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Covid-19 update Monday 20th April

Good morning from the UK. I am late today but with good reason, my wife has had a really tough time this weekend with mental health (she is on meds for OCD, anxiety and Bipolar Type 2). Lockdown is tough for us all, but believe me it’s harder still for those with pre-existing mental difficulties. It could be worse, one of her friends (who has been sectioned before for mental breakdowns) is having to manage her mental health whilst fulfilling her duties as an A&E (ER) doctor in Wales. How my wife’s friend does it I have no idea, the stories coming out of UK hospitals are deeply disturbing (this link is 2 weeks old).

Anyway, onto supply chain; this morning I read an article from Forbes about the problems supply chain disruptions can cause. Here’s a lengthy quote:
“Our firm recently polled executives at major corporations around the world to ask them about the operational risks they perceived to their supply chains, and the response strategies they had in place. The results were enlightening. Executives identified a broad range of risks (see chart below), from volatile commodity prices (which 43% considered a major challenge), to protectionism (31%), to piracy (just 7%). That executives identified such a broad range of risks told us that global supply disruption is indeed a top-of-mind issue for managers of global corporations.
When we asked a subsequent question about the strategies in place to mitigate these risks (see chart below), we found no favorites. Rather executives were across the board, choosing a number of different approaches, but not necessarily those best suited to the operational risks they were facing: 33% of respondents indicated that they would make no changes to their supply chains, 20% intended to decrease the number of production locations, and 15% planned to increase the same; and a range of other options as well.
Given the nature of the modern, global corporation and the complex supply network that has developed around it, it is unsurprising that executives have not aligned on a unified strategy to mitigate supply chain risk. No longer does a supply chain consist of a simple process from factory to warehouse to delivery (if indeed it ever did). Rather, as new sources of supply have arisen, new markets have opened, and companies have sought greater scale and specialization. Supply chains have evolved into a network of hundreds of suppliers, sub-contractors and distribution centers, adding tremendous complexity…
...I was recently at a conference of supply chain executives in the United States who told me that planning is dead – the best they could hope to do was respond to risks as they arose. Who has the time, and what is the benefit, of planning in a world of continuous change, demand-driven marketing, and intense pressure for instantaneous responses?...
...In an environment where changes in global supply chain can be as sudden as they are unscripted, companies have to arm themselves with both foresight and peripheral vision, an understanding of the long-term, and agility to deal with the short-term. More than ever, companies have to provision for multiple scenarios and they can only do that by engaging in a dynamic and multi-dimensional scenario-based strategic planning process.”
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I like the last two paragraphs of the article in particular. In case anyone wants to read the rest of the article, it’s dated May 2010 and written in reaction to the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull and the chaos it caused to supply chains around the world. Plus ça change; it seems some boardrooms didn’t adjust their supply chains after that black swan event (maybe due to the cost and the resulting negative shareholder pushback). Link to the story.

Virus news in depth

Our Pandemic Summer: The fight against the coronavirus won’t be over when the U.S. reopens. Here’s how the nation must prepare itself. - The Atlantic has written a lengthy article about what the mid-long term looks like for the US in relation to getting back to normal after Covid-19. “I think people haven’t understood that this isn’t about the next couple of weeks,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. “This is about the next two years.” The article goes on to look at the pharmaceutical supply chain; “According to a University of Minnesota analysis, about 40 percent of the 156 drugs that are essential parts of critical care are becoming limited. Many of these depend on supply chains that involve China (where the pandemic began), Italy (the hardest-hit region in Europe), or India (which halted several exports)” … “Albuterol, the drug used in asthma inhalers, is scarce. Antibiotics, which control the secondary bacterial infections that afflict COVID-19 patients, are being depleted. Basic painkillers and sedatives, which are needed to keep patients on ventilators, are being exhausted. Hydroxychloroquine, the drug that Trump has repeatedly touted as a COVID-19 treatment despite a lack of good evidence, is running out, to the detriment of people with lupus and arthritis who depend on it. “It’s like everything we give to patients, we’re in short supply of,” said Esther Choo, an emergency physician at Oregon Health and Science University. “We’re now scrambling to find the backup medications, and we’ll run out of those too.””
(cont’d) If it turns out that, say, 20 percent of the U.S. has been infected, that would mean the coronavirus is more transmissible but less deadly than scientists think. It would also mean that a reasonable proportion of the country has some immunity. If that proportion could be slowly and safely raised to the level necessary for herd immunity—60 to 80 percent, depending on the virus’s transmissibility—the U.S. might not need to wait for a vaccine. However, if just 1 to 5 percent of the population has been infected—the range that many researchers think is likelier—that would mean “this is a truly devastating virus, and we have built up no real population immunity,” said Michael Mina, an epidemiologist and immunologist at Harvard. “Then we’re in dire straits in terms of how to move forward.” The article is lengthy and also discusses options for reopening the economy and society in the USA.

Virus news in brief


My usual sources are as normal The Guardian and CNN live blogs unless otherwise specified.















Personal note: If you are on the Eastern seaboard of the US and in a hurricane prone area, it would be a good idea to review your hurricane plans and supplies now, e.g do you have a generator and does it work, spare fuel, batteries, candles, do you have enough long life food already stored + cleaning products, do you have an alternative method of cooking food, what’s your evacuation plan, etc etc. See https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane-plan for help with this and note FEMA is already under a lot of strain due to the virus and would thus likely struggle with a major hurricane impact on the US seaboard - see also this USA Today article dated 6th April this year on that topic).



Supply chain news in depth


Susceptibilities of Solar Energy Supply Chains - The Global policy journal has written a detailed review of the supply chain disruption faced by the solar panel industry here. Whilst manufacturing was significantly reduced from January to March in China (down 13.5%) and is now almost fully recovered, its reliance on materials from around the world mean the supply chain is exposed in other parts. China has the majority market share in the mining or processing of most minerals used in solar panels, such as: silicon, aluminum, selenium, tellurium, arsenic, cadmium, and gallium. However, China still depends on many other countries to complete their solar panels, such as Peru for copper, Saudi Arabian oil for energy, and Japan for silicon wafers. In mid-March, Chinese owned mining company MMG Ltd reduced operations at its Peruvian copper mine after Peru declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus. Due to the damaged mining link in the supply chain, an initial spike in solar module price is expected due to shortages of materials for solar wafers and module glass, affecting the solar industry for months to come. Kangping Chen, the CEO of the top solar module supplier in the world, JinkoSolar, stated that around 400-500MW of Q1 2020 shipments are likely to be postponed to Q2 2020. The 500 MW postponement is approximately 14% of JinkoSolar’s 3.6GW quarterly solar panels production last year. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) stated that “before the pandemic hit, the solar industry was poised to set a record for deployment in 2020,” with solar installers being America’s fastest growing profession. A new SEIA survey now suggests cancellation rates for residential solar systems in the US are now at 19%, with postponement rates hitting upwards of 50% in some areas.

Illinois adjusts on the fly to meet medical supply needs in a coronavirus ‘Wild West’ - The Chicago Sun Times details a story from about two weeks ago where Illinois officials tracked down a supply of 1.5 million potentially life-saving N95 respirator masks in China through a middleman in the Chicago area and negotiated a deal to buy them. One day before they were expecting to complete the purchase, they got a call in the morning from the supplier informing them he had to get a check to the bank by 2 p.m. that day, or the deal was off. Other bidders had surfaced. Realizing there was no way the supplier could get to Springfield and back by the deadline, Illinois assistant comptroller Ellen Andres jumped in her car and raced north on I-55 with a check for $3,469,600. That’s just a taste of the “Wild West” world of emergency procurement taking place over the past several weeks as the state fights for equipment and supplies to protect frontline workers and patients in the battle against COVID-19. Most of that work is being performed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration through a rapid-procurement strike team, pulling together procurement specialists from around state government under the auspices of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. As Pritzker has made clear at his daily briefings, it’s an effort made all the more difficult by the absence of a strong, coordinated White House response. That’s left Illinois competing against other states, foreign nations and even our own federal government for the same materials. They’re all looking for what we have come to know as PPE or personal protective equipment — masks, gloves, gowns and face shields — plus coronavirus testing kits and swabs and, most prized of all, ventilators to help those most seriously ill keep breathing.

SWABS, STAT! Inside the Maine factory racing to supply America with virus test swabs. - If you’ve ever used a home DNA kit, opened wide and said “ahh,” or measured the depth of a knife wound in a stabbing victim, chances are you’ve used a device made by Puritan Medical Products Co, says Bloomberg. And if you’re tested for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, it’s quite likely that the swab used to collect a sample from inside your nose will have been made by Puritan, too. Located in Guilford, Maine (population 1,521), Puritan is one of two companies that make essentially all of the swabs used for coronavirus testing. (The other, Copan Diagnostics Inc., is in Italy, an epicenter of the deadly virus.)
(Cont’d) “Swabs could be a weak link in broadening testing,” former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted on March 16. That was four days after Puritan first started getting calls from the U.S. government, according to Timothy Templet, executive vice president for global sales, who entered the conversations himself shortly thereafter. “I’ve been on the phone since Saturday with many government organizations—Health and Human Services, FDA, working groups—just trying to provide accurate information regarding the ability to produce as many swabs for the country as we possibly can,” he says. The federal government, however, doesn’t buy directly from Puritan. Instead it helps coordinate with Puritan and other medical suppliers and distributors to get the swabs where they need to go. “We are ramping up to produce and wrap a million swabs a week that we need to put into the supply chain across the U.S.,” Templet says. His problem? Not enough machines or labour to meet demand.

**In Pursuit of PPE (**Or if you prefer, “how I managed to buy some PPE on the American black market for my hospital”) - The New England Journal of Medicine is not something I often read (Actually I’ve never read it before in my life) but this article caught my eye: As a chief physician executive, I rarely get involved in my health system’s supply-chain activities. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed that. Protecting our caregivers is essential so that these talented professionals can safely provide compassionate care to our patients. Yet we continue to be stymied by a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the cavalry does not appear to be coming. Deals, some bizarre and convoluted, and many involving large sums of money, have dissolved at the last minute when we were outbid or outmuscled, sometimes by the federal government. Then we got lucky, but getting the supplies was not easy.
(Cont’d) A lead came from an acquaintance of a friend of a team member. After several hours of vetting, we grew confident of the broker’s professional pedigree and the potential to secure a large shipment of three-ply face masks and N95 respirators. The latter were KN95 respirators, N95s that were made in China. We received samples to confirm that they could be successfully fit-tested. Despite having cleared this hurdle, we remained concerned that the samples might not be representative of the bulk of the products that we would be buying. Having acquired the requisite funds — more than five times the amount we would normally pay for a similar shipment, but still less than what was being requested by other brokers — we set the plan in motion. Three members of the supply-chain team and a fit tester were flown to a small airport near an industrial warehouse in the mid-Atlantic region. I arrived by car to make the final call on whether to execute the deal. Two semi-trailer trucks, cleverly marked as food-service vehicles, met us at the warehouse. When fully loaded, the trucks would take two distinct routes back to Massachusetts to minimize the chances that their contents would be detained or redirected.
(Cont’d) Hours before our planned departure, we were told to expect only a quarter of our original order. We went anyway, since we desperately needed any supplies we could get. Upon arrival, we were jubilant to see pallets of KN95 respirators and face masks being unloaded. We opened several boxes, examined their contents, and hoped that this random sample would be representative of the entire shipment. Before we could send the funds by wire transfer, two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrived, showed their badges, and started questioning me. No, this shipment was not headed for resale or the black market. The agents checked my credentials, and I tried to convince them that the shipment of PPE was bound for hospitals. After receiving my assurances and hearing about our health system’s urgent needs, the agents let the boxes of equipment be released and loaded into the trucks. But I was soon shocked to learn that the Department of Homeland Security was still considering redirecting our PPE. Only some quick calls leading to intervention by our congressional representative prevented its seizure. I remained nervous and worried on the long drive back, feelings that did not abate until midnight, when I received the call that the PPE shipment was secured at our warehouse.

Supply chain news in brief








Good news section


Deserted Thai beaches lure rare turtles to build most nests in 20 years - Thailand has found the largest number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades on beaches bereft of tourists because of the coronavirus pandemic, environmentalists say. In Thailand, with 2,765 infections and 47 deaths, travel curbs ranging from a ban on international flights to an appeal to citizens to stay home have brought a collapse in tourist numbers, but freed up the beaches for wildlife. The 11 turtle nests authorities have found since last November were the highest number in 20 years, said Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, the director of the Phuket Marine Biological Center. “This is a very good sign for us because many areas for spawning have been destroyed by humans,” he told Reuters. No such nests had been found for the previous five years. Leatherbacks are the world’s largest sea turtles. They are considered endangered in Thailand, and listed as a vulnerable species globally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They lay their eggs in dark and quiet areas, scarce when tourists thronged the beaches. People have also been known to dig into their nests and steal eggs. (link)

Minnesota trooper's roadside gesture during traffic stop brings doctor to tears - A state trooper pulled over a doctor for speeding on an east-central Minnesota interstate, told her she should know better and sent her on her way grateful for receiving only a warning and not a ticket. The trooper also gave her a fistful of coveted N95 medical masks that were issued for his protection from the deadly coronavirus pandemic. “I burst into tears,” Dr. Sarosh Ashraf Janjua, a Boston native and cardiologist, wrote in a detailed Facebook account of the traffic stop on March 21 along Interstate 35 in North Branch as she traveled from work in Duluth for a break in Minneapolis. “I think he teared up a little as well before wishing me well and walking away.” Janjua also saw the masks handed to her as having value beyond their role in stemming the virus’ spread. “This complete stranger, who owed me nothing and is more on the front lines than I am, shared his precious masks with me, without my even asking,” she wrote. “The veil of civilization may be thin, but not all that lies behind it is savage. We are going to be OK.” (Star Tribune link)
submitted by Fwoggie2 to supplychain [link] [comments]

Covid-19 update Wednesday 22nd April

Good morning from the UK. It’s Wednesday 22nd April and today also marks the 50th Earth Day.

Virus news in depth


Air pollution falls by unprecedented levels in major global cities during coronavirus lockdowns - CNN reports that lockdowns restricting travel and industry imposed to halt the spread of coronavirus have resulted in unprecedented reductions in deadly air pollution around the world, new analysis shows. Major cities that suffer from the world's worst air pollution have seen reductions of deadly particulate matter by up to 60% from the previous year, during a three-week lockdowns period. The Indian capital New Delhi -- which frequently tops the world's most polluted city lists -- saw a 60% reduction in PM2.5 levels from March 23 to April 13 from the same period in 2019. Both New Delhi and the country's commercial center Mumbai experienced their best March air quality on record in 2020. During the initial three-week lockdown period, the number of hours rated as "unhealthy" in New Delhi dropped from 68% in 2019 to 17% in 2020. Over the course of Wuhan's 10-week lockdown, the city experienced its cleanest air quality on record for the months of February and March. The average concentration of PM2.5 plunged from 63.2 and 43.9 micrograms per cubic meter in February and March 2019 respectively, to 36.8 and 32.9 in the same months this year. The World Health Organization considers anything above 25 to be unsafe.

Ramadan in a time of plague: 'The best thing is to stay home, stay quiet' - The Guardian points out that the holy month of Ramadan is scheduled to start this week; the ongoing spread of Covid-19 poses unique questions for Muslims around the world, including whether they can access their mosque to pray, whether fasting is still required during a time of plague and whether they can travel home to visit friends and family (such visits are few and far between for many). Many mosques will be closed, the article says including the Ka’bah, the gold-embroidered shrine in Mecca’s Grand Mosque, as well as the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina and Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque. Abdullah Abu Galous, a 38-year-old hardware shop owner from the Palestinian city of Ramallah, said it felt as if Ramadan had been cancelled. “I would never have thought that a tiny virus could stop us from celebrating the month of Ramadan. It has held more than one billion Muslims throughout the world hostage,” he said. Meanwhile, several Arab newspapers have carried expert assurances that fasting has not been shown to reduce resistance to the virus. Al-Azhar, Egypt’s top Sunni mosque, said last week that coronavirus could not be used as an excuse not to participate unless it was scientifically established that drinking water helps to ward off the disease.

Virus news in brief


Today’s live blogs are The Guardian, CNN unless otherwise specified















Supply chain news in depth


No takers: Hyundai cars sit in U.S. ports as virus keeps buyers away - While Hyundai is one of few global automakers whose production has recovered at home, its exports optimism has been dampened by the severity of the U.S. outbreak, weak consumer sentiment and as rivals have quickly moved to guard their turf. Consignments of cars shipped from South Korea are now sitting in U.S. ports, with dealers slow to take deliveries because of slumping sales and rising inventory, four people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The company idled a Tucson production line at home last week for five days, while sister firm Kia Motors (000270.KS) is looking to suspend three Korean plants for a week. And analysts now expect a sharp drop in first-quarter operating profit when it reports results on Thursday and some even forecast a second-quarter loss. “I hope that the situation will recover by the middle of next month. If not, we might have to lay off some people,” said Brad Cannon, general manager of an exclusive Hyundai dealership in California, whose sales are down more than 50% from when the pandemic started. Hyundai runs a factory in Alabama - which is closed until May 1 - but imports are key to meet U.S. demand. Only about half of its vehicles sold in the United States are made in North America compared to between 68% and 85% for Japanese rivals Toyota Motor (7203.T), Nissan Motor (7201.T) and Honda Motor (7267.T), who have also suspended production there till May. The South Korean company makes about 61% of its cars overseas, up from 48% a decade ago. That leaves it vulnerable to overseas factory shutdowns and shrinking demand outside of its home market.

Coronavirus pandemic 'will cause famine of biblical proportions' - The Guardian quotes the chief of the UN’s food relief agency who has said that the world is facing widespread famine “of biblical proportions” because of the coronavirus pandemic and that there is only a short time to act before hundreds of millions starve. More than 30 countries in the developing world could experience widespread famine, and in 10 of those countries there are already more than 1 million people on the brink of starvation, said David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme. “We are not talking about people going to bed hungry,” he told the Guardian in an interview. “We are talking about extreme conditions, emergency status – people literally marching to the brink of starvation. If we don’t get food to people, people will die.” Covid-19 is likely to be sweeping through the developing world but its spread is hard to gauge. What appears to be certain is that the fragile healthcare systems of scores of developing countries will be unable to cope, and the economic disaster following in the wake of the pandemic will lead to huge strain on resources. “This is truly more than just a pandemic – it is creating a hunger pandemic,” said Beasley. “This is a humanitarian and food catastrophe.” Beasley took his message to the UN security council on Tuesday, warning world leaders that they must act quickly in a fast-deteriorating situation. He urged them to bring forward about $2bn (£1.6bn) of aid that has been pledged, so it can get to the frontline as quickly as possible. Another $350m (£285m) is also needed to set up the logistics network to get food and medical supplies – including personal protective equipment – to where it is needed, including air bridges where ground transport is impossible.

Supply chain news in brief












Good news section


Taxi driver takes stranded student from Spain to Italy free of charge - CNN reports that an Italian student stranded in Spain due to the coronavirus crisis has been driven more than 1,500 kilometers home, free of charge by a taxi driver. Driver Kepa Amantegi, 22, drove Giada Collalto, also 22, from Bilbao, Spain, to Montebello, near Venice, Italy, after a series of unfortunate events left her stuck. Collalto's struggle to find a way back home included hours on the internet and phone calls with the Italian embassy. She managed to purchase a plane ticket from Madrid to Paris, then to Rome and finally to Venice. But on April 8, she found herself navigating more restrictions at the airport of the Spanish capital Madrid, where a flight attendant informed her she wasn't permitted to board. "I was desperate and angry, my parents were worried but couldn't do anything to help me. I called the embassy and they told to me to send an email. All hotels in Madrid were closed, no public transport to go back to Bilbao," she added. A friend of hers knew a taxi driver in Bilbao -- Amantegi -- and contacted him. "He immediately said he was available to come to pick me up and he drove nine hours from Bilbao to Madrid and back," Collalto said. But once she was back in Bilbao, she learned her apartment was no longer available. Amantegi offered to host Collalto in his family home for the night. "I insisted on paying him but he said, 'I don't want to get advantage of you, I see you are in a difficult situation, don't worry about the cost'," Collalto said, adding Amantegi only asked for a reimbursement of expenses for picking her up in Madrid. (Link)

Donations


Several asked if they can send me $/£/€ via Patreon (in some cases because I've saved them time or money, others for no reason at all). I don't need the cash (that's lovely though) but as you may have read above, food bank charities are getting really hit hard with all this panic buying. Please consider giving whatever you'd have given me to a foodbank charity instead:
UK: https://www.trusselltrust.org/
France: https://www.banquealimentaire.org/
Germany: https://www.tafel.de/
Netherlands: https://www.voedselbankennederland.nl/steun-ons/steun-voedselbank-donatie/
Italy: https://www.bancoalimentare.it/it/node/1
Spain: https://www.fesbal.org/
Australia: https://www.foodbank.org.au/
Canada: https://www.foodbankscanada.ca/
USA: https://www.feedingamerica.org/
Thanks in advance for any donations you give. If there's foodbank charities in your country and it's not listed above, please suggest it and I will include it going forward.
submitted by Fwoggie2 to supplychain [link] [comments]

WSJ: Syria’s Assad Defeated His Foes. Now He Targets His Friends.

Syria’s Assad Defeated His Foes. Now He Targets His Friends.
President Bashar al-Assad is attempting to halt Syria’s economic slide and solidify his own position by turning the screws on his allies
Original: https://www.wsj.com/articles/syrias-assad-defeated-his-foes-now-he-targets-his-enemies-11589473618
For nine years, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has waged a brutal civil war against his enemies and allowed his friends to profit from it. Now, he’s squeezing those same allies to solidify power and ensure the economy stays afloat as the costs of rebuilding from the conflict pile up.
Mr. Assad has been targeting more than a dozen pro-regime money men, in a shakedown that has touched industries from real estate, to telecommunications and energy and imparted the message that he alone dictates Syria’s future. Among those caught in the crosshairs is Rami Makhlouf, Mr. Assad’s cousin and close ally who helped keep the money flowing to the regime during Syria’s civil war. In two recent Facebook videos, Mr. Makhlouf pleaded with the president not to seize his assets. Appearing disheveled and cornered, the camera-shy tycoon said accusations that he owed $250 million in taxes were fabricated by Syria’s intelligence services. “Mr. President, please, this is the truth,” Mr. Makhlouf said in his first video on April 30. “We are ready to open our books to everyone, and go over them number by number. If you get this figure, then I will gladly give it to you.” It wasn’t clear from Mr. Makhlouf’s video, whether he was still in Syria, and he has remained out of the public eye since. His main company, the Damascus-based telecommunications firm Syriatel, declined to make him or any other representative available for comment.
Mr. Makhlouf had belonged to an inner circle of four people at the top of the political order in Syria as the war dragged on. He sought to build a personal power base, too, with his wealth and support for militia fighters and favored charities.
But this inner circle has now narrowed to three: the president, his wife Asma, and his brother Maher, who commands the feared Republican Guard, said Joseph Daher, a Syrian-Swiss political economist and affiliate professor at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.
“Assad is trying to consolidate power in his hands alone,” said Lina Khatib, head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House. “His treatment of Makhlouf sends a message to regime cronies that while they were a useful tool throughout the war, they are disposable once their role is over.”
Bouthaina Shaaban, the media adviser to the Syrian president, couldn’t be reached for comment despite several calls to her office.
Mr. Makhlouf isn’t the only friend Mr. Assad has turned against in recent months. Last September, the government summoned a crop of Syria’s wealthiest businessmen to the Sheraton Hotel in Damascus and asked to deposit money in Syria’s central bank to prop up the wobbly currency, according to Syrian media, which published photos from the event, and Ayman Abdel Nour, a former economic adviser to Mr. Assad’s Baath Party. The move in part echoed Saudi Arabia’s clampdown of its business elite, hundreds of whom were summoned to Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton in late-2017 in what the government called an anticorruption campaign.
Among those summoned was Samer Foz, Syria’s second-most powerful businessman, who dealt with the many different sides in Syria’s conflict, distributing wheat to Islamic State-held territory and to Kurdish-controlled land. He had lately positioned his conglomerate for a sizable role in Syria’s postwar reconstruction. Last year, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned him and more than a dozen individuals and companies for their alleged financial support for Mr. Assad.
At the meeting, Mr. Foz donated $10 million to support the Syrian currency, according to Emmar Syria, a Damascus-based business news organization and Mr. Abdel Nour. Neither Samer Foz nor his assistant responded to text messages or emails with requests for comment on the $10 million donation.
In December, four pro-regime businessmen had their assets frozen, including Tarif al-Akhras, another regime financier who is related to the first lady Asma al-Assad, according to the Syria Report. The independent business news site cited a decision by the Ministry of Finance and claims by the Syrian Customs Department that Mr. Akhras owes several billion Syrian pounds in unpaid customs duties.
Earlier this month, the chairman of the board of directors and two board members from MTN, Syria’s second-largest telecoms provider, resigned, according to a notice posted by the country’s Securities and Financial Markets Authority. The company’s assets were frozen on charges of owing money to the treasury, according to the Syria Report, which cited a decision by the finance ministry.
MTN confirmed the resignations, saying they were due to “personal reasons” but didn’t comment further. The financial regulator didn’t respond to calls seeking comment.
The years of war have taken a toll on Syria’s economy. It had shrunk from $67 billion in 2011 to $17 billion in 2017, the most recent figure available from Syria’s Central Bureau of Statistics. The black market value of the current has plunged to about 1,400 to the dollar from 800 in 2018.
That has made Mr. Assad’s financial backers valuable assets, particularly Mr. Makhlouf.
As the conflict drove many Syrian businessmen into exile, Mr. Makhlouf bankrolled a pro-regime militia, according to the U.S. Treasury, which in 2017 sanctioned his charity, al-Bustan, which funded the militia.
Mr. Makhlouf, a childhood playmate of Mr. Assad, also landed on the U.S. sanctions list in 2008 for allegedly using his close ties to the Assad regime to advance his business interests. The U.S. said his dealings entrenched an oppressive regime and his connections intimidated other companies, to the detriment of ordinary Syrians, making him the first foreign executive to be blacklisted in this way.
He later became the regime’s primary financier when the conflict in Syria began in 2011. Mr. Makhlouf, regarded as Syria’s richest man by then, was one of the first regime figures the European Union designated for sanctions that year for his support for Mr. Assad.
Mr. Makhlouf’s loyalty to Mr. Assad paved the way for him to invest in banking, media, duty-free shops and real estate, even as the war destroyed Syria’s economy, forcing more than six million people to leave the country and pushing 80% of the population under the poverty line, according to the United Nations.
He expanded Syriatel, the largest of Syria’s two mobile operators, which in 2017 reported $380 million profit. He bought a majority stake in Cham Holding, which had established Syria’s first private airline, Cham Wings.
His two sons have posed on social media in swanky nightclubs in Dubai, where their father based some of his businesses before the war. They drove Ferraris, brandished bottles of top-shelf Champagne and posed bare-chested in Dubai gyms.
That is all under threat now, as Mr. Assad targets Mr. Makhlouf’s main cash cow, Syriatel, freezing its Syrian assets and, last week, arresting senior managers.
Mr. Makhlouf has resorted to warning his former benefactor that punishing him could backfire. Mr. Assad’s own supporters who had benefited from his charity work would be angered, he said.
“Please, please, Mr. President,” Mr. Makhlouf said in one of his videos. “There will be inevitable, divine punishment because we are now at a dangerous juncture.”
submitted by RMCF_1 to syriancivilwar [link] [comments]

A Recap of the US-Iran Hostilities since Trump came into office.

I'm currently operating under the assumption that president Trump has willfully and with great disregard placed the United States on a path to armed conflict in Iran. I have compiled a timeline of events that shows event from spring 2018 up to now.
May 18th 2018, Trump pulls US out of Iran Nuclear deal, the only agreament keeping the Iranian government from enriching uranium.
May 21st 2018, Trump demanded Iran make sweeping changes - from dropping its nuclear programme to pulling out of the Syrian war - or face severe economic sanctions. The Trump administration's 12 demands listed below were outlined by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, were rejected by Tehran. * Declare to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear programme and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity.
August 7th 2018, reimposed the first round of sanctions on Iran, originally lifted as part of the nuclear deal.
They prohibited trade with a number of business sectors Which included * 20 Billion contract for Boeing planes * 19 Billion contract for Airbus * 850 Million contract for export of Pistacheos
November 5th 2018, the US announced a 2nd round of sanctions. They Specfically targeted oil and banking sectors of the Iranian Economy. * Banking sanctions removed more than one million barrels of Iranian oil from the market and that Tehran lost more than $2.5bn in oil revenues.
April 8th 2019, Trump announced he was designating a powerful arm of the Iranian military, the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign "terrorist" organisation.
It was the first time Washington formally labelled another country's military a "terrorist group".
May 5th 2019, Trump's then-National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the US was sending an aircraft carrier strike group and Air Force bombers to the Middle East "in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings".
May 8 2019, Iran said it was preparing to increase enriched uranium and heavy water production as part of its decision to stop certain commitments made under the nuclear deal. A year after Washington withdrew from the deal and later reimposed sanctions on Tehran, Trump announced new measures against Iran's steel and mining sectors.
May 12th 2019, the United Arab Emirates said four commercial ships off the coast of Fujairah, one of the world's largest bunkering hubs, "were subjected to sabotage operations". Officials identified the damaged ships as the Saudi oil tankers Al-Marzoqah and Amjad, the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory, and a UAE bunkering barge, the A Michel. Fujairah is the only Emirati terminal located on the Arabian Sea, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz through which most Gulf oil exports pass. Iran, which has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait in case of a military confrontation with the US, called the incidents "alarming and regrettable".
May 14th 2019, Yemen's Houthi rebels, who were locked in a long-running war with a Saudi-UAE-led military coalition, launched drone attacks on Saudi Arabia striking a major oil pipeline and taking it out of service. Two days later, Riyadh, a key US ally, blamed Iran for the attack. The US and Saudi Arabia accused Iran of arming the Houthis, but Tehran denied the claim.
May 19th 2019, a rocket landed near the US embassy in Baghdad. No one was harmed. It was not clear who is behind the attack, but Trump tweeted at the time: "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!"
June 13th 2019, Japan Prime Minister Abe (negotiating on behalf of the US) still in Iran, a Japanese tanker and a Norwegian one came under "attack" in the Gulf of Oman, according to the Norwegian maritime authority and the Japanese shipowner. The US Fifth Fleet said it received two separate distress calls from the tankers in a "reported attack". Iran spoke initially of "accidents" and said it rescued 44 crew members. Zarif called tanker "attacks" during Abe's visit "suspicious".
June 17th 2019, the Pentagon authorised the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East. On the same date, Iran said it was 10 days away from surpassing the limits set by the nuclear deal on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. Iran said it could reverse the move if the deal's European signatories step in and make an effort to circumvent US sanctions.
June 20th 2019, Iranian forces shot down a US military drone, Both countries confirmed the incident but offer diverging accounts about the location of the aircraft. The US said it was flying above international waters, while Iran said the drone was flying in Iranian airspace.
June 21st 2019, Trump said he called off a military strike on Iran the night before, which was intended as retaliation against Tehran for the downing of the unmanned US drone. Trump said he did so 10 minutes before the planned attack because of potential casualties, saying it was "not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone". Trump said a US strike could have killed 150 people, and signalled he was open to talks with Tehran.
June 22nd 2019, Iran said it was ready to respond firmly to any US threat against it. "We will not allow any violation against Iran's borders. Iran will firmly confront any aggression or threat by America," said Abbas Mousavi, foreign ministry spokesman. On the same day, Iran ordered the execution of a "defence ministry contractor" convicted of spying for the US Central Intelligence Agency, while the US vowed to impose fresh sanctions, adding that military action was still "on the table".
June 25th 2019, Trump signed an order targeting Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, and associates with additional financial sanctions "Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the supreme leader and the supreme leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," the US president said.
June 29th 2019, the US Air Forces Central Command said in a statement that F-22 Raptor stealth fighters were being deployed in the region "to defend American forces and interests".
July 1st 2019, Iran exceeded the limit on the amount of enriched uranium in its stockpile set out in the nuclear deal.The United Nations's atomic watchdog confirmed that its inspectors had verified the 300kg cap had been breached.
July 4th 2019, British Royal Marines, police and customs agents in Gibraltar seized a supertanker accused of carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions.The Grace 1 vessel was boarded on Thursday when it slowed down in a designated area used by shipping agencies to ferry goods to ships in the UK territory along Spain's southern coast.
July 8th 2019, Iran passed the uranium enrichment cap set in the nuclear deal, the second time in a week that it made good on a promise to reduce compliance with the accord. Iran set to exceed uranium enrichment limit in 2015 nuclear deal (3:31)
July 19th 2019, the IRGC said its forces seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. The Stena Impero tanker "was confiscated by the Revolutionary Guards at the request of Hormozgan Ports and Maritime Organisation when passing through the Strait of Hormuz, for failing to respect international maritime rules", the force said in its official website at the time.
July 25th 2019, the UK announced the country's warships would escort all British-flagged vessels through the Strait of Hormuz, a change in policy that took place amid rising tensions in the Gulf.
August 1st 2019, the US imposed sanctions on Zarif for acting on behalf of Khamenei.
"Javad Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran's Supreme Leader, and is the regime's primary spokesperson around the world," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement at the time.
August 15th 2019, Gibraltar's Supreme Court ruled that the Seized Iranian Tankeer Grace 1 was free to sail, just hours after the US made a last-minute attempt to keep the vessel under detention.
August 23rd 2019, Iran unveils new missile defence system Rouhani inducted a locally built air-defence system into the country's missile defence network at an unveiling ceremony in Tehran.Iran began production after the purchase of Russia's S-300 system was suspended in 2010 due to international sanctions that have barred it from importing many weapons.
August 26th 2019, Zarif meets Macron Iran's top diplomat held talks with France's President Emmanuel Macron at the sidelines of a G7 summit following a surprise invite to the gathering in Biarritz. "Iran's active diplomacy in pursuit of constructive engagement continues," Zarif said. "Road ahead is difficult. But worth trying."
August 30th 2019, the UN said Iran was still exceeding limitations set by its nuclear deal with world powers, increasing its stock of enriched uranium and refining it to a greater purity than allowed in the agreement.
The quarterly report from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Iran was progressively backing out of the pact in retaliation for the US's withdrawal from the accord and the subsequent renewal of sanctions that had hit Iranian oil sales.
September 3rd 2019, the US imposed sanctions on Iran's civilian space agency and two research organisations, saying they were being used to advance Tehran's ballistic missile programme.
September 4th 2019, the US turned up the economic pressure on Iran, blacklisting an oil shipping network that Washington alleges is directed by the IRGC.
September 5th 2019, The State Department sent emails to captain Akhilesh Kumar in which they offered "good news" of millions in US cash for the captain to live comfortably if he steered the Adrian Darya 1, formerly known as Grace 1, to a country where it could be seized.
September 7th 2019, Iran started injecting gas into advanced centrifuges to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium and warned that time was running out for the nuclear deal's other signatories to save the landmark pact.
September 10th 2019 announced via Twitter that he had fired Bolton, his national security adviser, saying he had "strongly disagreed" with many of his hawkish positions. Bolton's sacking was reportedly linked to a fundamental disagreement over the possible easing of US sanctions on Iran. Taking aim at Bolton, Iran said the US should distance itself from "warmongers".
September 14th 2019, Yemen's Houthi rebels (who may or may not be backed by Iran) claimed responsibility for drone attacks on two major Saudi Aramco oil facilities: Abqaiq - the world's largest oil processing plant
September 24th 2019 Trump lashed out at Iran and called on countries around the world to tighten the economic noose around it."One of the greatest security threats facing peace-loving nations today is the repressive regime in Iran," he said.
November 4th 2019 imposed new sanctions on the inner circle of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, including one of his sons. The US Treasury said that the nine people sanctioned included Khamenei's chief of staff, the head of the judiciary and senior military figures. It said it also blacklisted Iran's Armed Forces General Staff.
November 6th 2019, began the process of injecting uranium gas into centrifuges at the underground Fordow facility.Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, told state television that the agency has delivered 2,000kg (4,400 pounds) of uranium or UF6 to the Fordow plant, under the supervision of UN inspectors.
November 7th 2019, A US-led naval coalition officially launched operations in Bahrain to protect shipping in the troubled waters of the Gulf, following a string of attacks that Washington and its allies blamed on Iran.
November 7th 2019 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of preparing "a rapid nuclear breakout".
November 8th 2019, Iran's state news agency IRNA says air defence forces shot down an "unknown" drone. The United States Central Command released a statement later that Friday saying that the downed drone was not one of theirs, and that all military drones were accounted for.
November 15th 2019, Unrest in Iran erupted after the government abruptly raised fuel prices by as much as 300 percent. The unrest spread to more than 100 Iranian cities and towns and turned political as young and working-class protesters demanded that religious leaders step down.The death toll of the unrest varied. The opposition said at least 631 people were killed, while Amnesty International put the figure at more than 300. Both numbers were dismissed by Iranian authorities.
November 22nd 2019, US imposed sanctions on Iran's communications minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi for his role in "widespread censorship" during civil unrest.
November 25th 2019 General Hossein Salami accused the US, the United Kingdom, Iraq and Saudi Arabia of stoking unrest in the country. "We have shown restraint ... we have shown patience towards the hostile moves of America, the Zionist regime [Israel] and Saudi Arabia against the Islamic Republic of Iran ... but we will destroy them if they cross our red lines," Salami said.
November 27th 2019 Iranian security agents arrested at least eight people linked to the CIA during deadly unrest over petrol price increases. "These elements had received CIA-funded training in various countries under the cover of becoming citizen-journalists," IRNA quoted the intelligence ministry as saying. "Six were arrested while attending the riots and carrying out [CIA] orders and two while trying to ... send information abroad."
December 4th 2019 The Pentagon denied a report that the US was weighing sending up to 14,000 more troops to the Middle East to confront a perceived threat from Iran.
The Wall Street Journal had earlier reported that the possible deployment would include "dozens" more ships and double the number of troops added to the US forces in the region.
December 4th 2019 US Navy warship seized advanced missile parts believed to be linked to Iran from a boat it had stopped in the Arabian Sea. In a statement, the Pentagon said a US warship found "advanced missile components" on a stateless vessel and an initial investigation indicated the parts were of Iranian origin.
December 7 Iran and US exchanged prisoners. Xiyue Wang, a Chinese-born US citizen held in Iran since 2016, was exchanged for Massoud Soleimani, an Iranian scientist detained in the US.
December 8th 2019, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani announced a $39bn "budget of resistance" to counter US sanctions.
Rouhani said the aim was to reduce "hardships" to help Iran's people overcome economic difficulties.
December 11th 2019, the US Treasury imposed new sanctions on Iran's biggest airline and its shipping industry, accusing them of transporting lethal aid to Yemen.
December 19th 2019, the US announced that it would restrict visas for Iranian officials for their alleged roles in suppressing peaceful protests and imposed sanctions on two Iranian judges.
December 27th 2019, a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk killed a US contractor and wounded several US service members and Iraqi personnel.
December 29th 2019 - the US military carried out "defensive strikes" on sites in Iraq and Syria belonging to Kataib Hezbollah that Washington said were in retaliation for the killing of the US contractor. Iraqi security and militia sources said at least 25 fighters were killed and 55 others wounded following the air attacks in Iraq on Sunday.
December 31st 2019, enraged members and supporters of pro-Iranian paramilitary groups in Iraq broke into the heavily fortified US embassy compound in Baghdad, smashing a main door and setting parts of its perimeter on fire.Trump blamed Iran for killing the US contractor and the ensuing tensions around the embassy. "Iran is orchestrating an attack on the US Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible," he wrote on Twitter.
January 2nd 2020, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said there were "some indications" that Iran or groups it supports "may be planning additional attacks" on US interests in the Middle East.
January 3rd 2020, the US struck and killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces, or PMF.
Below is a Quote from the Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi
“I received a phone call from President Trump when the embassy protests ended thanking the government efforts and asked Iraq to play the mediator's role between US and Iran” Iraqi PM said.
“But at the same time American helicopters and drones were flying without the approval of Iraq, and we refused the request of bringing more soldiers to US embassy and bases”
“I was supposed to meet Soleimani at the morning the day he was killed, he came to deliver me a message from Iran responding to the message we delivered from Saudi to Iran” Iraqi PM said.
Soleimani may have caused harm to American service members on his hands, and opposing commanders are considered fair game in war. But in killing a country’s senior general is the sort of thing you only do when you are in a state of war or outright hostilities. or if your trying to provoke a country into a exchange of hostilities.

Credit to

Al Jazeera
The Guardian
BBC

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Marriott once again allows hackers to steal its customers data - was that the cause of the surge in spam sms reported here a couple weeks ago?

Marriott International notifies customers of a major data breach that unfolded earlier in 2020 – the second it has experienced in the past two years
Compromised information may involve contact details, including postal and email addresses and phone numbers; information relating to customer loyalty accounts, but not passwords; personal details such as employers, gender and birth dates; partnerships and affiliations, such as details of linked airline loyalty programmes; and guest preferences, such as room preferences and languages.
Would explain the severe uptick in sms spam, particularly in my household, where my wife has been a frequent guest with Marriott over the past year and I have not. She got a lot of spam, I got none. Thanks for the negligence and incompetence, Marriott!
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The What’s and Why’s on Hotel Management Courses

The What’s and Why’s on Hotel Management Courses

Hotel Management Courses in Delhi
With ever increasing career options here is a fact checker on this exciting career opportunity

What is a Hotel Management course?

The hospitality industry is now in boom. With increasing tourist traffic, corporate expansions and destination weddings, more and more professionals are now joining the industry.
HOTEL MANAGEMENT COURSE IN DELHI trains students to master various work fields related to hospitality industry like guest relations, banquets, marketing and sales, F&B, room service, back office operations etc.

Why is it attractive?

The industry is a place of high spirits, exciting job profiles and fulfilling in terms of financial payouts. Additionally, there is glamour as guests are often celebrities and who’s who of the corporate and sports world.

Eligibility and requirements

HOTEL MANAGEMENT COURSES IN DELHI need students to have a 10+2 qualification as a minimum requirement. While few colleges offer a one-year diploma courses, there are many reputed institutes offering three- year vocational degree courses.
Students should have good communicational and reasoning skills and enjoy interacting with people from all walks of life.

Hotel Management (H.M) Course

Largely institutes and colleges offering H.M courses train students on theory aspects, and provide internship training for few months. Depending on the corporate network that the institute has, students can be offered placements by the in-house placement cell. The disadvantage is that students during their course of study are not exposed much to real life work scenarios. This often leads to huge problems when students have to face job pressures and challenges. It is here that The Hotel School (THS), Delhi offers a HOTEL MANAGEMENT COURSE IN DELHI, with a difference.

The Hotel School

The institute offers both a Diploma as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Vocational hotel management from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. It is also an affiliated training partner for National Skill Development Organization and Tourism & Hospitality Skill Council. THS curriculum includes in detail everything related to hotels and the hospitality industry.
The highlight of their course is the Work Integrated Training Programme (WITP). This gives students access to 720 hours of practical training along with their theory classes. THS students undertake practical training with leading hotel chains in Delhi. The industry partners also get a first-hand experience of the student caliber, leading to easy placements. The students earn a stipend during their training and this greatly boosts their interest and morale. THS, is a well-known name with a superb track record in hospitality industry. It has also won many awards for its unique programme.

Job Prospects

Apart from Hotels, students can also find good work opportunities in airline catering, clubs, cruise ships, hospital administration, forest lodges, merchant navy, restaurants, and can even look at being an entrepreneur.
It would not be wrong to say that with a HOTEL MANAGEMENT COURSE IN DELHI, students can look towards a life time career which is satisfying both professionally and as well as financially. If you are looking for a similar career in your life, do reach out to The Hotel School today.
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Michael Kors x Versace, Tesla Q3 deliveries are slightly greater than consensus, Dell exploring going public, Apple is not going to produce “risqué” shows and more

DOW JONES Apple (AAPL) – The tech behemoth has said it would not produce scripted shows with “risqué themes” for its upcoming streaming service, unlike competitors Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX) and AT&T’s (T) HBO, saying it did not want any negative images associated with the brand. Elsewhere the co. has begun establishing contingency plans if delays occur in the construction of its new London HQ at the landmark Battersea Power Station. (Newswires)
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) – The co.’s Janssen Pharmaceutical announced its Phase 3 study of esketamine, a nasal spray for treatment-resistant depression, did not meet its primary endpoint was not met with statistical significance relative to the placebo and therefore could not be formally evaluated. (Newswires)
JPMorgan (JPM) – The bank has announced branch network expansions in Philadelphia and Delaware Valley as well as several other new commitments. (Newswires)
Nike (NKE) – The sports goods co. has had its price target raised to USD 96 from USD 90 at Stifel ahead of its Q1 earnings, citing positive data from a survey of 1,252 consumers. (Newswires)
S&P500 Abbott (ABT) – The med tech co. revealed positive clinical results from its COAPT study for its MitraClip device, which gives guideline-directed medical therapy in select patients with secondary mitral regurgitation, or a leaky heart valve, as a result of advanced heart failure. The study achieved the primary safety and efficacy endpoints as well as all secondary endpoints. (Newswires)
Airlines (DAL, AAL, UAL, LUV) - Lawmakers dropped a 'reasonable fee' proposal for luggage change fees from legislation reauthorizing the FFA. (Newswires)
Alexion (ALXN) – The med tech co. announced successful results from its Phase 3 PREVENT study of Soliris in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, the study met its primary endpoint and reduced NMOSD relapse by 94.2% in comparison to the placebo. (Newswires)
Arconic (ARNC) – The aerospace co.’s rising price tag (approaching USD 20bln) could potentially defer interest from bidders such as Apollo (APO), KKR (KKR), Blackstone (BX) and Carlyle Group (CG) for a planned leverage buyout; this is as the co. reaches a cyclical high. (Newswires)
BlackRock (BLK) – The asset manager, alongside other funds with a focus on distressed debt, are in early discussions to fund Argentinian co.s who have struggled gaining access to international bond and loan markets. (Newswires)
Boston Scientific (BSX) – The med tech co. announced positive data from its IMPERIAL trial, the first head-to-head drug-eluting stent trial in the superficial femoral artery. Elsewhere, the co. has received Premarket Approval from the FDA to market its Eluvia Drug-Eluting Vascular Stent System. (Newswires)
Comcast (CMCSA), Fox (FOXA), Sky (SKY LN) – The result from the highly anticipated auction of UK broadcaster Sky revealed Comcast as the highest bidder, offering GBP 17.28/shr, where it will acquire the co. for a diluted value of USD 40bln. Sky has urged its shareholders to accept Comcast’s offer, saying it is in their best interests. Fox, who already has a 39% stake in Sky, is considering its options on what to do with it. Comcast has also pledged to let Sky keep its autonomy, saying it will keep Sky’s current CEO Jeremy Darroch. (Newswires)
Digital Reality Trust (DLR) – The co.’s Brazilian subsidiary, Stellar Participacoes, will acquire the Brazilian data centre provider, Ascenty, for approximately USD 1.8bln. (Newswires)
Duke Energy (DUK) – As of Friday evening, the energy co. had restored nearly 1.8mln power outages in the Carolinas over the past week following hurricane Florence. (Newswires)
LabCorp (LH) – The healthcare co. issued a statement, expressing its disappointment, in response to the decision from the US District Court for the District of Columbia in ACLA Azar to dismiss the laboratory industry’s lawsuit to halt cuts to Medicare reimbursements. (Newswires)
Medtronic (MDT) – The med tech co. revealed the outcome from its BIONYX study, the first all-comers analysis in nearly 2,500 patients for the treatment of coronary artery disease. It showed no statistically significant difference in outcomes for the Resolute Onyx DP-DES treated group at 4.5% compared to 4.7% with the Orsiro BP-DES. Elsewhere, the co. presented three-year data from its IN.PACT Global Study that continued to prove the safety, durability and consistency of the IN.PACT Admiral drug-coated balloon in real-world patients with peripheral arterial disease. (Newswires)
Michael Kors (KORS) – The fashion brand is reportedly close to acquiring Italian fashion brand Versace for USD 2bln, other potential buyers include Tiffany (TIF). Versace has been seeking a listing since Blackstone (BX) purchased a 20% stake in the co. (Newswires)
Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) – The cruise co. has had its price target raised to USD 165 from USD 147 at Stifel. (Newswires)
United Airlines (UAL) – The co.’s pilots, via the Air Line Pilots Association, have refused to let the co. alter contract clauses related to the outsourcing of regional flight routes. (Newswires)
WellCare Health Plans (WCG) – The Medicaid provider has elected former Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, to its board of directors. (Newswires)
Barron’s still believes Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK) is under-priced, even though its share price has risen 15% since July 17th. (Newswires)
Barron’s showed optimism for med tech stocks, in particular Boston Scientific (BSX) and Intuitive Surgical (ISRG), it believes they are trading at a premium given rapid sales growth and low supply. (Newswires)
Barron’s showed preference for manufacturers and banks as the US economy gains momentum, favoured stocks included: Caterpillar (CAT), Applied Materials (AMAT), BorgWarner (BWA), KeyCorp (KEY) and Parker-Hannifin (PH). (Newswires) Barron’s listed Apple (AAPL), Cisco (CSCO), Intel (INTC), IBM (IBM), Microsoft (MSFT) and Oracle (ORCL) as names that are providing solid dividends, especially relative to the peripheral tech sector. (Newswires)
NASDAQ 100 Alphabet (GOOGL) – In an internal memo, the tech giant’s CEO Sundar Pichai warned against letting employee’s personal politics leak into the workplace, who also said the co. is not biased towards any viewpoint. Elsewhere, the White House is considering an antitrust investigation into online platform bias at both Google and Facebook (FB), citing discrimination of conservatives / republicans. (Newswires)
Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTSH) – The IT co. has named Michael Patsalos-Fox as chairman who will replace John Klein after 15 years in the position; Klein will remain a board member. (Newswires)
Mylan (MYL) – The pharma co. has announced a strategic partnership with Atomo Diagnostics to commercialize CE-Marked in vitro HIV rapid diagnostic tests for self-testing in low- and middle-income countries; it plans to launch in early 2019. (Newswires)
PayPal (PYPL) – The payments co. is to replace its Venmo service executive, Amit Jhawar, who only joined in August. This is in efforts to accelerate the service’s profitability. (Newswires)
Symantec (SYMC) – The software co. announced no changes will be made to previously reported earnings nor any employment changes will be made following the audit committee. (Newswires)
Tesla (TSLA) – Goldman Sachs has said the automaker’s Q3 deliveries are slightly greater than consensus. (Newswires)
OTHER NEWS Apollo (APO) – Former senior manging director of the private equity firm, Imran Siddiqui, has expressed concerns over the way the co. conducts business with affiliate Athene Holding (ATH), citing poor risk profiling and excessive asset management fees. (Newswires)
Construction Names – Following hurricane Florence, construction prices will be higher than usual due to the China trade tariffs being implemented on key products such as lumber, steel and aluminium; public co.s in the crosshairs include Weyerhaeuser (WY), Rayonier (RYN) and Rayonier Advanced Materials (RYAM). (Newswires)
Dell (DVMT) – The computer co. is said to be exploring going public via a traditional IPO, rather than an acquisition, and is planning to interview several banks this week. (Newswires)
Enable Midstream (ENBL) – The energy co. has announced the development of a new interstate natural gas pipeline, it will connect large supply locations with heavy export markets on the Gulf Coast; expected competition in 2022. (Newswires)
IDACORP (IDA) – The electric co. announced the increase of its quarterly dividend to USD 0.63/shr, an increase of 6.8%. (Newswires)
New York Times (NYT) – Expedia Group’s (EXPE) President of the Brand Expedia Group, Aman Bhutani, has joined the newspaper co.’s board of directors. (Newswires)
Pandora (P) – Sirius XM Holdings (SIRI) is to acquire the music streaming co. in an all-stock deal valued at around USD 3.5bln or USD 10.14/shr. Additionally, Pandora reiterates Q3 guidance. (Newswires)
Pembina Pipeline (PBA) – The pipeline co. has raised its FY18 Adj. EBITDA to USD 2.75bln-2.85bln. (Newswires)
Randgold Resources (GOLD) - The co. has confirmed the merger with Barrick Gold (ABX) valued at USD 18.3bln, creating the world's largest gold company by value and output. (Newswires)
Sarepta (SRPT) – The co. announced its clinical hold on Duchenne muscular dystrophy micro-dystrophin gene therapy programme was lifted; the co. in response submitted its plan to the FDA and is hoping to register for trial by the end of this year. (Newswires)
Shire (SHPG), Takeda (TKPYY) – One of the biggest stakeholders in Takeda Pharmaceuticals has raised concerns on the value that would be created from acquiring Shire for USD 62bln. (Newswires)
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Some news you may have missed out on part 99.

Apologies, I had some personal issues.
-Netflix Confirms Partnership With Telenor Pakistan – Discount Bundles Expected
Telenor Pakistan has unveiled its partnership with Netflix Pakistan, the global leading internet video streaming service. As a part of Partnership, Telenor’s corporate and postpaid users in Pakistan will have the accessibility to add Netflix subscription fee to their monthly bill, eliminating the need of having Debit or Credit card to their Netflix accounts. New and existing Netflix users having Telenor sims will be able to select Telenor Pay options in their checkout box, so they can pay it via mobile.
-Pakistan Hindu Council dedicates upcoming Holi to Pakistan Day
Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) Sunday unanimously decided dedicating upcoming Holi festival, being celebrated on March 20, to Pakistan. Pakistan Hindu Council, in connection with Holi festival and Pakistan Day, will hold a colorful mega event on Wednesday, March 20, at the Shri Panchumukhi Hanuman Temple, Soldier Bazar, Karachi.
A large number of Pakistani Hindu families, holding national flags, will be present to demonstrate their love for beloved Pakistan. Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is also patron-in-chief of Pakistan Hindu Council said that patriotic Pakistani Hindu community has decided to celebrate the Holi in a very unique way.
-SBP Plans Low-Cost Housing Scheme for Disabled, Widows & Transgender
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is planning to launch a low-cost housing scheme for widows, children of martyrs, special persons, transgender citizens and people severely affected by terrorism. In this regard, the beneficiaries of the scheme will get a financing facility of up to Rs. 2.7 million from Islamic banks and Islamic banking divisions for housing units with a maximum limit of Rs. 3 million.
The beneficiary will be required to buy a plot and construct a house on it but they should be first time owners and should never have availed any financing facility from any bank and financial institution. The beneficiaries will repay the amount of financing in the next 12 and a half years including a maximum grace period of six months. The repayment of the amount will be made with a 5 percent additional amount.
-First plea filed in tribal court as judicial system becomes functional in erstwhile FATA
First plea has been filed in a tribal court on Monday after establishment of the judicial system in the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa (KP), ARY News reported. The newly established judicial system has started working in the tribal districts in which a student hailing from Khyber Agency has filed plea for not registering him in the college.
-Turkish firms to modernise Pakistani submarines.
Turkey's Defense Technologies Engineering and Trade Inc. (STM) will add some state-of-the-art features to Pakistan's Agosta 90B submarines as part of a modernization program. Pakistan's Ministry of Defense in 2016 chose STM over the submarines' French manufacturer for the modernization. The company has since paved the way for Turkish engineering exports, in an area that requires expertise in advanced technology.
The tender initially included an Agosta 90B submarine half-life modernization and was later expanded with the addition of modernization works for a second submarine. As part of the program, STM will enhance the capabilities of Pakistani submarines with the addition of Torpedo Countermeasure Systems and acoustic measurement sensors. To that end, an amendment to the initial contract was recently signed by STM General Manager Murat İkinci.
-Canadian investors urged to benefit from Pakistan’s liberal market economy
High Commissioner of Pakistan in Canada Raza Bashir Tarar urged the Canadian investors to avail the opportunity of investment in Pakistan as the country had a liberal market economy with no restraint on repatriation of dividends for the foreign investors. The high commissioner said this in a meeting with Canada Pakistan Affiliated Chamber of Trade (CPACT) to discuss strategy to facilitate trade contacts between business platforms of Pakistan and Canada, according to a press release on Sunday.
He informed the businessmen associated with the chamber that improved security situation and restored macroeconomic stability in Pakistan had created a favourable environment for economic growth. The envoy emphasised on developing synergy between the chambers and trade bodies of the two countries to exploit full potential of the economic opportunities. He added that the high commission would work with the Canadian chambers and trade bodies to develop partnership with their Pakistani counterparts to explore avenues available to enhance trade relations.
-$4.1bn inflow in next two weeks, says Asad Umar
Finance Minister Asad Umar said on Saturday that there will be an inflow of around $4.1 billion in the next two weeks after which the State Bank of Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves will swell to over $12bn. Addressing a seminar on “Financing to Support Make in Pakistan”, organised by Pakistan Business Council (PBC), the minister said that an agreement has been reached with Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) for a loan of $2bn and the amount is expected to be remitted next week. He said that China is also expected to provide $2.1bn in the week thereafter.
Responding to a question, the minister said that loan from ADFD is being sought at a fixed interest rate of three per cent whereas the loan from China is being charged at 2.5pc. He explained that State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reserves, which stand at $8.116bn, will climb to over $12bn after these inflows. He said that the country’s bank deposits as a percentage of GDP stand very low as 85pc of the population believes that conventional banking is not Shariah-compliant, therefore Islamic banks will have to play their role in ensuring availability of funds in the banking system.
-Transport group imports decline 28.87pc
The imports of transport group decreased by 28.87 per cent during the first seven months of the current fiscal year compared to the same duration last year. The transport group imports during July-January (2018-19) were recorded at $1,826.127 million against the imports of $2,567.322 million during July-January (2017-18), according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
Among the transport group, the imports of Completely Built Units (CBU) buses, trucks and other heavy vehicles decreased by 40.05 per cent – from $147.743 million last year to $88.574 million, whereas the imports of CBU motor cars decreased by 36.08 per cent – from $302.616 million to $193.430. The imports of CBU motorcycles also witnessed a negative growth of 41.19 per cent by falling from $3.982 million to $2.342 million.
-Promotion of fintech imperative for economic growth: Asad Umar
Pakistan Business Council on Saturday organised an event titled “Financing to Support: Make in Pakistan” at a local hotel in Karachi. The event was attended by important stakeholders ranging from startups, SMEs, agribusinesses to regulators, bankers and government officials.
In his opening speech, PBC CEO Ehsan Malik said, “The theme of the event, ‘Make in Pakistan’, reflects the council’s efforts in promoting the industrial sector of the country. Pakistan is deindustrializing at an alarming rate, from a high of 17.5pc of the GDP, the share of manufacturing dropped down to 12.1pc in 2018. This drop in the share of manufacturing has led to a reduction in the share of manufactured goods in Pakistan’s exports, besides a reduction in Pakistan’s share in the global exports.” Although the speakers were only given a time slot of 20 to 25 minutes to submit their presentations, they were still able to touch upon a variety of financing issues plaguing their respective sectors and present alternate models that could work as solutions.
-Around 835 people will be given jobs in Qatar, KP CM vows
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan announced on Saturday that around 835 skilled workers from Miramshah will be given jobs in Qatar.
After Prime Minister Imran Khan’s meeting with his Qatari counterpart Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani in Doha on January 21, a foreign office official had said that Pakistan would also discuss the issue of exporting Pakistani manpower to Qatar under which the people of Miramshah will be provided employment. During his speech, CM Khan said that the students who score well in their exams will be granted Rs30,000 to Rs50,000 as a prize.
“An interest-free loan will also be provided to the youth of Miramshah to set up businesses,” the CM stated. “Tourism will be promoted in Miramshah and all the problems regarding the IDPs of Waziristan will be resolved at the earliest.”
-Govt to Privatize TIP, PTCL and 47 Other Organizations
The federal government has decided to privatize Telephone Industries of Pakistan (TIP) and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd. (PTCL). This was revealed before the National Assembly Standing Committee on Privatization which met with Syed Mustafa Mahmood in the chair. The committee was informed that the government has decided to privatize 49 organizations within the next five years, comprising of two phases.
-Set up of the first information security conference in Pakistan
-Pakistan Foreign Exchange Reserves register significant increase
The total liquid foreign reserves held by the country stood at US$14,956.2 million on March 01, 2019, said weekly report issued by the State Bank here on Thursday.
-Popular Youtube Tourist Drew Binsky annoucnes Pakistan tour.
-Pakistan's first Dalit woman senator to champion girls' education
As the first woman senator from Pakistan’s lowest Dalit caste, Krishna Kumari Kohli has an ambitious to-do list, from tackling honor killings to kidnappings and child marriage. But for the former child bride from a poor Hindu family, the need to improve women and girls’ health and education in the conservative Muslim-majority nation is closest to her heart.
“Never in my wildest of dreams did I think I’d ever become a senator,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Kohli’s election on Saturday marks a milestone in Pakistan both as a woman - who hold about one in five parliamentary seats - and as a member of the Dalit caste - a term she rejects as derogatory.
-PM Imran approves first-ever tariff policy
Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved first-ever tariff policy recommended by the Ministry of Commerce devised after detailed consultation, ARY News reported on Wednesday.
The new policy formulated on basis of transparency is being termed as an effective tool to simplify existing tariff structure. PM Imran Khan was briefed on the new tariff policy by the commerce secretary which will be presented before the federal cabinet after its formal approval. The premier was apprised that the policy was focused on gaining access to raw material and generation of employment.
-SECP: Company registration up by 26 percent
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) registered 1,290 new companies in February. As compared to the corresponding month of last financial year, it represents a growth of 26 percent raising the number of registered companies to 96,510.
The massive increase is the result of the SECP’s various reforms measures, i.e. introduction of simplified combined process for name reservation and incorporation, one window facility for company incorporation and NTN generation, reduction of fee, assistance of incorporation by facilitation wings of CROs etc. Around 75 percent companies were registered as private limited companies, while around 22 percent were registered as single member companies. Three percent were registered as public unlisted companies and limited liability partnerships (LLP).
Foreign investment has been reported in 39 new companies. These companies have foreign investors from Argentina, China, Denmark, Germany, Jordan, Kenya, Korea South, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Sweden and the US. The highest numbers of companies, i.e. 468 were registered in Islamabad, followed by 322 and 240 companies registered in Lahore and Karachi respectively.
-Govt in talks with potential buyers for Pakistan Steel privatization: official
The government has been in talks with five to six parties for privatization of Pakistan Steel, Secretary Privatization on Wednesday told the National Assembly’s standing committee on privatization.
Federal Secretary on Privatization, Rizwan Malik, in a testimony on privatization programme before the National Assembly’s standing committee here said that from Year 1991 to 2018, the governments privatized 172 state-owned entities. The buyers interested in Pakistan Steel intend to enhance the production capacity of the mill to 3.5 million tonnes, the secretary said.
-Pakistan makes offer to Iranian government over various new Railways Routes
Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad has emphasized the need to strengthen the two-way cooperation between Pakistan and Iran in rail sector.
He was talking to Islamic Republic News Agency during his visit to Iran. The Minister said Pakistan can send its products to Central Asian and European states using the Iranian rail network. Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad said Iran and Pakistan should cooperate in building railway links between Taftan and Quetta and Chahbahar and Gwadar.
-Pakistan foreign remittances register significant growth
The workers remitted US $14350.53 million in the first eight months (July to February) of FY19, showing a growth of 11.82 % compared with US $12833.64 million received during the same period in the preceding year. During February 2019, the inflow of worker’s remittances amounted to US $1576.51 million, which is 9.56% lower than January 2019 and 8.71% higher than February 2018.
-Pensioner's benefits to increase
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari has said the government is committed to raise Employees' Old-Age Benefits Institution pension amount up to minimum fifteen thousand rupees by 2023. Talking to APP, he said it is imperative to utilize EOBI funds rationally to handle the expenses to be incurred in five years.
-Pakistan Arms imports reduce significantly, Weapons imports from US drastically cut by 81%: Report
Pakistan's arms imports have reduced significantly during the last five years. Pakistan Arms imports decreased by 40 per cent between 2009-13 and 2014-18. US arms exports to Pakistan fell by 81 per cent between 2009-13 and 2014-18, it said. Pakistan has instead turned to other suppliers. For example, in 2018 it ordered 4 frigates and 30 combat helicopters from Turkey.
-PM Khan issues orders issuing of directive banning ministers from using more than one car
Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken notice of ministers using more than one official car and has directed the Chief Minister of Punjab, Usman Buzdar, to issue a notification banning all provincial ministers from using more than one car.
In this regard, CM Usman Buzdar has issued a notification and has directed Additional Chief Secretary Punjab and the Department of Administration and General Services to ensure that the policy is implemented with full effect; they have been further directed to enforce this policy forthwith.
-Pakistan Turkey FTA to take bilateral trade near $4 billion
President Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Engr. Daroo Khan Achakzai has appreciated the efforts of Governments of Pakistan and Turkey to enter Strategic Economic Framework (SEF) for enhancement of bilateral relations in various sectors including trade, tourism, healthcare, hospitality, industry, education, housing, agriculture, aviation and banking. He stated the main purpose of SEF was to enhance bilateral trade by five times from current volume of $ 800 million (approximately). For achieving this goal, it was expected that both the governments might sign Free Trade Agreement during the current year. Pakistan and Turkey both were the members of ECO, D-8, CACCI and OIC and the existing trade volume does not reflect the strong friendly relations, said a FPCCI release here on Monday. FPCCI president urged the government of Pakistan to resolve/negotiate on all anti-dumping barriers imposed by Turkey on Pakistani textile and other items before the signing of the FTA .
-Pakistan inks CPEC Phase II with China
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday said Pakistan had made an agreement for phase two of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) agreement with China
-KP launches afforestation plan
The Khyber Pakthunkhwa Government has started work on a gigantic afforestation plan to increase forest areas up to 30 percent in next five years to mitigate growing effects of global warming and climate change in the country.
Under the plan, Billion Trees Afforestation Project (BTAP) has been extended to merged tribal districts of erstwhile FATA to use its vast land for plantation and efforts would be made to enhance forest cover to 30 percent from existing 26.3pc by 2023 in Khyber Pakthunkhwa, a senior official of Forest Department KP told APP on Sunday.
-Pakistan to receive $2 billion cash from friendly country
Abu Dhabi has agreed to deposit US$2 billion to the State Bank of Pakistan as part of its agreement to loan $3 billion to Islamabad. A deposit agreement was made between the State Bank of Pakistan and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development on Saturday. The funds are expected to be received shortly. In January, the State Bank of Pakistan received $1 billion of the $3 billion loan promised to the country by the UAE . The rate of return for the loan is 3%.
-Pakistan National Savings register unprecedented rise of 126%
The Central Directorate of National Savings (CDNS) has achieved the net target of Rs217 billion during first eight months (Jul-Feb) of the financial year 2018-19, as compared to the collection of Rs96 billion during the same period last year, showing a surge of 126pc. The total savings held by the CDNS stood at Rs1,376 billion as of February 28 while the directorate had Rs726 billion by the same date a year ago, a senior official of CDNS said.
-26 LPG Plants worth Rs 48 billions to be installed in Balochistan
Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar on Friday said that Rs48 billions has been released for establishment of 26 LPG air-mix plants in Balochistan to meet the gas demand there.
-Exxon Mobil report on Pakistani oil and gas discoveries to be released on March 15th
Drilling was stopped due to the srill strking ample rock, causing damage. The drilling will be resumed again in next two to three days after replacement of necessary parts in the equipment. Mehmood Molvi said offshore drilling report was due to be submitted on March 7, but it will now be released after March 15.
-PM Imran Khan launches medical package for the people of Tharparkar
Prime Minister Imran Khan said it was his first public meeting after the general election 2018, and he opted to visit Tharparkar as it was one of the most backward districts of Sindh, where 75% people were living below poverty line and some 1300 children had died due to malnutrition over the last three to four years. Imran Khan said his main objective behind the political struggle and reaching the power corridors was to pull the people of Pakistan out of poverty. He said today 112,000 families of Chachro were getting Sehat Insaf Cards, which would provide them Rs 720,000 per annum facility for free of charge treatment of various diseases at public and private hospitals. “We will provide this facility to every family throughout the district”, he added. The Prime Minister also announced two mobile hospitals equipped with medical and surgical facilities as well as four ambulances to cater to the medical needs of people in far flung areas of District Tharparkar. In order to address the water problem faced by the people of Tharparkar, he also announced the sanction of 100 reverse osmosis (RO) plants, to be installed in the area. The Prime Minister said the federal government would also provide electricity to the far flung areas of Tharparkar through solar system, which would also help run the RO plants in the area. He said the federal government would do whatever it could to help lift up the people of Tharparkar, who had left behind other areas of the country. The Prime Minister announced the launching of a political campaign in Sindh and invited the political workers and leaders to join Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf in serving the people of the province.
-Chinese company expresses interest in investing billions of dollars in PM's housing plan
HSS Group Wednesday expressed its commitment to allocate US$2 billion in partnership with Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group Co Ltd (XCMG) of China for building the five million homes project of the prime minister. This commitment was expressed by a delegation headed by XCMG General Manager Dr Hanson Liu and HSS Facility Management Chairman Syed Saman Hashemi, which called on Prime Minister Imran Khan here. Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood and Special Assistant to PM Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari were also present during the meeting. HSS Group is a global partner of XCMG and other major Chinese companies. XCMG is China’s nimber one leading total solution provider for global construction industry equipment and machinery. XCMG also expressed its willingness to set up a heavy equipment manufacturing plant/assembly-line in Pakistan. The prime minister was apprised that XCMG with its expertise of constructing high-rise buildings and housing units wanted to partner in prime minister’s five million housing program.
-NFIS targets three million new jobs, $5.5bn additional exports by 2023
The government has set a target of creating at least three million new jobs and additional exports of $5.5 billion by 2023. National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), according to the Ministry of Finance, will enhance the usage of digital payments to 65 million active digital transaction accounts, increase deposit-to-GDP ratio to 55pc, promote financing to 700,000 small and medium enterprises, increase agricultural finance disbursements to Rs.1.8 trillion, serve six million farmers through digitalised solutions and enhance the share of Islamic banking to 25pc in the banking industry.
Chairing a meeting of the NFIS Council on Tuesday, Finance Minister Asad Umar said that his government was fully committed to improving the livelihoods of Pakistanis through job creation, promotion of entrepreneurship and enhancement in the access to formal financial services. During the 6th meeting of NFIS Council, Asad Umar said that the government prioritized NFIS as part of its agenda to achieve inclusive economic growth through digitalization of government payments, enhanced access to finance and deposit base, promotion of SMEs, easy and affordable access to finance to farmers, facilitation in low-cost housing finance and provision of Shariah-compliant banking solutions.
-Opportunity for Pakistan as US withdraws duty-free benefits from India
Pakistan is ready to avail the opportunity that emerged after the announcement made by the US that it was withdrawing special duty benefits on Indian exports under the Generalized System of Preference (GSP). “On March 5, the United States decided to withdraw import duty benefits which were in the range of 1-6pc, under its GSP programme,” a senior official of the Ministry of Commerce and Textiles told APP on Thursday.
He said that the US gave the status of GSP to 121 developing countries, including India, Afghanistan and Botswana, in order to get non-reciprocal, duty-free imports of certain products. “Around 2,000 Indian products were enjoying the duty-free status before the announcement.” The senior official said that the United States and Pakistan would discuss the matter in the coming meeting of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which would be held this month. The meeting would also deliberate upon resolving different trade issues between the two countries, he added.
-South Asia’s first ever remote-controlled cranes arrive in Pakistan
Hutchison Ports Pakistan received three new remote-controlled quay cranes to mark the beginning of the terminal’s second phase in Karachi. The development will make Pakistan the first country in the South Asia region to install semi-automated, cabin-less cranes.
Hutchison Ports Pakistan, the country’s first and only deep-water container port, received the first installment of these high-tech cranes as part of its agreement signed with Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co Ltd (ZPMC) for the purchase of eight new cabin-less remote-controlled quay cranes and 24 remote-controlled rubber-tired gantry cranes (RTGCs). This incoming equipment will be the first of its kind in the country. Hutchison Ports Pakistan is the first container terminal in Pakistan that has adopted remote-controlled, semi-automatic and driver-less cab technology for its quay cranes. The new remote-controlled quay cranes will be able to lift a container weighing up to 65 tonnes under the spreader, ensuring safe and smooth operations.
-Rs 530 million illegally sent abroad have been recovered through its Assets Recovery Unit (ARU).
Rs 530 million illegally sent abroad have been recovered through its Assets Recovery Unit (ARU). “The amount has been recovered after tracing offshore properties and bank accounts”, sources said.
-Delegation of Mitsubishi Corporation encouraged by the business friendly policies
Kimihide Ando said that the company is encouraged by the business friendly policies of the present government and intends to further strengthen its footprint especially in meeting energy requirements of the country.
He also conveyed to the Prime Minister that the Government of Japan has decided to increase its engagement with Pakistan and support Japanese companies in increasing investment in Pakistan. The Prime Minister welcomed the decision of Japanese Government and the interest of Mitsubishi Corporation regarding exploration of greater business opportunities in Pakistan.
-Benami law implemented
PTI government has finally implemented the Benami Act in a bid to document the economy. It has given a go-ahead to the tax officials to seize properties, vehicles, and bank accounts registered with fictitious individuals. From now onwards, all moveable and immovable assets registered with fictional entities to avoid taxes will be confiscated.
The law will finally take effect today following a delay of more than two years. Notably, the term ‘Benami’ means holding assets or properties in the name of a person other than the benefiter of that account.
-Pakistan and Turkmenistan sign final version of TAPI Gas Pipeline network
Pakistan and Turkmenistan signed the final version of the Host Government Agreement on TAPI Gas Pipeline network in Islamabad today. The agreement was signed by the Secretary Petroleum Mian Asad Hayauddin and Chief Executive of TPCL Amanov.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan reiterated Pakistan's commitment for an early and successful implementation of the TAPI project. He hoped the ground breaking of the project will be held in Pakistan this year.
-230 Pakistanis released from Saudi Arabia jail reach home
Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development Zulfikar Bukhari on Tuesday said 230 Pakistanis released from Saudi Arabia’s jail had reached the country, ARY News reported.
“The previous governments did not do anything for overseas Pakistanis. The ministry of overseas Pakistanis was known for corruption in Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) and Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI),” Zulfikar Bukhari said in a statement.
Every department of the ministry was ruined and the incumbent government would require some time to fix them, he said adding that he was not eager to announce new housing scheme for the OPF. “I want to first deliver to those from whom the ministry got money in the past.”
-Pakistan successfully test fires extended range missile from JF-17 Thunder
Pakistan Air Force successfully test fired indigenously developed extended range smart weapon from JF-17 multi-role fighter aircraft, today.
It is indeed a great milestone as the weapon has been developed, integrated and qualified solely through indigenous efforts of Pakistani scientists and engineers. The successful trial has provided JF-17 Thunder a very potent and assured day and night capability to engage variety of targets with pinpoint accuracy.
-Barca legend Puyol to visit Pakistan for WSS promotion
Barcelona legend Carles Puyol will land in Karachi on March 16 to officially kick-off the ticket sales for the 2019 World Soccer Stars event. Teams led by football greats Luis Figo and Ricardo Kaka will play two matches in Lahore and Karachi respectively between April 26 and 29. Earlier, french great Nicolas Anelka visited Islamabad for the promotion of the event, after Figo and Kaka visited Pakistan too.
-Choppers to take tourists to northern areas
In line with directives of the prime minister, the government has decided for the first time to issue licenses to private airlines to commence helicopter services in the northern areas. The separate category of license will be issued in order to promote licenses and will be known as Tourism Promotion and Regional Integration (TPRI). The firms desiring to offer helicopter services at the tourist spots will have licenses issued on their requests in two months and they will be valid for five years.
-Punjab aims to achieve 7% economic growth by 2023
After seven months in power, the provincial government of Punjab has revealed its growth strategy for 2018-23, reflecting the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) long-term plan. The five-year plan is aimed at developing a people-centric growth strategy and addressing fundamental and structural imbalances in Punjab. Economic managers of the province want to move towards sustainable and regionally equitable economic growth.
The provincial government aims to achieve annual growth of 7% by 2023 through these strategies. The government also plans to reduce the ratio of idle youth in Punjab from 10.3% in 2017-18 to 8.8%. The success of the policy is conditional as the provincial government needs to launch vigorous efforts to raise its own resources.
-Govt approves machine tool factory’s revival plan
The government has approved the handing over of Pakistan Machine Tools Factory (PMTF) to the Strategic Plans Division in an effort to turn around the ailing state-owned tools manufacturing unit. The Ministry of Industries and Production informed the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet, in a meeting held last month, that PMTF’s assets as on June 30, 2018 were worth Rs6.92 billion and its liabilities stood at Rs5.59 billion. The liabilities included overdraft of Rs1.108 billion, accrued mark-up of Rs700 million and outstanding arrears of Rs865 million in salary and retirement benefits.
The ministry proposed three options for PMTF’s revival which included injection of Rs3.94 billion by the government comprising a soft loan of Rs2.105 billion and grant of Rs1.84 billion. The company management has projected a pre-tax profit of Rs195 million by financial year 2022-23.
-Govt approves Rs2bn worth Ramazan relief package
The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet, while deliberating upon a summary proposed by the Ministry of Industries and Production on Tuesday, approved Rs2 billion worth Ramazan relief package for the year 2019. According to sources, the Ministry of Industries and Production recommended the ECC to add 19 essential commodities, including ghee, sugar, flour, oil, pulses (channa, moong, mash, masoor), white gram, baisen, dates, rice (basmati, sella, broken), squashes & syrups (1,500ml and 800ml bottles), black tea, spices and milk, in the relief package for Ramazan.
“The main objective of the subsidy is to ensure the availability of essential commodities at reasonable prices for low-income families,” sources said, adding that the ministry also proposed the ECC to bring the Ramazan relief package to effect from May 1, 2019, as the holy month would commence from the second week of May. Sources said that the cabinet in its sitting this Thursday would most likely endorse the ECC’s decision with regard to the Ramazan package.
-Pakistan to offer gas fields to foreign explorers, investors
Pakistan plans to offer dozens of gas field concessions in the coming year to fill in a fuel shortage, a senior official said, with Islamabad hoping a sharp drop in militant violence and changes to exploration policy will attract foreign investors. Much of the mineral-rich South Asian nation remains unexplored despite gas discoveries dating back to the 1950s. Conventional gas reserves are estimated at 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf), or 560 billion cubic meters, and shale gas reserves, which are untouched, at more than 100 tcf.
Italy’s ENI and US oil major Exxon Mobil are jointly drilling for gas offshore in Pakistan’s Arabian Sea, but many other Western companies have not returned after leaving more than a decade ago because of Islamist militant violence. Nadeem Babar, head of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Task Force on Energy Reforms, said that the government was amending its natural gas regulation and drawing up its first-ever shale gas policy, with licensing rounds to follow later this year.
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Numerical and A 1k-5k

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