­Strategy developed to achieve 50m mobile accounts
ISLAMABAD (APP): A strategy has been developed to achieve a manifold surge in mobile-wallets to over 50m in next five years. The Branchless Banking (BB) remains an effective channel to expand outreach of unbanked and under-banked people. At present around 5m customers hold m-wallets to avail host of services including fund transfer, utility bills payments, domestic remittances, mobile top-ups, loan repayment and saving account features. As per SBP's data, the monthly volume of branchless banking transactions is 24m, valuing Rs. 125b. Four more banks have recently joined the BB system. Both regulators - PTA and SBP were working in close coordination to develop regulatory framework that supports growth in the mobile banking sector.
The 3G/4G spectrum has revolutionised the lifestyle in Pakistan and playing an important role in socio- economic development. The mobile broadband subscribers have reached 14 million mark since its launch few months ago and is expanding on an average by one million new subscribers every month.

PTA to check Rollout Obligations of
3G, 4G licencees
ISLAMABAD (APP): PTA is in process of checking Rollout Obligations of NGMS licensees as the exercise is expected to be completed soon. If required, the action shall be taken against companies based upon the results of rollout obligations inspections. Official sources said the Authority has also carried out Commencement Inspection of four CMOs who won 3G/4G Spectrum in auction and awarded NGMS licenses last year. The sources said the inspection was focused to check readiness of operators for commercial launch of 3G & 4G services. Network Architecture, Network Roll Out, Coverage Foot Print, Throughput and Signal strength were also checked and found satisfactory, meeting the requirements to launch 3G and 4G services.
Accordingly, they said PTA issued Provisional Commencement Certificates and added at present the Quality of Service (QoS) is considered to be satisfactory.
They said as per first phase of Network Roll Out obligation, the Licensee shall within nine (09) months from the Effective Date of the license, provide NGMS coverage from at least 20 pc of existing sites or coverage of 20 percent of City Coverage area (which ever is greater) in all four Provincial Capital and Federal Capital.

Monetary policy endorses economy moving in right direction
ISLAMABAD (APP): The present government has proved once again that it means business- this is what the SBP in its bi-monthly monetary policy has noted - that increasing number of economic indicators in the current fiscal year have moved in a favourable direction, and decided to cut policy rate by 50 basis points. The decision to slash policy rate by 50 basis points from 8.5pc to 8.00pc has been widely welcomed by the business community, as the declining interest rate is expected to have overall positive impact on business environment and growth. However, business leaders have underlined the need for more focus on borrowing to medium and small scale businesses after reducing credit costs to create more employment opportunities.
Talking to the APP, President of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra, welcomed the reduction in interest rate and said it will have a very good effect on the economy.
He stressed the need for maximum facilitation and expanding credit line to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to ensure their rapid growth as SMEs do play a leading role in an economy.
Senior Vice President, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Abdul Rahim Janoo, also hailed the cut in policy rate. He observed that this development will have very good impact on the economy, especially on exports. "With the decrease in interest rate, the exporters will be comfortable to get more loans aimed at increasing their exports," he said.
The declining trend in Headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation, which the central bank noted continues to follow downward trajectory, will also benefit households and increase their purchasing power.
The SBP observed that the current macroeconomic stabilisation has opened a window of opportunity to gear up reforms to ensure improvements in the economy are sustainable. This all indicates that the present government that has been preoccupied since it came into power with the major challenges of terrorism and energy shortages, has not ignored at any stage socio-economic development and the favourable observations by the central bank acknowledge the government's performance and efforts at the economic front.

Committee to probe
irregularities in LoC trade
SRINAGAR (NNI):  Government has formed a 2-member committee to inquire about the irregularities at Cross LoC trade, while posting a full time Custodian at Trade Facilitation Centre is also on cards. Director Industries and Commerce Kashmir Nazim Khan said after receiving complaints from traders about certain wrongdoings at Salamabad Trade Facilitation Centre, they formed a two member team to investigate the matter. "There are some traders who are manipulating the Standard Operating Procedures by placing their empty trucks at TFC and not giving chance to others. Our team is investigating the matter and they will submit report in three days. Proper steps will be taken to streamline the trade," said Khan.
The committee includes Joint Director Industries and Commerce Kashmir and General Manager Industries of Baramulla.
Khan said some proxy traders park their empty trucks in the queue without following the SoPs to create hurdles.
"We have already moved 150 trucks that were wrongly parked waiting to be sent across, bypassing others," Khan said.
Earlier, Sub-Divisional Magistrate Uri ordered that all empty trucks placed in the area be moved within 24 hours.
A circular issued by Sub-Divisional Magistrate Uri stated that all the drivers should move their trucks from the area in next 24 hours. "It is for the information of all those drivers who had parked their empty vehicles at Salamabad and adjoining area that they shall take their vehicles out of the said area within 24 hours as these unnecessarily kept empty vehicles have caused public nuisance in the area and there is apprehension of law and order problem also," the circular said.

Ishaq reviews privatisation process

ISLAMABAD (APP): Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Sunday reviewed the process of privatization with Chairman Privatization Commission (PC) Muhammad Zubair, who gave a detailed presentation on the progress achieved in this realm. The Chairman PC apprised the minister about the headway made regarding ongoing transactions with complete details of transactions planned for completion in the current financial year, which also include HEC and HBL (residual GoP shares), said a press release issued here. The minister was informed that total of 69 entities were approved by CCI/CCOP under the privatization programme and in 2013-14 two transactions (UBL, PPL) were completed.
In 2014-15 ABL transaction had been completed and for 9 transactions, FASAs were already signed.
Similarly in case of 11 transactions, advertisements were published seeking EOIs from FAs and Investors.  
Ten more transactions were also to be initiated in the current financial year, Zubair added.
The gross proceeds raised through the privatization process in last 14 months were Rs 67 billion, said the PC Chairman.