ACCA organises post-budget conversation

ISLAMABAD (PR): The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Pakistan organised a high profile post budget conversation ‘The Budget 2019–20: Opportunities and Challenges for Economic Reforms’ in Islamabad to provide a platform to business community and thought leaders to propose key economic reforms and share their feedback and recommendations on the proposed Finance Bill 2019-20.

The conversation was opened by Sajjeed Aslam, head of ACCA Pakistan. In his speech, he summarised the budget recommendations submitted by the global body for professional accountants and shared actionable recommendations toward making the current taxation regimen more transparent, efficient and progressive to meet country’s economic and social needs.

He emphasised that the focus should be on human development and progress in the country and not merely on improving a few macroeconomic indicators. He stressed on the importance of professionalism and ethics for talent in the public sector.

The event featured an insightful panel discussion with contributions from prominent policy makers, senior bureaucrats, tax consultants, influential thought leaders and senior ACCA members. Notable speakers included Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, Zia-Ul-Mustafa, President, ICMA Pakistan, Salman Amin FCCA, Senior Energy Professional, Hassan Daud Butt, Project Director - CPEC, Zafar-ul-Hassan, Chief Macro Economist, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms and Omer Zaheer Meer FCCA, Chairman, ACCA Pakistan Member Network Panel.

The Conversation Leaders commented that to truly solve Pakistan’s current economic woes and to meet its social challenges, it’s imperative to work on increasing the size of the economy and to aim at a higher average annual GDP growth rate compared to what is predicted in the budget document. The panel also pointed out that the Finance Ministry and the Planning Commission of Pakistan are working on two different GDP growth forecasts and both are approved by the Prime Minister’s office. Moreover, the twelfth Five-Year plan (2018-23) should be publically debated and should serve as the base for a charter of economy with an across-the-board political consensus.

The speakers agreed that the underlying philosophy of the proposed budget is a right step toward a documented economy and broadening of the tax base. There was a general consensus that tax collection of over PKR 5.5 trillion is a realistic reflection of the potential even within current economic scenario. However, in its current form, it may not appear to pass the test of fair and equitable tenants of taxation on account of minimum tax regime.

The twin fiscal deficitwill continue to challenge us, and may need innovative and bold steps by business community and the government to truly drive an inclusive and accelerated growth.The current growth targets and development budget are not consistent with our installed energy capacity, infrastructure projects committed and objectives of industrialisation phase under China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Participants of the conversation urged the government and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to take concrete steps toward the simplification of the tax filing system by moving to automation. Advocacy programmes at grass root level to create support and awareness for government’s initiatives should also be explored. It was also expressed that the current monetary policy is a hurdle in the way of industrialisation and growth. It was agreed that the trust deficit between business community and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) needs to be bridged to improve tax collection.

It was concluded that Pakistan has a deficit of trained professional accountants and legal practitioners to support over 95,000 businesses and potential 5 million tax filers to help them with developing an ethical mind-set and full compliance with the tax regulationsto support country’s economic progress. The dearth of right talent is one of the biggest impediments in the way to achieving our growth potential.

The event was attended by a large number of business leaders and professional accountants and offered them a good opportunity for networking and knowledge sharing.

MWC Shanghai 2019

ISLAMABAD (PR): Telecommunications has accelerated development of key sectors, spurring economic growth and opening countless avenues to empower individuals and societies, said Irfan Wahab Khan, Head of Telenor Group’s Emerging Asia Cluster and CEO of Telenor Pakistan, at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Shanghai. His keynote at MWC, ‘Pioneers of Intelligent Connectivity’, also shed light on how intelligent connectivity and Telenor Group’s disruptive innovation are transforming lives of millions, enabling basic civic rights through mobile birth registration and equipping the unbanked with mobile financial services, among others.

MWC Shanghai 2019 highlighted how ICT-powered solutions and services are creating strong socioeconomic impact. Irfan highlighted the advent of the Asian Century and role of Telenor Group in transforming health, financial services and agriculture in Asia. In particular, he listed innovative mobile-based solutions like Bangladesh’s ‘Tonic’, Myanmar’s ‘WaveMoney’, and Thailand’s ‘Smart Farmer’, which are providing a myriad of digital health services, safe money transfers, and IoT farming solutions respectively to millions of people.

Hajj training seminar by DHA Lahore

LAHORE (PR): A two-day Hajj training seminar will be held at DHA Event Halls, Phase-5, DHA Lahore on June 29 and 30 from 9 am to 1 pm. The seminar is a regular annual feature arranged by Religious Affairs Branch DHA Lahore. Administrator DHA will preside over the seminar.

The trainer; Hafiz Dr. Abdul Wahid Qureshi, a religious scholar and trainer from Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs; will provide guidance and instructions on Hajj rituals and other preparative steps i.e., passport, visa, currency exchange and pilgrimage.

Master Motors, CarFirst join hands

LAHORE (PR): CarFirst, Pakistan’s most trusted used car trading platform, and Master Motors, a joint venture with Changan International, bring the “Changan Exchange Program” to Pakistan. Customers will be able to bring their used cars of any brand and any age and exchange with brand new Changan vehicles at Changan 3S dealerships. The program initiative will commence from Changan Yazdani Motors located at EBM Causeway, Korangi in Karachi and later it will be offered at all 13 Changan 3S dealerships nationwide.

The Changan Exchange Program allows customers to own a brand new Changan with three hassle-free steps. Customers just need to visit a Changan dealership, have their used car inspected and priced, and instantaneously sell their used car to CarFirst and buy their brand new Changan from the Changan 3S dealership. With this program, as opposed to finding a buyer for your used car, you can conveniently and transparently sell your used car to CarFirst. Customers who opt for this program will receive priority facilities including an expedited delivery for their new Changan.

Apna Microfinance Bank, eConceptions ink agreements

LAHORE (PR): Apna Microfinance Bank Limited and eConceptions, a premier technology company in global payments and telecom industry, have signed an agreement that will pave way for the introduction of innovative payment solutions to provide a safe, simple and secure payment experience to cardholders while creating a significant impact in the market in terms of digital financial inclusion.

The signing ceremony took place at Lahore where Gulistan Malik, President & CEO – AMBL, and Junaid Nasib, CEO, eConceptions, officially kicked off the project.

President & CEO – AMBL, said: “We are pleased to have started 2019 with this initiative as AMBL has always strived to stay true to its roots and provide convenient banking services to its customers. With Smart Vista advanced technology, we aim to move further towards that vision with full use of the digital banking platform.”

K-E providing maximum relief to customers

KARACHI (PR): In line with its commitment, K-Electric is providing maximum relief to its customers with power supply being prioritized to residential consumers in Karachi.

It is pertinent to note that the Governor Sindh, Imran Ismail also appreciated K-E in a recent tweet for ensuring uninterrupted power supply throughout Ramzan while consumers on various forums also acknowledged the K-E staff’s efforts for working diligently on ground for swiftly addressing any local area faults in the scorching heat.

According to K-E spokesperson, “The average power supply during summer in Karachi remains between 2,900MW to 3,100MW, including additional supply from the national grid, whereas the demand also remains within the same range of around 3,000MW, however during the last 2 weeks on a few specific days due to unprecedented rise in temperatures and heat wave coupled with low wind factor and high humidity levels the demand rose up to the range between 3,300MW to 3,400MW. While K-E utilized maximum available generation to manage the shortfall against unprecedented peak summer demand, brief load management spells with prior intimation were carried out on specific days with maximum relief to domestic and commercial consumers to avoid any vulnerabilities in the infrastructure. The overall stability of the system during this tough heat spell is yet another testament of consistent investment and upgrades made by KE in Karachi’s power infrastructure over the years and we categorically deny reports of excessive load shed and requests that localized outages due to fault, theft and kunda-related issues should not be portrayed as load shed.”

K-E spokesperson also added, “Besides summer preparedness in terms of upgradation of infrastructure for reliable power supply in Karachi, KE also extended effective support to heat prevention camps, set up by different NGOs across Karachi, aimed at providing relief to citizens. We are also thankful to concerned authorities including the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) for their timely support for ensuring additional supply from the national grid.”

The power utility has taken various measures during the last year to further enhance the reliability and availability of power supply. In 2018 alone, he said KE has added 76 feeders and 1,721 PMTs/substations. Under KE’s US$ 460 million Transmission Enhancement Project (TP-1000), which aims at ensuring a smoother and more reliable power network, four grids have already been commissioned in Surjani, Shadman, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, and Old Golimar areas, whereas work is underway for remaining grids at Bin Qasim, Labour Square and Gadap. Some 724 MVA has also been added through replacement / augmentation of power transformer under this project. In addition, significant reduction in losses has been achieved as a result of installation of theft-resistant Aerial Bundled Cables (ABC) at over 6,500 PMTs as well as recent anti-theft campaign wherein 83,000 illegal connections (weighing 61,000 kg) were removed.

To accommodate the growing power demand of the city, KE has planned investments across the value chain. The power utility is also working to diversify its fuel mix towards clean energy and in this regard, a 25-year EPA has already been signed which will add another 50 MW of renewable energy to KE’s system by 2019. Additionally, KE is also evaluating another 250 – 300 MWs of renewable projects to further increase the share of renewable energy based on solar and wind, in its system.

KE has invested more than USD 2.1 Billion in infrastructure upgrades across the energy value chain over the last 9 years and working on an investment plan of USD 3bn over the next few years. The continuous stream of investment from KE has further strengthened the power infrastructure and reinforced its long-term commitment to serve the people of Karachi.