February 27, 2020: Moody’s has released a report focusing on Pakistan’s Banking Sector, which states that the country's continued presence on the list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring is credit negative for its banks
‘On 21 February, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body tasked with setting global framework requirements around anti-money-laundering, counterterrorist financing and other related threats to the international financial system, announced that Pakistan (B3 stable) would remain on its list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring, along with 17 other countries, after failing to complete a June 2018 action plan by the assigned deadlines’ the report said.
Pakistan, which has been presenting its progress to FATF every four months since the agreement of the action plan, will remain on the list until at least June 2020, when the next evaluation will take place.
The announcement is credit negative for Pakistani banks because it raises questions about potential additional restrictions relating to banks’ foreign-currency clearing services, as well as their foreign operations. Banks’ profitability risks being constrained as a result of increased compliance and operational costs.
The FATF has warned that it will urge member countries to increase their attention when conducting business transactions with Pakistan if the country's government, regulatory body and other stakeholders of the financial system fail to complete the action plan, which emphasizes combating terrorist financing, by June 2020. Should they fail to do so, international financial institutions could curtail their interactions with Pakistani banks and other financial companies, including terminating correspondent banking relationships. This, in turn, would further constrain banks’ ability to generate business and result in higher compliance costs.
Improving, but still-weak, compliance with global anti-money-laundering and combating terrorist financing standards, both by Pakistani banks and the country's authorities, means that banks still risk losing access to foreign-currency clearing services. Access to foreign-currency clearing transactions, typically conducted through international correspondent banking relationships, is crucial for Pakistani banks because it allows them to process cross-border payments for clients.
Clearing in US dollars is particularly important given Pakistan's high import and export economic activity, as well as the fact that a large proportion of international payments are made in this currency. That said, this risk has so far not crystallized in the jurisdictions that have been placed on the increased monitoring list.
Several domestic banks with foreign operations have been subject to investigations relating to anti-money-laundering/counterterrorist financing issues that have resulted in penalties, higher compliance costs and, in some cases, the removal of overseas licenses.
‘Among the banks we rate, the US authorities in 2017 investigated Habib Bank Ltd. (Caa1 stable, caa11) over deficiencies in its risk management framework and violations of anti-money-laundering regulations. The bank consented to pay a penalty of $225 million, surrender its US banking licenses and close its New York branch by the end of March 2020’ the report added.
Similarly, United Bank Ltd. (Caa1 stable, b3) wound down its US operations last year, in part as a result of an investigation by the US authorities that identified weak compliance with global anti-money-laundering/counterterrorist financing standards.
The FATF returned Pakistan to its list of “jurisdictions under increased monitoring”2 in June 2018, at which time the government committed to an action plan based on FATF's recommendations around technical compliance and effectiveness.3
The plan contains 27 action points aimed at eliminating strategic anti-money laundering / counterterrorist financing deficiencies at the financial system level, as well as at the legal, law enforcement, provincial and federal levels. Among the areas of FATF's focus is the availability of tools and the timing required for identifying violations; law-enforcement capabilities and the appropriateness and timeliness of remedial actions such as sanctions and the deprivation of resources; aligning the understanding of anti-money-laundering/counterterrorist financing risks, information-exchange capabilities and cooperation among local supervisory, law enforcement and other authorities; and increasing the control and surveillance of cross-border transactions through physical and electronic means.
The final deadline for the completion of the June 2018 action plan has been extended further to June 2020. As of February 2020, Pakistan has largely increased its compliance with 14 of the 27 identified areas, although the overall anti-money-laundering/ counterterrorist financing framework remains below global standards. Compliance with the remaining 13 action points has also progressed at varying degrees, according to FATF. Because the list of remaining actions has narrowed, the State Bank of Pakistan has expressed its confidence about Pakistan exiting the grey list in June 2020.
February 27, 2020: Federal minister privatization Mohammed Mian Soomro chaired a 9th review committee meeting in Islamabad yesterday.
The Minister was briefed about the progress made in the privatization of PSEs, which are to be privatized during this financial year. These include two power plants of NPPMCL and SME bank etc.
Federal Minister directed that privatization is one of the important components of PM’s economic reforms agenda hence, we are focusing on addressing all the issues in consultation with all the stakeholders, so the transactions could be completed in a stipulated time.
Federal Minister reiterated that the revival of Pakistan Steel Mills is of supreme importance; its revival will strengthen the economy.
Mohammed Mian Soomro directed that report regarding the progress in the privatization of specified entities be presented on daily basis, which will help to formulate the strategy to address the issues faced during the process of the transaction(s).
February 27, 2020 (MLN): Stocks have lost 1033 points in the intraday session today and is currently trading at 37,299-level [9:48 a.m.] as two cases of coronavirus have been reported yesterday which have risen fear among investors over the outbreak.
Moreover, the upsurge of coronavirus continued triggering a fall in global stocks.
Commercial Banks & Oil & Gas Exploration have witnessed higher selling activity as they have cumulatively lost 449 points
Company-wise, the scrips of OGDC, PPL, HUBC, BAHL and HBL have endured the maximum losses.
It may be noted here that the KSE-100 has shed around 3,644 points or 9% during the last 6 trading sessions. This behavior was last observed in August 2019, wherein the market dropped by 9.2% or 2,902 points.
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Feb 27, 2020: Microsoft on Wednesday lowered its revenue estimates for the current quarter, saying it will feel the impact of the coronavirus epidemic with lower sales of Windows software and Surface devices.
The US tech giant became the latest global firm to warn of a financial hit from the global outbreak of the disease which has killed thousands worldwide.
"Although we see strong Windows demand in line with our expectations, the supply chain is returning to normal operations at a slower pace than anticipated," Microsoft said in a statement.
As a result, Microsoft said that in the current fiscal quarter its revenues will fall short of earlier forecasts, with Windows and Surface "more negatively impacted than previously anticipated."
Licensing Windows software to computer makers is a major source of revenue for Microsoft, meaning temporary closures or interruptions of production at factories run by partners can cobble its revenue.
Surface tablet manufacturing can be directly impeded by such precautions.
"As the conditions evolve, Microsoft will act to ensure the health and safety of our employees, customers, and partners during this difficult period," Microsoft said.
"Microsoft also continues to make donations to relief and containment efforts, including directly providing technology to help hospitals and medical workers."
Microsoft shares slipped about a percent in after-market trades that followed its announcement.
Apple last week said its revenue for the current quarter would be below its forecasts, and that worldwide iPhone supply "will be temporarily constrained" because of the global virus outbreak, notably in China, where Apple manufactures most of its devices.
Apple, which depends on components from Chinese suppliers and has a big market in China, has been hammered on both fronts.
The virus has sparked global economic jitters, with travel bans and mass quarantines inside China forcing factories to suspend operations and shops to close.
Coronavirus cases spread in Europe and beyond on Wednesday, with Latin America confirming its first patient as the world scrambled to contain the epidemic that has killed thousands worldwide.
New cases have emerged across Europe, many linked to the continent's coronavirus hotspot in northern Italy, amid warnings from health experts to rein in hysteria as the virus continues its march beyond China's borders.
February 27, 2020: The two-day 9th Session of Pakistan-Kazakhstan Inter-governmental Joint Commission will begin in Islamabad today.
The IJC session will also be followed by the Inaugural round of Bilateral Political Consultations.
The IJC and BPC are important mechanisms designed to contribute to enhanced cooperation on the bilateral and regional plans.
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood will lead the Pakistan side, whereas First Deputy Foreign Minister, Shakhrat Nuryshev, will represent the Kazakhstan delegation.
The deliberations will focus on bilateral engagement on trade and investment, cooperation in energy, agriculture, health, education, science and technology, tourism, sports, transport and industrial sectors and people-to-people contacts.
Besides bilateral matters, the two sides will also exchange views on key regional and international issues.