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Fertilizer offtake declines by 51% in January

February 24, 2020 (MLN): The total nutrient offtake during January 2020 was about 177 thousand tonnes, as compared to 362 thousand tonnes during January 2019, showing a decrease of 51.0 percent.

According to a monthly review report released by National Fertilizer Development Centre, the Nitrogen offtake during the month was 147 thousand tonnes which decreased by 52.2 percent whereas phosphate offtake was 28 thousand tonnes showing a decrease of 43.6 percent over January 2019.

The total production of all fertilizer products during January 2020 was about 608 thousand tonnes.  Out of this, urea was 456 thousand tonnes, which is 75 percent of the total production. DAP production was 39 thousand tonnes.

The other products were CAN 49 thousand tonnes, Nitrophos 51 thousand tonnes and 3.6 thousand tonnes of SSP, 0.9 thousand tonnes of SOP and 8 thousand tonnes of NPK. Imported supplies were 24 thousand tonnes which comprised 16 thousand tonnes of DAP, 4 thousand tonnes of MOP, 3 thousand tonnes of AS, 1.3 thousand tonnes of SOP during January 2020.

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Power Division says Circular Debt stood at 961 with...

February 24, 2020: Spokesperson of Power Division in a statement said that Circular Debt stood at 961 at end of December 2019 with PHPL loans at 804 billion.

The growth in six months have been 103 billion and at no point in time, the growth on a monthly basis has been 104 billion. The CD build-up estimated for the current financial year of 134 billion which will increase the stock of CD to Rs 946 billion other than PHPL of 804 billion.

The build contributing factors vary during a particular month and the effect of seasonality is prominent in the buildup.

The significance of the number 1.9 trillion “mark” in certain media’s news items is not as clear as what this number will signify? The CD plan developed is on an annual basis and the matter feeding into the flow are time-bound actions which show their result in a time-bound manner.

The numbers quoted in the news item on how much efficiency improvement and loss reduction will feed into a reduction of circular debt and based on sketchy information gathered and presented without doing any proper analysis.

At no time the gap of 478 billion been projected by power division. The flow number is 134 billion on an annual basis.

The distribution margin is never attributable towards the buildup of CD or flow of the CD. The regulator determines the DM of a DISCO. This number is for the O&M costs of DISCOS and if it’s not paid the companies don’t undertake development works or can’t pay their salaries.

How does it translate into the buildup of CD can only be answered by the author? The CD plan intends to bring down the buildup circular debt in phases and it does not jump down to 75 billion in the first year.

The actions required to reduce the buildup include a major part under efficiency improvement on which action in each DISCO in form of theft control, loss reduction and recovery improvement is underway.

Press Release

Atif Bajwa joins Bank Alfalah as the new CEO

February 24, 2020 (MLN): The Board of Directors of Bank Alfalah Limited, in its meeting held on February 23, 2020, has coopted/appointed Mr. Atif Aslam Bajwa as Director and President/Chief Executive Officer of the Bank, in place of Mr. Nauman Ansari, for the remainder term, subject to no objection/clearance from State Bank of Pakistan.

Earlier, Mr. Nauman Ansari had rendered his resignation to the Board owing to personal reasons.

It may also be noted that Mr. Shehzad Naqvi, Director of the Bank has resigned from the Board of Directors and the Board has accepted his resignation accordingly.

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Seoul worst hit as Asia markets plunge on virus...

Feb 24, 2020: Seoul led a sharp drop across Asian equity markets Monday as South Korea announced a surge in COVID-19 infections, while oil plunged and safe haven assets rallied on growing concerns about the global spread of the deadly virus.

With the outbreak showing little sign of easing investors are increasingly concerned it could have a much longer term impact on the world economy, which was already stuttering, with a number of companies warning about their bottom lines.

Traders had been broadly optimistic that the virus -- which has killed nearly 2,600 and infected 80,000 -- was being contained outside China but a spurt of infections and deaths in other countries including South Korea, Italy and Iran has fanned fears of a wider outbreak.

"While the coronavirus is probably slowing in China, it is speeding up elsewhere," Charles Gillams, at RJMG Asset Management, said. "Its impact on Chinese business is already deep. So, whether that has a one economic quarter impact -- of some severity -- or is a bigger issue remains unclear and indeed we won't know for while."

On Monday, South Korea reported 161 more cases, taking its total to 763 and making it the world's worst hit country outside China, with seven people now dead.

President Moon Jae-in has raised the virus alert to the highest "red" level, in a bid to strengthen the government response to the spiralling outbreak.

News of the spread hammered the KOSPI, which sank more than three percent in early trade, with market heavyweight Samsung diving 3.4 percent. The won fell 0.7 percent and is sitting at a six-month low.

- 'Extremely problematic' -

Hong Kong shed 1.5 percent, with Sydney and Manila each dropping more than two percent. Shanghai, Taipei, Wellington were all off more than one percent. Singapore and Jakarta were off around 0.6 percent apiece.

The losses tracked a sell-off on Wall Street, where the S&P 500 and Nasdaq each gave up more than one percent, while US 30-year Treasury yields hit an all-time high, indicating a rush into the safe havens.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said the epidemic was the "largest public health emergency" since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949 and admitted authorities must learn from "obvious shortcomings exposed" during its response.

Beijing will decide later in the day whether to postpone its annual parliament session for the first time since the Cultural Revolution owing to the epidemic.

Meanwhile, Italy has introduced severe containment measures previously seen only in China, with more than 50,000 people in about a dozen northern Italian towns told to stay home.

The virus, which has infected at least 152 people and left three dead, has also led to the cancellation of several shows at Milan Fashion Week and the early closure of the Venice Carnival.

"Of all the alarming aspects of the rapidly spreading virus out Wuhan is that it's showing up in patients with no connection to China or the city of Wuhan, ground zero for the outbreak," said AxiCorp's Stephen Innes.

This, he added, suggested "things are about to get extremely problematic, and market conditions could get exponentially worse this week".

The fear on trading floors has sent gold, a go-to asset in times of uncertainty, to a seven-year high, while high-yielding, riskier currencies including the Australian dollar and Indonesian rupiah, were well down.

Crude prices tanked on worries about plunging demand from China, which is the world's biggest importer and consumer of the commodity. Both main contracts are down more than 10 percent so far this year.

- Key figures around 0300 GMT -

Seoul - KOSPI: DOWN 3.1 percent at 2,096.69

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 1.5 percent at 26,905.37

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.9 percent at 3,013.37

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Closed for a public holiday

Brent Crude: DOWN 3.3 percent at $56.60 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 3.0 percent at $51.77

Gold: UP 1.2 percent at $1,663 per ounce

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.55 yen from 111.57 yen at 2200 GMT

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0830 from $1.0843

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2948 from $1.2964

Euro/pound: UP 83.64 pence at 83.61 pence

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.8 percent to 28,992.41 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,403.92 (close)

-- Bloomberg News contributed to this story --

AFP/APP

Weekly News Roundup

February 23, 2020 (MLN): The departed week observed several important developments on the regional and international front that serve as a gateway for Pakistan to economic development. These developments include;

On Friday, The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) during its plenary meeting held in Paris has agreed to maintain Pakistan’s status on FATF’s Compliance Document, normally referred as the Grey List till June 2020.

The same day, Pakistan and Japan agreed to enhance mutual collaboration in myriad fields including infrastructure development, higher education, and cultural and academic exchanges. The understanding came during a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and President of Japan International Cooperation Agency Shinichi Kitaoka in Islamabad.

Furthermore, to provide maximum relief and facilities to the masses, the Federal Cabinet decided not to increase the prices of gas and electricity for domestic, industrial consumers and Tandoors.

On Thursday, the Competition Commission of Pakistan approved the Uber-Careem merger through a Phase-II Order, imposing pro-competitive and tough conditions ensuring a level playing field for the new entrants/competitors in the app-based Ridesharing market.

Besides, the Standing Committee on Privatization of the National Assembly in its meeting on Thursday considered few amendments in Privatization Commission Ordinance2000, which are necessary for swiftly pursuing active privatization plan. The proposed amendments empowered Prime Minister to appoint chairman, secretary or any board member. The Prime Minister may appoint a special medical board to determine the health of chairman, secretary or any board member of PC and, lastly the Privatization Commission may be able to open accounts in any of high credit rating banks.

In addition to this, ECC in its meeting on Wednesday, approved public sector procurement of 8.25 million tons of wheat Rs 1365 for the coming season. If the need arises, 0.5 million tons will be imported around the year to cater for any shortages.

Meanwhile, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said that the government was committed to removing all the obstacles in way of enhancing pharmaceutical exports up to the US $5 billion with the special focus on increasing the exports volume through tariff rationalization, trade-related investment, institutional reforms and easing of business regulations.

On the energy front, Exploration and Production (E&P) companies, operating in Pakistan informed that they, have so far drilled 18 offshore oil and gas wells including Kekra-I to discover hydrocarbon deposits in the deep-sea waters but could not get the required results.

Moreover, Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) director-general Shahzeb Khan Kakar said the upcoming oil city project in Gwadar was going to host a multibillion-dollar Saudi Aramco refinery and expressed hope the process of land allocation for the $10-billion Saudi oil refinery project and a $1-billion petrochemical complex would be completed within a couple of months.

On the upside, Mr Ahmad Hanif Orakzai, Acting Secretary, Economic Affairs Division, Government of Pakistan and Prof. Andrew Campbell, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Center for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) signed Memorandum of Subsidiary Agreement on “Understanding the Drivers of Successful and Inclusive Rural Regional Transformation and Sharing Experiences and Policy Advice in Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Pakistan”. Under this agreement, Australia will provide AUD 1.2 million for a programme to be completed in three years till 2022.

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