KARACHI: The size of Pakistan’s economy stood at $313.13 billion at the end of June, 2018, according to provisional figures released on Thursday by the country’s central bank, as a weaker currency took toll on gross domestic product (GDP) in dollar terms. Pakistan’s GDP stood at $304.97 billion at the end of June, 2017, and the economy registered a 13-year high GDP growth rate of 5.8% in FY18. That said, the size of the economy shrunk in dollar terms as the rupee weakened against the greenback in four separate rounds since December 2017, with a 5.8% growth rate effectively reduced to 2.7%. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) used a period average month-to-month exchange rate to calculate the GDP, which according to calculations came to around Rs108 to the US dollar. With the rupee having weakened further, the size of the economy is likely to have shrunk even more in dollar terms. The currency is currently hovering around the Rs128-mark as depleting foreign exchange reserves and a widening current account deficit create a headache for economic managers that are at a loss to save the country from a balance of payments crisis. The SBP has already increased the key interest rate by 175 basis points since January, taking it to 7.5% to tackle increasing inflationary pressure in the months to come. Additionally, the 5.8% growth registered during FY18 is also not enough for a developing economy like Pakistan to absorb the number of job seekers that pile up each year. According to experts and global financial institutions, Pakistan needs at least 7% growth to create enough jobs and tame rising unemployment. However, the country is likely to face a slowdown in growth during the ongoing fiscal year as tighter policies to improve macroeconomic stability have a negative impact. Ratings agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, have already lowered their forecast for Pakistan’s GDP growth, while the World Bank has also suggested that it will slow down to near 5% in FY18. According to additional figures released by the SBP, Pakistan’s current account deficit stood at $17.99 billion in FY18, translating to 5.7% of GDP and more than twice than the government’s own estimates.
SEATTLE: A Pakistan-based start-up, Fe Amaan, has managed to qualify for semi-finals in the Microsoft Imagine Cup start-up contest. The Imagine Cup Awards is a special category that the Microsoft team has introduced this year in lieu of quarter-finals for the categories of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Mixed Reality. The main contest started on Tuesday and the start-up also participated in that contest. Fe Amaan offers health solutions to pregnant women and has been selected among six teams in the category of Artificial Intelligence. The winning team in this category will receive $15,000 cash prize and $30,000 Azure grant. Azure is a cloud computing service created by Microsoft that helps test, deploy and manage applications and services globally. Judges selected a total of 17 teams for the Imagine Cup Awards, with six in Artificial Intelligence, six in Big Data and five in Mixed Reality. “We did our best. We are really looking forward to the results,” said Iqra Irfan, who with partner Areeba Kamil was representing the Fe Amaan start-up. Their third partner was not present on the occasion. The team of three from the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) has made a monitoring device for expecting women. They have built a belt with the help of Internet of Things sensor device. The device with the help of Azure cloud platform can be run remotely and can tell health condition of a mother based on gathered data. “Pakistan has one of the highest child birth fatalities,” said Areeba. Particularly, women in rural Pakistan suffer the most as they lose their baby most often along with their own life just because they lack timely health care. Responding to a question on how the women will use the device as they lack proper education, she said they were aware of that and planned to make doctors, health-care workers and other stakeholders part of the team. In case of any abnormal heart movements, this system generates timely alerts so that precautionary measures could be taken immediately. On the second day, there will be competition among all 49 teams from 33 countries in the Imagine Cup finals. About 1.8 million students from over 190 countries have participated in the contest since its inception in 2003. The winning team will receive $85,000 cash prize and $50,000 Azure grant. The team on second place will get $15,000 cash prize and $40,000 Azure grant while the team that secures the third place will get $30,000 Azure grant. The first-place team will also win a one-on-one mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
BEIJING - Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Masood Khalid has underscored more cooperation between Pakistan and China’s Hubei province in the fisheries and rice sectors. He said that Hubei has made many contributions to the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and many companies from the province are carrying out cooperative programs in Pakistan. Masood Khalid while addressing the promotion event of Hubei Province organized by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the theme of “China in the New Era: Hubei, From the Yangtze River to the World” stressed further deepening of cooperation between Pakistan and Hubei Province. Addressing the audience, Ambassador Masood Khalid highlighted the ongoing cooperation between Pakistan and Hubei Province. He noted that a number of companies from Hubei Province were involved in energy, infrastructure and development projects in Pakistan such as the newly commissioned Islamabad International Airport, Karachi Deep Water Port project and Neelum-Jhelum Power Project. In addition, there is a sizeable Pakistani student community in Hubei Province. He said that Hebei also have advanced system of education. Out of 25000 Pakistani students who are studying in different Chinese universities, 2725 students are studying in Hubei which is largest number of overseas students in the province. Ambassador Masood Khalid underscored that cooperation in the fisheries and rice sectors, which were strong areas of the Province could be promoted Pakistan and Hubei Province. China made it a national strategy to develop the Yangtze River Economic Belt in 2014. The move is expected to boost cooperative development in riverside regions and provide new growth opportunities for China's economy. The Yangtze River Economic Belt, which accounts for more than 40 percent of both the national population and GDP, is a new growth engine for the country, reducing the development gap between eastern, central and western regions. Jiang Chaoliang, secretary of the Hubei Committee of the Communist Party of China, said Hubei is the only province where the Yangtze River flows for more than 1,000 kilometers, and the province plays an important role in the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt as well as in the protection of the river. Provincial Governor Wang Xiaodong noted at the event that Hubei would like to invite friends from different countries to explore new avenues of cooperation and development. Members of the Diplomatic Corps, representatives of the International Organizations, foreign media as well as Chinese officials attended the event.
ISLAMABAD - To meet electricity requirements of the Diamer Bhasha Hydro Project (DBHP) during construction, the government is planning to construct 15 MW Tangir Hydropower Project in Gilgit Baltistan which will increase the cost of the project by Rs6 billion. The proposal will be submitted to the upcoming elected government and if they approved it the cost of Diamer Bhasha Dam component will increase from the ECNEC approved cost of Rs474 billion to Rs480 billion, official source told The Nation here Tuesday. According the official documents earlier it was decided that the position paper regarding inclusion of 15 MW Tangir Hydropower Project into Diamer Bhasha Dam Project will be processed by the Ministry of Water Resources. However Ministry of Water Resources verbally requested that Ministry of PD&R may process it through CDWP/ECNEC. The proposal to construct Tangir Hydropower Project will increase the cost of Diamer Bhasha Dam Project from Rs474 billion to Rs480 billion. The project will be completed in June 2027 and the cost will be shared by the Federal government, Wapda equity and commercial borrowing. The Federal government will provide Rs 234 billion (49 percent) through PSDP, Wapda equity Rs100 billion (21percent) and Commercial Borrowing Rs146 billion (30percent). As per the detail the project was considered by the ECNEC in its meeting held on 17th April, 2018 and instead of PC-I cost of Rs649 billion approved the project at a rationalized cost of Rs474 billion including FEC of Rs154 billion. The prime minister also constituted a committee comprising Secretary, Ministry of Planning Development and Reform (Chairman), Secretary, Water Resources Division and Chairman, Wapda to reconsider the excluded components of the Pc-I, and to formally close the previous PC-I after fully verifying the expenditure incurred under it so as to ensure that there is no overlap in the new PC-I. In compliance to ECNEC decision a meeting of the committee was held under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of PD&R on 12th July, 2018 which was also attended by the Chief Secretary, Gilgit Baltistan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources Member Energy, Planning Commission, Sr. Chief (Tech) and Chief (Power) Ministry of PD&R. Adviser (Projects) Wapda briefed about the importance of 15 MW Tangir Hydropower Project and explained that Tangir Hydropower Project shall be cheap renewable energy source which shall be used during construction of Bhasha Dam. Joint Secretary Ministry of Water Resources, Member Energy and Chief Energy, Ministry of PD&R confirmed that Tangir Hydropower Project would be more cost effective than all other provisions. He said that after completion of Diamer Bhasha Dam Project it shall be handed over to GB administration to meet the energy demand of locals. This will also serve as confidence building measures. Chief Secretary Gilgit Baltistan was of the view that implementation of Tangir Hydropower Project will boost the trust of locals on DBDP and after construction of the dam, Tangir Hydropower Project will be utilized for local area consumption.
ISLAMABAD: The exports of leather products from the country increased by 8 per cent during the first eleven months of the fiscal year 2017-18 as compared to the corresponding period of last year. Pakistan exported leather products worth $478.857 million during July-May (2017-18) against the imports of $443.430 million in July-May (2016-17), showing growth of 7.99 per cent, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). Out of the leather products, the exports of leather garments increased by 2.05 per cent and reached to $269.128 million during the outgoing fiscal year (2017-18) against the exports of $263.714 million in 2016-17. The exports of leather gloves increased from $168.468 in FY2016-17 to $198.185 million in FY2017-18, showing an increase of 17.64 per cent. The exports of other leather manufacturers also increased by 2.61 per cent by growing from $11.248 million to $11.544 million, the PBS data revealed. Meanwhile, on a year-on-year basis, the exports of leather products from the country increased by 21.60 per cent in May 2018 when compared to the exports of May 2017. The leather products’ exports in May 2018 were recorded at $43.847 million compared to the exports of $36.059 million in May 2017. Among these products, the exports of leather garments increased by 15.10 per cent in may 2018 compared to exports of May 2017 while the exports of leather gloves surged by 31.67 per cent and other leather products by 28.29 per cent. The exports of fish and fish preparations from the country witnessed an increase of 16.33 per cent during the first eleven months of the outgoing fiscal year (2017-18) as against the corresponding period of last year. Pakistan export seafood worth $423.996 million during July-May (2017-18) as compared to the exports of $364.481 million in July-May (2016-17), showing an increase of 16.33 per cent, according to the data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). In terms of quantity, the fish exports from the country witnessed an increase of 24.84 per cent by growing from a trade of 143,313 metric tons last year to 178,906 metric tons during 2017-18. It is pertinent to mention here that the overall food exports into the country during the period under review witnessed an increase of 30.80 per cent. The food exports during the first eleven months of the outgoing fiscal year were recorded at $4,479 million against the imports of $3,425 million, according to PBS data. Meanwhile, on a year-on-year basis, the fish exports from the country increased by 9.2 per cent during the month of May 2018 when compared to the same month of last year. The fish exports in May 2018 were recorded at $ 52.431 million against the imports of $ 48,012 million in May 2017, the data revealed. On a month-on-month basis, the fish exports from the country, however, decreased by 6.31 per cent during May 2018 as compared to eh exports of $55.960 million in April 2018.