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Meezan Bank announces direct integration with Visa enabling seamless...

January 19, 2021: Meezan Bank, Pakistan’s first and largest Islamic Bank, has recently announced...

Eurozone banks tighten lending conditions further: ECB

Jan 19, 2021: Eurozone banks further tightened conditions for approving loans in the fourth quarter of 2020, a European Central Bank survey showed Tuesday, as a resurgence of Covid-19 clouded the outlook.

Credit standards -- the yardstick that banks use to grant loans to companies and consumers -- became stricter in the last three months of the year as financial institutions cited the "deterioration of the general economic outlook, increased credit risk of borrowers" and a "lower risk tolerance", an ECB statement said.

In the first three months of 2021, banks expect credit standards to tighten even more, the central bank said, suggesting that they don't expect an imminent recovery from the latest wave of the coronavirus.

One in four of the 143 banks surveyed toughened their criteria to firms in the quarter, compared with one in five that had tightened criteria in the previous three-month period.

For loans to companies, the fourth quarter "saw the biggest tightening since the region's debt crisis, as banks' perceptions of risk rose", commented Jack Allen-Reynolds at Capital Economics.

Meanwhile criteria for loans to households for consumer purchases also tightened, but at a lighter pace than in the previous quarters of 2020, the central bank said.

Credit conditions tightened for firms and consumers in France, Spain and Germany, but remained stable in Italy, the ECB said.

Company demand for loans declined in the quarter meanwhile, continuing a drop that began after an all-time high in the second quarter -- during the first wave of the pandemic.

Demand for loans to firms is expected to increase in the next few months as companies seek financing to withstand the impact of the pandemic, while for households, banks expect it to fall.

The survey comes ahead of a key ECB meeting on Thursday, when the bank is expected to keep its monetary stimulus policy unchanged.

The ECB has already taken unprecedented action to counter effects of the pandemic, rolling out a 1.85 trillion euro ($2.2 trillion) emergency bond-buying programme to keep borrowing costs low and encourage lending.

The survey's results "will reinforce ECB policymakers' resolve to keep monetary conditions extremely loose," Allen-Reynolds said.

AFP/APP

SECP vows to implement measures for regulating financial sector

Jan 19, 2021: The Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) vowed to implement the measures for regulating the financial sector from being used by money launderers and illegal financiers for illicit purposes.

The SECP is committed to follow the measures set out in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards to protect SECP regulation for the financial sector, according to the annual report 2020 released by the SECP.

The SECP is responsible for ensuring AML/CFT compliance by stockbrokers, commodities brokers, NBFCs and Modarabas, Insurers, corporates, and NPO’s.

According to a report, Pakistan Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) was adopted by APG in October 2019, and Pakistan was placed on accelerated follow-up.

SECP has demonstrated significant progress towards fulfilling FATF obligations under the Action Plan and is an active member of the working group constituted by FMU for this purpose.

In addition, SECP using FATF’s assessment methodology has taken effective measures in addressing ML/TF deficiencies by ensuring “technical” compliance with the FATF Recommendations, as well as the “effectiveness” of the implemented AML/CFT regime, the report said.

The SECP is focused on further improving its laws, regulations, and directives in order to keep its AML/CFT governance regime aligned with FATF standards. In this regard, a comprehensive exercise is ongoing to remove deficiencies identified in the latest MER of Pakistan.

Significant progress has been made with respect to amendments in SECP’s AML/CFT regulatory framework to align it with the FATF standards as well as the implementation of international best practices for improving compliance by the regulated sector, SECP informed.

Enhancing laws and mechanisms to address Beneficial Ownership disclosure requirements through amendments in Companies Act 2017, Limited Liability Partnership Act 2017, Companies (Incorporation) Regulations 2017, Companies (General Provisions and Forms) Regulations 2018, Foreign Companies Regulations 2018, and Limited Liability Partnership Regulations 2018.

Amendments in SECP AML/CFT Regulations 2018, Revision to AML/CFT Guidelines for NPOs 2018 Dissemination to regulates of updated SECP Guidelines on Anti-Money Laundering, Countering Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation Financing.

Automated notification of Directives for compliance with targeted financial sanctions issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on UNSCRS, and by NACTA/Ministry of Interior for updates in list of proscribed persons under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

Contributed to the development of National Risk Assessment 2019, and developed policy framework for Designated Non-Financial Business and Professions (DNFBPs) by leading the working group formed by the Ministry of Finance.

Integrated SECP’s database with GoAML System of FMU.

Guidance on Risk-Based Approach to AML/CFT during COVID-19 pandemic.

Issuance of an enforcement strategy for identification of and action against UNSC designated and locally proscribed persons and entities.

According to the report, SECP conducted a series of workshops in Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore for its regulated sectors, namely Securities and Commodities market, Insurance/Takaful companies, Non-Banking Finance Companies, and Modaraba sector. A total of 23 awareness sessions attended by over 800 participants from SECP regulated sectors were jointly organized with UNODC. In addition, compliance forum meetings were held with the respective industry associations of Securities Brokers, NBFCs, and Insurance.

SECP also participated in outreach activities for DNFBPs and NPOs in collaboration with UNODC and NACTA, respectively.

NPOs were sensitized based on an extensive risk assessment of the sector undertaken jointly by SECP, FBR, MOI, NACTA, etc. Moreover, Frequently Asked Questions and pictorial guidelines on Online AML report filings were are also issued and placed on the SECP website.

The effectiveness of the sanctioning regime of SECP has encouraged the adoption of remedial measures among its regulated universe. The Regulated Persons (RPs) have enhanced their focus through up-gradation of risk-based controls, including strengthening of transaction monitoring systems and name screening solutions, data cleansing, increasing the number of ML/TF analysts, and provision of additional training to improve understanding of ML/TF risks.

These measures have enabled RPs to minimize chances of repetition/ recurrence of regulatory violations with respect to AML/CFT.

APP

Gold rate rises by Rs 300 to sold at...

January 18, 2021 (MLN): Gold rates inched higher on Tuesday in the domestic bullion market as the price of 24 karat gold rose by Rs 300 to Rs112,850 per tola against the price of Rs 112,550 per tola reported in the previous session.

According to the data provided by the All Sindh Saraf Jewellers Association, the price of 10-gram of 24k gold also increased by Rs 257 and was sold for Rs 96,750 at the closing of trade as opposed to Rs to Rs 96,493 reported yesterday.

However, silver rates remained unchanged at Rs1,300 per tola. The price of 10 grams of silver also stood the same at Rs1,114.54.

In the international markets, the gold prices went up by USD 10 and traded at USD 1,844 per ounce while silver was valued at USD 25.35 an ounce.

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Govt makes E-payment mandatory for over Rs 1 million...

January 19, 2021: Mr. Mohsin Rafique, Collector of Customs Appraisement, Lahore, has said that from January 20, 2021, all duties and taxes exceeding Rs. one million will be paid only through the system of e-payment. He announced this at a seminar at APTMA Punjab, Lahore. Mr. Abdul Rahim Nasir, Chairman APTMA, Mr. Mohammad Raza Baqir, Secretary-General, APTMA, and a large number of member mills attended the seminar

Mohsin Rafique informed the participants that in compliance with FATF requirements and as a measure towards digitization and automation of the economy, Federal Government has now made it mandatory for all importers to make payment of duties and taxes over Rs.1 million through internet banking, mobile banking, ATMs, over the counter (OTC) or any other electronic method approved by the State Bank of Pakistan.  

He said in continuation of FBR reforms and modernization drive, an E-Payment facility for payment of all FBR taxes as well as some provincial taxes have been introduced for convenient and hassle-free payment. On the one hand, traders can electronically pay all import duties and taxes through Customs computerized system WeBOC at ports and border stations across Pakistan. While on the other hand, taxpayers can also electronically pay income tax, sales tax and Federal Excise duty sitting in their homes. E-Payment system provides a round clock facility to taxpayers and traders to make online payment of customs duties and other FBR taxes as well as provincial cess and stamp duty. The facility is available through the internet and mobile banking by using more than 15000 ATMs of 16000 Over the Counters (OTC) bank branches of commercial banks spreading across the country. 

The taxpayers’ confidence and interest in E-payment are growing fast and it can be gauged from the fact that the proportion of E-payments of Income Tax, Sales Tax, and Federal Excise Duty has increased from 6.26% of total payments during July to December 2019 to more than 40% during the same period of the year 2020. Similarly, the proportion of amount deposited in these E-payments has jumped from 13.55% of total payments to 76.5% during the comparative period of the current year, he added.

According to him, the E-payment facility has greatly helped the traders and other taxpayers’ during the COVID pandemic since all transactions can be completed without physical interaction. Currently, 18.6% of import duties and taxes are being collected by Pakistan Customs through the E-Payment system. More than 80,000 consignments consisting of nearly 22% of total imports were cleared in WeBOC through E-Payment in the last 6 months. Apart from major Customs stations including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar, the facility is also being availed by importers in remote areas like Taftan and Khunjerab.

Addressing the seminar, Rahim Nasir Chairman appreciated the role of the Customs Department in fully automating the processes and facilitating the trade through out-of-box solutions. He expressed the hope that FBR will continue its drive to bring more transparency in the clearance of import and export consignments. He thanked the Collector of Customs for sparing the time to educate APTMA members on the proposed e-payment system.

Press Release

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