India to lift trade barriers after getting MFN status: Senator

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: India will lift non-tariff trade barriers on Pakistani exports once Islamabad grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to New Delhi, a Senator said.

MFN is not a concession to India but part of an agreement signed between two countries, said Senator Haji Ghulam Ali, Chairman, Senate Standing Committee for Commerce.

Talking to a delegation of female entrepreneurs led by Samina Fazil, founder President, Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) and President IWCCI Farida Rashid, he said that MFN will start a new era of countless possibilities and opportunities.

He said that we have almost finalised Trade Organisations Act 2012 which will be put to a joint standing committee of Senate and National Assembly on Jan 23 and it would be passed within current month or during early February.

Ghulam Ali who has recently served as President FPCCI said that after promulgation of act it will be obligatory on FPCCI to have a women vice president on rotation basis.

Moreover, the businessmen and business chambers of FATA will also get representation in the Apex trade body, he added.

The Senator said that the new act will facilitate business community while formation of a business chamber will become extremely easy.

He called upon the IWCCI to promote rural women who are facing exploitation by the middlemen.

At the occasion, Samina Fazil and Farida Rashid demanded of the government to grant MFN status to India as soon as possible.

They said that businesswomen faces popular opposition from certain sectors of society but gender equality is likely to increase despite setbacks.

Government should put female empowerment at the heart of their agenda, demanded Fazil.

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FPCCI expresses concern over rupee situation

Islamabad, MTT New Desk: The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Tuesday expressed grave concern over continued fall of rupee against dollar terming it harmful for the economy.

Blaming policy and political uncertainty, Tariq Mehmood, Director Pak-UK Business Council said that SBP interventions to stabilise rupee has left much to be desired which call for additional measures.

Government should immediately convene a high-level consultation with all stakeholders to check the decline of rupee which has plunged to life-time low, he demanded.

Talking to business community here, he said that a 50 basis points cut in key interest rate has failed to excite investors at Karachi Stock Exchange which indicated supressed sentiments.

Insecurity has been pushing investors to the safe-haven US currency which is depreciating local unit with fast pace, he said.

Tariq Mehmood said that government should immediately take business community into confidence with the help of national business leaders like VP CACCI Tariq Sayeed and VP Saarc Chamber Iftikhar Ali Malik lest the country’s economic outlook is hurt.

We cannot afford to have one of the worst-performing currencies in Asia which is result of deficits and lack of capital inflows, depletion reserves to 8.6 billion, flight of capital, and failure to push through economic reforms.

Prolonged local currency weakness has been reversing optimism among local and foreign investors as little has been done to fix economic imbalances, said Tariq Mehmood, who is also former president Attock Chamber of Commerce.

Pessimism prevails as many think that policymakers lack a coherent plan to stabilize the currency which will force business community to start looking at opportunities in other countries, he warned.

Tariq Sayeed, former president of FPCCI and Saarc CCI, can play an important role at this critical juncture by giving a positive message to the business community, he said.

New phase of Pak-Iran relations started

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: Tehran is to review trade policies related to Pakistan later this month in a conference to hammer out all issues hampering trade and boost bilateral trade, a top official of Iran said.

Pakistani business community should participate in the moot to help formulate appropriate trade policy for ensuring sustainable trade between the two countries, said head of the visiting Iranian delegation Alaeddin Broujedri, Chairman National Security and Foreign Policy Committee.

Speaking to business community at FPCCI Capital Office, Broujedri said that all the issues being faced by Pakistani business community will be forwarded to Parliament for swift resolution.

Senator Mushahid Hussain, VP FPCCI Mirza Abdul Rehman, Iranian Ambassador Alireza Haghighian, Chairman Coordination Atif Ikram Sheikh, former president FPCCI Mian Habibullah, former VP FPCCI Zubair Ahmed Malik, Chairman Media and Diplomatic Affairs FPCCI Malik Sohail, VP RCCI Ch. Pervaz Ahmed Waraich, Adnan Iqbal President Gujrat Chamber and Presidents and Vice Presidents of ACCI, IWCCI and traders of Blue Area and other markets were also present on the occasion.

Borojourdi said that Iran was committed to the gas pipeline with Pakistan and also offered to help constructing the pipeline in Pakistan as well by providing a total of $500 million dollars.

We are looking forward to the visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to Tehran on Dec 07 to finalised key agreement on the multi-billion dollar gas pipeline, he informed.

He said that once Iran gas starts flowing in Pakistan; it will settle the problem of energy scarcity in Pakistan.

We are impressed by the warm welcome given to us and practical wisdom of the business community here, other members of the delegation said.

Speaking at the occasion, Chairman Senate Defence and Defence Production Committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that the two brotherly countries share common perception on many issues and we will continue to support each other on regional and international issues.

Iran has a unique distinction of being the first country to internationally recognize the status of Pakistan in 1947, he said.

He lauded the efforts of VP CACCI Chamber Tariq Sayeed, VP Saarc CCI Iftikhar Ali Malik and President FPCCI Haji Ghulam Qadir Sherani to boost regional trade.

Speaking on the occasion, VP FPCCI Mirza Abdul Rehman asked Iran to do best to resolve energy crisis, facilitate Pakistani exporters facing some problems, settle visa issues, improve quality certification standards and ensure smooth flow.

Chairman Coordination FPCCI Atif Ikram Sheikh while underlining the need for enhanced trade said the business leaders said that this visit and todays meeting should begin of new phase of relations between two nations with bilateral trade doubled in one year.

Chairman Media Malik Sohail demanded provision of proper information, concessional import policy and establishment to common border market to reduce informal trade.

Tehran should reduce import duty on rice and boost imports to reduce trade imbalance, he said.

The two countries should explore more possibilities of augmented barter trade through closer cooperation between public and private sector as relationship between two countries could go a long way in the presence of good rail, road air and sea links.

Pak energy companies, banks asked to explore Indonesia

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Monday said Pakistani oil and gas companies can operate comfortably in Indonesia and make reasonable profits.

Energy demand in Indonesia is growing by 7 per cent per annum which has created demand for foreign capital and expertise in oil and gas and renewable energy sectors, said Atif Ikram Sheikh, Chairman Coordination FPCCI Capital office.

Speaking to business community, he said that oil and gas companies in Indonesia will invest USD 32 billion in two years to drill for energy but there is a lot of room for more investments.

Atif Ikram Sheikh who is also Senior Vice Chairman of Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association said that Pakistani energy companies are already working in many countries but they have yet to step into lucrative Indonesian market.

Southeast Asias largest energy producer and consumer is ready to welcome Pakistani companies, give them profitable oil blocks, and support them through exemplary oil and gas regulations and enabling investment laws, he said.

The consumption of oil in Indonesia stands at 1,500,000 barrels per day (bpd) a day with local supply recorded at 900,000 bpd while rest of demand is fulfilled through imports, he added.

Atif said that Pakistani banking companies can also expand their overseas operations to the largest ASEAN economy as Pakistans entire palm oil imports worth over two billion dollars will be shifted to Indonesia from Malaysia within months.

Indonesia, worlds third largest rice consumer is also short of rice supplies which can be exploited by Pakistani exporters, he said.

Pakistan can also seek help from Indonesia which has remained the third-largest generator of geothermal power after US and the Philippines, he informed.

D-8 summit helps Pakistan come out of Int’l isolation: Malik

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: Vice President Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry Iftikhar Ali Malik on Monday said D-8 summit will open new vistas of development in the block which is home to over half a billion people.

He congratulated the government for successfully holding summit of D-8 countries at a right time.

Iftikhar Ali Malik said this while speaking at a dinner hosted by Chairman of Blue Area Malik Sagheer and Chairman Media and Diplomatic Affairs FPCCI Malik Sohail to celebrate the handing over of chairmanship of D8 Federation of Chambers of Commerce to FPCCI.

President FPCCI Haji Ghulam Kadir Sherani, VPs FPCCI Mirza Abdul Rehman, Shakil Dhingra, Dawood Pakwala, Sheikh Waheed Sandal, Salma Ahmed, Iqbal Tabish Secretary General Saarc and former FPCCI leaders including Kunwar Qutbuddin, Ch. Muhammed Saieed, Zubair Tufail, Manazir Ali Sheikh, Hameed Akhtar Chadda and others were also present on the occasion.

Malik lauded the role of President Asif Ali Zardari and PM Raja Pervez Ashraf to lead the developing countries towards better future by shedding light on available opportunities of progress and prosperity.

Collaboration of D-8 countries to overcome energy deficiency would result in boosting economy in Pakistan and other countries, said Malik.

All of the D8 states are capable of shaping their destinies free of pressures said Iftikhar Malik, adding that all of us have the basic strengths in terms of natural resources and human capital to become a powerful economic bloc.

Speaking at the occasion, President FPCCI Haji Ghulam Kadir Sherani said that the Summit did greatly succeed in carving out a roadmap for the Muslim-majority countries to jointly face the emerging socio-economic and global political challenges.

The vision adopted by the conference unfolded huge scope to join hands and work for the common good of their more than half a billion people.

He said that the main areas for a joint action by the D-8 members were identified as investment in the energy sector through public-private partnerships which was a great step.

Sherani said that such bold steps would help achieve long-term energy security and help collaboration in areas like capacity building, transfer of technology and exploration of new energy sources.

Speaking on the occasion Malik Sagheer and Malik Sohail said that D8 countries are in a position to achieve self-sufficiency in the critical area of energy.

D-8 member-states have both opportunities and challenges which we will overcome by joint effort soon for which understanding, liberalised visa regimes, enabling customs procedures and supportive banking services are imperative, they said.

Sagheer and Sohail congratulated FPCCI leadership on getting chairmanship of D8 Chamber and hoped that they will play their role to bring all countries together.

Women’s involvement must for sustainable development: CDA

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: Member Planning and Design CDA Syed Mustafain Kazmi on Wednesday said that burden of this poverty on women must be reduced to ensure their empowerment which will trigger the national development.

Country can only progress if women are not neglected for which their empowerment is of paramount importance, he said.

He was speaking to women entrepreneurs representing Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) and Abbottabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI).

Founder President IWCCI Samina Fazil, President IWCCI Farida Rashid, President AWCCI Firdosia Fazal, Adviser IWCCI Malik Sohail and other officials and members of both chambers were also present on the occasion.

Mustafain Kazmi said that Chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz is very keen to promote women; particularly businesswomen for which has formed a high-powered committee which will propose steps to achieve goal of gender equality and women empowerment.

He said that CDA will give preferential treatment, concession and free services to women where possible as the present government is committed in creating an enabling environment for masses, business community and for women in particular.

Member Planning and Design CDA Syed Mustafain Kazmi said that meaningful and sustainable economic development must involve all citizens as economic growth can guarantee social harmony and prosperity.

He said adding that poverty alleviation strategies are the central part of the overall national development initiatives.

At the occasion, Samina Fazil said that the women are a catalyst for change if the objective of eradicating poverty is to be attained.

Farida Rashid said that policymakers should design development interventions in a way that could financially empower women to make a difference in their living conditions.

Malik Sohail, who is also Chairman Media FPCCI, said that in todays globalized world a level playing field for men and women is imperative.

We need to explore innovative ways to overcome the obstacles to empower women and ensure gender equality, said Kazmi.

Govt asked to improve law and order situation

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: FPCCI on Tuesday asked the government to take serious steps to revive the confidence of business community which has been shattered due to deterioration of law and order situation.

Cosmetic measures have never worked in past and lip service will not work in future, said.

Tariq Mehmood, Director Pak-UK Business Council and Chairman FPCCI Standing Committee on Health.

Talking to business community here, he said that law and order situation has deterred foreign as well as local investors in a time when brain drain, flight of capital and shifting of industrial units from Pakistan has broken all the previous records.

Tariq Mehmood who is also former president of the Attock Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that reluctance of government to deal effectively and proactively with security challenges has disappointed business community which has not proceeded to strikes, the last option.

We are already faced with problems like energy shortages, weak infrastructure, pathetic transportation, and discouraging regulations but security concerns take predominance over all other areas, he said.

The economic meltdown, increasing unemployment, runaway inflation, and eroding currency are also serious problems that are taking backseat since years, he observed.

Tariq Mehmood said that situation is sending very negative signals; authorities should not make business community pay the price for the unending process of political reconciliation and chalk out strategy to contain extortion.

Lauding the wisdom of national business leader Tariq Sayeed and other leaders of business fraternity of Karachi, he said that postponing the strike for fifteen days is last chance for the government to hammer out things disregarding political considerations to the satisfaction of business community or face massive exodus of capital and industry, he warned.

Converting fertiliser plants on coal to end gas crisis

Attock, MTT News Desk: The Attock Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) on Wednesday said that converting fertiliser plants on coal will end gas and CNG load shedding in one day.

Rejecting gas load shedding plans, it said that the crisis is not of the gas shortages but that of true intentions which is key to resolve the issue.

Speaking to a meeting over energy crisis, Tariq Mehmood, former president of ACCI said that gas load shedding has made life of masses miserable which industry has suffered great losses.

He said that officials claim theft of gas worth Rs two billion per day which is almost 75 per cent of the shortfall.

If theft is checked or fertiliser sector is converted on coal ash, there will be no crisis in country, rather supply will exceed demand by 500 mmbtu, he informed. Current supply stands at 4100 mmbtu.

Tariq Mehmood, who is also Director Pak-UK Business Council and Chairman FPCCI Committee on Health, said that many countries having no gas are making fertiliser from coal ash.

China is satisfying 70 per cent of fertiliser demand by producing the commodity through coal ash, similarly, America is producing 15 per cent of fertiliser from coal ash, India 26 per cent and Australia 18 per cent.

However, Pakistan, which is left with some depleted gas fields, is bent upon using natural gas for production of fertiliser which amounts to axing own feet.

The business leader said that converting fertiliser plants to coal will create two hundred thousand jobs, save foreign exchange wasted on import of urea, put an end to gas and CNG load shedding and save by reducing fossil fuel imports.

Speaking at the occasion, President ACCI Dr. Khalid Saeed Khan said that our policymakers lack will, adding that honest energy managers can help end gas and CNG load shedding in no time.

He said that government tis buying gas for $5 per mmbtu and providing it to an influential sector on less than 20 per cent of the cost which is against the national interest.

CDA takes major women empowerment initiative

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: Chairman CDA Syed Tahir Shahbaz on Friday said we will do everything to achieve goals of gender equality and women empowerment.

We are here to support every businesswoman of the city, we can consider modification of rules to accommodate you, he said while talking to a delegation of female entrepreneurs led by Samina Fazil, founder president Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI).

Member Planning and Design CDA, Syed Mustafain Kazmi, Member Engineering, CDA Sanaullah Aman, other officials, President IWCCI Farida Rashid, Chairman Media FPCCI Malik Sohail and others were also present on the occasion.

Chairman CDA Syed Tahir Shahbaz said that businesswomen will be given preferential treatment, concession and even free services wherever possible.

He formed a special committee headed by Mustafain Kazmi and asked the delegation to furnish specific and applicable proposals aimed at collective good of women.

After receiving concrete proposals, the CDA Board will respond with positive input, he assured. He said that fundamental transformation is needed in the distribution of power, opportunity, and outcomes for women.

Business community should take more initiatives to empower women, Shahbaz added.

At the occasion Samina Fazil said that womens organizations need the space and resources to bring about the societal transformations that remove the constraints, fulfil the potential, and guarantee the rights of women.

Farida Rashid said that at a time when women are making a mark in every sphere of life, it is ironical that the role of women is still limited due to lack of social integration.

Oil tankers strike threatens food security in Pakistan

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA) on Thursday said violent strike by Edible Oil Tankers Association in Karachi is crippling industrial activities and pushing country towards food insecurity.

Tankers association has started a strike since fifteen days to press for increased upcountry freight which is unjustified, Acting Chairman PVMA Atif Ikram Sheikh said.

Talking to business community at FPCCI Capital Office, he said that prices of edible oil are receding in the international market while situation is opposite in Pakistan owing to disrupted supply chain.

Chairman Media, PR and Diplomatic Affairs FPCCI Malik Sohail and others were also present on the occasion.

Atif said that ninety-nine oil refining units have been closed due to non-availability of raw material which has left some 50 thousand directly employed people jobless while government is losing revenue of Rs 600 million per day.

Atif Ikram Sheikh who is also Chairman Coordination, FPCCI said that the protests by oil tanker owners have turned violent on a number of occasions resulting in riots, shooting and burning of cargo-carrying tankers.

So far, protesters have burnt six oil tankers with oil worth Rs 60 million to discourage other transporters, he said.

Protest is a basic right but criminal activities should not be tolerated under any circumstances, he said adding that ghee industry is in grip of extortionists who are hell-bent to earn unjustified profits.

Sheikh said, We are victim of blackmail, discrimination, pilferage of cargo, and unfair increase in freight rate.

Business community deserve protection as the situation may cloud prospects of industrial growth.

Urging the authorities to take action to fix supply chain and prevent further damage to the industrial and economic activities, he said that the edible oil is the highest revenue generating sector outside petroleum therefore government should provide them security and try to settle the issue.

Malik Sohail said that the sector which caters for local demand of 7000 tonnes per day and satisfies the need of Afghanistan needs attention before it is too late.

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