Pakistan open for business and trade: Khurram

ISLAMABAD (APP): Minister for Commerce, Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan said on Tuesday that government has successfully dealt with two main challenges of terrorism and energy crisis and Pakistan was now open for business and trade. A statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce said that Minister for Commerce who is on a two-day official visit to South Korea had back to back meetings with Chairmen and Presidents of Korean trade organizations and Korean conglomerates. The minister also called on Executive Vice Chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Chairman of Korea Importers Association (KOIMA), Director of Asia-Pacific, Africa and Middle East Group.

Khurram Dastgir also met with Director of Overseas Policy Coordination Team of Hyundai Motor Group, CEO of ECOONE, Chairman of Lotte Group, Chairman & CEO of Korean Air and Chairman & President of Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-sure), it added.

Vice Minister of Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of Korea (MOTIE), Moon Jae-do also called on the Commerce Minister.

In these meetings the Minister gave an exhaustive briefing to his interlocutors informing them that the government has successfully dealt with two main challenges of terrorism and energy crisis and Pakistan was now open for business.

The Minister underlined the Government’s far reaching measures of regional connectivity especially through China-Pak Economic Corridor and the tremendous business opportunities it was creating for foreign businesses of which Korea could also take advantage.

Korean corporate and business leaders deeply appreciated and thanked the Minister for briefing them and expressed keen interest in boosting trade and investment ties with Pakistan.

The Minister would be meeting tomorrow with his counterpart Minister of Trade, Industry & Energy,Yoon Sang-jick in which the entire gamut of economic relations between the two countries would be discussed including the commencing of feasibility study on FTA.

Smart meters can eliminate

circular debt: PBIF

ISLAMABAD (INP): President PBIF and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Tuesday said adoption of smart meter technology can discourage theft of electricity, gas and water. It can contain help curtail theft, wastage, reduce loadshedding, cut operational costs and ensure profit for the loss-making utilities which will also clip circular debt, he said. Smart meters send electronic meter readings to supplier of energy and water automatically through an in-built SIM card to settle the issue of estimated bills or over or under-paying, he added. Speaking to business community, Mian Zahid Hussain said that smart meters could mean lower electricity and gas bills; and more efficient operations by distribution companies.

The meters will eliminate the need of meter readers, prime source of corruption, while the energy companies will have a more accurate picture of the situation. These devices could also lead to the innovative energy tariffs and plans tailored to fit lifestyle and energy usage of individuals.

The veteran business leader said that power, gas and water companies are bleeding to death due to corruption, rampant theft, unaddressed technical problems and political interference which is bringing the country down.

Around Rs360 billion are wasted due to power theft and line losses, natural gas worth Rs 40 billion and water worth billon is stolen annually, he informed.

China, India, UK, Brazil and many other countries are curbing theft through smart metering but our country is yet to make progress in this regard due to obvious reasons.

Smart meters have helped cut water losses by half from 700 million litres per day to 350 million litres and same can be done in Karachi where industrialists pay billion to taker mafia. This will provide cheap water to consumers and help the water providers become self-sustaining.

Housing society in NARC

premises economic suicide: FPCCI

ISLAMABAD (INP): Chairman FPCCI Standing Committee on Horticulture & Agriculture Production, Ahmad Jawad has expressed serious concern over the move by Capital Development Authority (CDA) to transform the agricultural research land of National Agricultural Research Council (NARC) into a housing society which was given to them in 1980. In a statement issued here on Tuesday, Ahmed Jawad said that the country needs effective research centers not housing schemes as Pakistan agriculture contributed 24pc to the GDP. He termed proposal by the CDA as economic suicide and said that the only question that needs attention is whether agriculture needs to survive in Pakistan or not.

If yes, then research only guarantees survival and development of agriculture. He highlighted that it is just because of research contributions by this organization despite the shrinkage of agricultural land in past few decades, the country never witnessed food shortage.

Banking sector deposits grow

ISLAMABAD (Online): The Pakistan banking sector deposits grew at a 4-year high of 10pc to Rs9.1tn in 1H2015 compared to last 5 years average growth of 8pc indicating increased deposit mobilization by banks. The Advances of the banking sector grew by 3pc in 1H2015 vs. last 5-year (2010-14) average growth of 2pc signaling slight improvement. Advances growth during Jun 2015 remained on lower side increasing by 7pc vs. Consequently, Advance to Deposit Ratio (ADR) reached multi year low of 50pc as banks preferred to invest in risk-free Govt. Securities. This trend would reverse due to multi decade low levels of interest rate, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects and improvement in energy situation.

Total investments, on the other hand, rose by 14pc in 1H2015 as Investment to Deposit Ratio (IDR) surged to 64pc as against 54pc in Jun 2014.

We maintain our liking for the sector due to 1) Compelling valuations, 2) Improving macros to increase credit growth to 14pc, 3) Investment mix in favor of high yielding PIBs (32pc of deposits) and 4) strong Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR). Our preferred pick in the banking sector includes: United Bank (UBL), MCB Bank (MCB) and Bank Alfalah (BAFL) due to diverse revenue stream, higher proportion of PIB to deposits, low cost to income rate, strong CAR and expanding businesses.

Oil rebounds from sharp losses

LONDON (AFP): Oil rebounded Tuesday on bargain-hunting after prices plunged a day earlier as Greek defiance against austerity measures imposed by its creditors sparked turbulence in global markets. Prices also rose ahead of an emergency summit on Greece by eurozone leaders in Brussels Tuesday, after Greek citizens overwhelmingly rejected creditors’ demands for further belt-tightening in a referendum. Around midday in London, Brent North Sea crude for August delivery gained 88 cents to $57.42 a barrel compared with Monday’s close. West Texas Intermediate for August added 62 cents to $53.15 a barrel in New York. “The market is trying to consolidate after the price plunge. People are buying on bargains,” said Daniel Ang, an investment analyst with Phillip Futures in Singapore.

On Monday Brent had slumped $3.78 and WTI by $4.43 in highly volatile trade, as traders fretted over Greece and slowing global economic growth.

“Crude oil prices plunged yesterday as Greek uncertainty and worries over a slowdown of the Chinese economy weighed on market sentiment,” noted Sucden analyst Myrto Sokou.

Analysts say one of the results of the Greek referendum could be an exit from the eurozone currency union, which could trigger a contagion effect.

With Greece’s economy gasping for air, authorities there extended an eight-day bank closure until Thursday amid fears cash machines in the country were running dry.

Ang said the oil market is also watching the top-level negotiations in Vienna between Western powers and Iran on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, although indications are that both sides were set to miss yet another deadline Tuesday to nail down an agreement.

In a sign of how complex the negotiations have become, foreign ministers met deep into the night Monday grappling with the toughest remaining issues which have so far thwarted a deal.

An agreement will put pressure on oil prices as it will lead to the West lifting crippling economic sanctions against Iran and allow Iranian oil to flow back into an already oversupplied market.