Sindh Excise and Taxation Department Establishes Helpdesk at SITE for Industry Facilitation

Karachi, 17 Oct 2023:Atif Rehman, the Secretary of the Excise, Taxation, and Narcotics Department, Government of Sindh, has confirmed the establishment of a Helpdesk at the SITE Association of Industry. This move intends to support member industries regarding Property Tax, Professional Tax, and Motor Vehicles Tax, with the involvement of high-ranking officers. The announcement took place during his recent visit to the Association, accompanied by DG Excise and Taxation Orangzeb Akbar Panhwar and other senior department officials.

Rehman informed the attendees that the responsibility of property tax shifted to Local Government last year. He clarified that their department acts solely as a revenue collector, channeling all funds to the Sindh Government's account. Their team will provide guidance and training related to this transition until 2024. The information was revealed in a press release from the SITE Association of Industry.

Upon inquiries about Property Tax calculations, DG Panhwar pointed members to an online property tax calculator available on their official website. He concurred with suggestions to minimize human interference for improved accuracy in this process. The President of SITE Association of Industry expressed concerns over SITE Ltd's inadequate returns from Property Tax, which affects maintenance and upkeep efforts, urging the Secretary to address this matter at pertinent platforms.

Highlighting Infrastructure Cess, the Secretary shared that around Rs 30 billion had been amassed during the First Quarter (July-September 2023) for the Sindh Infrastructure Development Cess. In response, the SITE President emphasized allocating some of these funds to enhance the SITE area's infrastructure.

Opening the session, SITE President Muhammad Kamran Arbi introduced the significant contributions of the SITE area in Karachi to Pakistan's economy. He apprised the Chief Guest of the prevailing issues encountered by Association members concerning various tax payments. While acknowledging the online availability of Property Tax challans, he urged resolving technical glitches in the system and promoting transparent tax collection by reducing human interaction.

Arbi also brought up the increasing problem of drug addiction in the SITE area of Karachi, urging the Secretary to not only remove the addicts but also tackle the root by targeting the suppliers. Secretary Rehman assured prompt action to address these concerns.

Former President Jawed Bilwani accentuated the discrepancy wherein Property Tax is borne by the tenants of SITE Limited, despite SITE Limited being the rightful owner. He emphasized the importance of member awareness on E and T department-related issues and suggested conducting an Awareness Session. Additionally, he urged the Chief Guest to endorse the Association's submissions concerning Property Tax and Infrastructure Cess, highlighting concerns of double taxation in the forms of Professional Tax and Trade License.

Vice President Muhammad Farhan Ashrafi recommended implementing an automated reminder system for tax payments. Meanwhile, Former President Abdul Hadi drew attention to the concerning shift of large industrial units into smaller units and warehouses due to unfavourable business environments, attributing to increased unemployment and resultant criminal activities.

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BankIslami Partners with IBA Karachi to Launch Umeed Digital Certifications Program

Karachi, 17 Oct 2023:BankIslami, a leading Islamic bank in Pakistan, has furthered its dedication to the country's youth by conducting a successful orientation at IBA Karachi for the BankIslami Umeed Digital Certifications Program. The event marked the launch of a significant initiative, funded by BankIslami, aiming to furnish Pakistan's young minds with essential digital capabilities.

The orientation offered attendees an exhaustive insight into the program's mission, content, and the promising prospects it opens up for them. The launch signals the commencement of a promising journey, with an inaugural group of students, chosen from an extensive applicant pool, primed to receive a high-quality digital education.

During the event, a BankIslami spokesperson highlighted the potential transformative impact of such an education. The bank firmly believes in the necessity of arming these students with the requisite skills to thrive in the digital landscape. The representative encouraged the young attendees to capitalize on their new knowledge and translate it into opportunities. This collaboration with IBA Karachi, rooted in equipping students with pivotal technical abilities and promoting an entrepreneurial spirit, resonates with BankIslami's ambition to bolster economic progress and technological adoption in Pakistan.

Officials from CICT at IBA Karachi, namely Ms. Mahwish Ahmed and Dr. Irfan Nabi, greeted the incoming students with warmth. They expressed their eagerness about the enduring partnership and communicated their deep appreciation to BankIslami for their joint endeavour. The core aim of this alliance is to empower Pakistan's youth by imparting advanced skills in the realms of business and technology. The press release was sourced from the BankIslami Pakistan Limited.

The alliance between BankIslami and IBA Karachi is poised to offer a robust training curriculum in diverse digital sectors. The program is tailored to emphasize hands-on learning, ensuring that participants glean the knowledge and proficiency crucial for navigating a rapidly shifting job landscape. The digital certifications acquired from this initiative are anticipated to greatly augment the employability and business acumen of its recipients.

In its continuous effort to craft a prosperous path for the nation, BankIslami stands resolute in its mission to prepare Pakistan's youth for success in the digital age.

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vivo Unveils V29 5G and V29e 5G Smartphones in Pakistan Featuring Smart Aura Light Portrait and 50MP Group Selfie Camera

Lahore, 17 Oct 2023:vivo, a renowned technology brand, announced the launch of its V29 5G and V29e 5G smartphones in Pakistan, the latest additions to its flagship V Series. These phones introduce several advancements in design and camera capabilities, most notably the Smart Aura Light Portrait feature and a 50MP AF Group Selfie camera.

The new smartphones reinforce the V Series' tradition of innovative design and camera functionalities. The vivo V29 5G, in particular, showcases an integrated 120Hz 3D Curved Screen, which positions it among the slimmest smartphones available. The phone also includes features such as Supermoon Mode and Food Mode.

Babar Azam, the Pakistan Cricket Team Captain and an acclaimed batsman, continues his association with vivo as the brand ambassador for the V29 5G and V29e 5G smartphones.

Muhammad Zohair Chohan, Director Brand Strategy at vivo Pakistan, commented on the launch by highlighting vivo's commitment to innovation, research, and the brand's principle of BENFEN. He expressed confidence that both smartphones would make significant marks in the mobile photography domain.

Both the V29 5G and V29e 5G are fitted with a 50MP HD Camera (AF), ensuring clear and vibrant group shots and videos. Features like AF Group Selfie and Super Group Video capabilities also enhance their utility.

In terms of design, the V29 5G employs a unique 3D Magnetic Particle technique for its Peak Blue variant and utilizes Fluorite AG Glass for the Nobel Black version, providing users with two distinctive colour choices. The phone's 120Hz 3D Curved Screen integrates seamlessly with its Ultra Slim Aesthetic Design.

Both smartphones are equipped with the Smart Aura Light Portrait, designed to enhance low-light photography by adjusting colour temperature and ensuring even illumination. Other camera modes, such as Supermoon Mode and Food Mode, further expand the photography experience.

The V29 5G runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G processor and features an 80W FlashCharge capability for its 4600mAh battery. With Super Charge Pump technology incorporated, the phone ensures rapid charging and sustained performance.

The V29 5G is available for pre-booking in Pakistan starting October 18, 2023, at PKR 159,999. The official sale will begin on October 24, 2023. The phone comes with a one-year warranty, 15 days free replacement, and a six-month warranty for its accessories. Zong customers also receive an offer of 12GB free mobile internet upon using their 4G SIM card in Slot 1.

For further details on the product, individuals can refer to vivo's official website.

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Bank Alfalah’s AlfaMall Hosts Inaugural Merchant Summit

Islamabad, 17 Oct 2023:Bank Alfalah's innovative e-Commerce platform, AlfaMall, held its debut 'Merchant Summit' in Karachi and Lahore, in a tribute to its dedicated affiliate Brand partners. As Pakistan's premier banking e-Commerce platform, AlfaMall boasts affiliations with over 100 Brand merchants, presenting more than 100,000 SKUs ranging from bikes, mobiles, and electronics to a broad spectrum of fashion and beauty products. This news is based on a press release from the Bank Alfalah.

The 'Merchant Summit' showcased AlfaMall's distinguished range of products and services, commemorating its fruitful collaborations with its leading brands and sellers. The event was an acknowledgment of the concerted triumph of both the AlfaMall team and its merchants on the platform.

A few significant segments of the AlfaMall Merchant Conference comprised:

Introduction to AlfaMall: An informative session highlighting the significance of AlfaMall being the inaugural banking eCommerce platform in the country.

eCommerce Industry Panel: Prominent personalities from the eCommerce sector convened for an enlightening dialogue, offering perspectives on the current scenario and the prospective trajectory of online eCommerce.

Discussion on Digital Technological Innovations: A segment dedicated to the forthcoming digital technology innovations spearheaded by Bank Alfalah.

Preview of 10.10 and 11.11 Promotions: Attendees were granted an exclusive sneak peek into AlfaMall's impending 10.10 and 11.11 promotional events.

Rewarding Excellence: A special segment where AlfaMall recognized and celebrated its top-performing brands and sellers, reinforcing the significance of their alliance.

Celebrity endorsers and dedicated customers of AlfaMall also shared their commendations for the platform, spotlighting features such as product authenticity, a 0% markup, the 'Buy Now Pay Later' option, an uncomplicated return and refund policy, and superior post-sale services. Notably, the platform's promise of same-day delivery was lauded as a standout feature in the eCommerce sector.

With the 11.11 promotion on the horizon, AlfaMall continues its trajectory of excellence in the eCommerce domain, ensuring the delivery of premium products and services to its expanding clientele.

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PACRA Maintains Ratings for Secure Logistics Group Amidst Challenges in Logistics Industry

Lahore, 17 Oct 2023:The Pakistan Credit Rating Agency Limited (PACRA) has maintained its ratings for Secure Logistics Group Limited (SLG), a company that focuses on logistics and vehicle fleet management. The logistics business of SLG is centered on transporting cargos over long and medium distances, while its vehicle fleet management aspect provides tracking services and advanced fleet management solutions.

These ratings are attributed to the robust support from international investors in the form of equity injections, a solid governance structure, an established clientele base, and a professionally qualified management team that has effectively navigated the company amidst a challenging business environment.

The logistics sector is currently grappling with challenges brought about by significant rupee depreciation, escalating inflation, and rising interest rates, leading to an increase in business costs and a subsequent decline in profit margins. The demand and load volume outlooks are also not promising. Moreover, global warming and climate change continue to pose threats to the logistics industry, especially with flood-related damages to road infrastructure.

However, there are anticipated improvements on the horizon for the logistics sector. This optimism stems from infrastructural developments like the Sukkur-Hyderabad highway under the CPEC initiative and the creation of special economic and industrial zones. In CY22, SLG witnessed a top-line growth of around 6%, primarily attributed to price inflation. However, there was a noticeable dilution in margins.

In a significant strategic move, SLG's Board of Directors has decided to transition from traditional logistics operations to tech-based logistics. As part of this shift, the company's subsidiary, LogiServe (Pvt) Ltd, has acquired a license from the Special Technology Zone Authority. The impending merger of LogiServe into SLG, combined with the shift towards tech-enabled logistics through a B2B Marketplace and related software modules, is set to boost the logistic business while also yielding substantial tax benefits.

SLG's future plans also include the reintroduction of its IPO process, with the primary goal of using the proceeds to reduce borrowings. Adding new warehousing ventures and expanding distribution vehicles are also on the company's agenda. SLG is also prepared to tap into the regional transportation segment for Central Asian countries, having secured the necessary licenses and approvals. The company's management is conservative regarding taking on additional borrowings, and the financial risk profile remains satisfactory with a good balance of coverages, cashflows, and working capital cycles.

The company's capital structure, which is moderately leveraged, primarily consists of long-term vehicle fleet lease financings. For the ratings to remain steady, improvements in the business profile and successful execution of the business strategy are essential. Maintaining financial discipline, a prudent financial performance, and an effective liquidity profile will be crucial. The message was disseminated through a press release from the Pakistan Credit Rating Agency Limited (PACRA).

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ICCI Urges International Community to End Conflict in Gaza

Islamabad, 17 Oct 2023:The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has called for an immediate intervention by the international community to halt the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, particularly expressing concern over the escalating situation in Gaza. In a meeting held at the ICCI, Faad Waheed, Acting President, conveyed the chamber's deep solidarity with the Palestinian people and emphasized the importance of protecting civilians and establishing lasting peace in the region.

Addressing members of the business community, Waheed indicated that the Pakistani nation, including its business sector, is alarmed by the intensifying hostility in Gaza. This conflict has led to significant loss of innocent lives, and he called on world leaders to collectively act for the cessation of hostilities and the safeguarding of civilians.

Highlighting the devastation brought about by the Israeli forces, Waheed stated that over 2800 Palestinians have lost their lives. He further expressed the business community's full support for the Palestinians during this distressing period and reiterated the urgent necessity to end the violence and oppression in the region. Beyond the immediate violence, he voiced concerns about the challenges faced by survivors in Gaza, including the lack of basic necessities like shelter, water, food, medicine, and electricity.

Engr. Azhar ul Islam Zafar, Vice President of ICCI, underscored the crucial role the United Nations must play in mediating the situation. He advocated for a peaceful resolution based on pertinent UN resolutions and international law. Zafar emphasized the broader vision for peace in the Middle East, outlining the significance of a two-state solution that recognizes a sovereign State of Palestine based on pre-1967 borders, with Al Quds Al-Sharif central to its identity.

Other prominent members of the ICCI, including Khalid Iqbal Malik Group Leader, Abdul Waheed, Khalid Javed, Zafar Bakhtawari, Tariq Sadiq, Muhammad Ejaz Abbasi, Muhammad Shabbir, among others, echoed these sentiments. The collective voice of ICCI's leadership called on the global community to act decisively against the aggression faced by the Palestinian people. The information was revealed in a press release from the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI).

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Transporters refuse to reduce fares despite big oil price cut

KARACHI: Karachi Transport Union on Monday flatly refused to bring down fares of public transport following the massive reduction in the prices of petrol and diesel.

In this regard, union president Irshad Bukhari said that the government had earlier raised the price of diesel by Rs40 per litre but now it has slashed its rate by 15 rupees only and in such a situation, fares cannot be reduced. He said that mostly public transport including buses and vans ply on diesel and not on petrol.

Noshaba Awais shed light on the HEC-WBAF collaboration and the Financial Inclusion Programme. Apprising the university representatives of the objectives of LoI, she said that the agreed program of activities under the LoI pertains to the inclusion of Pakistani universities in the Financial Inclusion Programme being offered by WBAF and 15 universities have already given their consent for the programme. She briefed that the programme is divided into two phases, the Phase-I includes providing access to students and faculty to the Financial Inclusion Centre, while the Phase II includes angel investor course for BICs, academic support, assessment of BICs, and formation of university Business Angels Network, etc.

Babarys Altuntas underlined that WBAF is an affiliated partner of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI), adding that it is collaborating globally to empowering the economic development of the world. He briefed in detail the Financial Inclusion Programme to the Vice Chancellors and Pro-Vice Chancellors who attended the meeting and having consented for the programme. He noted that governments around the world have understood the importance of angel investment for boosting their economies.

The participating Vice Chancellors appreciated the efforts of HEC and acknowledged the need for working together to uplift the economy of Pakistan through entrepreneurship development and incubation opportunities for young and promising startups.