The Indus Motor Company (IMC), makers of different models of Toyota and Daihatsu vehicles in Pakistan, unveiled most-awaited Hybrid Vehicle ‘The Toyota Prius' in an impressive ceremony here the other day. IMC has introduced Toyota's flagship Hybrid Car Prius with complete warranty, comprehensive after sales support and parts which will give much needed peace of mind to its customers unlike the used cars which puts consumer interest at huge risk. The Prius introduced by IMC is of latest generation and has been customised for Pakistan road conditions with improved ground clearance and robust suspension system. The current generation Prius is globally known for its iconic shape and advance hybrid technology which enable its customers to achieve excellent fuel efficiency and enhanced performance with very little or almost negligible emissions. Due to these technological and environment-friendly attributes, Toyota has sold over 5 million Hybrid vehicles globally. Speaking on the occasion, Indus Motors CEO Parvez Ghias said, "It is indeed a great milestone, not only in the history of IMC, but, of the entire nation. For more than two decades, the IMC is focused on delivering customer delight and in continuation of our heritage we bring to Pakistan ... the Planet's favorite Hybrid Car the Toyota Prius - a next generation vehicle that redefines the very notion a car is built upon. Now our customers have the option to buy brand new latest generation Prius with company warranty and comprehensive after sales support which will provide complete peace of mind to our customers." Ghias also referred to anomaly in SRO 499 due to which OEMs have to charge full 17 percent general sales tax (GST) on their retail sales of Hybrids to their customers whereas used car importers pay only half of it and enjoys up to 36 percent depreciation in duty at import stage which puts OEM at huge disadvantage. He requested the government of Pakistan to rectify the anomaly in SRO 499 and increase valuation of used cars in SRO 577 keeping in view current prices to provide level-playing field to OEMs who are fully documented legitimate businesses. "What we request from new government is a level-playing field, where the government supports the local industry for introducing new vehicles including hybrid cars at affordable price. We hope that the government will take appropriate steps to promote local industry and encourage further investments, both in the auto industry and in Pakistan's future," Ghias added. Speaking on the occasion, Chief Engineer Koji Toyoshima explained key benefits of Toyota's latest Hybrid Technology which are low emissions and noise along with best in class fuel efficiency and performance relative to other Hybrid vehicles. Its futuristic design, advance styling, cutting edge features and technology collectively provide eco friendly comfort and intuitive driving experience to its users, he added. Customers can book the latest generation Prius at Retail Price of Rs 4.49 million which is inclusive of 37.5 percent customs duty and 17 percent GST which makes the total government taxes/duty to 43 percent of the vehicle retail price.
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Britain is to publish a register of who owns and controls companies to fight the “cloak of secrecy” surrounding shadowy shell firms, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday. Cameron told a summit on open government in London that the register would focus attention on the international movement of money. “For too long a small minority have hidden their business dealings behind a complicated web of shell companies — and this cloak of secrecy has fuelled all manner of questionable practice and downright illegality,” he said. Such practices were “bad for the developing world — as corrupt regimes stash their money abroad under different identities” and it hurt the British economy too as people avoided paying taxes, Cameron said. Britain made tax transparency a central theme of the G8 summit it hosted in Northern Ireland in June. “This summer at the G8 we committed to do just that — to establish a central register of company beneficial ownership,” Cameron said. “And today I’m delighted to announce that not only is that register going to go ahead, but that it’s also going to be open to the public.” The decision to publish the British register was welcomed by campaigners. Poverty campaign group One said it was a “really important moment in the fight against corruption”. One’s Europe executive director Adrian Lovett said: “Making information about who owns and controls companies publicly available will give citizens and journalists in developing countries access to the data they need to follow the money and root out corruption.”
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Pakistan is acquiring two double-hull tankers at an estimated cost of $ 45 million to upgrade its existing nine-vessel shipping fleet. The Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNsC), which the PML-N government has short-listed for being privatised, caters to 22 percent of the country's $ 16 billion oil imports and is considered to be, what a director at the Corporation's board said, one of the "finest" public sector enterprises in Pakistan. The annual general meeting (AGM) held by the company's shareholders Friday was told that the national flag-carrier earned a gross profit of Rs 3.291 billion during the outgoing 2013. This shows a remarkable growth when compared with last year's Rs 2.096 billion. A listed firm at the Karachi Stock Exchange, the Corporation declared Rs 15.08 earning per share compared to Rs 5.70 of 2012. "The PNSC gave 10 percent dividend to the shareholders," said Captain Anwar Shah, a maritime consultant and board member of the Corporation. The analysts believe that this unusually inflated dividend of Rs 10 per share, compared to last year, may have some link with the company's proposed sell-off that the resource-constrained federal government says is due sooner or later. Friday's AGM also gave a green signal to the PNSC to go for the acquisition of one Aframax oil tanker and one LR-1 Product tanker that would increase the national fleet to 11. Pakistan presently has nine vessels, six bulk cargo ships and three oil tankers of 656,000 DWT (dead-weight-tonnage). "The new acquisitions are estimated to be made at $ 40 to 45 million," Shah told Pakistan Today. Shah, a maritime consultant who Friday was elected unopposed for three more years to the PNSC board as a shareholders' director, said the two vessels were to be second hand that would be purchased from the open international market. "The shareholders approved the acquisition in today's AGM. Now formal bidding would carried out," said Shah, former director general ports and shipping and chairman Gwadar Port Authority.
|US Dollar (USD)||108.5|
|UK Pound Sterling (GBP)||177.71|
|Canadian Dollar (CAD)||101.63|
|Saudi Riyal (SAR)||28.93|
|U.A.E Dirham (AED)||29.54|
|Australian Dollar (AUD)||98.15|
Upset by the US-Iranian nuclear deal, Saudi Arabia has little choice but to rely on the US for regional security Saudi Arabia seems to have few viable options for pursuing a more independent and forthright foreign policy, despite its deep unease about the West's tentative rapprochement with Iran. Upset with the United States, senior Saudis have hinted at a range of possibilities, from building strategic relations with other world powers to pushing a tougher line against Iranian allies in the Arab world and, if world powers fail to foil Tehran's nuclear ambitions, even seeking its own atomic bomb. But alternative powers are hard even to contemplate for a nation that has been a staunch U.S. ally for decades. Russia is on the opposite side to Riyadh over the Syrian war and China's military clout remains modest compared with the United States'. Robert Jordan, U.S. ambassador to Riyadh from 2001-03, said there would be limits to any Saudi alliances with other powers. "There is no country in the world more capable of providing the protection of their oil fields, and their economy, than the U.S., and the Saudis are aware of that. We're not going to see them jump out of that orbit," he told Reuters. While Jordan was a senior diplomat in the administration of President George W. Bush, some Saudi analysts also say the kingdom is well aware of what major foreign policy shifts would involve - particularly any pursuit of nuclear weapons. This could end up casting Saudi Arabia as the international villain, rather than its regional arch-rival Iran, and Riyadh has no appetite for the kind of isolation that has forced Tehran to the negotiating table. "Saudi Arabia doesn't need to become a second Iran," said a Saudi analyst close to official thinking. "It would be a total reversal of our traditional behaviour, of being a reliable member of the international community that promotes strategic stability and stabilises oil markets." Diplomatic sources and analysts in the Gulf say the kingdom, while unsettled, will not risk a breach in relations with its main non-Arab ally and will explore, however warily, a purely diplomatic response to the Iranian opening. Top Saudis are nevertheless furious with Washington. Senior U.S. officials held secret bilateral talks with Iranian counterparts for months to prepare for last month's interim nuclear agreement between six world powers and Tehran, raising Gulf Arab rulers' fears that Washington is willing to go behind their backs to do a deal with Iran. Saudi leaders were taken unawares by the content of the deal that was struck in the early hours of November 24, despite an earlier promise by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to keep them informed of developments, diplomatic sources in the Gulf said. In Washington, a senior State Department official said Kerry had been in close contact with his counterparts throughout the two rounds of negotiations in Geneva, and had talked to Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on November 25. "The agreement was reached in the middle of the night and Secretary Kerry spoke with the Saudi Foreign Minister soon afterward," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The agreement offers Tehran relief from sanctions that are strangling its economy, in return for more oversight of its nuclear programme. Riyadh, along with its Western allies, fears this is aimed at producing weapons, a charge Tehran denies. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif suggested on Sunday the deal should not be seen as a threat. "This agreement cannot be at the expense of any country in the region," he told reporters in Kuwait. "We look at Saudi Arabia as an important and influential regional country and we are working to strengthen cooperation with it for the benefit of the region." Diplomatic sources in the Gulf say Riyadh is nervous that the deal will ease pressure on Tehran, allowing it more room to damage Saudi interests elsewhere in the Middle East. The conservative Sunni Muslim kingdom is at odds with Iran's revolutionary Shi'ite leaders in struggles across the Arab world, including in Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen. Most of all, Riyadh sees Iran's open support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in fighting a rebellion backed by Gulf states as a foreign occupation of Arab lands. Two Iranian Revolutionary Guard commanders have been killed in Syria this year, and rebels have also said Iranian fighters are on the ground, although it is unclear whether they are there in any great numbers. The Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah, which is allied to Tehran, has also sent fighters to help Assad's forces, although these are Arabs. BOLD DECLARATIONS Riyadh has expressed lukewarm support for the nuclear deal, couched alongside caveats that it was a "first step" and that a more comprehensive solution required "good will". But some prominent Saudis have made bold declarations that Riyadh will develop a tough new foreign policy, defending its interests in keeping with its status as the richest Arab state and birthplace of Islam. Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, the Saudi ambassador to London, told The Times newspaper that "all options are available" to Riyadh, including seeking its own atomic weapon, if Iran managed to build the bomb. But diplomatic sources in the Gulf and analysts close to Saudi thinking say the main problem in turning such rhetoric into action is the lack on an obvious replacement for the U.S. security umbrella in the Gulf, or for the American military's role in advising, arming and assisting the Saudi armed forces. "There'll be more contact with the Russians and Chinese than in the past. They've gone elsewhere for weapons before and we'll see some more of that, but the overall environment will be America-centric," said Jordan. A Western adviser to Gulf countries on geopolitical issues said senior Saudis have looked at ways of reducing the kingdom's long-term reliance on the United States. France is one option, albeit one that remains firmly in the Western camp notwithstanding past differences with NATO allies. Riyadh has worked closely with Paris in recent months on both Syrian and Iranian issues, and has awarded it big naval contracts. That said, the Saudi armed forces and economy are so closely tied to the United States that any serious attempt to disengage over the longer term would be prohibitively costly and difficult, diplomatic sources in the Gulf say. Washington remains much closer to Riyadh on every Middle Eastern issue than any other world power at present except France, which has taken a hard line on Iran. In Syria - the issue over which there is the greatest disagreement between Riyadh and Washington, the kingdom is already arming and training some rebel groups which the United States, wary about arming jihadists, views with caution. Diplomatic sources in the Gulf say these efforts will continue and may expand, but logistical challenges will hinder any rapid attempt to increase training much beyond the thousand or so rebels now working in Jordan with Saudi special forces. Riyadh's own fears of an Islamist backlash, reinforced by a bombing campaign inside the country in the last decade, prevent it from arming more militant groups with ties to al Qaeda. The sources say Saudi Arabia still relies on a lot of support from Western allies for command and control expertise, and would find it very difficult to build its own coalition of Arab allies to join forces in a military campaign. The kingdom and its five closest regional friends, the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, have been unable to agree on a shared missile defence shield after years of discussions, they note. THE SAUDI BOMB Prince Mohammed's warnings on the possibility of seeking a nuclear bomb have previously been voiced by other top Saudis, including former intelligence minister Prince Turki al-Faisal. But on closer inspection this looks less like a serious statement of intent and more like an attempt to nudge world powers into being tougher on Iran by raising the spectre of an atomic arms race in the Middle East, where Israel is already widely presumed to have nuclear weapons. The analyst close to official thinking suggested that actively seeking nuclear arms would backfire, making Riyadh the proliferator of mass destruction weapons instead of Iran. Media commentators have speculated the kingdom could obtain an atomic bomb from its nuclear-armed friend Pakistan, or on the arms market. But the analyst said it would never place itself in the position of being an international outcast like Iraq under Saddam Hussein and more recently Tehran. "Iraq did it. Iran did it. Saudi Arabia would never do this type of behaviour," he said. Saudi Arabia is in the very early stages of planning an atomic power programme, and has signed up to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and a more rigorous safeguarding protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Any attempt to build a bomb in secret would probably take decades due to the kingdom's current lack of any nuclear technology, expertise or materials, analysts believe. Even if it were to attempt to short cut that process by, for example, buying an off-the-peg atomic weapons system from Pakistan - a transaction itself fraught with difficulties - the obstacles would be formidable. "There's a lot of infrastructure to put in place, to make the threat credible and deliverable. It's not clear to me that Saudi Arabia would be able to do that in short order at all," said Mark Hibbs, a senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and nuclear proliferation expert. Such an effort would also incur a massive price in diplomatic and economic relations with other countries, notably the United States. The Saudi economy, reliant on oil exports and the import of many goods and services from overseas, appears ill suited to withstand such pressures. Angus McDowall is a British freelance journalist.
Eric X Li
With its “imminent collapse” or “peaceful evolution theories,” the West is wrong on China From President Barack Obama’s ceding of the center stage to his Chinese counterpart at the recent APEC gathering to frenzied attempts to decipher the country’s political and economic directions from the party’s just finished Third Plenum, the rising giant of the East often dominates Western political discourse. Unfortunately, such discourses are taking place on a faulty paradigm. Ever since 1989, mainstream Western opinions about China have been dominated by two divergent theories with opposite policy prescriptions. The ultimate aim of both was to build a universalized world order, which, of course, could not be credible without China. One is the “imminent collapse” school. Espoused by cold warriors, it predicted wholesale collapse of the country. The one-party political system was inherently incapable of managing the intensifying social and economic conflicts as the country went through its wrenching transformation from a poor agrarian economy to an industrialized and urban one. The Western alliance should seek to contain China, so the theory went, and thereby hasten the fall of a threatening power ruled by an illegitimate regime. The other is the “peaceful evolution” school. These are the panda-hugging universalists who made the “they-will-become-just-like-us” prediction. As the country modernized its economy, China would inevitably accept market capitalism and democratize its political system, and proponents urged deploying an engagement policy to speed up this evolution. Nearly a quarter century has passed since the Western intellectual and policy establishment has been guided by these two schools of thought about arguably the most significant development of our time – China’s reemergence as a great power. The report card is not pretty. The assumptions made by the imminent-collapse school include the following: China was run by a dictatorial party clinging to the dead ideology of Soviet communism. Its political system inherently lacked the ability to adapt to the rapidly modernizing Chinese society. The myriad social and economic conflicts would soon implode, and the fate of the Soviet Union awaited the party state. With that, a major ideological obstacle to a Western-designed universal order would be removed. Of course, the cold warriors have had to postpone the effective date of their prediction year after year for decades. What did they get wrong? It turned out that the party has not been holding back or reacting to China’s modernization, but leading it. Self-correction, an ability many attribute to democracies, has been a hallmark of the party’s governance. In its many decades of governing the largest and fastest changing country in the world the party has pursued the widest range of policy changes compared with any other nation in modern history. Most recently it has successfully managed a highly complex transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy – where many developing nations have failed. In the process it has produced the most significant improvement in standard of living for the largest number of people in the shortest time in history. Because of this performance record, China’s modernization process has strengthened the party’s rule, not weakened it. The key driver of the party’s success is inherent in its political institution. Over the decades, the party has developed a process through which capable leaders are trained and tested – eventually emerging at the top to lead the country. Whereas elections have failed to deliver in many parts of the world, meritocratic selection has in China. As embarrassing as it must have been for the collapse predictors, the bitterest disappointment belongs to the universalists who foresaw with philosophical certitude the inevitable evolution of China towards liberal democracy and market capitalism. Their conviction was guided by the grand post–Cold War narrative: After the fall of the Soviet Union, the world would come together under a globalized order. Western values were universal values. Western standards were universal standards. Indeed, many have capitulated to that narrative. A large number of developing countries transformed their political and economic systems, some violently, to meet the demands of globalization. But China walked a different path. As the party embarked on dramatic reforms, the country possessed a degree of national independence unmatched by most developing nations. This ability to control its own destiny allowed China to engage globalization on its own terms. Its one-party system remained intact and the party institution matured and strengthened. Its economic integration with the developed world was carried out in ways that brought maximum benefits to the Chinese people. Market access was granted in exchange for direct investments that created industrial jobs and technology transfers. The government exercised political authority above market forces and led the largest investment expansion in infrastructure and health and education in history. The dream of “they-will-become-just-like-us” has evaporated. After the Cold War, many were enamored by the material successes of the West and sought to emulate Western political and economic systems without regards to their own cultural roots and historical circumstances. Now, with a few exceptions, the vast majority of developing countries that have adopted electoral regimes and market capitalism remain mired in poverty and civil strife. In the developed world, political paralysis and economic stagnation reign. The hard fact is this: Democracy is failing from Washington to Cairo. Even the most naïve panda huggers could not sustain the belief that China would follow such “shining” examples. If the West wants to deal rationally with China, a paradigm shift in thinking is urgently needed. And, perhaps, such a shift could provide fresh ideas on how the West can approach the world differently and even begin to solve its own problems. To begin a reassessment, it is useful to first recognize what China is not. It is not a revolutionary power, and it is not an expansionary power. It is not a revolutionary power because, unlike the West of late, it is a non-ideological actor on the world stage and not interested in exporting its values and ways to the outside world. Even as its interests expand far beyond its borders – and make no mistake, these interests will be vigorously defended – it will not seek to actively change the internal dynamics of other countries. It is not an expansionary power because that is not part of the Chinese DNA. Compared with the many empires in human history, even at the zenith of its own power during its long civilization, China has seldom invaded other countries in large scale. The Chinese outlook is that of centrality, not universality. More practically, the Chinese see, rather wisely, that, although it could not accept wholesale the current global architecture, its rise must be peaceful. Otherwise the consequences are unimaginable. China’s sheer size makes this so. Self-interests will dictate that China is likely to err on the side of restraint as it reemerges as a great power. History is littered with precedents of failures to accommodate rising powers leading to tragic conflicts. But that does not have to be destiny. Give China time, allow it the space and independence to continue on its own path. Live and let live. The forced convergence led by the West is costing everyone, not least the West itself. Perhaps a healthy respect for divergence could pave the way toward a convergence of a more peaceful and sustainable kind. Eric X Li is a venture capitalist and political scientist in Shanghai. This essay is adapted from a lecture given at the Oxford Union.
What does latest dead Afghan 2-Year-Old have in common with Paul Robeson, John Wayne, Ernest Hemingway, Bob Marley, and the Kennedys? This is the season of death, when we celebrate the dying of the sun with an orgiastic burst of consumption and environmental destruction. This is the season of rebirth when we spend time with loved ones and reach out to help others we don’t know. Now would be an appropriate time to come to grips with public murder and make a public investment in peace. If I were summoning back ghosts of governments past for a press conference at the National Press Club, my first inclination — lasting only a split second — would be to bring the Filipinos, the Vietnamese, the Native Americans, the Laotians, the Mexicans, the Cambodians, the Iraqis, the Guatemalans, the Japanese, the Afghans, the Germans, the Yemenis, and all the peoples of the world dead by our indifference or malevolence and by our sacred tax dollars. Pacific Islanders killed by weapons testing would join children killed by drug testing, and prisoners both innocent and guilty killed by electric chairs and injections, standing side-by-side with the resurrected bodies of men tortured to death by the CIA, kids melted with white phosphorous, and presidents — both foreign and domestic — cut down by assassins spreading freedom and joy. My second inclination would be to line up a handful of press-worthy celebrities whose celebrity might motivate a bit of our national press corpse [sic] to hop an elevator for the long commute to the press club despite the fact that these particular celebrities were murdered by our government. First might be Paul Robeson. Here’s a wikipedia summary for those unfamiliar with this great man. Here’s a taste of Robeson’s voice. And here’s audio of a discussion with Robeson’s son and others of how the CIA drugged him and then electroshocked him, effectively debilitating and silencing a voice that had never before faltered, a voice that had gone so far as to denounce the House Un-American Activities Committee as un-Americans to their faces. This article sums up this crime. This more recent article looks back. Next to Robeson before the cameras might stand John Wayne. In 1955, movie star John Wayne, who avoided participating in World War II by opting instead to make movies glorifying war, decided that he had to play Genghis Khan. The Conqueror was filmed in Utah, and the conqueror was conquered. Of the 220 people who worked on the film, by the early 1980s 91 of them had contracted cancer and 46 had died of it, including John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, and director Dick Powell. Statistics suggest that 30 of the 220 might ordinarily have gotten cancer, not 91. In 1953 the military had tested 11 atomic bombs nearby in Nevada, and by the 1980s half the residents of St. George, Utah, where the film was shot, had cancer. You can run from war, but you can’t hide. Imagine that comment in John Wayne’s voice as he stands, newly restored to life, speaking at a podium surrounded by handsome hacks who play journalists on TV. Beside Robeson and Wayne at the best-attended-ever press conference we might line up Ernest Hemingway. When I was first told that Hemingway had killed himself, it was explained to me that he didn’t want to live as an old man incapable of hunting lions. And yet this was the author of The Old Man and the Sea. Make sense of that if you can. Now we learn from Hemingway’s friend and collaborator over the last 13 years of his life that the FBI’s surveillance of Hemingway “substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide.” Hemingway’s close friend didn’t take Hemingway’s complaints about the FBI seriously until his FBI file was finally released, confirming the surveillance. “It’s the worst hell,” Hemingway had said. “The goddamnedest hell. They’ve bugged everything. That’s why we’re using [a friend]’s car. Mine’s bugged. Everything’s bugged. Can’t use the phone. Mail intercepted.” I wonder how many high school English classes will mention this. Next to Hemingway, let’s bring out Bob Marley. The CIA’s files on him are being kept secret for your protection, but the death and destruction the CIA was bringing to his country is undisputed, the CIA’s responsibility for the failed assassination attempt against him is very likely, and it appears that in the end the CIA got him by a manner that sounds insanely bizarre if you haven’t heard about giving an entire French town LSD or targeting a single intended victim (Fidel Castro) with a poisoned diving suit, an exploding cigar, a ballpoint-pen syringe, an exploding conch shell, and dozens of other crackpot schemes that sound less comical when they work. Some surprise guests at the press club might include John and Robert Kennedy. Others might include, after all, the millions of nameless forgotten dead, the victims of the industrial-scale “signature strikes” that have been our biggest public investment. Not that the reporters would all see the point of cramming so many resurrected bodies into their club, but because some of the celebrity victims might more clearly grasp and articulate the purpose of the event. Sooner or later we are going to have to stop killing people and start loving people, or the rebirth of life after winter won’t keep repeating. David Swanson is author of War is a Lie. He lives in Virginia.
A recent bill to protect child privacy has met with a barrage of frantic disapproving nods from Google, Twitter and Facebook. You’d think that child privacy would be an important issue for the tech giants, but evidently anything that hampers their ability to rule the masses is a big no-no. The FTA plans to give the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) a makeover is not being taken well. Objections to proposed changes have already been filed so that the companies don’t have to give up their ability to track their users. We’ve taken a step backwards from dealing with issues such as cell phone spyware and PC monitoring software to literally having to worry about tech giants fundamentally choosing their own wealth over privacy.
Standard Chartered Bank (Pakistan) Limited announced its third quarter results. The Bank continues to build on the business momentum despite challenging economic and external environment. The Bank continues to deliver strong financial performance with nine months profit (before tax) of PKR 11.3 billion resulting in earnings per share of PKR 1.90. This is 63% higher than corresponding period last year. The decrease in administrative expenses is due to a reversal in executive and general administrative expenses. Excluding this reversal, administrative expenses have moderately increased by 2% which is well below the ongoing inflation in the country. On the other hand, the decline in revenue due to lower interest rates which was partially covered by growth of low cost deposits in the period. With the Bank’s focus on recoveries, there have been net releases in loan impairments in the nine months of this year. The Bank continues to be disciplined and proactive in its approach to risk management and would appropriately account for any impairment in its past dues on a timely basis. Commenting on the results Mohsin Nathani, Chief Executive, Standard Chartered Bank (Pakistan) Limited, said, “The Bank continues to be conservative in balance sheet growth whilst maintaining cost discipline and prudent credit expansion. In the backdrop of the country’s economic challenges and our 150 year presence in Pakistan, we believe in sustained growth by continue focusing on our clients and customers and a prudent approach to building the balance sheet.”
Pakistan is planning its first eurobond issue for six years and aims to raise $750 million to boost dwindling foreign exchange reserves and shore up the rupee, officials said. The Finance Ministry has approached several international banks seeking advice and with a view to appointing one as lead adviser for the launch, a ministry official said. The move comes with an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team in Pakistan to check progress on reforms tied to a $6.7 billion loan package. Islamabad has approached Citibank, HSBC and International China Banking Corporation for advice on the bond issue, the ministry official said. “The banks have been contacted and the final decision will be taken after they come out with their take on the launch,” the official said. “They would advise Islamabad when to launch the bonds, what should be the selling price and volume to the offered.” Another ministry official confirmed the details. Both spoke on condition of anonymity. Pakistan raised $750 million and $500 million in its last bond issues in 2007, which were offered with a 7.75 percent markup and a 10-year term. The IMF paid the $540 million first instalment of the three-year loan deal in September, but future payments depend on the completion of tough economic reforms measured at quarterly reviews. Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen alarmingly this year to just $4.2 billion — $300 million below the target set by the IMF for the end of September. To add to the economic woes, the rupee has also shed 6.2 percent of its value against the dollar since January. Pakistan has bumped along at three percent GDP growth in recent years, less than half the figure experts say is needed to absorb the growing young population into the workforce. Nevertheless, in August ratings agency Standard and Poor’s gave Pakistan B- status with a stable outlook. Mohammad Sohail, chief executive officer of Topline Securities, said it was a good time for a bond issue, with the IMF deal bedding in, and Pakistan’s other options for raising capital were limited. “IMF has already granted a loan to Pakistan that also supports the credibility of the country among the world capital markets,” he said.
The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) has earnestly called upon the government to release stuck up refund claims accumulated into billion of rupees. In an SOS sent to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaque Dar and Minister of Commerce Khurram Dastagir, Acting Chairman PRGMEA Amir Amin Kothawala appealed to look into this serious matter and order the release of exporters’ money which has been held up by the ministry of finance for the last several years and has now reached to Rs40 billion against refund claims of Duty Drawback of Local Taxes & Levies (DLTL, Sales Tax and with the Customs. The federal government announced the scheme regarding Duty Drawback of Local Taxes & Levies (DLTL) in 2009 for the exporters, in which 3% was share for the garment sector, besides additional 1% drawback was promised to exporters who will achieve an increase of 15% in exports, this was never announced. Though the period has been expired in June 2011 but our exporters are waiting for their reimbursement against DLTL. “The stuck up capital of the exporters has accumulated to around Rs. 40 billion in terms of DLTL, Sales Tax and Customs while the sector’s stuck-up claims are 9-10 billion alone in terms of DLTL”, Amir said adding that due to these stuck up payments the exporters are facing acute liquidity crunch. “Now, we are going to prepare ourselves for the GSP Plus status from EU expected to start by early next year but we have to fulfill some conditions for the preferential status. No support is being provided to this vital sector and the exporters are facing severe problems in negotiating orders with EU buyers due to financial crunch,” he added. He said that on one hand exporters are being pushed to enhance our declining exports in adverse market conditions while our rightful dues are being withheld, how can we be expected to finance our operations when we don’t have the required funds, he questioned. He urged upon power corridors in Islamabad to resolve this important issue on priority basis in order to save crippling exports.
The federal government is working on a plan to equip ports with modern facilities. According to officials of Ministry of Ports and Shipping‚ an IT-based database system will be installed and made functional within the next month at all the ports. This will help track the movement of containers and status of custom duty. They said the ship breaking industry is being moved to Port Qasim with one hundred and seventy acres of land earmarked and development work planned for the purpose. About three thousand industries are being shifted to Port Qasim. According to officials‚ an uninterrupted electric supply will be ensured there for which five hundred megawatt of electricity will be produced through a coal plant. The British government will also help in producing another 600 megawatt with solid waste at Karachi Port. The officials also said that Gwadar Port is expected to become fully operational in the next five to six months. Almost sixty percent work on linking roads has been completed.
The Bank of Khyber (BOK) will celebrate 10th Anniversary of Raast Islamic Banking in November 2013 which will enhance the awareness of Islamic Banking among general public across the country; this was stated by Mufti Muhammad Zahid Chairman BOK Shariah Supervisory Committee (SSC) while presiding 27th meeting of BOK SSC in Islamabad today. The meeting was attended by all members of shariah supervisory committee i.e. Prof. Syed Muhammad Abbas, Dr. Dost Muhammad Khan, Dr. Shahzad Iqbal Sham and Mr. Muhammad Ayub. The meeting was also attended by BOK Group Head Raast Islamic Banking Mr. Kamran Masud Khan, Group Head Operations Mr. Shabeer A. Sheikh, Shariah Advisor Qazi Abdul Samad and Secretary SSC Muhammad Asad. The BOK’s Shariah Committee expressed their satisfaction over the Shariah compliant structure of Raast Islamic Banking as well as business performance in terms of deposits which have crossed the mark of Rs 14 billion and financing above Rs. 5.5 billion with network of Islamic branches which is comprised of 38. The Shariah Committee also appreciated the proposal of holding 10th anniversary of Raast Islamic Banking of BOK in November 2013 with the aim that BOK’ Raast Islamic Banking will further attract new customers across the country.
Textile being the country's largest industry remained a shining star in terms of profitability at local bourse due to strong regional demand and better margins in FY13, said the market analysts. Further boost to the profits of textile firms was provided by depreciating Pak rupee and cheaper financing, they said. "Due to these factor, profits of our sample listed textile firms increased by 150% to Rs30.6bn in FY13," said Muhammad Tahir Saeed of Topline Research. He said the same glory was also reflected at KSE as the shares of these listed textile firms showed abnormal price performance of 94% vs. benchmark KSE 100 index return of 49% in FY13. Favoring fortunes resulted into improved overall textile output in FY13 which can be gauged from 5.9% (14.7%) growth in textiles exports to $13.1bn (Rs1.3trn). The same is reflected from listed textile companies’ profits which increased by Rs18.3bn (150%) to Rs30.6bn in FY13 compared to Rs12.3bn last year. "Our analysis is based on selected textile firms (55 companies) including spinners, weavers and composites. Our sample includes all textile units having a minimum of Rs250mn market capitalization at KSE. However, for the sake of comparability, we have omitted the companies which have not yet announced their FY13 results and Azgard Nine due to its abnormal and volatile bottom-line. Though our sample covers 85% of textile sector market cap, it is very small compared to total Pakistan textile industry. So the actual profits of the textile industry would be much more than Rs30.6bn," said Saeed. The analyst believes that upward trajectory of profits was mainly attributed to higher volumetric sales and improved margins. Strong cotton yarn and grey cloth demand from China and its neighboring countries had contributed to higher units sales while margins increased due to stable cotton prices and 8% Pak rupee depreciation against US dollar. To recall, textile makers’ margins got a severe hit in FY12 due to sharp volatility in cotton prices. In FY13, local cotton prices remained stable at an average of Rs 6,540 per 40kg whereas in FY12 price range was Rs5,252-9,003 per 40kg which depicts high volatility. However, the analyst said, things were little different in 4QFY13 when profits of these firms decreased by 21% QoQ to Rs7.9bn. "For the decline, we believe, company specific issues (especially Amtex Limited) were the culprit this time. If we omit Amtex Limited from the sample, quarter-on-quarter decline reduces to mere 5%," he said. In 4QFY13, Amtex Textile posted loss of Rs1.7bn compared to loss of Rs126mn in 3QFY13.
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