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Swiss Business Council completes 10 years in Pakistan!

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ED: M. M. ALAM

KARACHI: To mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Swiss Business Council (SBC) in Pakistan, the Consulate General of Switzerland here in collaboration with the SBC hosted an exclusive event at the Swiss Consul General’s residence.

Consul General and Patron of the SBC – Philippe Crevoisier addressing the ladies and gentlemen in the audience (consisting of diplomats, senior management of Swiss/other multinational companies, and leading businessmen) said that only if Pakistan was able to present to the international community the country’s on-ground realities and business potential, many more foreign investors would consider investing in Pakistani market.

Mentioning that Swiss-Pak bilateral trade (CHF 518.5 Million in 2017) was promisingly increasing for the past three years, the Consul General also commended SBC’s efforts to further improve commercial ties between the two friendly countries.

SBC President Farhat Ali,  (who is also the Council’s founding President and Chairman of the Board and Executive Managing Director of Polygal N.V. in Pakistan) gave an overview of the Council’s achievements over the past decade most prominent of which is the Council’s partnership with Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE); equivalent of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and Board of Investment.

Farhat Ali further added that SBC with support from S-GE is committed to link Swiss and Pakistani companies. “Thanks to our business network at home and in Switzerland, in the past two years six small and medium-sized enterprises from Switzerland have successfully entered the local market”, he further added.

The highlight of the event was keynote address by the Dean and Director of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi – Dr. Farrukh Iqbal who presented his views on Pakistan’s macroeconomic matters in perspective of the challenges and opportunities for foreign investors.

Dr. Iqbal held: “Pakistan has performed below its growth potential for many years now. In particular, the private investment rate has been stuck at a low level of 10% of GDP for almost a quarter century now.

“This reflects a pessimism on the part of domestic investors that go beyond energy shortages and security conditions.

“Among factors to consider more deeply are the quantity and quality of education and health services available to the population to enable them to play a more productive role in the economy of the future.”

Swiss companies in the past ten years have invested CHF 1.5 Billion in Pakistan making Switzerland stand among top ten foreign director investors.

Major exports from Switzerland to Pakistan are pharmaceuticals, textile machines, and watches. Main Pakistani exports to Switzerland are textiles and agro-foods. 

On the occasion, recognition certificates were also awarded to member companies who have completed 10 years with the Council.

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Asia

Tokyo stocks gain on bargain-hunting

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Tokyo stocks close higher with focus on US-China talks

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks gained slightly on Monday as investors bought on dips following a sharp decline late last week, while their focus shifted ahead of a US Federal Reserve meeting.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which dropped more than two percent on Friday, rose 0.62 percent or 132.05 points to close at 21,506.88, while the broader Topix index was up 0.13 percent or 2.04 points at 1,594.20. “Buy-back was seen among shares in major companies following a sharp decline on Friday,” Daiwa Securities senior technical analyst Hikaru Sato told AFP. “But the buy-back was not strong enough to boost shares further,” Sato said, adding that it may take more time to improve market sentiment.
Takashi Hiroki, the chief strategist at Monex, said the two-day US Fed meeting that ends on Wednesday is “the most important event this week” and investors are watching for the pace of rate hikes in 2019. “Falls in US shares (last week) is said to be caused by weak economic data in China and Europe, but these are not new factors,” he said in a commentary, adding that current market sentiment is vulnerable to “even the slightest worries given the prevailing uncertainty”.
In Tokyo, SoftBank’s initial public offering on Wednesday will also likely have an impact on the market, analysts said. The dollar fetched 113.51 yen in Asian afternoon trade against 113.29 yen in New York late Friday. Banks were higher, with Mitsubishi UFJ trading up 0.13 percent to 583.9 yen, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial up 0.56 percent at 3,939 yen and Mizuho Financial up 0.22 percent at 179.7 yen. Nissan was down 0.27 percent at 929.9 yen ahead of its board meeting to discuss corporate governance and choosing a replacement for former chairman Carlos Ghosn, after his arrest and dismissal. Rival Toyota was up 0.16 percent at 6,840 yen but Honda was down 0.13 percent at 3,050 yen.

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Economy

‘Digitization provides ecosystem for fin. inclusion’

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LAHORE: Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Tariq Bajwa has said that digitization provides an ecosystem for financial inclusion which plays a vital role in economic growth.
Talking to media at a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) signing ceremony among Punjab Government, SBP and One-Link here at Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA) office, he appreciated the PRA for the initiative which would empower the commoner and taxpayers.
He also pointed out three priority areas of the economy including agriculture, provision of low-cost housing and SME, besides two cross-cutting areas Islamic Banking and financial inclusion through digitization of payment system.
To a question about declining revenue of provincial revenue authorities, Tariq Bajwa said Supreme Court of Pakistan barred the government from collecting taxes from mobile users which affected it.
He pointed out that it would be resolved soon with some alternate solution.
On this occasion, Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht said since coming to power, Punjab government had been striving to improve the business environment and provide maximum facilitation to the business sector which was the backbone of the economy. With the introduction of this facility, taxpayers would no longer need to visit banks and stand in queues to deposit their taxes, thus the compliance cost of the taxpayers would be reduced, he added.
The finance minister said the government intended to make the facility available for all provincial taxes. However, the Punjab Revenue Authority had taken the lead in this regard and payment of Sales Tax on Services through alternate delivery channels would be available by the end of December. Subsequently, the facility would be incrementally expanded to cover taxes collected by the Excise and Taxation Department and the Board of Revenue.
He appreciated the PRA for implementing the Punjab government’s vision by making of e-PRA and smart revenue organizations reliant on information technology, where the direct contact between taxpayer and tax collector was minimized. Future projects in the pipeline included pre-populated returns and algorithmic mass audits, he mentioned.
Punjab Chief Secretary Yousef Naseem Khokhar stressed the need for ease of doing business and committed that the provincial government would continue to work towards this direction.

 

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Economy

Rupee to stabilize: SBP governor

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ISLAMABAD: State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa Sunday expressed the hope that the slide in rupee value would be stemmed once money flows into the economy.

Bajwa said the dollar rate is dependent on two factors: macroeconomic fundamentals and market sentiments. According to a private news channel, he said “As money [flows into] the economy [through cash injected], Insha’Allah you will see, the market sentiment will improve… the pressure will dissipate from the rupee.” The central bank governor said the Supreme Court’s decision to end the mobile phone tax affected the country’s tax net.

Bajwa added that Finance Minister Asad Umar knew about the spike in the dollar and had already clarified in a statement earlier that the rupee devaluation had been discussed with him. On 30th November, the rupee hit an all-time record low of Rs144 against the US dollar, plunging almost five percent after what appeared to be a sixth devaluation by the State Bank in the past year as the country struggles with an acute balance of payment crisis.

The surge in dollar came owing to the widening current account deficit and the International Monetary Fund’s suggestion to the government to realign the rupee with market fundamentals to access funds. The rupee has depreciated by 36 percent against the dollar over the past 12 months. It has fallen by Rs19.5 against the dollar since the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf took the reins of the country following the general election in July this year.

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