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PKR weakens by 48 paisa against greenback

August 03, 2020 (MLN): Pakistani rupee (PKR) depreciated by 48 paisa against US Dollar (USD) in today's interbank session as the currency closed the day's trade at PKR 167.46 per USD, against last session's closing of PKR 166.98 per USD.

The Rupee saw moderate volatility in today’s session and traded in a range of 94 paisa per USD showing an intraday high bid of 167.45 and an intraday Low offer of 166.70.

Within the Open Market, PKR was traded at 166.50/167.50 per USD.

Meanwhile, the currency lost 2.5 rupees to the Pound Sterling as the day's closing quote stood at PKR 219.44 per GBP, while the previous session closed at PKR 216.89 per GBP.

Similarly, PKR's value weakened by 89 paisa against EUR which closed at PKR 197.16 at the interbank today.

On another note, within the money market, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) conducted an Open Market Operation in which it injected Rs.1100 billion for 4 days at 7.02 percent.

The overnight repo rate towards close of the session was 7.05/7.15 percent, whereas the 1 week rate was 7.00/7.10 percent.

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Monthly Review: KSE-100 Index kicks off FY21 on a...

Aug 3, 2020 (MLN): After the muted activity in June, the capital markets of Pakistan rebounded sharply during the first month of the fiscal year 2020-21, July, on an account of policy cut by SBP to 7 % on 25th June that helped investors improved their earnings, and increased liquidity due to the shifting of the flow of funds from money market to the equity market.

The KSE-100 index gained approximately 4,837 points during the month and settled at 39,258-level, i.e. 14.05% higher than the close of the previous month.

Meanwhile, it is worth highlighting that it has been the highest return in the month of July in the past 17 years.

According to the market analysts, besides the abovementioned factors, several other measures and economic developments drove the stock markets, such as the jump in SBP’s reserves (with inflows from multilateral institutions) reversing the PKR-USD parity to 166/USD level from PKR 168/USD Jun’20 closing, business-friendly policies doled out by the govt, and a noticeable drop in COVID-19 cases.

During the period under review, the sectors that contributed the most during the first month of FY21 include Commercial Banks, Cement, E&P Companies, Automobile Assembler and Fertilizer as they commutatively added 3,118 points to the index.

Commercial Banks led the index, as it made the highest contribution of 1283 points amid the positive result expectation for the 2QCY20. This was followed by the Cement sector with the gain of 722 points on the back of improved earnings with the help of lower financial charges.

Company-wise, the scrips of HBL, LUCK, TRG, PPL and BAHL generated the maximum returns as they contributed 421, 347, 200, 190 and 184 points, respectively to the index.  On the contrary, the shares of ABOT, PSEL, ARPL, Nestle and JDWS took away 16, 8, 6, 5 and 4 points, respectively.

The figures released by NCCPL showed that the local bourse continued to absorb foreign selling at $68.27 million during the month, with Foreign Corporates doing the bulk of the selling.

On the local front, Insurance Companies did the maximum buying as it picked stocks worth $33.87 million, followed by Companies, Individuals, Mutual Funds with an accumulation of $19.8 1million, $17.24, and $14.98 million respectively.

The KSE All Share Market Cap rose by $4.82 billion, from $38.85 billion to $43.68 billion, depicting an increase of 12.42%.

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Pakistan plans a big shift to solar energy in...

Aug 03, 2020: Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry Monday assured that Prime Minister Imran Khan's government wants to boost the country’s solar industry in a bid to drive the economy of the country.

In his exclusive talk with private news channel, the minister said that the government in this regard planned a big shift to solar energy in coming few years to fulfill the demands of electricity.

Science minister said that the present government is coming out with a comprehensive national energy policy and focused on development of solar energy related infrastructure and technology.

He claimed that in the next ten years electricity would be available on cheap rates not only in Pakistan but in whole world, adding, the energy is not going to be a big issue around the world in coming future.

Pakistan is already working on solar plates and country in next three years to start cell manufacturing to produce solar energy as well, he added.

He also lauded the smart lockdown policies of Prime Minister Imran Khan for controlling the Covid-19 disease and steps taken by the PM to tackle appalling economic crisis, adding that PM Imran confronted economic challenges with bravery, hence today Pakistan has been put on the path to development.

He said those who were criticizing our government for smart lockdown are now also appreciating Imran Khan's policy and smart lockdown as his efforts are proving successful in containing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Replying a Question, “I think we will not be able to pursue the schedule of sending astronauts to space due to COVID-19 and it may be delayed by a year” and added the candidate selection process in collaboration with China had also been delayed but we will committed to accomplished this program as soon as possible.

He said government will enact all necessary measures to create a level playing field for the private sector to take part in all country's space activities.

He also hoped that we will make the country's first landing on the surface of the moon in coming years.

To another Question, he said the COVID-19 crisis has provided Pakistan an opportunity to locally manufacture ventilators and other key medical equipment amid the global shortage.

The government’s current focus is knowledge economy, research and development (R&D), education, science and technology, he added.


World Bank announces new Country Director for Pakistan

August 3, 2020: Mr. Najy Benhassine is the World Bank’s new Country Director for Pakistan effective August 1. He succeeds Mr. Illango Patchamuthu, who completed his term on July 31.

Mr. Benhassine most recently served as Regional Director for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions in the Middle East and North Africa. Prior to this, he was Director for the Finance, Competitiveness & Innovation Global Practice. Since joining the World Bank in 2001, he has worked extensively on economic development, finance, private sector development and impact evaluations.

Mr. Benhassine’s appointment comes at a time when the government of Pakistan is confronting both the immediate and longer-term health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

“It is critical that we help protect the lives and livelihoods of the people of Pakistan and support economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr. Benhassine. “My first priority is to ensure that World Bank support helps to not only alleviate the immediate health and economic impacts of the crisis but at the same time support the Government’s ambitious social and economic reform program to promote a more resilient and inclusive economy so that Pakistan can build back better.”

The World Bank portfolio in Pakistan includes 56 active projects amounting to approximately $11 billion.  The portfolio supports reforms and investments to strengthen institutions, particularly in fiscal management and human development; multi-sectoral initiatives in children's nutrition, education and skills, irrigated agriculture, tourism, disaster risk management, and urban development; and clean energy, and social and financial inclusion.

The World Bank is supporting the government of Pakistan through COVID-19 emergency response projects totaling almost half a billion to help the country prevent, detect and respond to the pandemic and strengthen public health preparedness.

World Bank

Global tourism struggles to recover amid easing COVID-19 restrictions

Aug 03, 2020: As countries around the world are cautiously reopening to revive their hard-hit economies in the COVID-19 pandemic, global tourism has seen a glimmer of hope, but still faces an uphill struggle.

Tintagel Castle, a medieval fortification located in Cornwall in southwest England, is considered one of the most spectacular sites in Britain.

Annually, over 250,000 tourists visit the place and pass through routes and ruins from around the 5th-7th century AD.

However, this year, COVID-19 has taken its toll on the famed tourist attraction as the number of visitors to the site plunged.

When the nationwide lockdown was announced in March, Georgia Butters and her staff at Tintagel Castle were getting ready for the busy Easter period.

But after all the preparation for one of the busiest periods of the year, the site was forced to close as the lockdown restricted travel and domestic tourism dropped instantly.

On July 4, the British government announced the phase-by-phase reopening of outdoor venues, bringing hope to Butters, English Heritage's head of historic properties in Cornwall.

To achieve the goal of keeping staff and visitors safe, the entire site reopened but with a new visiting system that features social distancing, including a one way visiting route, limited access to the cafe, as well as timed ticketing for everybody.

These measures have obviously restricted the number of visitors and affected their travel experiences.

"At the moment we're looking at a third of our peak capacity, which is a significant difference," said Butters.

The reduced number of visitors means that the surrounding area will likely take a hit, as for much of the immediate local communities, Tintagel is somewhere that provides a living for them.

In other parts of the world, similar efforts are also underway to salvage the staggering tourism industry.

In Italy, a government policy intended to revive tourism took effect in July.

According to a promotional program effective until the end of this year, low-and medium-income households, couples, and individuals who spend holidays at Italian tourist facilities can benefit from a financial bonus of up to 500 euros (560 U.S. dollars).

In Finland, a large-scale open-air market and dining area located on Helsinki's iconic 3,000-square-meter Senate Square opened to the public on July 1, in a move to encourage the catering and tourism industries.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of overnight stays by foreign tourists in Finland dropped by nearly 93 percent in June 2020, Statistics Finland said in a press release issued on Thursday.

Between January and June this year, a total of 6.08 million nights were spent by tourists in Finnish accommodation facilities, 42.6 percent less than the same period in 2019. The number of nights spent by foreign tourists dropped by 48.9 percent from the previous year, according to the data.

A larger picture across the globe is even grimmer.

On July 28, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) highlighted the enormous cost which the coronavirus pandemic brings to the global tourism sector, both in tourist numbers and revenues.

The latest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer shows that lockdown restrictions imposed to respond to the epidemic led to a 98 percent fall in international tourist numbers in May this year, compared to May 2019.

The Barometer also shows a 56 percent year-on-year reduction in tourist arrivals in the first five months of this year, with a loss of 320 billion U.S. dollars in international tourism receipts, which the UNWTO said is "more than three times the loss during the Global Economic Crisis of 2009."

The dramatic fall in global tourism has placed millions of livelihoods at risk.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in a statement that the data showed "the importance of restarting tourism as soon as it is safe to do so," calling on governments in every world region "to prioritize public health while also protecting jobs and businesses."

While global tourism is slowly returning under easing restrictions, its prospect is still uncertain for a string of downside risks such as the resurgence of the virus, the possibility of new lockdowns and the safety concerns with travel.

Last week, the British government warned against non-essential travelling to Spain, saying "the advice is based on evidence of increases in cases of COVID-19 in several regions" in Spain, which gave a fatal blow to the country's tourism.

Even though the Spanish government insists the country is safe to travel to, health authorities have acknowledged that the country may be experiencing a second wave of cases.

The majority of the cases have been detected in bars and nightclubs, as well as seasonal fruit and vegetable pickers.

The premature opening of big but unsafe tourist markets for the sake of reviving tourism is out of the question, Cypriot Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said in July.

Ioannou dismissed suggestions that tourists from high-risk countries could be screened by mass testing at airports.

"Just imagine what would happen even if only a few travelers tested positive, even five, each day. Quarantine facilities and hospitals would be filled in no time at all," Ioannou said.

Without properly handling these coronavirus-related concerns, it could be hard for global tourism to get back on track, which, in turn, will severely hamper the recovery of the world economy.

According to a report published on June 15 by the World Travel & Tourism Council, tourism and travel industries created 330 million jobs in 2019 and accounted for 10.3 percent of the global economy.

To accelerate the recovery of tourism, the council suggested in the report "the adoption of global health and safety protocols, the implementation of a rapid test and trace strategy to help contain the spread of the virus, as well as the greater collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure a standardized global approach to the crisis."


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