ED: M. M. ALAM
KARACHI: To mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Swiss Business Council (SBC) in Pakistan, the Consulate General of Switzerland here in collaboration with the SBC hosted an exclusive event at the Swiss Consul General’s residence.
Consul General and Patron of the SBC – Philippe Crevoisier addressing the ladies and gentlemen in the audience (consisting of diplomats, senior management of Swiss/other multinational companies, and leading businessmen) said that only if Pakistan was able to present to the international community the country’s on-ground realities and business potential, many more foreign investors would consider investing in Pakistani market.
Mentioning that Swiss-Pak bilateral trade (CHF 518.5 Million in 2017) was promisingly increasing for the past three years, the Consul General also commended SBC’s efforts to further improve commercial ties between the two friendly countries.
SBC President Farhat Ali, (who is also the Council’s founding President and Chairman of the Board and Executive Managing Director of Polygal N.V. in Pakistan) gave an overview of the Council’s achievements over the past decade most prominent of which is the Council’s partnership with Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE); equivalent of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and Board of Investment.
Farhat Ali further added that SBC with support from S-GE is committed to link Swiss and Pakistani companies. “Thanks to our business network at home and in Switzerland, in the past two years six small and medium-sized enterprises from Switzerland have successfully entered the local market”, he further added.
The highlight of the event was keynote address by the Dean and Director of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi – Dr. Farrukh Iqbal who presented his views on Pakistan’s macroeconomic matters in perspective of the challenges and opportunities for foreign investors.
Dr. Iqbal held: “Pakistan has performed below its growth potential for many years now. In particular, the private investment rate has been stuck at a low level of 10% of GDP for almost a quarter century now.
“This reflects a pessimism on the part of domestic investors that go beyond energy shortages and security conditions.
“Among factors to consider more deeply are the quantity and quality of education and health services available to the population to enable them to play a more productive role in the economy of the future.”
Swiss companies in the past ten years have invested CHF 1.5 Billion in Pakistan making Switzerland stand among top ten foreign director investors.
Major exports from Switzerland to Pakistan are pharmaceuticals, textile machines, and watches. Main Pakistani exports to Switzerland are textiles and agro-foods.
On the occasion, recognition certificates were also awarded to member companies who have completed 10 years with the Council.
China’s property market stabilizing on tough curbs
BEIJING: China’s property market remains generally stable as the government continues stepping-up property curbs.
New home prices in four first-tier cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou – rose 0.2 percent in July from a month ago, 0.4 percentage points lower than that in June, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed today.
New home prices in Shanghai fell while prices in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen rose 0.2 percent, 0.6 percent, and 0.5 percent, respectively.
New home prices in 31 second-tier cities rose 1.1 percent in July, 0.1 percentage points lower than June.
On a yearly basis, first-tier cities reported a 0.2-percent increase in new home prices. Existing prices rose 0.5 percent, 0.4 percentage points higher than a year earlier.
NBS senior statistician Liu Jianwei said local governments continued to step up property regulation in July and strike a balance between demand and supply to promote the healthy development of the sector.
New home prices declined year-on-year in two of the 15 “hotspot” cities where speculative home purchases are monitored, with the most significant price drop of 0.1 percent last month, with 11 cities posting growth and two staying flat.
During previous years, rocketing housing prices, especially in major cities, fueled concerns about asset bubbles. To curb speculation, the government rolled out various control measures, including restrictions on purchases and increasing minimum down payments for mortgages.
Major cities announced 260 control measures during the first seven months this year, 80 percent more than the same period last year, according to the research center of the Centaline Group.
Analysts expect more control measures to be announced as the central authority vowed to regulate the property market order and “firmly curb the rise in home prices” at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee last month.
The government will accelerate the establishment of a long-term mechanism to promote the stable and healthy development of the market, Cong Liang, spokesperson of the National Development and Reform Commission told a press conference on Wednesday.
The property market will continue adjusting amid the increasingly tightened regulation, said Liu Weimin, a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council.
LG to supply 5G smartphone to US carrier Sprint in 2019
SEOUL: LG Electronics Inc. said today it will supply a fifth-generation (5G) network handset to U.S.-based mobile carrier Sprint Corp. in the first half of 2019, seeking to expand its presence the North American market.
“Sprint customers will be among the first in the world to experience the incredible speed, reliability and mobility of 5G on this innovative handset built for the country’s first mobile 5G network when it launches in first half of next year,” the U.S. mobile carrier said.
LG Electronics said the cooperation with Sprint will pave the way for the company to expand ties with North American mobile carriers.
“LG has done tremendous work developing technical designs that enable us to be among the first movers in mobile 5G,” Sprint also said.
The South Korean tech firm has not yet provided detailed specifications for the upcoming smart phone.
LG Electronics said the deal indicates that smartphone technologies are being acknowledged overseas, and claimed it will continue to focus efforts on releasing fast and stable 5G network services to users.
A relevant piece published earlier: Galaxy Note 9, Samsung Electronics Co.’s next flagship phablet, will be available for South Korean consumers starting August 24, two weeks after its global showcase, industry insiders said Friday.
The tech giant is set to unveil the Note 9 on Aug. 9 in New York, with local pre-orders to begin Aug. 14, according to sources in the wireless service sector.
Though no details have been released via official channels, a purported image of the device has been leaked by notable twitter user Ice Universe, showing a large smartphone with a new gold or yellow S Pen. There have been rumors that Samsung’s signature stylus may come with Blue tooth capability, a first for the accessory.
The image also revealed that a dual camera module and a fingerprint scanner are positioned horizontally on the rear of the phone, which could allow more room for a larger battery.
It has been widely speculated that the latest model Note will come with a battery capacity of 4,000 mAh compared with its predecessor’s smallish 3,300 mAh, as well as a 6.4-inch screen, which is a tad larger than the Galaxy Note 8’s 6.3-inch display. (Published on 14th July 2018)
Balochistan: Cancellation of mine leases demanded
KARACHI: National Labour Council (NLC) and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) have expressed grief and sorrow over loss of lives of 15 mine workers in a coal mine in Balochistan and demanded the government to cancel leases of all coal mines as their allottees have failed to provide occupational safety and health facilities to workers.
In a statement issued here Wednesday, Karamat Ali, Secretary of NCL said in recent months a lot of workers have lost their lives in coal mines because of non-availability of safety and rescue measures at the sites.
At least 13 miners died when they were trapped in a coal mine in Sanjdi area near Quetta that caved in following a gas explosion on Sunday. During the rescue operation, five volunteers went into the mine for help, two of them also died on Monday due to the accumulation of poisonous methane gas inside the mine. Three volunteers were also shifted to Quetta Civil Hospital in critical condition.
Karamat Ali has urged the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) to take over all mines in Balochistan as the current mine lease-operators have done nothing for saving the lives of poor workers, who are mostly from Swat and other mountainous areas, where employment opportunities do not exist.
The provincial labor department has also failed to ensure the provision of rescue services and due to poor measures lives of workers are constantly under threats.
Relevant pieces published earlier:
i) Following the gas blast in a coal mine, rescuers had so far managed to bring two bodies out of the coal pit. (Published on 13th August 2018)
It is pertinent to mention here that, like in all the industries of the country, hardly any measures are taken for the safety of miners. Hence, the coalpit gobbles up a couple of hundred laborers annually. (Published on 12th August 2018)
iii) Following the collapse of two coal mines due to the gas explosion this afternoon at least 23 workers died while five got trapped beneath the debris here some 45 km from Quetta. So far twelve bodies have been taken out of the mines while rescuers are endeavoring to recover the bodies and take the survivors out safely. ii) Ministry of Planning and Development has started a new initiative – Cluster Development Based Mineral Transformation Plan – to improve productivity in mines and mineral sector and enhance exports. The initiative, costing Rs62.21 million has been launched under Vision-2025 and would increase value addition and create jobs in the mineral sector. (5th May 2018)
Nature has bestowed Pakistan with enormous and diversified world-class mineral resources, coal, copper, gold, building stones, industrial raw materials, gemstones, etc.
Both the public and private sectors are working to exploration and development. As per Annual Development Plan (ADP) 2018-19, the mines & mineral contribution towards GDP growth was 0.09 percent in 2017-18 while Vision 2025 and 12th Five Year Plan envisage fundamental improvements for mineral sector.
Moreover, Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP) has designed a number of annual field program and projects likely minerals investigation, geological mapping, geophysical exploration, exploration and evaluation of coal, geochemical exploration of precious metals, geo-environmental & groundwater studies, exploration of iron ore, geohazard assessment & geotechnical projects, geochemical analysis and medical geology for next year.
An area of about 12800 sq. km is planned to be geologically mapped in different parts of the country. Around 200 samples will be taken in this time period while conducting this survey and geochemical analysis will be carried out.
Even though the operational funds provided in the regular budget are short to meet the project expenses, GSP aims to achieve technical targets in the upcoming financial year within the available resources.
The efforts will be concentrated towards mineral exploration and Geological mapping projects including iron ore, coal, copper, and gold in areas of Punjab and Balochistan province, while Lead-Zinc-Barite investigations will be carried out in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Sindh. There are great reserves of coal in Pakistan.
It is assumed that there are over 25 Million metric tons of coal deposits. At current times, we are getting 20 thousand metric tons of coal yearly from these mines. (16th May 2018).