Business & Finance
Current Affairs
View Details
Business & Finance
Current Affairs
News on Construction
Politics & Government
View Details
News on Construction
Politics & Government
View Details

Pakistan’s Commitment with US on assistance for Afghan’s peace

Politics & Government
Jan 23, 2020

Assurance has been provided to the United States by Pakistan to provide them with a way out on a persisting situation of Afghan conflicts and a peace treaty is expected between the Afghan Taliban and the USA as per reports. On Tuesday, at the foreign office in Islamabad the foremost agenda of discussion between Ambassador Alice Wells, US Chief diplomat for South Asia and foreign secretary Sohail Mahmood. The Visit of Ambassador Wells will be consulting the various international and zonal matters which will be involving two countries and his tour will last for four days. Previously, In September of last year, the Taliban was almost convinced to sign the peace treaty presented by President Donald Trump but they ended on bailing out from the agreement at the last moment. Taliban’s attacks on the American Serviceman were the compelling US to agree to the Taliban on armistice or at least be less violent so any further step regarding peace treaty could be processed. The USA is expecting the Afghan Taliban to not only reduce their violent activities but to armistice for at least one month. Afghan Taliban have signaled their interest in signing the two-sided deal of peace and numerous efforts are expected by the USA to withhold the truce of the Taliban’s. Pakistan is playing a prominent role as negotiator and it can be observed from the Davos meeting on Kashmir’s issue between President Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan. The current meeting at the Foreign office focused on the discussions held at the World Economic Forums at Davos. In less than one year, both countries have engaged in three meetings and this counts as a great move towards impending bilateral peace deal. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has enlightened how human rights have been violated in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, hostile eloquence of secular Indians and their military figures and their antagonistic course of actions at the line of control (LOC). During the meeting, Foreign Minister Mehmood also Addressed the prominent role of the international community in resolving the dispute with greater peace. Shah Mahmood’s recent visits to the middle eastern have manifest Pakistan’s commitment to diplomatic prosperity to relieve the tension and disputes in those countries. The meeting included several other two-sided issues which emphasized on the political commitments and economic collaborations according to the statement of Foreign officer. Both countries have a focus on trade and investment opportunities to embark on their relationship on a stable stage with the vision of leadership. Ambassador Wells has also visited the newly appointed Special Assistant Nadeem Babar at the petroleum division and He addressed the US secretary about the energy sector of Pakistan. He described the major revolutions that have taken place in Pakistan and have resulted in the improvement of the business sector of the country. These improvements have to lead to the creation of new investments in the power and energy sector of Pakistan. Wells has shown Contentment about the meetings held in the country and she was hopeful with the improvement of two-sided relations. She was focused on renewable and sustainable energy development and how investments in the sector will be favorable for the growth of the country. The two countries agreed on the continuation of such proximities and shared useful foundations.

Some More Changes to Tax Laws

Business & Finance Current Affairs
Jan 10, 2020

A presidential ordinance passed this week has introduced substantial changes to the existing tax laws. This change, it is said, is an attempt to make good on its promises of concessions to traders, reducing duties on the import of low-end cell phones, and curbing the smuggling of currency. The ordinance which is 24-page comprehensive document was released to the public on the first day of the new year. These changes will be applicable to sales tax, income tax, and customs duty. The rate of minimum tax has now been brought down to 0.5% for all the traders with revenues up to Rs100 million for the tax year 2020. This rate was 1.5% before this ordinance came along. Section 153 of the ordinance lays down That traders, as individuals, will not be liable to act as withholding agents anymore. The conditions to qualify as a Tier-1 retailer have also been revised. The electricity consumption threshold to qualify as a Tier-1 retailer has now been doubled to Rs1,200,000. Similarly, duties on low-end phones have been reduced manifold to Rs100 for phones that cost up to $100. It was Rs730 before. Duties on phones of over $100 have also been reduced Rs1,200,000. To curb smuggling of foreign currency, varying degrees of fines and penalties have been introduced. The maximum punishment introduced in this regard will send the offender behind bars for 14 years.

A New IPO Regime For The New Year

Business & Finance Current Affairs News on Construction Politics & Government
Jan 09, 2020

The initial public offering (IPO) regime received a face-lift as the new year kicked off. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has executed a major overhaul of the IPO regime to make the entire process cost-effective, simple and efficient. A number of amendments have been introduced to the IPO Regulations 2017. Thorough consultations took place with key stakeholders and market participants to reach the final set of amendments. The objective is to facilitate the issuers and protect the interest of the general public simultaneously so that capital formation is promoted. The new rules have made the eligibility criteria for the companies a lot simpler which would promote capital formation. Even the issuers with a track record of under three years or those who have not been registering profits for the past two years will now be allowed to enlist their businesses on the security markets. They will, however, be asked to first provide a comprehensive business plan and make enhanced risk disclosures to the prospective investors. A business will only have to submit audited accounts for the past two years instead of five. The amendments will effectively reduce IPO costs and remove a number of hurdles from the process. Furthermore, the time-limit that had been allowed to submit the business for the submission of progress reports has also been extended to 6 months. The book runner can now waive the margin requirements that the foreign institutional investors had to meet to enlist. This will induce greater foreign investment. All in all, the changes in the IPO regime will make the process simpler, make it more disclosure-based to protect the interests of the general public, and promote capital formation.

Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway Goes to The Private Sector

News on Construction Politics & Government
Jan 09, 2020

The government has decided to allow the private sector to build and finance the Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway. The private sector will also have the operational control of the motorway for the next 25 years. The decisions came after two high profile meetings took place. Asad Umar, who is the Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives presided over these meetings. To put it simply, the decision prescribes that the private sector firm foot the bill for the construction of the motorway, oversee its operations for a concession period and then hand it back into the care of National Highway Authority (NHA) at the end of the said period of 25 years –at no cost. During the meeting, NHA Chairman Sikandar Qayyum and Secretary Communications Jawad Rafique Malik went over the plans for the construction of this motorway on the BOT basis. This Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway project, also known as M6, will cost an estimated Rs204.28bn and will be completed in 33 months. The planned motorway stretches 300-km, from Sukkur to Hyderabad. In between, it passes through Naushehro Feroze, Khairpur, Matiari, Nawab Shah, Jamshoro and Hala. On the sidelines of these meetings, Asad Umar also emphasized a need for public-private partnerships in other areas as well, especially in the mining and exploration sector. Furthermore, he stressed the need for a concentrated effort and regular consultations between provincial governments and several chambers of commerce so that the exploration and resource development process could be speeded up. He also advocated a single policy framework across all the federating units for optimum results in this endeavor.

$200m for SMEs from Abu Dhabi

Business & Finance Politics & Government
Jan 09, 2020

Abu Dhabi has extended a $200 million economic assistance package for the small and medium scale businesses in Pakistan. The news came to us through a tweet by Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the advisor to the prime minister on finance, economic affairs, and revenue. The economic assistance package from the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed is proof of deepening economic ties between the two countries, added Abdul Hafeez Shaikh. The directive from the crown prince Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development to release $200 million that would go towards helping the Pakistani government’s effort to achieve a sustainable national economy that can fuel continued economic progress. It will create employment and promote jobs in the SME sector. SMEs make up over 90% of all the businesses in Pakistan. This means, that any efforts to facilitate the small and medium enterprises will directly impact the economic condition of the common man. The crown prince has been on his official visit to Pakistan. The announcement for this initiative to invest in the SME sector came on the sidelines of the visit.

New Year, New Fines

Business & Finance Current Affairs
Jan 09, 2020

For Pakistanis, the new year came with a bunch of surprises, it seems –and they are not exactly the good kind of surprises either. The petrol prices went up on the very first day of the new year. Now, the government has decided to revise almost the entire structure of the transport and traffic-related fines and penalties. This didn’t go down very well with the general public. With others, this was unacceptable. The All Pakistan Transport Owners Federation (APTOF) decided to show their disapproval by observing a strike on Thursday. This increase in fines and penalties is not the first one in recent months either. The last time such an upward revision of fines took place was hardly two months ago, in November. The government increased the fines on traffic violations, over-speeding, and other traffic-related offenses by almost 300% back in November. Is this sincerely an attempt to control the number of accidents on the highways and the motorways, or just another way to extract more revenues for the government? That could be up for debate. The transport association is not happy about the latest increase in taxes; that’s for sure. The New Fines Under the revised fines, motor-cycle and car drivers will now be fined Rs1500 and Rs2500 on over-speeding respectively. Rs10,000 will be slapped on the commercial vehicle drivers for the same offense. The same amount (Rs10000) will be fined for over-loading a commercial vehicle as well. For the reckless drivers out there, Rs5000 is what their rash driving will cost them in fines from this point on. Drivers of heavy-duty vehicles, if found driving dangerously, shall have to pay a fine of Rs10000 for the offense. For those of you who like to go the “wrong-way”, there’s some news for you too. If you’re caught over-taking or going the wrong way, you’ll be fined Rs3000 if you’re driving a car, and Rs1000 if you're on a bike.

Some Reshuffle in The Bureaucracy

Current Affairs Politics & Government
Jan 08, 2020

There has been news of plans for reshuffling in the bureaucracy for some time. As the new year kicks off, some of those plans have started to take shape and turn into realities. This week, on Tuesday, Ms. Nausheen Javaid Amjad has stepped in to serve as the acting chairman of FBR. Shabbar Zaidi who was heading the federal board of revenue FBR till now has gone away on leave for 15-days citing health reasons. Ms. Nausheen is a top bureaucrat, a BS-22 officer of the Inland Revenue Service (IRS). She has been posted as Member (Administration). MR. Zaidi, a top bureaucrat himself, is said to have applied for a 0ne-week off which he later extended to two weeks. Sources in the FBR have hinted that there was considerable pressure from the Finance Ministry on the entire department to improve performance. In fact, sources have revealed Hafeez Shaikh, the Finance advisor, even pushed the chairman FBR to get rid of the low performing officers. The pressure mounted further, especially as the year drew to a close and the government realized that it’s nowhere near its goals. Low revenue collection meant that the government wasn’t able to deliver on its reform promises and naturally this realization isn’t going down too well with the government. The intended re-shuffle at the top levels across the bureaucracy is looking increasingly likely. Sources reveal that the government is looking to handpick a number of top-performing officers for the leading positions, especially in the FBR and Customs.

Our Home Grown E-Gaming Champion

Sports
Jan 03, 2020

We are a cricket-loving nation. We seem to know everything about our cricketing stars and their achievements but as soon as it’s about a sport other than cricket, it quickly dwindles in value as an achievement in the public’s perception. It is quite natural then that you aren’t aware of a talented young chap in the realm of E-gaming at this point. Let’s fill you in on it. Arslan Ash Siddique is the talented young son of the soil who has recently won accolades in the E-gaming world. Arslan was able to win both the EVO Championship held in japan and its American version held this year. This makes him the only player to have done so. ESPN has recently conferred him with the coveted title of the Esports Player of the year in 2019. This, by the way, is quite a big deal. Besides, considering how the young kid struggled through visa-related issues and also fell sick on his journey, he truly deserves more recognition and accolades for bringing Pakistan upon the E-sports map of the world. Arslan was able to defeat Jae-Min “Knee” Bae of Japan earlier this year but humbly confessed an was genuinely convinced that there are a lot of players in Pakistan that are still better. This only goes to show that Pakistan has a huge talent pool when it comes to E-gaming. Arslan went on to win a number of other high stake contests this year and caught the attention of Red bull who sponsored him as a Red bull athlete. The polls held on the internet revealed that almost 60% of people voted for Arslan.