Finnish ambassador impressed by Pak capital market reforms

KARACHI (Staff Reporter): Ambassador of Finland Rauli Suikkanen has said that development of financial sector, including the capital markets, is a major indicator of economic development. Finland Ambassador, who paid a courtesy visit to the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) Thursday, was impressed by the reforms in Pakistan‘s capital market and particularly the stellar performance of Pakistan Stock Exchange in the last few months. He appreciated the efforts and achievements of the apex regulator, SECP and the stock exchange for bringing transparency and efficiency in the stock market, which would help both more companies to list and attract greater number of investors to capital market.

The ambassador was accompanied by Ms Hertta Alava, Director Emerging Market Funds of a major Finnish Investment Bank, FIM Finland and Sadia Khan, Honorary Consul General of Finland. He was welcomed by Muneer Kamal, Chairman-PSX Board and Muhammad Rafique Umer, officiating Managing Director-PSX. Some other directors of the Exchange, Moin M Fudda and Muhammad Yasin Lakhani, CEO-NCCPL Muhammad Lukman as well as management team members were also present on the occasion.

After initiating the trading session at PSX with the opening bell ceremony, Rauli Suikkanen had a meeting with members of the board and the management. A detailed presentation on the economy and capital market was given to the guests. The ambassador held discussion on areas of common interest with the members of the board and management.

Muneer Kamal highlighted the improved economic situation of Pakistan and key developments at PSX including demutualization, integration of three stock exchanges, new product development, investor awareness campaign, improved outlook for listing of new companies and expected re-designation of PSX from MSCI’s Frontier Market Index to Emerging Market Index by mid-year 2016. He expressed the hope that considering the overall environment in the country duly improved and business friendly, there is enormous potential to attract Finnish investment into Pakistan.

SECP adopts accounting standards issued by ICAP

ISLAMABAD (Staff Reporter): The Securities and Exchange Commission (SECP) has approved the adoption of accounting standards issued by ICAP for non-profit organizations formed under Sections 42 and 43 of the Companies Ordinance, 1984. The adoption of the standard shall promote transparency, accountability and efficiency in the organization providing volunteer services to the community in the country as well as to have the best practices followed by the developed jurisdictions. The standard is applicable to the financial periods beginning on or after July 1, 2016, in addition to already notified financial reporting framework.

The adoption of standard by the SECP shall enhance the credibility of information by giving additional useful disclosures related to contribution, inventory, pledges, tangible, intangible assets, strategic investments, deferred revenue and allocation of expenses. Moreover, the companies have option to present statement of financial position and statement of income and expenditure by using fund accounting.

This shall help the users of such statements to make informed decisions based on elaborated information and to reinforce the efforts made by such organizations for the community welfare. Additionally, it shall also help and improve the understanding of critical information required for surveillance and monitoring by the regulatory authorities of functions performed by such organizations to avoid their misuse.

Malaysian CG hints at restructuring visa policy

KARACHI (Staff Reporter): Malaysian Consul General Ismail Muhammad Bikri on Thursday said that Pakistan is an ideal country for trade and that Malaysian visa policy for Pakistan needs to be restructured for developing trade ties between Pakistan and Malaysia. Addressing a meeting with members of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) at the Federation House, he said that his government appreciates the government of Pakistan for its efforts to enhance trade between the two countries. Referring to a demand of businessmen regarding visa policy of Malaysia, he said that he wants to enhance contacts between business communities of both the countries.

He, however, said he is facing tough policy in Pakistan for issuing visas, adding that he believes that visa policy should be restructured to develop trade ties between the two countries. He said that Pakistan is very ideal for trade and the consumers in Pakistan are also ideal in terms of dealing.

Speaking at this occasion, senior vice president FPCCI Sheikh Khalid Tawab, appreciating efforts of Malaysian Consul General, said that Malaysian embassy is perhaps the most active foreign mission in Pakistan, adding that Ismail Muhammad Bikri is on the forefront in this regard.

He said that Pakistan and Malaysia have already signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) but no headway is witnessed for enhancing trade between the two countries. He said that the FPCCI is looking for product identification to develop appreciable trade.

Addressing the meeting, Senator Haseeb Khan said that Pakistan should go for non-traditional products along with palm oil. He also emphasized on bilateral relationship on the tourism industry as both the countries have several natural sightseeing locations. The meeting was also attended by vice presidents FPCCI Zulfiqar Ali Shaikh and Arshad Farooq and number of members.

Tanners seek release of refunds

LAHORE (PR): Pakistan Tanners’ Association (Northern Zone) chairman Tanweer Aslam Chawla has said that the government should release sales tax refund and duty drawback pending claims before the announcement of annual federal budget. PTA said more than Rs250m of refunds have been lying unpaid on account of goods exported 24 months back. For the past twelve months, Lahore Customs collectorate has not released any cheque on account of duty drawback to the leather manufacturers-cum-exporters in Lahore, Chawla maintained. Liquidity crisis due to non-release of tax refunds and release of customs duty drawback is significantly adding up to the cost of doing business, hence exports of leather will subject to further decline in the coming months due to uncompetitive pricing.

Tanweer Chawla urged the chairman FBR to send advice to all the concerned functionaries at Customs Collectorates in Punjab and follow up for immediate release of all sanctioned payments/cheques to the leather industry.

Oil prices near six-month peaks

LONDON (AFP) - Oil prices held near six-month peaks on Thursday as the IEA forecast a sharp drop in the supply glut, and following a surprise fall in US crude reserves. European benchmark Brent North Sea crude for July gained 26 cents to $47.86 compared with Wednesday's close. New York's West Texas Intermediate for delivery in June won 42 cents to stand at $46.65, after soaring the previous day to its highest closing level since November 2015. The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast that the stubborn oil glut will "shrink dramatically" later this year, following wildfires that have disrupted Canada's output and on buoyant Indian demand. The IEA's monthly report was published one day after news of a drawdown in US oil inventories that signalled strong demand in the world's top oil consumer -- and sent prices racing.

The "surprise draw (fall) in US crude oil inventories was very supportive for crude futures", Sucden brokers analyst Kash Kamal told AFP.

"That positive momentum has carried on today with the IEA report.

"The market fundamentals do not seem to be as dire as previously thought: stronger demand from India, despite a faster-than-expected increase in Iranian output, has been particularly supportive today."

Demand for oil worldwide is set to grow at a "solid" rate in 2016, with India the "star performer" after making up nearly 30 percent of the global increase in demand in the first quarter of the year, the IEA said.

"This provides further support for the argument that India is taking over from the China as the main growth market for oil," the 29-nation energy watchdog said in its closely-watched monthly report.

The oil market has been rocked by chronic oversupply in recent years, badly hurting producers but translating into lower prices at the petrol pumps for consumers.

Despite this week's gains, the market remains far below the $100-a-barrel mark of mid-2014 -- and sank underneath $30 earlier this year on the back of abundant supplies.

In Canada, devastating wildfires near Fort McMurray forced a shutdown of 1.2 million barrels a day (mb/d) of production early this month.

The IEA said the events in Canada, however, had not sent oil prices sharply higher, as would have been expected some years ago, with crude having shown little reaction amid overall improved market sentiment.

- US stockpiles slide -

Crude futures had surged on Wednesday after the US government's Department of Energy (DoE) said inventories slid 3.4 million barrels last week. That confounded market expectations for an increase.

"Data yesterday -- which showed a surprise drawdown in US crude oil stockpiles -- saw prices climb," said analyst Dorian Lucas at British-based energy consultancy Inenco.

"Today's price action has acted to maintain yesterday's gains and consolidate near to six-month highs," Lucas told AFP.

The DoE report also said Wednesday that US oil production fell, providing hope to a market burdened by a stubborn global supply glut.

And supplies of gasoline (petrol) and distillates, such as diesel and heating fuel, slid by more than expected.