing (OPEC) states to accept payment in Renminbi, this will continue to see sub-optimal results.
Since gaining a spot in the IMF's Special Drawing Rights basket of reserve currencies in 2015, China has also extended local currency swaps with various countries, including those along its landmark Belt and Road initiative, as well as took steps to open up its local bond market to foreign investors. Though given the sputtering results in BRI agreements and the concerns on excessive lending to questionable projects/governments, the BRI as a route to internationalisation has taken a backseat for policy makers.
Of concern to the PBOC and MOF policy analysts is that internationalisation of China's currency has stalled, and by some measures even reversed. As in 2016, the Renminbi was the fifth most actively used currency for domestic and international payments, with a roughly 2 per cent share, according to SWIFT. That's a drop from 2014 and 2015 when the use of China's currency doubled — in a year — to 2.8 per cent.
When only international payments are considered, the Renminbi drops to eighth place behind: the dollar, which comprises nearly 45 per cent; the euro with 32 per cent; followed by the Japanese yen, British pound, Swiss franc, Canadian dollar and Australian dollar, which all have a share of 5 per cent or less.
Allowing market forces to play a larger role in determining the Renminbi's value and opening up the capital account would require a complete overhaul of the country's financial system. While we realise that such a policy shift would bring some expected gains, the PBOC sees little reason to make a great pivot towards liberalisation, but instead a concerted series of smaller policies - or to put it more traditionally, 'Crossing the river by grasping the stones on the riverbed.'
Making The Cross Across the Riverbed Towards A More Global Renminbi The PBOC has issued the following in its Guiding Measures to the Chinese Mainland and SAR financial markets:
A new rule shall be instituted on cross-border Renminbi FDI which stipulates that, in principle, all the foreign enterprises are allowed to raise Renminbi funds in offshore Renminbi markets and repatriate them back to the mainland in the form of FDI. Previously, the foreign firms’ behaviours of remitting Renminbi back into Mainland were subjected to the PBOC’s approval on a case-by-case basis.
These transactions are to be settled in Hong Kong accounts, thus increasing the amount of Yuan in circulation offshore; these offshore Renminbi will be distinctly referred to as CNH rather than the onshore CNY. Furthermore, this allows the PBOC to act should the policy be abused by market speculators looking for an easy entry into China's domestic capital markets.
This new rule will further buoy the offshore Renminbi (“Dim Sum”) bond market and accelerate the pace of Renminbi internationalisation.
The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall begin to broker with OPEC states an agreement on settlement of trade in crude oil and its derivatives be conducted in Renminbi, in a further boost to the Shanghai International Energy Exchange and Shanghai crude oil futures market.
The extension of the “mini-QFII” scheme to India, Pakistan, ASEAN, the Republic of Korea and Japan which will allow some foreign central banks, beyond only a handful of smaller nearby Asian countries, to start building a limited amount of currency reserves even before anything like full currency convertibility will be authorised and conducted. QFII stands for Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor, a designation that allows a company to invest in Chinese bonds and equities — though again, within guiding limits issued by the PBOC on a case-by-case basis.
Regulators will begin a similar pilot scheme - RQFII - that would allow financial institutions with a physical mainland presence to remit currency from their Hong Kong subsidiaries back to the mainland — and, potentially, foreign central banks to invest small amounts of Renminbi in the Chinese interbank bond market.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority already has QFII status, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore has applied, with the PBOC accepting further applications.
Foreign institutions will be given a capped access of no more than $100 million in Hong Kong accounts to derivatives, including financial futures, commodity futures and options in testing the markets' reaction to foreign operators.
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