KARACHI - Syed Ali Raza, President and CEO of National Bank of Pakistan has said that the balance sheet of the National Bank of Pakistan would increase to Rs 1 trillion by the year 2010 on account of introducing leverage-based products by the bank and to penetrate itself into the untapped financial markets of the Middle East and Central Asia. Speaking at a gathering at Karachi Press Club the other day he said despite economic slowdown and other financial challenges, the capital strength and solvency of the bank is remain intact and it is growing on a very fast track, competing solely with other commercial banks in the private sector. Thus, the bank was able to post a net profit of Rs980 billion during 2009 and the earning prospect of the banks earning is very high in the current calendar year. The gathering was arranged by the National Bank of Pakistan in collaboration with Karachi Union of Journalists to meet and congratulate the newly elected office bearers and governing body of the KPC. He disclosed that NBP is going to open its first-ever international branch in Saudi Arabia, which is expected to become operational in February this year. We are amongst the six global banks that have been granted permission by the Saudi government to enter into the growing financial market of Middle East, he stated. Besides, we are working to develop a unique franchise system in South Asia, Middle East and Central Asia, which will enhance the banks reach significantly, he said and adding that the NBP will play a vital role in the region where it already has presence in Afghanistan and Bangladesh besides direct presence in large economies like USA, Japan, France, Germany, Hong Kong etc, and also representation in Central Asia. Meanwhile, President NBP pledged the journalists to make his all out efforts to provide them financing facilities that would facilitate the media personnel to acquire the ownership rights of their home. He announced that the NBP would provide soft loans to those journalists (KPC members) who have been allotted plots in Hawks bay by the Sindh government earlier. He further said that two other institutions from the financial sector would also be taken on board soon by the NBP to address this issue with an aim to seek an effective way of financing procedure with them. He ensured that the NBP would formulate a committee to facilitate KPC members in this regard. He informed that the share of home-ownership in Pakistan is very low. Thus, the government should create home mortgage market to increase the ratio of residential units ownership in Pakistan. Earlier, he congratulated the new President, General Secretary, officials and the governing body of KPC. Talking about the significance of the KPC, he said it is a historical place and it has always been a source of pride and dignity for the journalistic fraternity and writers. He said the year 2009-210 is a year of NBP 60th anniversary, which is being celebrated by the bank across the country. NBP completed its 60 years of excellence in the field of banking and finance in 2009, he added. President KPC Imtiaz Faran, General Secretary A.H. Khanzada and President KUJ Arif Khan, were also presented on the occasion.