SC dismisses Bahria Town’s Rs 250 billion offer to...

ISLAMABAD, Jan 15: The Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed an offer of Bahria Town to deposit Rs 250 billion in the apex court's dams fund to avoid legal proceedings for illegally acquiring land.

A three-judge special bench of the apex court was hearing a case pertaining to the implementation of its May 4, 2018 verdict against the Bahria Town.

During the course of proceedings, Bahria Town's counsel Barrister Ali Zafar offered Rs 200 billion for the dams fund to waive charges against the real estate developer for its projects in Karachi, Islamabad and Murree.

Justice Azmat Saeed observed that three separate verdicts had been passed against Bahria Town, which should offer reasonable amount of fine separately for each case.

He said a fine of Rs 285 billion had been imposed on Bahria Town in 2004. "If the fine money is increased by 40 per cent, it will come to Rs 300 billion."

To this, Ali Zafar  increased the offer to Rs 250 billion.

The court observed,"This is not a suitable way to deal with the Supreme Court. We may ask the National Accountability Bureau to file a reference."

Subsequently, the counsel sought a one week's time to file a reply.

Accepting his request, the court directed Bahria Town to submit separate offers in writing in all the three cases.

In its May 4 judgement, the court had declared the grant of land to the Malir Development Authority (MDA) and its exchange with the land of Bahria Town illegal and void. It had also directed NAB to continue its probe into the matters of the developer.



Industrial sector to be developed under CPEC on priority:...

ISLAMABAD, Jan 15: Minister for Finance Asad Umar here on Tuesday said that the government was looking forward to take China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to next phase where the country's industrial, trade and social sector would be developed on priority.

Speaking outside Supreme Court, the minister said that the mini budget to be presented by the government on January 23, would aim at  promoting investment and entrepreneurship in the country. He said the mini budget would play important role in ensuring friendly environment for the business community.

He also said the Chief Justice of Pakistan had played historic role to help building water reservoirs in the country.



APTMA Punjab agrees to negotiate govt proposal for out...

LAHORE: The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab has agreed to negotiate the government’s proposal for an out of court settlement of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) of pre-and-post GIDC Act 2015 and onwards for the system gas.

Chairman APTMA Punjab Adil Bashir held an emergent meeting of the general body of APTMA Punjab, largely attended by member mills from Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan through video link to consider a proposal of the government for an out of court settlement of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) of pre-and-post GIDC Act 2015 and onwards for the system gas.

The federal government has offered to pay the outstanding amount without Late Payment Surcharge.

The meeting unanimously constituted a six member committee to be represented by office bearers and members nominated from the participating member mills.

Chairman APTMA Punjab said majority of the members were in favour of negotiating this outstanding issue to pay off liability, if any, on best possible terms to be agreed upon.

He said the members having already paid GIDC be also extended the terms of the deal for adjustments against their payments accordingly.

The Punjab-based textile industry, being liquidity constrained, has also solicited adjustment of the final amount against outstanding payments on account of Sales Tax, DLTL, and Technology Up-gradation Fund Schemes, he added.

British pound wobbles before crunch Brexit vote

January 15, 2019: Sterling steadied Tuesday as British Prime Minister Theresa May faced the prospect of a humiliating parliamentary defeat of her hard-fought Brexit deal, dealers said.

The pound trod higher against the European single currency but drooped versus the dollar, with investors on tenterhooks before the vital vote.

"The degree of political uncertainty in the UK means that economic news has been almost totally usurped," Rabobank analyst Jane Foley told AFP.

European stock markets meanwhile enjoyed cautious gains, after Asia swung higher as worries dimmed over a global economic slowdown.

With a little over two months to go until Britain leaves the European Union on March 29, lawmakers are almost certain to rail against May's deal -- which was agreed with Brussels in a fraught and long-running process after the June 2016 referendum.

The outcome of Tuesday's meaningful vote -- which May delayed in December over fears of an embarrassing defeat -- is expected at about 1900 GMT.

Market pundits do not expect a "significant" swing following the outcome -- but they do anticipate "fireworks" as the nature of Brexit becomes apparent in the coming days, weeks and months.


"Today's vote is a foregone conclusion so sterling is unlikely to move significantly," added Interactive Investor analyst Rebecca O'Keeffe.

"However, the range of possible outcomes after today's vote is what is far more interesting," she said.

"From no Brexit, which could see sterling move to $1.40-plus, versus a hard Brexit which could see a move towards parity.

"The fireworks will happen after today -- when it is clear what happens next."

May's last-minute appeals to MPs appear to have fallen on deaf ears and how much she loses by could determine whether she tries again, loses office, delays Brexit -- or if Britain even leaves the EU at all.

Hardline Brexiteers and Remainers oppose the agreement for different reasons and many fear it could lock Britain into an unfavourable trading relationship with the EU.

While the plan is expected to be rejected, experts say the margin of loss will be key. A massive defeat for the government would mean May's deal is dead in the water.

Above all, markets remain fearful of a chaotic departure from the bloc.

More uncertainty

"There may be many possible political outcomes with respect to Brexit -- but for sterling the outlook boils down to whether or not there will be a hard Brexit," added Foley.

"The pound is well off its recent lows on the perception that there is little appetite cross party for a hard Brexit -- though it is still a possibility.

"It seems likely that tonight's vote will be followed by another ballot of some description albeit a second Commons vote, referendum or general election.

"This means more uncertainty and potential volatility for the pound."

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Asian equity markets rebounded from the previous day's sharp losses, with Hong Kong and Shanghai lifted by Chinese plans to slash taxes to boost the economy.

China's disappointing trade data on Monday sent shivers through trading floors as it showed the long-running US tariffs row is beginning to bite.

But dealers resumed last week's rally that was fuelled by optimism that Beijing and Washington will eventually resolve their differences -- and that the Federal Reserve will pause in raising interest rates.

Key figures around 1150 GMT

  • Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2844 from $1.2864 at 2200 GMT on Monday
  • Euro/pound: DOWN at 88.98 pence from 89.15 pence
  • Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1429 from $1.1469
  • Dollar/yen: UP at 108.51 yen from 108.16
  • London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 6,874.58 points
  • Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 10,875.27
  • Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 4,775.23
  • EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 percent at 3,059.36
  • Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.0 percent at 20,555.29 (close)
  • Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 2.0 percent at 26,830.29 (close)
  • Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.4 percent at 2,570.34 (close)
  • New York - Dow: DOWN 0.4 percent at 23,909.85 (close)
  • Oil - Brent Crude: UP 91 cents at $59.90 per barrel
  • Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 73 cents at $51.24


ICCI for establishing marble industrial parks under CPEC

January 15, 2019: The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has called upon the government to establish marble industrial parks under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and give special focus on the industry, which has great potential to promote exports and transform Pakistan into a fast growing economy.

Talking to a delegation of local marble industry led by former Chairman All Pakistan Marble Industries Association Shakeel Munit here Tuesday, Acting President of ICCI Rafat Farid Muhammad said that all provinces of Pakistan including Baluchistan and KP have huge deposits of marble and granite. However, lack of new technology was forcing marble industry to use old quarrying methods due to which the standard quarry wastage in Pakistan was up to 73 percent of the gross produce. He stressed upon the government to cooperate with marble industry in introducing latest technology & machinery for promoting mechanized mining in the country. 

Vice President ICCI Iftikhar Anwar Sethi said that global market for marble and granite was estimated at over $62 billion, but Pakistan’s share in it was below one percent.

He urged that government should allow duty free import of marble machinery that would help marble industry to upgrade itself and compete more effectively in international market.

Speaking at the occasion, Muhammad Shakeel Munir, former Chairman, All Pakistan Marble Industries Association said that China was importing raw marble and granite from Pakistan and after processing & value addition was earning huge profits.

He said industrial parks will bring the cost effective cutting, blasting and finishing technology in Pakistan that will enhance the competitive edge of the industry and improve our exports significantly.


Five-year plan to be prepared in next three months...

January 15, 2019: The management of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will develop a comprehensive five-year strategic business plan to turn the national flag carrier into a profitable entity and revive its past glory, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) PIA, Air Marshal Arshad Mehmood Malik said on Tuesday.

 “Due to mismanagement and corruption PIA had become a liability. Prime Minister Imran Khan tasked us to revive the PIA as a profitable enterprise."

 “Since taking the responsibility in October, last year we have taken some short-term measures to ensure its smooth functioning and now we are going to give a five-year long term plan in a three-month period,” he told a news conference here at the Press Information Department (PID).

Minister for Aviation Muhammad Mian Soomro, Special Assistant to PM on Media Affairs Iftikhar Durrani and Secretary Aviation Division Shahrukh Nusrat were also present at the presser.

Arshad said that the five-year plan would undertake measures for cost saving, revenue generation, improvement and expansion of flight operations. “Financial restructuring through government support will also be part of the plan,” he said.

He said that revival of the airlines’ past glory was a daunting task but he had full backing of the Minister for Aviation to turns its fortunes. He said after assuming the charge he found that PIA was a white elephant turned black hole due to several issues such as meddling of PIA Union in administrative affairs, corruption, nonprofessional attitude and overstaffing. “But I also found that PIA pilots, engineers and technicians were the best in the industry and they needed only ownership to harmonize their energies,” he added.


KSE-100’s trajectory continues upward as E&P sector enhances positive...

January 15, 2018 (MLN): KSE-100 Index continued with its upward momentum and gained over 201 points by the day end and closed in at 39614 points, marking a growth of 0.5% from previous session’s closing.

The market picked up pace after the news regarding the drilling at Kekra-1 well at offshore Indus G-Block emerged, as experts believe that the offshore exploration might lead to discovery of massive hydrocarbon reserves, sufficient for 50-year needs of the country.

Primarily, Oil & Gas Exploration Companies seemed to be the driving force for the equity market, as the sector contributed over 161 points to the index. Meanwhile, Fertilizer, Commercial Banks and Oil & Gas Marketing Companies collectively added 127 points to the index. The scrips of PPL (+4.86%), OGDC (+2.94%), ENGRO (+2.64%) and FFC (+1.5%) earned the maximum gains.

Bounded within the range of 353 points, the index touched an intraday high of 39711 points and an intraday low of 39358 points.

Nearly 89.3 million shares were traded today for the scrips listed on the benchmark index with their total value recorded at Rs6.13 billion.

Congruently, the broader KSE All Share index gained around 63 points by the day end and closed at 29006 points.

An intraday high of 29128 points and an intraday low of 28913 points was recorded by the day end for the all share index with a range of 215 points.

Over 122 million shares of the scrips listed within the broader KSE All Share Index have been traded so far, with its value recorded at Rs.7 billion.

The market is expected to remain positive in upcoming sessions

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PM appoints Nadeem Afzal Gondal as his spokesperson

January 15, 2019: Prime Minister Imran Khan has appointed Nadeem Afzal Gondal as his Spokesperson in an honorary capacity.

 “The Prime Minister has been pleased to appoint Mr. Nadeem Afzal Gondal as Spokesperson of the Prime Minister with immediate effect and until further orders in an honorary capacity,” a notification issued by the PM Office said.


Another offshore exploration failure to shatter international companies’ confidence...

January 15, 2019 (MLN): Many companies and Government officials have been terming the offshore exploration by E&P companies for a deep-sea drilling as a possible ‘Game Changer’ for Pakistan. A report by Topline Securities suggests that the anticipated discovery might be even bigger than the Sui field with estimated reserves of 3-8 Trillion Cubic Feet, or 25%-40% of Pakistan’s total gas reserves.

OGDC and PPL, along with several other international partners have formed a Joint Venture to spud the Kekra-1 exploration well in Indus G block, the cost of which is estimated to be US$70-80 million. These companies will be able to assess the potential hydrocarbon flows from this offshore drilling as well as their economic viability by the end of third quarter of FY19.

The report estimates that at Arab Light Crude US$60/bbl, the gas from Indus-G will be priced at US$7.2/mmbtu with additional US$1/mmbtu as an incentive for first three discoveries in offshore area, offering a premium of 80%, in comparison to the average applicable pricing on onshore blocks under older policies.

Moreover, the Petroleum Policy 2012 exempts E&P companies from paying any royalty for the first four years after commencement of commercial production from offshore field, providing further incentives to these companies

The importance of this endeavor was further stressed by the Prime Minister himself, as he believes that any substantial discovery would be a good catalyst for not only E&Ps in Pakistan, but also for attracting foreign investment into the sector.

Regarding the attainment of above mentioned endeavor, an analyst from Topline Securities told Mettis Global News that the success ratio might range from 10 to 20 percent, keeping in view the past failures of Pakistani E&Ps to reach the target reservoirs.

“The success of this endeavor will not only offer several benefits to the E&P sector, but will also provide much needed relief to Pakistan’s diminishing oil & gas reserves” he said.

“However, if the drilling in Indus-G turns out to be unsuccessful again, it would shatter the confidence of both E&Ps as well as foreign companies to invest in Pakistan”, he added

“Nevertheless, many analysts as well as government officials are hopeful this time” he opined.

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UK business braces for Brexit vote

January 15, 2019: Eleventh-hour warnings on the financial fallout of a no-deal Brexit and a cap on trading in pounds -- British business on Tuesday braced itself for the UK parliament's vital vote.

"As MPs prepare to vote on the government's Brexit deal, we urge them to remember they hold the future of the British automotive industry -- and the hundreds and thousands of jobs it supports -- in their hands," said the Mike Hawes, chief executive of UK car industry body the SMMT.

"Brexit is already causing us damage -- in output, costs and jobs, but this does not compare with the catastrophic consequences of being cut adrift from our biggest trading partner overnight," he added in a statement.

"Both government and parliament have a responsibility to take no-deal off the table or risk destroying this vital UK industry," Hawes urged.

Few expect the deal to pass, but the scale of Prime Minister Theresa May's expected defeat in parliament Tuesday could determine whether she tries again, loses office, delays Brexit -- or if Britain even leaves the EU at all.

With just over two months to go until the scheduled Brexit date of March 29, a bitterly divided Britain is in limbo and the world awaits to see what will happen next.

Elsewhere Tuesday, the president of the CBI, Britain's largest business lobby group, said the "vast majority" of UK business would like to see the Brexit deal passed.

Talking on BBC radio, John Allan said that even though it "looks extremely unlikely" that parliament will back the deal, the government must be immediately ready to preside over a no-deal Brexit.

This is "a time for very, very, clear leadership from the government and the time to bring people together", Allan said.

"This will be a situation of national emergency. We are only 70-plus days from crashing out of the EU."

Allan added that the UK "crashing out" of the European Union on March 29 without a deal "would do irreparable harm to the UK economy".

Also Tuesday, foreign exchange group TransferWise said it was putting a 24-hour cap on sterling transactions above £10,000 ($12,839, 11,233 euros).

"It's possible that the vote on the prime minister's deal could have a significant impact on the foreign exchange market and so we are taking sensible precautions," the company said in a statement.

"We'll be capping the amount of money transfers to and from British pounds at £10,000. These temporary transfer limits mean 99 percent of our customers will benefit from our usual service.

"For the one percent affected, we'd suggest they make their transfer later in the week, or set up multiple smaller payments," it added.