Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Renewed Construction Boom in Pakistan

Renewed construction boom in Pakistan has helped the nation's cement producers significantly increase their sales and profits. Year-over-year, income at Lucky Cement, Pakistan's largest producer of building materials,  is up 33% while DG Khan Cement, second largest cement company, has quadrupled its profits.

Source: Credit Suisse Report on Pakistan Cement Sector
Cement production, an important barometer of national economic activity, was up 8% in 2011-12, according to a research report compiled by a Credit Suisse analyst.

CS analyst Farhan Rizvi says in his report that "higher PSDP (Public Sector Development Program) spending has led to a resurgence in domestic cement demand in FY12 (+8%) and with increased PSDP allocation for FY13 (+19%) and General Elections due in Feb-Mar 2013, domestic demand is likely to remain robust over the next six-nine months".

Nagan Chowrangi Interchange in Karachi
 Ongoing public sector projects include new large and small dams, irrigation canals, power plants, highways, flyovers, airports, seaports, etc. Most of these were already in the pipeline when the PPP government assumed control in 2008. Recent pre-election increases in PSDP funding allowed work to resume on these projects in 2011-12.

In addition to public sector infrastructure projects, there is a lot of privately funded real estate development activity visible in all major cities of the country. Big real estate developers like Bahria Town and Habib Construction are developing both commercial and housing projects in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. Other cities like Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Larkana, Multan, Mirpur, Peshawar and Quetta are also seeing new housing communities, golf courses, hotels, office complexes, restaurants, shopping malls, etc.

Artist's Rendering of Sheraton Islamabad Golf City Resort 
 Credit Suisse is bullish on Pakistan's cement sector in particular and Pakistani shares in general.

CS analyst Farhan Rizvi has initiated coverage with "an OVERWEIGHT stance, as we believe compelling valuations, improving domestic demand outlook, better pricing power and easing cost pressures make the sector an attractive investment proposition. Despite better growth prospects (3-year CAGR of 17% over FY12-15E) and improving margins, the sector trades at an attractive FY13E EV/EBITDA of 3.8x, 49% discount to the historical average multiple of 7.4x. Moreover, FY13E EV/tonne of US$74 is approximately 29% discount to historical average EV/tonne of US$104 and 50% discount to the region".

Another CS analyst Farrukh Khan, based in Credit Suisse’ Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore,says in his research report that “liquidity in 2012 has been concentrated in stocks offering positive earnings surprises (e.g., United Bank, Lucky Cement, DG Khan Cement and Bank Alfalah), enabling them to be strong outperformers. With further improvements in liquidity, we expect a broad-based price discovery to take hold in attractively valued oil and fertilizer stocks as well.”

 A string of strong earnings announcements by Karachi Stock Exchange listed companies and the Central Bank's 1.5% rate cut have already helped the KSE-100 index gain 32% in US dollar terms year to date.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Strong Earnings Propel KSE-100 to 4 Year High 

Development in Pakistan-Defence.pk

Credit Suisse on Pakistan Cement Sector

Credit Suisse Research Report on Pakistan Equities

Tax Evasion Fosters Aid Dependence

Poll Finds Pakistanis Happier Than Neighbors

Pakistan's Rural Economy Booming

Pakistan Car Sales Up 61%

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers

Land For Landless Women in Pakistan

56 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on KSE-100 hitting a new high today:

KARACHI:

As investors shrugged off lethargy from the long Eidul Azha weekend, the stock market rebounded amid greater investor participation to close at a new historic high.

“With renewed buying interest from institutional clients and foreign fund managers, the market closed at yet another historic high,” said Topline Securities equity dealer Samar Iqbal. “Investors anticipate lower inflation figures for the month of October, due [to be announced] tomorrow. Bullish sentiments were further augmented after better-than-expected result announcements from Pakistan Petroleum and the Hub Power Company.”

The Karachi Stock Exchange’s (KSE) benchmark 100-share index gained 0.72% or 114.18 points to end at the 15,910.11 points level. Trade volumes surged to 136 million shares compared with Tuesday’s tally of 85 million shares. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs4.96 billion.

“Pakistan stocks closed at their highest-ever, led by oil and cement stocks, as global commodities and stocks rally in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” commented Arif Habib Corp analyst Ahsan Mehanti. He also attributed the market’s optimism to the positive current account balance for the first quarter of the fiscal year, and speculation that the State Bank might announce yet another cut in its policy rate next month.

“Major activity was again seen in the cement sector with DG Khan Cement and Lucky Cement gaining 2.0% and 3.1% respectively,” reported JS Global analyst Shakir Padela. “This is likely on the back of October cement dispatch numbers due to be announced in the coming days.”

DG Khan Cement was the volume leader with 14.98 million shares gaining Rs1.04 to finish at Rs52.91. It was followed by Azgard Nine with 9.00 million shares gaining Rs0.46 to close at Rs6.97 and Askari Bank with 7.73 million shares losing Rs0.07 to close at Rs16.57.

“The Oil and Gas Development Company also managed to close the day up by 2.2% on the back of foreign buying in the script,” added Padela.

Foreign institutional investors were net buyers of Rs264.33 million, according to data maintained by the National Clearing Company of Pakistan Limited.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/459038/market-watch-cement-oil-stocks-take-kse-to-historic-high/

Riaz Haq said...

Those who keep raising BOP crisis alarm should read the following from Business Recorder:

ABU DHABI: Pakistan expects that strong double-digit growth in remittances from Gulf region will help achieve its overall target of $15 billion in the current fiscal year 2012-13.

Remittances from Gulf Cooperation Council GCC states to Pakistan may hit $10 billion in current fiscal year as the government is confident of having positive results from fresh measures it announced to boost inflows from UAE and Saudi Arabia. Overseas Pakistanis residing in GCC countries sent home a record $8 billion in remittances in financial year 2011-12, reflecting 60.77% share in total remittances of $13.18 billion. About four million overseas Pakistanis residing in Gulf States remitted $6.573 billion in fiscal year 2010-11.
The remittances inflow from Gulf states rose about 21.71% in last fiscal year. Remittances from GCC may reach between $9.5 billion and $10 billion in current fiscal year amid hopes that same growth trend will continue. Remittances from GCC states rose to $730.56 million in July 2012 compared to $677.60 million in same month last year. Total remittances also climbed 9.89% to $1.20 billion last month, indicating a strong growth for rest of the year.
"Pakistan has been witnessing a growing surge in remittances since present democratic government took over in 2008. From mere $6.4 billion remittances in 2008, fiscal year 2011-12 saw record remittances of $13.18 billion. Hopefully, we expect to achieve $15 billion remittances target for the year 2012-13," Pakistan Ambassador to the UAE Jamil Ahmed Khan told Khaleej Times.
Saudi Arabia remained a leading source of remittances for Pakistan in Gulf region with a leading share of $349.66 million in July. The remittances inflow from UAE stood at $240.54 million and other GCC states contributed $140.36 million last month.
---
Remittances witnessed 17.67% annual growth in last fiscal year inviting attention of economic managers to exploit opportunity for enhancing remittances to the maximum.
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Analysts say rising foreign remittances has not only brought stability to value of Pakistani rupee, but also played key role in narrowing down gap between foreign payments and receipts. The rising remittances, second major source of foreign exchange earnings after exports, practically helped the country with record foreign exchange reserves despite high oil prices and costly imports.
According to World Bank data, Pakistan has become fifth largest remittances recipient developing country in 2011 after India ($58 billion), China ($57 billion), Mexico ($24 billion), and the Philippines ($23 billion). World Bank estimated that remittance flows are expected to continue growing, with global remittances expected to exceed $593 billion by 2014, of which $441 billion will flow to developing countries.


http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/1-front-top-news/75569-pakistan-expects-to-achieve-overall-target-of-15bn-remittances-in-fiscal-year-2012-13.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an LA Times story on plans for Zulfikarabad:

SHAH BANDAR, Pakistan — In his dreams, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari sees a spectacular metropolis rising up from the vast stretches of mangrove swamp and sea-salted wasteland along the mighty Indus River Delta.

High-speed rail zips people from place to place. Vacationers soak up the South Asian sun at seaside resorts. Universities, factories and a new seaport pump vitality into the region. Miles of bike lanes crisscross the city, whose population would eventually reach 10 million.

Zardari wants to call his jewel Zulfikarabad, after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the founder of the country's ruling party, a prime minister and president, and the father of Zardari's slain wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto.

That's a lot of dreaming for a country struggling with a dizzying array of afflictions: Millions of Pakistanis are dirt poor, struggling to find clean water, contending with unreliable electricity and living in fear of violent extremists. In addition, the president has continued jousting with Pakistan's Supreme Court over long-standing graft allegations lodged years ago by Swiss authorities.

Such realities have put Zardari's popularity in a tailspin.

Many observers suspect that the president's enthusiasm for Zulfikarabad may be rooted in a burning desire to leave a legacy for this country of 180 million people. He's seeking an enduring achievement, they say, by an administration widely viewed as rife with failure.

Government officials won't place a price tag on the president's lofty vision, which is bound to cost tens of millions of dollars. They say only that the government's share would be limited to the construction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure, with the rest shouldered by investors.

Officials also say they consider the proposed city a desperately needed engine for jobs and economic growth.

Karachi, the country's largest city with a population of 18 million, is bloated with overcrowding and traffic jams, and needs a nearby city that can serve as a relief valve, they say.

"Karachi is getting choked," said Iftikhar Hussain Shah, managing director of the Zulfikarabad Development Authority. "It's going to suffer paralysis because there's no more room. So the people who are trying to look for setting up industries, they are looking for space.
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On a recent afternoon in Shah Bandar, a fishing village not far from where ground was broken this summer for a $39-million Zulfikarabad bridge, a group of sweat-soaked fishermen thumbed through a brochure promoting the city. They weren't too ruffled because they remembered a similar idea laid out by Bhutto's administration years ago to turn a nearby fishing hamlet, Keti Bandar, into a major sea port.

"Bhutto said it would happen," said Wali Mohammed, a 30-year-old Shah Bandar fisherman, "but years passed and nothing was built."


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pakistan-new-city-20121104,0,2503129.story

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on the performance of a Swedish fund investing in Pakistan:


The company is currently in the process of trying to find a distributor for the British market, where a large Pakistani expatriate population would form a natural investor base. DESIGN: ESSA MALIK
KARACHI:

One of the best performing mutual funds that invests in Pakistani stocks is based in Sweden.

The Tundra Pakistanfond, run by Stockholm-based asset management company Tundra Fonder, was launched in October 2011, within one month of the firm’s founding, and currently has the equivalent of over $40 million in assets under management, belonging to nearly 20,000 Swedish individual investors. Uniquely for European asset managers, Tundra’s Pakistan fund constitutes roughly 80% of the company’s total assets under management, tying its fortunes very closely to the Pakistani economy, or at least European investor interest in it.

But perhaps what is interesting is the fact that the fund is one of the best-performing funds that invests in Pakistan, returning approximately 21.3% in Swedish krone over the past year (about 20.2% in US dollars). That performance handily beats the MSCI Pakistan index, which rose by about 13.1% in US dollar terms during that period. The KSE-100 Index has yielded a 20.7% return in US dollars during that period.

Yet that is not Tundra’s only impressive feat. According to data provided by the Mutual Funds Association of Pakistan, Tundra’s performance, when taking into account the impact of the rupee’s depreciation, would beat all but five of the equity funds managed by firms based in Karachi, placing the Tundra Pakistanfond comfortably in the top one-third of all funds that invest in the Pakistani equity markets.

So how does Tundra do it? Its founder and CEO, Mattias Martinsson, appears to have had substantial experience in investing in emerging and frontier markets. Martinsson, 39, began his career in 1996 at a company called Hagströmer & Qviberg which specialised in offering Russian stocks to Swedish investors. That interest in Russia continues to this day, with Tundra’s only other country-specific fund being a Russia-focused fund.....

This remarkable understanding of the Pakistani market appears to come from a long-abiding interest in the country on the part of Martinsson.

“I came across Pakistan in 2005. At that time I, as most other people today, I had a lot of prejudice. I thought that Pakistan was an underdeveloped equity market, ruled by a military dictator. What I found was something very much different: IFRS [accounting standards], good corporate governance (for emerging markets), good disclosure and a well functioning equity market. In 2007, I attended a frontier markets conference in Singapore and met with ten or so Pakistani companies. Comparing them to the other attendees, I concluded that they were so far ahead, not only compared to their peers in frontier markets but also many emerging markets. I then visited Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad in early 2008 and came back excited looking for a fund to invest in. There was none. Since then it has been a dream to launch a Pakistan fund.”

While it is not the only European mutual investing exclusively in Pakistan, it appears to be the largest. And given its compliance with UCITS IV European regulations, it is eligible to be marketed throughout the European Union. The company is currently in the process of trying to find a distributor for the British market, where a large Pakistani expatriate population would form a natural investor base.

Given Tundra’s astute investment decisions so far, European investors would be wise to keep an eye on its Pakistan fund.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/459989/frontier-markets-betting-on-pakistan-pays-off-for-swedish-asset-manager/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Business Recorder report o Pakistan's cement industry:

There are signs of recovery of cement industry, which had generally recorded stagnant sales for the past four years or so, resulting in huge financial losses. The industry suffered a net loss of Rs 337 million in the first half of 2010-11 but earned a net profit of Rs 4,300 million in the first half of 2011-12. According to latest reports, total sales during fiscal year 2011-12 increased to a record level of 32.515 million tons, showing an increase of 8.84% in domestic sales and overall 3.45% increase compared to previous year as exports declined by 9.12%.

This trend of domestic sales is expected to remain in momentum in future, given the present conditions. The 2012-13 federal budget has provided more incentives and relief to cement industry such as excise duty has been slashed by Rs 200 per ton and the GST by one percent. These measures will encourage construction activities in the country.

Cement demand in any country is inextricably linked to the growth in GDP. Pakistan's 3.70 GDP in 2011-12 was lowest in the region but it is projected as 4.30 in the current financial year, following some strong prospects of economic revival. Major driver for cement consumption is infrastructure development and house-building projects. There has been an allocation of Rs 873 billion under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). A number of mega water and power sector projects are in pipeline, including Diamer Bhasha multipurpose project and two additional Chashma Nuclear Power projects, while almost 12 other large projects are planned for initiation during this financial year. Construction of a project of the size of Diamer Bhasha is estimated to create an additional cement demand in the range of 8 to 9 million tons. PSDP allocation to Wapda is to the level of Rs 76.85 billion.

There are 56 housing and works projects covered under the PSDP, besides the ongoing reconstruction and rehabilitation activities nation-wide that would be accelerated, whereas National Highway Authority will get Rs 50.73 billion. Demand of cement is thus projected to grow by more than 20% this year and in subsequent years. Currently, per capita consumption of cement in Pakistan is 131-kg, one of the lowest even among developing countries, while world average is 273-kg. To ensure future economic growth, Pakistan will need to invest considerably in its infrastructure development, despite the economic challenges it faces.

Cement industry comprises 24 cement plants with an annual installed capacity of producing 44.22 million tons of cement. Key players of the industry are Lucky Cement with combined installed capacity of 7.712 million tons of cement annually, Bestway Cement having a combined capacity of 5.914 million tons, DG Khan Cement of 4.220 million tons, Fauji Cement of 3.433 million tons, Maple Leaf Cement of 3.370 million tons and Askari Cement of 2.675 million tons. These six groups of companies represent 62% of total installed capacity for cement production in the country. While these groups have been making substantial profits, small cement producers continue to struggle to recover their operating costs...


http://www.brecorder.com/articles-a-letters/187/1222558/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of Pakistan cement and minerals case study by ABB of Switzerland:

The consumption of cement increased from 70 kg in 2003 to 120 kg/capita in 2008, a 70% increase in 5 years.

Pakistan’s cement consumption per capita is comparable to that of India’s, which is at 132 kg.

Pakistan has 28 different cement producers, 22 of which are registered on the Karachi Stock
Exchange.

Production of cement
North region, Punjab and NWPT:

approximately.
30 million tpa.

South region, Sindh and Baluchistan:
approximately 10 million tpa.
minerals


http://www05.abb.com/global/scot/scot244.nsf/veritydisplay/e7af7737478c69ecc12575e60026c013/$File/CH_EMR_2009.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a couple reports related to cement demand:

1. Business Recorder on PSDP funds release:

ISLAMABAD: The Planning Commission of Pakistan has so far released Rs87.3 billion under its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) against the total allocations of Rs233 billion for the fiscal year 2012-13.



Out of total Rs51.5 billion have been released for 344 infrastructure development projects while Rs33 billion for 673 social sector projects, according to the latest data of the Planning Commission.



Similarly,Rs08 billion have been released for 68 other projects and Rs2 billion for Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA).



According to data, these releases have been made against Rs233 PSDP allocations.



It is pertinent to mention here that the total size of the PSDP for the year 2012-13 is Rs360, including Rs100 billion foreign aid, which is managed by Economic Affairs Division and Rs27 billion special programmes, release of which are made by Cabinet Division or Finance Division.



According to break up details total cost of 344 infrastructure projects has been estimated at Rs2346.4 billion, out of which Rs210.9 billion have been earmarked in the 2012-13 budget that include Rs85.6 as foreign aid.



Likewise, the total cost of social sector projects is Rs547.1, of which Rs136.2 billion have been allocated in the current PSDP with foreign aid of Rs8.4 percent.



The cost of other projects has been estimated at Rs40.6 billion out of which Rs3 billion have been earmarked in the PSDP 2012-13 while Rs10 billion have been earmarked for ERRA in the current development programme.


http://www.brecorder.com/pakistan/general-news/89070-873bn-released-under-psdp-in-four-months.html

2. Daily Times on decline i cement exports:

Cement exports declined by 20.59% in October

* Exports to India also decline by 37.5 percent

Staff Report

KARACHI: Overall despatches of cement for the month of October 2012 declined by 5.87 percent mainly due to a drastic decline of 20.59 percent in export of cement.

Revealing the data for the month of October 2012, a spokesman of the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association said that the cement industry despatched 2.767 million tonnes of cement in October 2012 that was 5.87 percent less than 2.939 million tonnes despatched in the corresponding month of 2011.

He said in October 2012 the local cement despatches was 2.086 million tonnes, which were up by 0.19 percent as compared to 2.082 million tonnes despatched in October 2011.

He said in the first four months of this fiscal the total cement despatches stood at 10.474 million tonnes, which was slightly higher than the total despatches of 10.436 million tonnes achieved during corresponding period of last year. He said overall gain in despatches was only 0.37 percent. The capacity utilisation of the industry during July-October 2012 period stood at 70.19 percent.

He said cement exports continued their downward trend in October 2012 as well declining by a massive 20.59 percent from the exports achieved in October 2011. Pakistan exports cement to Afghanistan, India and other destinations through sea. During the period from July-October 2012, exports to Afghanistan declined by 9.46 percent to 1.634 million tonnes.

The exports to India he added declined by 37.51 percent to 0.158 million tonnes and exports to other destinations through sea increased by 2.34 percent to 1.161 million tonnes.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\11\06\story_6-11-2012_pg5_10

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on Mobilink planned 3G upgrade:

Cairo-based Orascom Telecom (OT), controlled by Russia’s Vimpelcom, said on Sunday it had awarded a deal to upgrade its Mobilink mobile phone network in Pakistan.

It signed a five-year agreement with China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and France’s Alcatel-Lucent to design, purchase, deploy and maintain the next-generation mobile network equipment and supporting services, OT said in a statement.

OT said Mobilink expected the improved capabilities to allow the firm to boost network efficiency and reduce operating costs.

The upgrade would enable the firm to offer 3G services once such licences are issued in Pakistan, it said.


http://dawn.com/2012/11/11/orascom-to-upgrade-pakistans-mobilink-cellular-network-2/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on the opening a new assembly plant for trucks and light commercial vehicles in Karachi:

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said on Saturday that it is the government’s policy to promote the private sector so that it can play a leading role in the development and prosperity of the country.

Addressing a function after formally inaugurating Al-Haj FAW Motors’ automobile assembly plant on the National Highway in the vicinity of Bin Qasim Port, the premier said the private sector is the key to economic prosperity and development of a country, and this government fully realises this.

“It is a great pleasure for me to see that our industrial group has started this very important automobile facility in partnership with China,” he remarked, and hoped that this project would prove a milestone for the automobile industry in Pakistan.

Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, Federal Minister for Defence Syed Naveed Qamar, the Chinese consul general in Karachi and a group of other provincial ministers were also present.

With the launch of its assembly line, Al-Haj FAW Motors said that the company is all set to significantly increase its market share in Pakistan in both trucks and pick-ups.

“After making a respectable impression in the trucks market of Pakistan, our company is ready to gain a share in the pick-up market also,” Al-Haj FAW Motors Chief Executive Hilal Khan Afridi told The Express Tribune on the launch day of its only plant in Karachi.

The company said that it had completed construction of its assembly line near Karachi with an investment of Rs1 billion. The plant will be capable of producing trucks, prime movers, light commercial vehicles and passenger cars.

The company has already been assembling two 1,000cc vehicles at the plant since June 2012. Afridi said that his company has sold a few hundred pick-ups assembled at this plant over the last few months.

Al-Haj FAW Motors – a joint venture between the largest and oldest Chinese vehicle maker First Automobile Works (FAW) Motors and Al-Haj Motors, an established commercial importer of heavy vehicles in Pakistan – has been importing completely built units (CBU) from China for the last few years.

With its assembly plant in action, the company is now targeting to launch new vehicles and passenger cars of 1,000-1,500cc engine capacity within the next few years. It has been assembling trucks since October 2011 and plans to produce 6,000 trucks and 12,000 light vehicles every year.

However, the company’s ambitions may be tempered by the economics of demand and supply. The truck market has slowed over the last few years in Pakistan, a representative of Hinopak Motors – the largest truck maker in Pakistan – said.

Industry officials say that the decline in overall economic activity and continuous disruptions in Nato supplies to Afghanistan have resulted in significantly low sales of trucks in Pakistan.

The installed capacity of Hinopak Motors is 5,000 trucks, but it produced only 1,237 trucks in fiscal 2011-12. The historical high figure of truck production in the country’s history is 4,993, achieved in fiscal year 2007-08, according to the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (PAMA).

Al-Haj FAW Motors claim that they are now number two in the list of truck producers in Pakistan, assembling around 700 trucks annually in the country. However, their claim is difficult to prove as they are currently not members of PAMA –the representative body of vehicle manufacturers in Pakistan.

There are four truck assemblers currently operational in Pakistan. With the addition of Al-Haj FAW Motors to that group, five truck assemblers will now vie for the Pakistani market – all operating from their bases in the port city of Karachi.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/463957/al-haj-faw-motors-inaugurates-automobile-assembly-line/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters report titled "Dismal trade, production data deepens fears about Indian economy":

India's economic gloom deepened on Monday with a surprise contraction in industrial production, a fall in exports and higher retail inflation, dashing hopes of a quick revival in an economy on track to post its slowest growth in a decade.

The data will add pressure on the government to boost economic growth by fast-tracking stalled tax and regulatory reforms. It will also bolster calls for an interest rate cut by the country's central bank, which has so far ruled out any before January, citing high inflation.

Two of the country's biggest business chambers expressed alarm at the data, which caused the rupee to fall to a two-month low. They said it was clear that the slowdown in manufacturing growth had not yet bottomed out.

"At this juncture, it is important that government does not lose momentum on the reform front and needs to take courage now to implement some big ticket reforms," said R V Kanoria, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The data underscored the scale of the challenges facing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in trying to revive an economy that once boasted double-digit growth but has been hard hit by the global economic downturn and a series of policy missteps.

Credit Suisse said India's October trade deficit of nearly $21 billion was the country's worst on record and could prompt the government to impose measures to curb the deficit, such as further increases in import duties on gold.

Industrial production unexpectedly shrank an annual 0.4 percent in September, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO). That came as a nasty surprise to economists who had forecast a rise of 2.8 percent in a Reuters poll.

Analysts had hoped India's festival season, which began in September and will peak this month, would boost sales.

Production of consumer goods fell 0.3 percent in September from a year earlier. Capital goods, a proxy for capital investment in the economy, shrank an annual 12.2 percent.

"Investment plans have slowed down. It takes a long time for investment plans to pick up again," said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of India's influential Planning Commission.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told Reuters earlier this month that growth for this financial year could be as low as 5.5 percent, which would be the slowest rate of expansion since 2002/03.

Delays in environmental and other regulatory clearances, coupled with high interest rates, have hurt many industrial and infrastructure development projects.

The government has launched a slew of initiatives, including raising subsidized diesel prices and opening sectors like supermarkets to foreign players to revive the economy.

But Indian business leaders said it needed to swiftly take more steps, including speeding up approval of infrastructure projects, overhauling the tax system and, reducing its huge fuel, food and fertilizer subsidies burden.

Business leaders also called on the central bank to reduce interest rates that are the highest among the major economies.

Chidambaram has been arguing for lower rates, saying monetary policy has limitations in controlling inflation in an emerging economy such as India and that policymakers must learn to live with some inflation....


http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/12/us-india-economy-idUSBRE8AB0AJ20121112

Riaz Haq said...

Here's PakistanToday on the latest PSDP funds release by Planning Commission:

ISLAMABAD - The Planning Commission of Pakistan released Rs 88.8 billion under its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) against the total allocations of Rs 233 billion for the fiscal year 2012-13.
Out of the total Rs 51.5 billion had been released for 344 infrastructure development projects while Rs 34.5 billion had been set aside for 673 social sector projects, according to the latest data of the Planning Commission.
Similarly, Rs 0.8 billion had been released for 68 other projects and Rs 2 billion for Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA).
According to the data, these releases had been made against Rs 233 PSDP allocations up to November 8.
The total size of the PSDP for the year 2012-13 was Rs 360, including Rs 100 billion foreign aid, which was managed by the Economic Affairs Division and Rs 27 billion special programmes, release of which were made by the Cabinet Division or Finance Division.
According to break up details the total cost of 344 infrastructure projects had been estimated at Rs 2346.4 billion, out of which Rs 210.9 billion had been earmarked in the 2012-13 budget that included Rs 85.6 as foreign aid.
The total cost of social sector projects was Rs 547.1 billion, of which Rs 136.2 billion had been allocated in the current PSDP with foreign aid of Rs 8.4 percent.
The cost of other projects had been estimated at Rs 40.6 billion, out of which Rs 3 billion had been earmarked in the PSDP 2012-13 while Rs 10 billion had been earmarked for ERRA in the current development programme.
The Planning Commission of Pakistan had been following a proper mechanism for the release of funds and accordingly funds are released as per given mechanism.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/11/13/city/islamabad/planning-commission-releases-rs-88-8b-for-psdp/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a speech by Pak Finance Minister Dr. Hafeez Shaikh on economy as reported in The Nation newspaper:

Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh has said that Pakistan’s economy continues to show signs of recovery with improvement in key macroeconomic indicators. Despite major external and internal shocks, the economy has shown resilience and is projected to grow by 4.3 percent in FY13 after a healthy growth of 3.7 percent in FY12. Exports continue to show a healthy growth, remittances remain strong keeping foreign exchange reserves stable and most importantly inflation has continued to show a declining trend.

The goal is to build on these positive trends and insulate the economy against any potential external shocks such as a rise in oil prices and global contagion, Sheikh said while addressing the inaugural sesson of PSDE on “ Economic Reforms for Productivity, Innovation and Growth” on Tuesday.

He said the Government has successfully doubled the tax collection from Rs.1 trillion to Rs.2 trillion in the last four years; remittances have more than doubled from US$ 6.4 billion in 2007-08 to US$ 13 billion by year end 2011-12. Inflation has moderated to 8.8% in the first four months of FY13. Exports are likely to cross the target of US$ 26bn in FY13. Hard budget constraints are being ensured to maintain fiscal discipline and expenditure has been curtailed to 35% of the budget in the first four months of FY13.

Sheikh said fiscal austerity measures of Rs15bn including freezing of non salary current expenditures and ban on new recruitments are currently under implementation. Austerity measures have been deepened under which current expenditures is being curtailed. Fiscal deficit is projected to be contained at 4.7% of GDP during FY13.
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The finance minister said the government initiated important mega projects in energy and infrastructure sector which would provide the economy a base for sustainable economic growth in future. Some of the initiatives include: Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project, Diamer-Bhasha Dam, 4th Tarbela Extension Project; Chashma Nuclear Power Projects 3 and 4, Lyari Expressway, Mekran Coastal Road, M4 Motorway from Faisalabad to Khanewal, KKH Skardu Road and Realignment of KKH Road due to Attabad Lake. Mega projects completed during the period include Chashma Nuclear Power Project 2, Mangla Raising Project, Mirani Dam Project, Islamabad Peshawar Motorway and Islamabad Muzaffarabad Expressway. Overall, 650 projects worth Rs. 300 billion have been launched.
----------
He said major restructuring and reforms in Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) and energy sector have been undertaken to reduce burden on budget and improve service delivery. Government has undertaken key structural reforms in the power sector under the Power Sector Reform Plan targeted at improving governance and legal framework and ensuring financial sustainability. In addition 3,334 MW has been added since 2008. Ongoing reforms have resulted in relative stability in the power sector and power shortages have been minimized along with reduction in line losses and improved recovery of arrears.

He said import of LNG and natural gas from neighbouring countries are being pursued to overcome the energy crisis. Extensive work is being done on turn-around plans of key PSEs. Restructuring plans of PIA, Pakistan Railways and Pakistan Steel Mills are under implementation and consequently haemorrhaging has been curtailed in these PSEs along with improvement in service delivery. Measures are being strengthened to restructure key PSEs with sound governance structures and professional management.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/13-Nov-2012/economy-showing-continuous-signs-of-recovery-inflation-brought-down-to-8-8-hafeez-sheikh

Riaz Haq said...

Talking about household disposable incomes in South Asia, there were 1.8 million Pakistani households (7.55% of all households) and 7.9 million Indian households (3.61% of all households) in 2009 with disposable incomes of $10,001 or more, according to Euromonitor.

This translates into 282% increase (vs 232% in India) from 1995-2009 in households with disposable incomes of $10,001 or more.

http://www.just-style.com/store/samples/2011_Euromonitor_WCIEP_Sample.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a story in The News about the size of Pakistan's informal economy:

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s informal economy has expanded, reaching 91.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). At a PIDE conference on Thursday, economist, M Ali Kemal said, “according to data for 2007-08, our formal GDP is half our actual GDP. However, it is still an under-estimated figure since investment data is not adjusted. The informal economy is 91.4 percent of the formal economy.”



He further said that the formal economy contributed Rs10,242 billion of the estimated Rs19,608 billion that the economy generates. Moreover, the informal economy stands at approximately Rs9,365 billion.



“Estimating the size of the underground economy is crucial for policy makers,” said Kemal. According to Economic Survey findings, total consumption for the entire population of the country is Rs17,261.6 billion and private consumption is Rs7,835.31 billion.



The sum of Rs9,426.29 billion is not reported in the formal economy.



During the session on poverty and household consumption, Dr Ashfaque H Khan, Dean NUST Business School (NBS) and Umer Khalid cited findings from a research paper on the consumption pattern of male and female-headed households in Pakistan.



According to their findings, marginal expenditure shares were highest for housing, durables, food and drink for households headed by men while they were highest for durables, followed by housing and food, and drinks for households headed by women. Higher marginal expenditures by households headed by females on education and durables were found in comparison with their male counterparts as these results were consistent in urban and rural areas of Pakistan.



Further, households headed by women were found to have higher budget shares for education, housing, fuels and lighting, clothing and footwear and lower average expenditure on food, drink, transport and communication compared to those headed by men.



The study also examined the consumption behavior of both types of households to determine consumption patterns and how they vary with change in economic status.



This analysis revealed that in the first three expenditure quintiles, the consumption expenditures of households headed by men were higher than those by women.



Moreover, in the last two quintiles, the consumption expenditures for households headed by women were slightly higher than those headed by women.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-3-143058-Size-of-informal-economy-at-914-percent-of-GDP-study

http://www.pide.org.pk/psde/25/pdf/AGM28/M%20Ali%20Kemal%20and%20Ahmed%20Waqar%20Qasim.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR report on expected textile export boost to EU:

Mian Zahid Aslam President Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) has said that EU has granted 75 items duty-free market access under the Autonomous Trade Concessions (ATCs) till December 31, 2013 of which 26 items originated in Pakistan have been offered under Tariff Regulated Quotas (TRQ) while 49 items have been covered under non-tariff regulated quotas effective from 15th November, 2012 as the package has been notified in the official Journal of EU.

As an increased market access to EU, which is the largest trading partner of Pakistan. Pakistan will make a net gain of 31.4 per cent in export of textiles under the EU Autonomous Preference Scheme, he added. Value of exports for 2011 was $1709 million and under the EU Preference Scheme, the exports are estimated to rise to $2246 million yielding in net increase of 537 million, he added. He asserted that the package will provide real and substantial support to Pakistan's exports mainly of textile exports to EU.

He continued that EU Preference Scheme was highly beneficial for the business community and urged textile exporters of Faisalabad particularly to make best use of the facility to increase their exports to EU countries. He further stated that by availing these facilities Pakistan will make double gain; firstly, they will avail the quota facilities and increase the volume of their exports and secondly, Pakistan will qualify for further concessions in the year 2014 when this quota region for these items is reviewed.

Chamber Chief however pointed out that trends in both exports and imports indicated contraction in national economy, which could cause serious repercussions for employment, fiscal outcome etc mainly because of shortage of electricity and gas to the industries. Quoting, he said that export growth was negative by 2.3 per cent in the July-September quarter while imports declined by 6 per cent during this period, indicating sluggish economic activities in the country, which could depress the export growth prospects further and put more pressure on the current account.

He continued that in the wake of lesser availability of gas particularly to Faisalabad industries from where about $4 billion exports generated annually to the national textile exports, trade surpluses will hardly be available for exports and apprehended to reap real results of the EU package to Pakistan.

Mian Zahid emphasised that country needs greater diversification in the structure and direction of trade with increased focus on value addition and increased export expansion through regional and new markets like Africa, South America and Islamic world. He urged the government for better market access by concluding FTAs and PTAs with countries of potential markets for Pakistani products and also facilitating towards emerging economic blocks of China and Russia and even neighbouring Indian market of 1.2 billion people.

He pleaded for adopting trade diplomacy which could help gain GSP Plus status for Pakistan in 2014 emphasising also to the exporters for compliance with the relevant rules of origin of products and the procedures related thereto. He also emphasised the need for a well consulted trade policy by the government in this context.

....


http://www.brecorder.com/cotton-a-textiles/185/1259000/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News report on Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission criticizing economists at Pak Society of Development Economists (PSDE) conf:

Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Dr Nadeem Ul Haq, on Thursday lambasted technocrats and economists for giving bad policy advice to politicians in Pakistan. He said that advisers did not focus on government expenditures and only concentrated on increasing revenue through funding from multilateral donors. Wasteful expenditures ballooned as subsidies alone were consuming approximately Rs500 billion per annum, he said.



“As a nation, we failed to increase tax to GDP ratio since independence,” said Haq while chairing the concluding session of a three-day conference that was organised by PIDE in collaboration with HEC, FES, IGC and WWF-CCaP-EU.



He asked why economists do not look at the expenditure side of government operations. Economists blamed politicians for not implementing the desired reform agenda but on the flip side, economists themselves were not presenting the correct agenda to the politicians, he said.



“There has been no growth in the economy as it has followed a dysfunctional model,” he said. Further, everyone was talking about macro stability as the first step and then taking care of growth, he said. “Why can’t we prefer growth? – and I am advocating this despite being affiliated with the IMF in my carrier,” he added. There has been a trade off between two objectives and the economists should come forward to devise a future course of action. Pakistanis built universities without teachers and research, built offices without required officers and built infrastructure without thought, he said. The politicians did not have the ability and understanding to grasp these issues and followed what technocrats advised them to do, he said.
-----------
Former Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Dr. Ishrat Husain, said that the nature of reforms that Pakistan should undertake contain two components – stabilisation and long-term structural reforms. He examined the record of the last 65 years with respect to those reforms as well as political and economic developments.



The incumbent government could not manage the lingering crisis in 2009 forcing Pakistan to approach the IMF in November 2009. A homegrown reform package, consisting mainly of mobilising additional taxes to bring fiscal deficit under control, was agreed upon, he said.



Lack of political consensus on General Sales Tax (GST) and Agriculture Income Tax (AIT) among the coalition partners led to the breaking down of the agreement with the Fund – but only after incurring a heavy financial obligation of eight billion dollars, to be repaid in 2012 and 2013, he said....


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-3-143061-Economists-come-under-fire-at-PIDE-conference

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News report on Oct jump in FDI in Pakistan:

Pakistan’s foreign direct investment (FDI) climbed sharply to $125.4 million during October, providing some relief to the deteriorating balance of payments position, according to the data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Thursday.



The FDI inflows increased to $125.4 million just in the single month of October as compared to $59.6 million during the same month last year, depicting a significant jump of $71.2 million, or 131 percent, it said.



The increase in FDI inflows was evident from the fact that foreign companies invested $187.1 million in various sectors of the economy during October as compared to $186.4 million during the corresponding month last year.



Nonetheless, the FDI outflows, including divestments and repatriation from the foreign investors stood at $61.7 million as against the outflows of $126.8 million during October 2011.



Oil and gas exploration, trade, electrical machinery and transport were the main sectors, which attracted a significant amount of foreign direct investment in the country during the last month.



Economic experts say that improvement in the FDI inflows is a positive sign for the economy, showing revival in investors’ confidence in Pakistan.



The inflows of FDI in Pakistan plummeted by 24.2 percent to $244.4 million during the first four months of the current fiscal year as against $322.7 million during the same period last year.



The fall in FDI inflows during July-October FY13 amounted to $638.5 million as compared to $766.6 million a year ago.



The provisional figures released by the Satate Bank of Pakistan showed that foreign private investment attracted $370.8 million during July-October FY13.



The net inflows of foreign investment in Pakistan stood at $365.2 million as compared to $221.2 million a year ago, showing a growth of 65.1percent.



The portfolio investment at the Karachi Stock Exchange stood at $126.4 million as against the outflow of $74.9 million during the corresponding period last year.



During October, the portfolio investment was recorded at $30.1 million as against the outflow of $28 million last month.



Of the total FDI of $244.4 million, major investment was made in the oil and gas exploration sector followed by IT services and information technology, and the transport sectors.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-3-143063-FDI-rises-to-$1254m-in-October

Riaz Haq said...

Barron is reporting that Vanguard has set up an ETF for FTSE emerging market index that includes KSE-100 stocks Abbott Pakistan and Unilever Pakistan.

Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates are probably two markets many U.S. investors haven't given much thought to, but that's beginning to change after news that one of the most popular emerging-market ETFs will have some exposure to these countries.

Vanguard recently said it would start tracking the FTSE Emerging Markets index rather than the MSCI Emerging Markets index for its popular Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (ticker: VWO), which will soon be renamed. That means the fund won't have exposure to Korea, which FTSE doesn't consider an emerging market, and it will now have some holdings in Pakistan and the UAE. With those countries combined only making up about half a percentage point of the index, investors won't exactly be loading up on the Middle East. But the switch is already attracting interest to a region that has largely been ignored by investors.

That attention may be warranted. Despite the turmoil in Syria and concerns about Iran, the region has plenty to offer investors, including some of the world's best-capitalized banks, a young population, and governments spurred by the Arab Spring to invest in infrastructure and try to address high unemployment. So says Julie Dickson, equity product manager for emerging-markets specialist Ashmore Investment, which oversees $68 billion in assets. The MSCI Pakistan index is up 20% this year; MSCI UAE is up 21%.

Even with the run-up, Andrew Brudenell, manager of the HSBC Frontier Markets fund (HSFAX) in London, says Pakistan is one of the cheapest markets he follows, at about seven times earnings. He notes that earnings growth has kept pace with the market. The firms, he adds, are typically cash-rich, boast strong return on equity levels in the 20% range, and pay good dividends.

In Pakistan, the informal, cash-based economy for goods and services is larger than the formal economy. Consumer-oriented firms can tap into that demand, so they are a favored play for managers, especially subsidiaries of well-respected global firms like Abbott Pakistan (ABOT.Pakistan) and Unilever Pakistan (ULEVER.Pakistan) that give them more comfort about governance.

While the story attracting investors to Pakistan is domestic, the United Arab Emirates is more of a play on the rest of the Middle East, since it is increasingly a trade and financial hub and has recently acted as a safe haven for people elsewhere in the region. Many people associate the UAE with lavish construction projects and a property bubble, but that bubble popped and the industry is on the mend, with occupancy rates beginning to rise. The country's firms are also well managed and attractively priced, says Brudenell, who favors property developers, banking-service firms and global-ports operator DP World (DPW.Dubai).


http://online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424052748704526104578115020941413196.html?mod=BOL_twm_col#

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on Saudi Arabian group planning $1b investment in Cement, Energy, Autos in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD: Al-Qarnain Group of Saudi Arabia has said it is planning to invest $1 billion in the areas of energy, construction, hospitality and automobiles in Pakistan over the medium term.

Group’s Chief Executive Officer Eyad Al-Baaj, in a meeting with officials of the Board of Investment (BOI), apprised the Pakistani authorities of their investment plans, according to an announcement made by BOI here on Tuesday.

He discussed with BOI Chairman Saleem H Mandviwalla and Secretary Shaikh Anjum Bashir investment opportunities in various sectors of mutual interests of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Al-Baaj said the group would invest $400 million in the first couple of years and increase the investment to over $1 billion in five years. These funds would become part of foreign direct investment in Pakistan and the group was interested in investing in energy, building and construction, hotel and automobile sectors, he added.

“The group is also entering into joint venture with Pakistani cement company Dandore. Current capacity of Dandore is 350 tons a day, which will be enhanced up to 7,500 tons,” he said.

The CEO stressed that the group was aware of the energy problems in Pakistan and was interested in constructing independent power plants with production capacity of 150 to 200 megawatts. The group is also keen on producing solar panels, their installation and back-up services to consumers.

Al-Qarnain, which is one of the biggest construction groups of Saudi Arabia, has also submitted proposals for construction of low-cost housing schemes in Pakistan.

In the automobile sector, the group plans to establish a state-of-the-art assembly plant for heavy trucks and buses with a comprehensive licence from Belarus. The CEO hopes that the plant will meet domestic demand, but its main target is to export vehicles to Gulf states, African countries and other buyers around the globe


http://tribune.com.pk/story/438694/saudi-arabian-group-planning-1b-investment/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Bloomberg on outsize returns of KSE-100:

The KSE 100 Index, the benchmark for Pakistan’s $43 billion equity market, rose 7.3 percent in the past three years when adjusted for price swings, the top gain among 72 markets worldwide, according to the BLOOMBERG RISKLESS RETURN RANKING. Pakistan had lower stock volatility than 82 percent of the nations including the U.S. (SPX) Over five years, Pakistan’s risk- adjusted returns ranked eighth.

The country’s 190 million people are boosting purchases three times faster than Asian peers as higher rural incomes and record remittances outweigh fighting on the Afghan border, violence in Karachi that led to at least 2,100 deaths this year and power outages that sparked rioting. The region’s fastest earnings growth may increase economic stability, according to Karachi-based Atlas Asset Management Ltd. Foreign investors added to holdings for five straight months, lured by Asia’s lowest valuations and biggest dividend yields.

“Stocks are very cheap and there are some very good businesses in Pakistan,” said Andrew Brudenell, whose HSBC Frontier Markets Fund has returned 18 percent this year, beating 92 percent of peers tracked by Bloomberg, and holds more shares in the country than are represented in benchmark indexes. “We still think there’s some positive growth to come from the markets.”

Earnings in the KSE 100 index advanced 45 percent during the past year, the largest gain among 17 Asian equity indexes, and this month hit the highest level since Bloomberg began tracking the data in 2005.

Consumer spending in Pakistan has increased at a 26 percent average pace the past three years, compared with 7.7 percent for Asia, according to data compiled by Euromonitor International, a consumer research firm. While the growth in Pakistan may slow to 6.6 percent in 2012, it will still exceed the 5.3 percent pace in Asia, according to Euromonitor estimates.

Engro Foods Ltd. (EFOODS), a Karachi-based seller of dairy products, reported a 214 percent jump in net income for the third quarter, while Unilever Pakistan Ltd. (ULEVER), a unit of the world’s second- biggest consumer-goods company, had a 36 percent gain, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Dividends in Pakistan have also climbed at the fastest pace in the region. Payouts increased 49 percent in the past 12 months, giving the KSE 100 index a dividend yield of 6.6 percent, double the 3.3 percent average in Asia, Bloomberg data show.
-----------
Foreign investors have purchased a net $153 million of Pakistan shares since the beginning of July, according to data from the Karachi Stock Exchange. Overseas holdings amount to about 20 percent of the bourse’s free float, or shares available for trading, according to Adnan Katchi, the head of international equity sales at Arif Habib Ltd.

Bond investors are also growing more confident. Pakistan’s international debt, rated Caa1 at Moody’s Investors Service, or seven levels below investment grade, has returned 32 percent this year, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Next Generation Markets Index. Yields hit a two-year low of 8.5 percent on Oct. 26.

----

The country is luring more of the world’s biggest consumer brands as spending increases. Debenhams Plc (DEB), the U.K.’s second- largest department-store chain, and Nine West Group Inc., a seller of women’s shoes and handbags owned by New York-based Jones Group Inc. (JNY), opened their first Pakistan outlets this year.....


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-20/pakistan-stocks-best-as-violence-ignored-riskless-return.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg story titled "Pakistan, Land of Entrepreneurs":

On a warm Sunday morning in November, Arif Habib leaves his posh home near the seafront in southern Karachi and drives across town in a silver Toyota Prado SUV. About half an hour later, he arrives to check up on his latest project: a 2,100-acre residential development at the northern tip of this city of 20 million. He hops out, shakes hands with young company call-center workers who are dressed for a cricket match, and joins them at the edge of the playing field for a traditional Pakistani breakfast of curried chickpeas and semolina pudding. After a quick tour of the construction site, he straps on his leg pads, grabs his bat, and heads onto the field. “The principles of cricket are very effective in business,” says Habib, 59. “The goal is to stay at the wicket, hit the right balls, leave the balls that don’t quite work, and keep an eye on the scoreboard. I feel that my childhood association with cricket has contributed to my success.”

Habib, who started as a stockbroker more than four decades ago, has expanded his Arif Habib Group into a 13-company business that has invested $2 billion in financial services, cement, fertilizer, and steel factories since 2004. His group and a clutch of others have become conglomerates of a kind that went out of fashion in the West but seem suited to the often chaotic conditions in Pakistan. Engro (ENGRO), a maker of fertilizer, has moved into packaged foods and coal mining. Billionaire Mian Muhammad Mansha, one of Pakistan’s richest men, is importing 2,500 milk cows from Australia to start a dairy business after running MCB Bank, Nishat Mills, and D.G. Khan Cement.

These companies have prospered in a country that, since joining the U.S. in the war on terror after Sept. 11, has lost more than 40,000 people to retaliatory bombings by the Taliban. Political violence in Karachi has killed 2,000 Pakistanis this year, and an energy crisis—power outages last as long as 18 hours a day—has led to social unrest. Foreign direct investment declined 24 percent to $244 million in the four months ended Oct. 31, according to the central bank.

At the same time, some 70 million Pakistanis—40 percent of the population—have become middle-class, says Sakib Sherani, chief executive of Macro Economic Insights, a research firm in Islamabad. A boom in agriculture and residential property, as well as jobs in hot sectors such as telecom and media, have helped Pakistanis prosper. “Just go to the malls and see the number of customers who are actually buying in upscale stores and that shows you how robust the demand is,” says Azfer Naseem, head of research for Elixir Securities in Karachi. “Despite the energy crisis, we have growth of 3 percent.”

Sherani of Macro Economic Insights estimates the middle class doubled in size between 2002 and 2012. “Those who understand the difference between the perception of Pakistan and the reality have made a killing,” Habib says. “Foreigners don’t come here, so the field is wide open.” The KSE100, the benchmark index of the Karachi Exchange, has risen elevenfold since mid-2001. Shares in the index are up 43 percent this year alone. Over the past decade, stocks have been buoyed by corporate earnings, which were bolstered in turn by rising consumer spending.
---------
Today, Habib has 11,000 employees and annual revenue of 100 billion rupees. He plans to expand into commodities trading and warehousing. “I’ve created all my wealth in Pakistan and reinvested all of it here,” says Habib, who drives himself to his cricket matches and is never accompanied by security guards. In 1998, when Pakistan’s share index fell to a record low after the government tested nuclear weapons, Habib bought shares even though “people thought I was mad.”...


http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-29/pakistan-land-of-entrepreneurs

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR report on Sheraton's expansion in Pakistan:

"Two new Sheraton properties are under construction in Islamabad", revealed Antoine Joignant in a recent interview with BR Research. He elaborated that one site is located on the Islamabad-Murree road, called Sheraton Golf & Country Club; while the other overlooks the Rawal Lake in Islamabad.

"The Sheraton Golf & Country Club shall be the most spectacular property in the country, as it has been designed by the same architects that designed the Atlantis in Dubai. This 367-room hotel shall include an 18-hole golf course with many other amenities for guests," he said. He also revealed that the Sheraton Islamabad shall be a 180-room hotel primarily catering to business travelers.

--.

According to Antoine Joignant, being a part of the Starwood group provides an edge to the Sheraton Karachi over its competitors. One key differentiator is our ability to personalise our services and guest experience through various Starwood online tools which allow real-time tracking of maintenance work and guests' feedback.

As is the norm at most hotels, guests would previously fill out survey cards at the end of a typical stay which would then be sent to be compiled by the relevant department. But the system in place at Starwood Hotels allows guests to offer their feedback online, which is then compiled automatically.

"Now instead of receiving survey results at the end of the month like other hotels, we are receiving guest responses instantaneously. That is revolutionary as it gives us the ability to address clients' requests while they are still at our hotel, instead of waiting for them to come back the next time," he explained.

"We already have a programme in place for our most frequent clients, whom we call ambassadors, whereby a dedicated member of our team helps make arrangements for them according to their personal preferences, he said. The system not only sends clients' comments to hotel management in real-time; it also provides live scores for each location against the hotel chain's benchmarks allowing the hotel management to follow their relative performance. "Globally, we are the only hotel chain to have such a system in place, which is why our service is distinguishable from competitors", he summed up.

PAKISTAN: THE DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH "Pakistan is a treasure trove of culture, natural beauty and mouth-watering cuisines for world travelers," says Antoine. A long list of attractions ranging from the pristine beaches of Karachi and Balochistan, awe-inspiring peaks of the Northern Areas, local art and handicrafts; to the historic sites of Moenjodaro and Harappa, rolled off his tongue like that of a well-traveled local.

"It is very unfortunate that the image that has become attached with this beautiful country is set in violence and unrest," he said. He highlighted recent events such as the Grand Opera, Peshawari Night and food festivals that the hotel conducted to attract international travelers and locals alike; pledging grander functions in the future. He expressed hope that these attractions will play a part in countering negative international perceptions regarding Pakistan.

Antoine Joignant also highlighted that the value for money which guests receive in Pakistan is much higher than that provided by hotels in other countries in the region. He admitted that the local hotel industry is facing tough times given the subdued flow of foreign tourists to the country, but he stressed that occupancy rates have been on the rise for Sheraton Karachi over the past three years.


http://www.brecorder.com/brief-recordings/0/1262726/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Dawn on KSE continuing rally to set ew records:

Pakistani stocks hit a record high for the fourth day in a row on Friday, closing the week up nearly 3 per cent, driven by a rally in cement shares and expectations that the central bank will ease rates next week.

The Karachi Stock Exchange’s (KSE) benchmark 100-share index surged as high as 16,651.10 in intraday trading.

It closed at 16,573.86, up 0.28 per cent or 46.78 points from the previous session.

“Investors remained bullish in cement stocks, while the textile sector also joined the bandwagon,” said Samar Iqbal, an equity dealer with Topline Securities.

“With the end of the year approaching, there was also renewed interest in the banking sector.” Fauji Cement rose 2.05 per cent, or 0.14 rupees, to 6.98 per share, while National Bank was up 4.99 per cent, or 2.37 rupees, to 49.87 per share.

Karachi Electric fell 0.72 per cent, or 0.05 rupees, to 6.88 per share.

The market also found support from expectations that the State Bank of Pakistan will cut its discount rate with inflation under control.

The government will publish November inflation figures on Monday, while the central bank meets later in the week to decide on monetary policy.

In the currency market, the Pakistani rupee strengthened to 96.49/96.54 to the dollar, compared to Thursday’s close of 96.54/96.59.

Overnight rates in the money market remained flat at 9.50 per cent.


http://dawn.com/2012/11/30/pakistani-stocks-hit-fresh-record-high-rupee-strengthens/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR story on rising cement demand in Pakistan:

KARACHI - The decline in the cement exports to India continues unabated where the uptake of Pakistani cement reduced by 38.50 percent during the first five months of the current fiscal year, 2012-2013. During July-Nov 2011 last year, Pakistan exported 298,214 tons of cement to India which reduced to 183,387 tons this year.
Although cement sector posted a healthy export growth of 11.71 percent in November 2012,India was the only exporting destination where exports declined in November as well.Pakistan exported 45,096 tons of cement to India in November 2011 which declined alarmingly to only 25,207 tons in November 2012. The cement sector of Pakistan otherwise showed healthy growth in the month of November, as for the first time this fiscal, both domestic consumption and cement exports posted double digit growth, on year to year basis. Total cement dispatches at 2.649 million tons during the month of November were, however, lower than dispatch of 2.766 million tons, a month earlier. However, when compared to November 2011 when the total cement dispatches were 2.255 million tons, the sales in the month of November 2012 were higher by 19.63%. Traditionally, cement dispatches in October are higher than in November. The market analysts term the current domestic market situation encouraging as during past five months of this fiscal, the local consumption has increased in four months and declined only in August by 3.41 percent. The local uptake of the commodity increased in two months out of five during this fiscal by over 19 percent. The first time it posted over 19 percent growth was in September 2012 and the second time in November 2012. The overall growth in local dispatches during the first 5 months of this fiscal was 6.78 percent. The cement exports from South zone during July-Nov 2011 were 0.986 million tons that declined in July-Nov 2012 to 0.837 million tons depicting an overall reduction of 15.06 percent. The cement exports from North zone declined nominally by 0.64 percent during this period to 2.804 million tons from 2.823 million tons in the first five months of this fiscal.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/12/04/news/profit/cement-conjures-double-digits-at-home-exports-to-india-dip/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts of State Bank Governor Yasin Anwar's interview with Dawn:

Q. What is the outlook for inflation?

A. As you very well know, inflation has declined considerably over the past five to six months; from 12.3 per cent in May 2012 to 7.7 per cent in October 2012. Also, the pace of decline in inflation has been faster than our earlier estimates. Therefore, we are quite confident that inflation may remain below the target of 9.5 per cent for FY13. We discussed this assessment in the monetary policy statement of October 2012 as well. Currently, we are in the process of updating our inflation outlook in the light of latest developments. All I can say is that the likelihood of meeting the inflation target for FY13 remains quite high.

Q. Without additional foreign inflows, and IMF repayments, is the BOP situation under control?

A. In the first four months of FY13, balance of payment position has shown significant improvement over the last year.

Particularly, the external current account balance has turned into a surplus; $258 million, against a deficit of $1.7 billion in the corresponding period of last year. In the remaining months of FY13, we are expecting a deficit in the external current account.

However, this would remain moderate compared to both international standards and Pakistan’s own economic history.

The developments that need to be monitored carefully are those related to financial inflows. For the overall health of balance of payments, it is important that all the budgeted financial flows materialise. In case of shortfall or delays, the BOP may experience some stress, but, at this point in time, we expect the position to remain manageable during FY13. We do not foresee any difficulty in the repayment of IMF loans and other debt obligations that have already been factored in.

Q. Why, then, is the rupee constantly under pressure?

A. Like in most emerging economies, the day-to-day value of the currency in Pakistan is essentially determined by market forces of demand and supply of foreign exchange. While export receipts, remittances and financial inflows are the main sources of supply of foreign exchange; import payments, financial outflows and debt repayments influence the demand. The overall macroeconomic conditions such as inflation relative to trading partners and other factors like perceptions of economic stability also influence the behaviour of participants in the foreign exchange market. The SBP does not target any specific level of exchange rate. Our interventions in the foreign exchange market are essentially geared towards dealing with excessive volatility to ensure smooth functioning of the market.

As I have mentioned earlier, the trade balance together with remittances is in surplus during the first four months of FY13. It is the weak financial inflows that are creating some pressure in the foreign exchange market. As the budgeted financial inflows are realized in the coming months, the situation would become more manageable.


http://dawn.com/2012/12/02/sbp-in-control-defends-easing/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PakObserver report on Pak-South Korean deal for Malakand Tunnel project:

Pakistan and South Korea Wednesday inked two agreements for the Malakand Tunnel Construction Project and for development of water resources infrastructure including dams. The agreement on Malakand Tunnel Construction Project was signed during meeting of President Asif Ali Zardari with Kim Yong-Hwan‚ Chairman Export Import Bank of Korea‚ who called on him at the local hotel in Seoul‚ Korea Wednesday.

Under the Malakand Tunnel Loan Agreement‚ an amount of US $78 million will be provided for the project. The Korea Eximbank is an official export credit agency providing comprehensive export credit and guarantee programs to support Korean enterprises in conducting overseas business.

Malakand tunnel will provide a short route not only to people of Dir‚ Malakand and Swat and adjacent localities but would also be an easy access to central Asian states‚ providing the market access to the country for its products. Malakand Pass lies between Dargai-Batkhela and is situated at an altitude of 470 metres and 663 metres‚ respectively.

The South Korean government pledged the $78 million funding through the Economic Development Co-operation Fund (EDCF) for the construction of Malakand Tunnel project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The 9.7 km project also includes approach roads on both sides of the tunnel and three bridges.

The initial feasibility study of the tunnel has already been completed by South Korean consultants in collaboration with National Highway Authority Pakistan‚ which is also the Project executing agency.


http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=185709

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a couple of reports on FDI in Pakistan.

First, a News report on FDI decline:

The World Bank has revealed that foreign investment in Pakistan has declined by $4.13 billion during the four years of the present government. This was revealed in a fresh report — ‘World Investment and Political Risk’ — of the World Bank.



The report said that there was a continuous trend of decrease in foreign investment in Pakistan and a conspicuous decline was recorded in the tenure of the present government. It noted that $4.13 billion investment decrease has been recorded from 2008 to 2011.



The report said that $5.44 billion foreign investment was made in 2008 in Pakistan which is continuously falling, and had reduced to only $1.31 billion in 2011. According to the report, $5.59 billion foreign investment was made in Pakistan which is the biggest ever investment made in the country.



In 2009, the investment reduced to $2.34 billion which further reduced to $2.02 billion in 2010. The report said that the foreign investment had also declined in India, however, there is an upward trend now.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-19298-Foreign-investment-in-Pakistan-plummets-WB

Second, a Business Recorder report on FDI over the last decade:

Pakistan had attracted net Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows of US$ 25.66 billion during the last ten-year.



"Oil and gas, financial business,trade,construction,power,and communications were the major sectors attracting investment", Board of Investment (BOI) sources told APP.



The sources added that the USA,UK,UAE,Hong Kong,Switzerland, germany, Netherlands, Norway,Saudi Arabia, Japan were the major investing partners in the country.



They further said that Pakistan during the financial year 2011-12 had also witnessed an FDI inflows of US $ 1.4 billion.



The said that foreign investment inflows increased 49.6 percent in total foreign investment during July-October 2012-13 as compared to the corresponding period while major FDI inflows in transport sector were $60.7 million in October 2012-13



They added that global economy liberalized during 1980s and the government encouraged private sector business initiatives and FDI and cross borders investment by multinational companies (MNCs) gathered momentum.


http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/108-pakistan-top-news/94108-pakistan-attracts-net-2566bn-fdi-inflows--boi.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting Huffington Post piece by investment adviser Dan Solin:

Pakistan is often in the news and usually in unflattering terms. The relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan is troubled, characterized by deep mutual distrust and conflicting goals.

The economy of Pakistan is equally troubled. According to the Heritage Foundation, its economy has been plagued by "political instability and violence." Much needed economic reform has been stalled by bureaucratic delays and lack of political will. Property rights in Pakistan are "compromised." The rule of law is "fragile." Taxation is "poorly administered." Its public debt is over 50 percent of total domestic output. Foreign investment is declining. Its overall ranking on economic freedom is below the world and even regional averages, placing it in the category of "mostly unfree" economies. To put this in perspective, there is more economic freedom in Yemen, Senegal and Nigeria than in Pakistan. Its unemployment rate is a staggering 15 percent. Its inflation rate is 11.7 percent.

Does this country seem like a good place to invest to you?

Now for the shocker: Year-to-date returns for the stock market of Pakistan were 46.73 percent. That's not a typo. Year-to-date returns for the U.S. during the same period were 11.90 percent.

Here are some other interesting facts. The stock markets in Nigeria and Kenya
were 27.26 percent and 26.56 percent, respectively. What about the returns in fast-growing economies like Brazil and China? Brazil was an anemic 1.43 percent. China was a loss of 10.20 percent.

If you are a typical investor, you believe paying attention to the financial news is important to your investing success. You read the financial media. You watch CNBC and pay special attention to the fund managers who "explain" the stock markets to you and encourage you to follow their advice (often by investing with their firms). Maybe you follow the stock picks served up by Jim Cramer, who appears to have an encyclopedic knowledge of all things financial.

Let me ask you this question. Did any source of financial news advise you to invest in the stock markets of Pakistan, Nigeria or Kenya? Or Turkey, which topped the list with returns of 47.31 percent? How about your broker or financial adviser? They make it appear they have special insight into the financial markets. Did they advise you to invest in any of the countries reporting returns higher than the U.S.?

The average returns of the 77 countries is a positive return of 8.47 percent. In 2011, the average was a negative 14.15 percent and the list of top performers was markedly different, with Venezuela, Jamaica and Botswana turning in stellar results, along with Pakistan which came in second.

Trying to predict which country will perform best in 2013 is a crapshoot. So is trying to pick stocks that are mispriced, or betting on which asset class will outperform. Yet the securities industry continues to thrive by persuading you to pay its members fat fees for dispensing precisely this kind of "advice."

The next time your broker peers into his crystal ball and makes a recommendation, ask this question: Did you predict stellar returns in Pakistan, Nigeria or Kenya for 2012?


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-solin/you-learn-investors-pakistan_b_2266913.html?utm_hp_ref=business

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times story on US support commitment to Pakistan:

US assures Pak of early release of $600 million CSF arrears

* US officials call on Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh * Reaffirm US commitment for provision of $200 million for Diamer-Basha Dam

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: The United States on Thursday assured Pakistan of an early release of $600 million Coalition Support Fund (CSF) arrears, increasing OPIC support for projects in Pakistan from $100 million to $1 billion, launch $80 million Pakistan Investment Fund for SMEs in January 2013 and also reaffirmed US commitment for provision of $ 200 million for Diamer-Basha dam.

US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard G Olson and Robin Raphel, senior adviser to special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, called on Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh in his office. Issues of mutual interest, particularly economic ties between the two countries, were discussed in the meeting. Both the sides expressed their satisfaction over the pace of development in Pak-US economic ties.

Olson and Raphel congratulated the finance minister over his recent successful visit to United States of America and declared that the visit would prove a milestone in strengthening economic bonds between the two countries.

Shaikh informed the US delegation that the overall economic conditions in the country are moving in the right direction. The visiting delegation was informed by the finance minister that despite energy scarcity and security situation, Pakistan’s economy has started showing positive trends. The minister informed the US side that due to the policies of the government, Pakistan is witnessing lowest inflation rate in the region and trade balance deficit is on declining trend. The US delegation was informed that Karachi Stock Exchange is the best performing stock exchange in the world during the last one year.

The US officials assured the finance minister that the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) amounting to $600 million would be released without any delay. The visiting delegation also informed the Finance Minister that the United States is going to launch 80 million dollar Pakistan Investment Fund for SMEs in January 2013.

During the meeting the US delegation informed the Finance Minister that active participation of Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in development of Pakistan would be ensured. The active participation of OPIC will increase the support for projects in Pakistan from $ 100 million to $1 billion.

The visiting US delegation also reaffirmed US commitment for provision of $200 million for Diamer-Basha Dam.

Both the sides discussed Pak-US bilateral trade also. The US delegation said that USA is trying to facilitate Pakistan’s exports to the United States to a maximum degree. It was further informed by the visiting delegation that US investment in Pakistan is witnessing ever increasing trend.

Olson and Raphel committed that the US would extend its cooperation to optimum level for timely completion of development projects in Pakistan.

The visiting delegation informed that the US would assist Pakistan in every possible way to overcome energy crisis. The delegation further told that assistance to Pakistan for development of social sector and infrastructure will also be accelerated.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\12\14\story_14-12-2012_pg7_13

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg report on central bank rate cut in Pakistan:

Pakistan cut its benchmark interest rate to the lowest level in five years as policy makers seek to stimulate an economy battered by an energy crisis and insurgency that is likely to need more International Monetary Fund aid.

The State Bank of Pakistan reduced the discount rate by 50 basis points to 9.5 percent, Syed Wasimuddin, spokesman, told reporters in Karachi yesterday. The decision was predicted by 14 of 15 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. One saw no change.

Pakistan’s economy will probably expand 3.5 percent in the 12 months through June, the IMF forecast Nov. 29, less than the 4.3 percent predicted by the government. Fighting with militants along the nation’s northwest border is sapping the budget and undermining confidence among businesses that are already struggling with record power outages that have shut factories and left thousands of people jobless.

“Pakistan is likely to go back to the IMF for another loan next year,” Hamad Aslam, head of research at Lakson Investments Ltd in Karachi who predicted yesterday’s decision, said before the announcement.

Pakistan is scheduled to repay about $7.5 billion to the Washington-based IMF between 2012 and 2015, with $1.2 billion due in June. A partially disbursed $11.3 billion loan program expired in September 2011.

The central bank’s reduction reflects inflation slowing to a 41-month low of 6.93 percent in November. Today’s cuts add to 2 percentage points of easing since August. The new rate will be effective from Dec. 17.

“Deceleration in inflation is faster than the projected path and credit extended to private businesses remains muted,” the State Bank said in its monetary policy statement yesterday. Average inflation for the year ending June will be below the 9.5 percent target, it said.

While the central bank has scope for a larger cut, it may opt for a conservative approach amid IMF repayments, Uzma Taslim, an analyst at Alfalah Securities Pvt. Ltd. in Karachi, said before the announcement.

The rupee traded at a record high against the dollar this week, after falling 9 percent earlier this year.

“Government finances are also under pressure,” Moody’s Investors Service said in November. “The budgeted deficit of 4.7 percent for the year ending June is likely to see slippage due to optimistic revenue and expenditure assumptions.”

Pakistan recorded the highest budget deficit in two decades in the fiscal year ended June.


www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-14/pakistan-cuts-key-rate-to-5-year-low-as-power-crisis-hits-growth.html

Riaz Haq said...

The "peace of the dead" is ending with the "eclipse of feudalism" in Pakistan. What we are seeing now is an "unplanned revolution" in the words of a Pakistani sociologist, a revolution that is transforming Pakistan for the better in the long run.

http://books.google.com/books?id=EKHZAAAAMAAJ&q=feudalism#search_anchor

http://himalmag.com/component/content/article/5126-the-eclipse-of-feudalism-in-pakistan.html

http://himalmag.com/component/content/article/5126-the-eclipse-of-feudalism-in-pakistan.html

http://sai.columbia.edu/outreach_files/Social%20&%20Structural%20Transformations%20in%20Pakistan.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report on a new steel mill starting production in Karachi:

Pakistan’s largest steel producing mill in private sector Tuwairqi Steel Mills Limited (TSML) is ready for commercial production in the first week of January 2013.

It would cater not only the steel needs of the country but would be able to export value-added products to other countries.

The setting up of such a mega project would entice foreign investors in the country despite the fact that local investors are also shifting their entities abroad because of bad law and order situation and energy crisis.

TSML mega project over $350 million is mainly sponsored by Saudi Arabian-based Al-Tuwairqi Company (ISPC) and Posco of South Korea.

TSML Director Project Zaigham Adil Rizvi at a seminar on Monday said this state-of-the-art Direct Reduction route of Iron (DRI) making plant would be starting commercial production but financial crunch put the project so late.

Posco-South Korean steel giant have invested $16 million to make this mega project keep going.

A revolution of industrial growth is in the offing as TSML is ready for commercial production in coming January. It is Pakistan’s first private sector integrated environment-friendly steel manufacturing project.

TSML will serve as a catalyst for the industrial growth in the country as steel has basic and vital role in the economic development of any country.

He said DRI technology is the latest in the world and is being used in not only developed countries but also in our region like Iran and India, so consistent highly quality of product can be achieved through this state-of-the-art technology, he said adding that this technology is environment-friendly.

Rizvi divulged TSML’s DRI plant after commercial production, would not only meet country’s steel requirements but would also create job opportunities for technical and skilled labour force for local people.

He said his team along with Posco delegates has started searching raw material in Balochistan and hoped they would not spend huge foreign reserves in importing raw material rather they would use the local material.

He claimed country’s workforce, especially the youth was not only dedicated and committed but also hard work, so the future of Pakistan was very bright.

Pakistan’s largest steel capacity of 1.28 million tonnes per annum plant would not only cater country’s requirements but also provide job opportunities to skilled and unskilled people.

Other countries including Korea wanted to purchase total production of TSML but TSML management has decided in principal that we would prefer to distribute all our products within the country and in this regard we have selected Lahore-based Shajarpak Company, as our sole distributor.

Khawaja Usman of Shajarpak said currently Pakistan was depending on imports for the production of heavy mechanical structures and engineering goods but after producing high-quality steel at TSML plant, Pakistan would be able to manufacture such heavy equipment locally.

India is giving more importance to its industrial sector while concerned authorities in Pakistan are least bother in this regard.

He hoped raw material from Balochistan would help steel industry to sell its products on low price.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\12\18\story_18-12-2012_pg5_7

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Fiber2fashion on Pakistan's rising textile exports:

Pakistan’s textile exports grew to US$ 5.4 billion during first five months of the current Pakistani fiscal year that began on July 1, 2012, showing a year-on-year rise of 7.81 percent, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data showed.

Pakistan exported textiles worth US$ 5.009 billion during same period of last fiscal.

Product-wise, the items that depicted positive year-on-year export growth during July- November this year, include cotton yarn which grew by 38 percent year-on-year, yarn increased by 62.73 percent, cotton cloth by 12.31 percent, towels by 10.98 percent, readymade garments by 14.26 percent, tents by 25.49 percent and other textile materials by 70 percent.

On the negative side were raw cotton, exports of which declined by 44.35 percent year-on-year, cotton carded by 86 percent, knitwear by 2.02 percent, bed wear by 9.61 percent, art silk and synthetic textiles by 18.1 percent and made-up articles by 2.14 percent.


http://www.fibre2fashion.com/news/textile-news/newsdetails.aspx?news_id=119255

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times on Twariqi Steel Mill plant inauguration in Karachi:

KARACHI: Tuwairqi Steel Mills Limited (TSML) Pakistan’s first private sector integrated environment-friendly steel manufacturing complex of Al-Tuwairqi Holding (ATH)/ISPC of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia inaugurated by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf at Port Qasim Karachi on Saturday.
The plant in its first phase has the capacity to produce up to 1.28 million tonnes of high quality Direct Reduced Iron (DRI), which is evidently steel’s most versatile metallic and a preferred raw material for quality steel making worldwide.
Raja Pervez Ashraf congratulated the entire team of TSML on the successful completion of the first phase and committed to extend all possible support from the government for the expansion plans of ATH and POSCO in Pakistan. He said, “It is a matter of great pride for us Pakistan has now started producing DRI, with the completion of the first phase of TSML. We are committed to transform our country into an industrial hub and for that we seek more projects-especially in the steel sector, since steel is the backbone of the industrial growth. TSML in poised to serve as a catalyst for the industrial growth of Pakistan.”
He was of the view currently Pakistan was among the countries that rely mostly on imports when it comes to heavy mechanical structures and engineering goods. By producing high quality steel within Pakistan we can manufacture such equipment locally by value addition with the help of downstream industries, he concluded.
He distributed shields among outstanding employees of TSML as a token of appreciation of their hard work and dedication to successfully complete the first phase.
The first phase has been completed with an investment of over $350 million. The plant spreads over an area of 220 acres at Bin Qasim Karachi and employs the world’s most advanced DRI technology of the MIDREX process owned by Kobe Steel of Japan. ATH/ISPC and POSCO have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of Pakistan for the backward and forward integration with an estimated investment 3 times higher than of the DRI plant. Forward integration would be a further value addition through a Melt Shop, producing world standard steel grades, while backward integration would be to the extent of exploring iron ore locally in Balochistan, its beneficiation and pelletisation as well.
Dr Hilal Hussain Al-Tuwairqi, Chairman Al-Tuwairqi Holding appreciated the efforts of TSML employees. He said Al-Tuwairqi’s vision was to participate in the development of national economy in order to have a long sustaining growth of Pakistan.
“We are looking forward to create for our younger generations, ample job opportunities to build a strong and prosperous nation on the face of this plant. Al-Tuwairqi sees Pakistan as a land of opportunities and we are very clear in our perception that Pakistan as a country has to grow and we are determined to play an instrumental role in its development, he remarked.
Joon Yang Chung Chairman and CEO POSCO of South Korea congratulated the entire team of TSML. He said it was heartening to learn that TSML has increased the production capacity of Pakistan by 1.28 million tonnes per annum, which would help meet the ever growing demands of steel in Pakistan.
Zaigham Adil Rizvi Director (Projects) TSML said TSML has massive expansion and modernisation plans not only to enhance production capacity at an exponential rate but also to improve productivity and efficiency, matching the highest global standards. Pakistan’s current per capita steel consumption is only 40 kilogramme, which is exuberantly low, when compared with the global average of 215 kilogramme. This establishes a dire need increased emphasis on achieving international benchmarks to become a modern and an efficient economy.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\01\13\story_13-1-2013_pg5_2


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on cement sales in July-Dec 2012 period in Pakistan:

Cement consumption in the country increased 11% to 2.24 million tons in December 2012, the highest-ever sales for the month, industry people say.

However, a slump in exports persisted with overseas shipments declining by 10.55% to 580,000 tons in December.

The numbers were released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association here on Friday.

In a statement, a spokesman for the association said cement sales in the domestic market rose 7.61% to stand at 11.728 million tons in the first six months (July-December) of financial year 2012-13. Exports remained under pressure, dropping by 5.28% to 4.22 million tons.

In southern parts of the country, sales of cement units in the first half registered a growth of 7.98% in the domestic market, but exports fell by 16.34%.

In the north, where most of the cement is produced, the industry posted a growth of 7.52% in domestic sales while exports edged down 1.31%.

The spokesman was the view that despite much hype, trade with India had not significantly benefitted the cement industry as sales to the neighbour stood at only 209,000 tons in the past six months, down a whopping 40.41%. “This is well below expectations of the cement sector,” he commented.

In fact, he said, exports to India had been on a constant decline ever since the two countries opened their borders for liberal trade. “The decline is not due to lack of demand, but because of very stringent non-tariff barriers imposed by our neighbour,” he said and pointed out that Pakistan’s cement was preferred by the Indians because of better quality.

Stressing that cement exporters have a potential to export a big quantity to the Indian market, he said they were facing strict resistance with barriers still in place even after discussions on the matter in different rounds of official and unofficial talks between the two countries.

Setting aside India, Afghanistan’s market has proved to be quite lucrative for the cement industry. In the past six months, the industry exported 2.41 million tons to the neighbour, where demand stood high in the wake of reconstruction work.

Exports to other destinations through sea also remained stable in the period under review.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/489137/cement-sales-grow-7-exports-lag-behind/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a SteelFirst report on steel imports in Pakistan:

Pakistan's imports of iron and steel products were 13% higher year-on-year in November, as troubles at state-owned Pakistan Steel continued to encourage purchasing from outside the country.

Imports reached 155,517 tonnes in November, up from 137,548 tonnes a year earlier and a little down from 156,427 tonnes in October this year.

The struggling Pakistan Steel, the country's main producer with 1.1 million tpy of capacity, has been operating at an average utilisation of 20% during 2012 because of financial troubles. Steelmakers in Pakistan also faces higher costs and problems with intermittent power supply.

Both these factors have kept output restrained, encouraging more imports of finished products to fill the gap.

At the same time, the production problems have led to much lower scrap import volumes.

Inbound shipments of ferrous scrap in November dropped to 100,673 tonnes, down 48% on the month and 25% year-on-year.


http://www.steelfirst.com/Article/3134894/Pakistans-steel-imports-up-13-in-November.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on Pakistan's rising imports as PSM sputters:

KARACHI, March 20: Pakistan imported 3.2 million tons of iron and steel in FY11 amounting about $2 billion, which was 5 per cent of the annual import bill.

This was disclosed in the SBP’s 2nd quarterly report for 2011-12 which discussed in detail the pathetic condition of Pakistan Steel and demand of iron and steel in the country.

The finished steel imports are price competitive despite high import duties (from 10 to 35 per cent), 16 per cent sales tax, and 3 per cent withholding tax, the report said.

“This is distressing given Pakistan’s 1.4 billion tons unexploited proven iron ore reserves as well as sufficient domestic capacity (roughly 4.5 million tons). With full capacity utilisation, imports of finished goods can drop to as low as 0.1 million tons a year,” the report said.

In dollar terms, the net saving could exceed $1 billion per year. A number of factors are responsible for the present state of affairs including the ailing Pakistan Steel Mills, insufficient investment and loopholes in the tax system, the report noted.

Over 96 per cent of growth in world steel production during the last decade was contributed by Asia, with China and India virtually explaining the entire expansion.

In sharp contrast, Pakistan’s crude steel production declined from 1.1 million tons in FY01 to 0.4 million tons in FY11.

As domestic consumption continues to grow, the demand supply gap is widening. A conservative estimate puts demand for finished iron and steel products as over 6 million tons/annum.

Pakistan Steel Mills is the sole processor of iron ore in Pakistan and constitutes a little less than 20 per cent of the country’s capacity for finished steel.

In better times, the mills supplied raw material (billets and HR sheets) to the private sector as well.

“Since FY09 (when PSM reported a huge loss), crude steel production has been going downhill, dropping from 80 per cent of installed capacity in FY08 to only 23.8 per cent in Jul-Nov FY12,” said the report.

PSM has since been strapped for liquidity, unable to consistently fund raw material imports. Low crude production has affected production of finished steel by the PSM and the numerous downstream private mills relying on PSM, which now have to import raw material.

“To date, PSM has been unable to emerge out of the low funds-low capacity cycle,” the report noted.

But more importantly, the current local iron ore supply is sufficient to produce only 0.2 million tons steel a year. This means that at full capacity, PSM must import at least 1.5 million tons of iron ore, which amounts to import burden of approximately $0.2 billion annually (at FY11 price).

The PSM also imports coal for coking. Coking needs superior quality coal and is therefore this component is not substitutable locally. At full capacity, the PSM requires 0.85 million tons of coal per year ($ 0.1 billion at FY11 prices).

“In short, in order to break even, PSM must have sufficient funds to be able to run at efficient capacity. Otherwise, producing at low capacity will only lead to snowballing losses,” said the report.


http://dawn.com/2012/03/21/steel-imports-thriving-on-low-psm-capacity/

Riaz Haq said...

n his piece for The Nation newspaper, author Kamal Monnoo worries about future declines in overseas remittances to Pakistan from Pak diaspora.

The author is focusing too much on the cyclical economic factors and not enough on the longer term demographic trends.

Western nations are going to need more, not fewer, workers from developing nations like Pakistan because the populations in the OECD nations are aging and shrinking.

Kerala example is not relevant either because Kerala itself has sub-replacement TFR of just 1.7 which is worse than some of the European nations.

Pakistan, with its total fertility rate of 3.5, has the world’s sixth largest population, seventh largest diaspora and the ninth largest labor force. With rapidly declining fertility and aging populations in the industrialized world, Pakistan's growing talent pool is likely to play a much bigger role to satisfy global demand for workers in the 21st century and contribute to the well-being of Pakistan as well as other parts of the world.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/10/pakistans-expected-demographic-dividend.html

Riaz Haq said...

New shopping mall to open in Islamabad, reports The Nation:



ISLAMABAD (PR) - The Centaurus Mall, Pakistan’s mega shopping and entertainment destination, is all-set to open its doors by the middle of next month, says a press release.

“We are all set to make a soft launch. Quite a few brands have confirmed their readiness by the date we have communicated to them, and others are working day in and day out to make sure they don’t miss out on this opportunity,” the release stated.

The Centaurus Mall, located at the heart of federal capital, is a multi-facility complex featuring a deluxe mega shopping mall (covering 400,000 sq. ft), 5-screen Cineplex, a state-of-the-art kids entertainment area, and food court offering a variety of cuisines.

“The word is out now, and we are mulling the date of 17th February to make this luxurious dream become a reality. Dozens of top-of-the-line brands are going to be there and the rest of the mall features like Cineplex, and kids play area, health club etc will be up and ready within 20 days of the launch, ShahbazRana, Head Business Development of The Centaurus confirmed.

The multi-billion project is a joint venture of Al-Tamimi Group of Saudi Arabia and Sardar Builders of Pakistan.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/18-Jan-2013/centaurus-mall-to-open-next-month

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation report on GoP MOU with Twariqi and Posco:

In order to promote and closely collaborate on the development of steel and infrastructure industry in Pakistan, the joint venture of Al-Ittefaq Steel Products Company and POSCO, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of Pakistan through the Ministry of Investment for the backward and forward integration of Tuwairqi Steel Mills Limited (TSML).

Forward integration would be a further value addition through a Melt Shop, producing world standard steel grades, while backward integration would be to the extent of exploring iron ore locally in Baluchistan, its beneficiation & pelletization as well. The estimated investment on these projects would be around US$900 million.

The MoU was signed by S. Anjum Bashir, Secretary, Ministry of Investment, Prime Minister Secretariat, Government of Pakistan and Zaigham Adil Rizvi, Director (Projects), TSML in the presence of Dr. Hilal Hussain Al-Tuwairqi, Chairman Al-Tuwairqi Holding and Joon Yang Chung, Chairman & CEO, POSCO of South Korea.

As per the MoU, GoP will facilitate TSML in using Pachinkoh Deposit (Nokkundi) and Dilband Deposit (Mastung) for the development of iron ore mine and utilization of such developed iron ore products as raw material for TSML’s DRI Plant and Pellet Plant in its 1st and 3rd phase respectively. GoP has also committed to facilitate TSML with 180 MW of electricity, 3,000 m3 of water per day and natural gas as per the additional quantity required for TSML’s upcoming projects.

Through the MoU, POSCO has also expressed its interest for exploring business opportunities with GoP in engineering, procurement and construction services in the fields of infrastructure and industrial, environmental, electric power and oil & gas facilities.

On this occasion, Dr. Hilal Hussain Al-Tuwairqi, Chairman Al-Tuwairqi Holding said that Al-Tuwairqi’s vision is to participate in the development of national economy, in order to have a long sustaining growth of Pakistan. “We are looking forward to create, for our younger generations, ample job opportunities to build a strong and prosperous nation, on the face of this plant. Al-Tuwairqi sees Pakistan as a land of opportunities and we are very clear in our perception that Pakistan as a country has to grow and we are determined to play an instrumental role in its development,” he remarked.

Mr. Joon Yang Chung, Chairman & CEO, POSCO said that POSCO is serving some of the most quality conscious markets in the world, and with its vision and expertise in the global steel industry spanning over 4 decades, POSCO is committed to transform TSML into a globally renowned company for quality steel making.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/23-Jan-2013/tuwairqi-posco-to-expand-operations-in-pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's PakistanToday on a new skyscraper in Karachi:

KARACHI - City’s tallest building, which has been constructed at a huge investment of Rs 7 billion, is all set to open its doors to the public and corporate sector with the objective to spur business and commercial activities in safe, secure and world class environment.
The high-rise project named Ocean Tower was set to break the record of being the tallest building in the country with 393-feet height and 28 floors, whereas the record was currently being held by a private bank building with a height of 370-feet containing 24 floors, situated on II Chundrigar Road.
Ocean Tower had been built according to international architectural standards and had state-of-art shopping centre and business centre. We have gathered a world of business and entertainment under one roof in the tallest building of the country in which top international brands of clothing, cosmetics, toiletries, food and cinema were available for the masses, said Siddiq Sons CEO Tariq Rafi, the company responsible for building Ocean Tower.
Ocean Tower would welcome a large number of shoppers from across the country, where they could buy goods related to food, health and entertainment, Tariq said. It was a premier place for conducting business and engaging in shopping, he added.
Furthermore, he said that all leading multinational companies and the country's business tycoons have set up their offices in Ocean Tower because they were facilitated into a dream corporate life in which business meetings, seminars and dinners could be arranged in one building while the companies could gain a good image in their relevant industries, he added.
Moreover, Tariq said that Ocean Tower had been built by keeping in mind the demands of modern and luxury lifestyle. The security system would be managed efficiently by man and machines, while uninterrupted power supplies and fire security compliances were also installed for the benefit of investors, he added.
Ocean Tower had been designed and built in such a way that it could effectively withstand earthquake jolts of 8.5 on Richter scale, which was well above the limit of any quake shocks experienced by the country so far. In addition to this, Ocean Tower had been equipped with UFLM fire safety standard, Tariq said, while adding that the building had 4,500 square feet dedicated space for car parking where more than a 1,000 cars could be easily parked.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/01/24/city/karachi/pakistans-tallest-skyscraper-to-open-soon/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the latest cement report on Pakistan:

The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association reported a 10.10% increase in domestic cement consumption in January. The country, which has almost 45 million t of cement capacity, has seen exports fall in recent years as expansion programmes increase capacity in Pakistan’s traditional export markets and new exporters have joined the competition. However, domestic demand is on the rise, hitting an all-time high of almost 24 million t in FY11/12.

January saw domestic sales reach 2.135 million t, comprised of 1.706 million t from the north and 429 000 t from the south of the country. Demand has been pushed by private construction as well as government infrastructure projects, a trend set to continue as the per capita cement demand in the country is well below average at 152 kg.

Energy shortage threatens production

However, a new threat is energy shortages, which the APCMA says hampered production in northern areas last month. The Islamabad High Court recently removed the Rs.50/mmbty Gas Development Infrastructure Cess (GIDC), declaring it illegal. Though this will bring down input costs for cement producers in the south, it is reported that it will have no benefit for the more numerous northern producers, who ‘have now been given least priority for gas supply’ (The Nation, 3 February). Some plants are looking into alternative energy supplies – DG Khan Cement, for example, is set to be one of the first applications for Kalina cycle technology in the cement industry.

Lucky Cement prospers

Meanwhile, Lucky Cement Limited has recorded a 42.15% y/y increase in half yearly profit for 2012/13. As of the end of December, the company reported profits of Rs.4.29 billion and improved net sales of Rs.17.511 billion, up 13.9% y/y. The company reportedly plans to upgrade its existing mills and packing machines to reduce operational costs. More information about the company can be found in the February issue of World Cement in the article ‘Pakistan: Cementing its Position’ from Lucky Cement. Subscribers can download the issue by signing in.

Lafarge appoints new country CEO

Finally, Lafarge Pakistan Cement has appointed Amr Reda as the new country CEO of Lafarge Pakistan. Reda had previously been the regional business controller of Lafarge Middle East and Pakistan and has been on the board of directors of Lafarge Pakistan since January 2007.


http://www.worldcement.com/news/cement/articles/Pakistan_domestic_cement_consumption_rises_854.aspx

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on rising cement consumption in first 7 months of FY12-13:

LAHORE:

A recovery in domestic cement consumption in the first seven months of the current fiscal year has saved the day for the industry, which has been constantly losing its export markets. January was another good month for local sales, with things continuing poorly on the export front.

According to a statement issued by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association, cement sales jumped by 10.10% to 2.135 million tons in the domestic market in January.

Mills working in the country’s north sold 1.706 million tons, while those in the south supplied 429,000 tons to the domestic market.

Meanwhile, exports of cement dropped 11.91% – with total exports at 522,584 tons in January. Of this quantity, mills in the north exported 330,016 tons and plants in the south shipped 192,568 tons overseas.

In seven months (July-January) of the current fiscal year, total cement sales rose 4.02% and reached 18.607 million tons – domestic consumption stood at 13.862 million tons, up 7.98% while exports were 4.746 million tons, down 6.05%.

Despite economic challenges like unemployment, unstable law and order conditions and the impact of sporadic natural disasters, domestic demand has been aided by private construction and the government’s infrastructure development programmes in the last 10 years, according to brokerage house Shajar Capital.

In the future, “rising remittances and changing socio-economic indicators like increasing urbanisation are expected to contribute to boosting housing demand in the country,” it said.

Discussing the patterns of consumption, Shajar said Pakistan consumed only 152 kilogrammes per capita of cement, lower than both world and regional averages, leaving room for expansion of demand.

A spokesman for the cement manufacturers association spoke of the energy crisis prevailing in the country, saying half of the cement units in northern areas could not operate at optimum levels in January because of the energy shortage.

Industry experts point out that cement manufacturers are not fully utilising capacity, hampering their ability to service bank loans. They say exports should be increased as the markets of India and Afghanistan can be exploited with the support of the government.

They stress that cement is one of the few commodities readily accepted in India, and it alone could triple Pakistan’s exports to Delhi. The only hurdle is the Indian bureaucracy, which impedes free and fair exports.

They asked the government to settle the issue through talks with the Indian trade officials.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/502722/domestic-cement-sales-rise-8-in-seven-months/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times on increase in Pakistan's cement exports in 2012-13:

The cement exports from the country witnessed increase of 15.81 percent during fiscal year 2012-13 against the same period of last year.

The cement exports were recorded at $577.878 million whereas during July-June 2011-12, the exports remained $498.844 million. On month on month basis, the cement exports also increased by 2.49 percent and decreased by 4.16 percent in June 2013 when compared with the exports in June 2012 and May 2013.

According to data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the exports in June 2013 were recorded at $53.338 million where as in June 2012 and May 2013 the value of exports remained $52.043 and $55.655 million.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C08%5C01%5Cstory_1-8-2013_pg5_4

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report on extraordinary customer interest in Bahria Town projects in Karachi:

People from all over Pakistan gave an overwhelming response to Bahria Town Karachi Project, according to the registration process which concluded on Friday.
According to a press release, people swarmed the Bahria Town offices, branches and customer support centres as soon as it announced the registration process. However, the registration process reached its peak as the deadline approached.
The BT has announced three projects – Bahria Town Icon, Bahria Town Tower and Bahria Town Karachi – in the megacity with the aim to contribute to the economic activity in the country and lay foundation of a prosperous Pakistan.
“The Bahria Town commits to complete and hand over the projects on the stipulated time,” says the press release. All projects will have 100% power backup, a foolproof security system, spacious parking and complete maintenance.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/613784/bahria-town-karachi-projects-received-overwhelming-response/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's World Cement report about cement consumption in Pakistan:

The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association reported a 10.10% increase in domestic cement consumption in January. The country, which has almost 45 million t of cement capacity, has seen exports fall in recent years as expansion programmes increase capacity in Pakistan’s traditional export markets and new exporters have joined the competition. However, domestic demand is on the rise, hitting an all-time high of almost 24 million t in FY11/12.

January saw domestic sales reach 2.135 million t, comprised of 1.706 million t from the north and 429 000 t from the south of the country. Demand has been pushed by private construction as well as government infrastructure projects, a trend set to continue as the per capita cement demand in the country is well below average at 152 kg.

Energy shortage threatens production

However, a new threat is energy shortages, which the APCMA says hampered production in northern areas last month. The Islamabad High Court recently removed the Rs.50/mmbty Gas Development Infrastructure Cess (GIDC), declaring it illegal. Though this will bring down input costs for cement producers in the south, it is reported that it will have no benefit for the more numerous northern producers, who ‘have now been given least priority for gas supply’ (The Nation, 3 February). Some plants are looking into alternative energy supplies – DG Khan Cement, for example, is set to be one of the first applications for Kalina cycle technology in the cement industry.

Lucky Cement prospers

Meanwhile, Lucky Cement Limited has recorded a 42.15% y/y increase in half yearly profit for 2012/13. As of the end of December, the company reported profits of Rs.4.29 billion and improved net sales of Rs.17.511 billion, up 13.9% y/y. The company reportedly plans to upgrade its existing mills and packing machines to reduce operational costs. More information about the company can be found in the February issue of World Cement in the article ‘Pakistan: Cementing its Position’ from Lucky Cement. Subscribers can download the issue by signing in.

Lafarge appoints new country CEO

Finally, Lafarge Pakistan Cement has appointed Amr Reda as the new country CEO of Lafarge Pakistan. Reda had previously been the regional business controller of Lafarge Middle East and Pakistan and has been on the board of directors of Lafarge Pakistan since January 2007.


http://www.worldcement.com/news/cement/articles/Pakistan_domestic_cement_consumption_rises_854.aspx

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AFP story on gated communities construction boom in Pakistan:

Rawalpindi: On the edge of Rawalpindi, Islamabad’s scruffy, congested twin city, a grand arched gateway opens to a rather different Pakistan, one of tidy lawns, golf courses and constant, reliable electricity.
Welcome to Bahria Town, where Pakistan’s new middle class takes refuge from the Taliban attacks and endless power cuts that plague the rest of the country.
Cars glide softly over the smooth tarmac carpeting the gentle hills of Pakistan’s largest gated community, past immaculate green verges dotted with statues of cattle — which, unlike their real counterparts elsewhere in the country, pose no threat to traffic.
There’s a horse riding centre, a golf course, a posh cinema, an immaculately air-conditioned café and a mini zoo with “the only black panther in Pakistan”, whose growling excites young couples taking a walk.

Elsewhere 20 metre models of the Eiffel Tower and Nelson’s Column — complete with lions — watch over this vision of suburbia which seems a world away from the rest of Pakistan’s seething, traffic-choked and crumbling cities.
For Riaz, an employee of a multinational firm, it is heaven compared to the sprawling, violent metropolis of Karachi that he left a few months ago.
An unprecedented wave of murders and kidnappings gripping the port city, Pakistan’s economic capital, forced him to quit for the quiet comfort of Bahria Town.
“Here we have peace, though it’s a bit lacking in life and cafés,” Riaz told AFP as he walked through the zoo with his young son.

From jungle to gardens

Popularised in the United States in the 1990s, gated communities have spread across the world.
They have grown in popularity in Pakistan in the last decade as Islamist violence and crime have spiralled and a crippling energy crisis has left people without electricity for hours at a time in the blistering summer.
Pakistan now has at least two dozen gated communities, according to Shaista Zulfiqar of real estate brokerage, zameen.com.
Bahria Town has expanded to three cities — Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi — housing some 100,000 people in total.
When work started on Bahria Town Islamabad in the early 2000s, the area was nothing but “jungle”, said 28-year-old Arif Ali, one of the first residents.
For the residents of Bahria Town and the dozens of other closed communities like it around the unstable country of 180 million people, life passes calmly.
Cameras watch over the enclave 24 hours a day, on top of the guards patrolling to kick out interlopers.
The power cuts that plague life in the rest of Pakistan are a distant memory thanks to enormous generators guzzling to run the residents’ air-conditioners and HD TVs.

Boom town

Bahria Town is also a town without a mayor. The development company, owned by billionaire Malik Riaz, sells the land, builds the houses, hospitals, schools, and runs the security, electricity, water, sewage, all in return for a local “tax”.
Bahria Town and its rivals like Gulberg Greens and Khudadad City offer a corner of walled-in paradise for those who can afford it...


http://gulfnews.com/news/world/pakistan/happiness-for-some-in-pakistan-s-gated-communities-1.1267435

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Express Tribune on Bahria Town projects in Karachi and Rawalpindi:

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan’s largest real estate company, Bahria Town (BT) on Sunday started the booking process for its residential plots in Karachi and Rawalpindi.
Under the project, the real estate giant will allot plots to more than 0.5 million people. On the first day of booking, more than 50 thousand people received the form against a fee of Rs1,000.
The demand was such that some people reportedly resold their forms at a profit.
People from all walks of life showed great interest in the BT project and long queues of citizens were seen at the booking offices till late at night.
Talking to Express News, people said even the VIPs were found standing in queues, and the credit for this went to the founder and chairman of Bahria Town, Malik Riaz Hussain.
The BT representative said Sunday was reserved for the distribution of forms for residential plots. “The booking forms for commercial plots will to be offered on Monday (today),” he added.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/663864/bahria-town-project-over-50000-receive-booking-form/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's UAE's National newspaper story on real estate sector in Pakistan:

The government spends more than US$5 billion on construction from its annual development budget. The housing sector, however, gets less than half of the amount allocated for construction each year. The burgeoning population and rapid urbanisation calls for more housing schemes in the country. Private real estate developers have a crucial role to meet housing.

In view of the security concerns, private developers have resorted to building gated communities in major cities. Pakistan’s Bahria Town is Asia’s largest real estate developer and private housing society, which has practically implemented the idea of foolproof safety. Bahria’s ongoing projects, such as the JV D&B Valley, Golf City, Garden City, Bahria Icon, cover more than 1 billion square feet that will accommodate more than 1 million residents. Bahria’s 25,000 employees are delivering US$5 billion of iconic developments.

Administered by the Pakistan army, Defence Housing Authority (DHA) is a real estate organisationthat mainly develops housing for current and retired military officers. DHA has establishments in all the major cities including Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. DHA City, one of the largest state-of-the-art residential-cum-commercial projects, is under construction in Karachi. DHA has also built gated communities. And the prices of residential and commercial property in DHA housing schemes have been on the rise.

Launched in 2008, DHA Valley is a joint venture of DHA, Bahria Town and Habib Rafiq Private. The project aims at developing a secure community with essential amenities. DHA Valley offers 1,125 sq ft and 1,800 sq ft residential plots for 650,000 Pakistan rupees (Dh22,749) and 880,000 rupees respectively, with a quarterly instalment plan for Pakistani residents. It also offers1,800 sq ft residential plots for US$12,900 for overseas Pakistani residents.

The winner of five awards from the Asia Pacific International Property Awards, Bahria Town is actually fuelling the growth of real estate sector in the country.

Bahria’s projects in Rawalpindi and Islamabad and the development of a gated community worth $6 billion in the twin cities is the great property success story. The amenities offered by Bahria Town attracted residents and allured real estate investors. It ensures a 24-hour supply of electricity, fool-proof security and other amenities. The value of real estate in the Bahria towns in Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi has increased manifold in the past five years. The price of a 1,800 sq ft residential plot at Bahria towns in Lahore and Rawalpindi has increased up to 5 million rupees from 1.5m rupees in just three to four years.

Karachi, the country commercial capital, has endured stagnancy or a fall in property prices because of deteriorating law and order over the past five years. Bahria Town has come forward as the answer to many of the problems confronting the real estate investors. Bahria town Karachi is currently the focus of speculative trade in real estate. Frenzied investors are ready to offer triple the price for plot files. What is really a commendable the properties are financially accessible to the middle class. For example in the newly launched Bahria Town scheme in Karachi, the price for a 1,125 sq ft residential plot is 2.6 million rupees, while the price of a 2,160 sq ft plot is more than 5m rupees. Similarly, the price a two bed apartment is 2.6m rupees, while the price of four-bed apartment is 8.2m rupees. These properties can be purchased through instalments under a five-year plan.


http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/property/property-sector-aims-to-put-down-firm-roots-in-pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on real estate sector in Pakistan:

After passing through a correction phase of nearly five months, the real estate market in Lahore is once again on the path of growth. However, there are a number of reasons why the extent of the growth may not meet investors’ expectations.
For the past few years, developers, after failing to find a suitable place in Lahore, have tended to focus on neglected but other populous cities of Punjab including Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Sialkot.
Hashu Group is one of them, Bahria town, city housing schemes (once a part of Bahria town) are the others. The latest name is the Defence Housing Authority (DHA). Since DHA is the most trusted name for any investor – in Pakistan and overseas – people find a reasonable alternate to invest.
Gujranwala, Multan and Bahawalpur are three cities where DHA has planned to establish housing societies, among which the sale and purchase for DHA Gujranwala has already kicked off. Such developments are observed as a positive for the long-term growth of the real estate sector.
“This spread out is good for the market in general,” said Mian Talat, chief executive officer at Talat Enterprisers, a real estate firm. “People now have more choices to invest and live according to their convenience.
The correction in the Karachi Stock Exchange is also a factor behind the recovery of the real estate market recovery.
Common investors of both markets believe that the KSE may crash any time. Given the situation, investors tend to switch to the real estate market. When stock index starts declining, many investors switch over to the real estate market and this is what is happening exactly now”, Talat added.
Few years back, Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad/Rawalpindi were the only places where investors found some room to put their money in for some profits. However, these cities are now pushing their limits — Lahore’s boundaries are now merging with some of its districts due to various factors.
Property prices in Lahore, despite almost a 20% correction in these five months, are quite abnormal. It is hard to find a piece of one kanal of land in a decent housing scheme below Rs10 million. If the same amount of land is located in a prime location inside a housing schemes then the price exceeds Rs20 million.
“Since Lahore is one of the major beneficiaries of the real estate boom, it is unlikely that real estate activities are stalled in the future. This is due to developments of housing schemes in other cities”, said Waseem Tariq, Chief Executive Officer of F-1 Properties. “The price fluctuation mechanism for real estate, as per our expectations, will be solid now.”


http://tribune.com.pk/story/675018/real-estate-market-hits-growth-trail-again/

Riaz Haq said...

Dubai close second to London for foreign buyers. Here's a report on Dubai real estate in 2014:

Dubai, 18 February 2014 - Renewed demand from domestic and overseas buyers seeking Dubai property assets is a sign of increasing interest in Dubai's improving real estate market, according to leading international real estate consultancy Cluttons.
Strong interest in Emaar's newly launched Lila and Yasmin properties at Arabian Ranches, Bahrain-based Ravi Pillai Group's plans to invest USD$1.5 billion into two real estate projects in Business Bay and Downtown, and the USD$1.9 million investment by Chow Tai Food Endowment Industry Investment Development (Group) Ltd in serviced apartments, high-end residences and two five-star hotels at Dubai Pearl, illustrate the growing appetite for real estate investment from intuitional investors who have been largely absent since the market rebounded.

Faisal Durrani, Associate - residential and international research at Cluttons comments on the depth of buyer demand in Dubai: "The launch of Yasmin demonstrates the domestic interest in established communities like Arabian Ranches, which feature completed infrastructure that are expanding in areas south of Dubai. Villa communities tend to be limited to a few hundred villas in order to create a sense of exclusivity and deliver on the promise of 'gated communities'. We expect to see more such 'bolt-on' schemes launched, as developers expand prominent communities and focus on areas that are well established."

The recent report on buyer activity released by the Dubai Land Department highlights the appetite for real estate assets in Dubai that extends well beyond the UAE, with 162 nationalities committing to Dubai's bricks and mortar during 2013.
Durrani continued: "Unsurprisingly, Indian nationals topped the list of the city's most active buyers, with Dubai often viewed in the same league as London by this group. The relative geographic proximity to India and the large non-resident Indian population in the region are two further critical drivers for those looking to park their Rupees in Dubai's real estate market. And now we're seeing the demand base broadening from individuals to institutional players. Britons and Pakistani nationals rounded off the top three nationalities that purchased property in Dubai last year."

This is further evidenced in Cluttons International Private Capital Survey 2013/14 which was released late last year. The survey found that within the region, Dubai ranks ahead of other global real estate investment destinations.
Cluttons surveyed nine global locations across the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region and although London ranked as the go-to investment destination by the world's wealthy, Dubai came in a close second, up from seventh place a year earlier....


http://www.zawya.com/story/Overseas_and_domestic_buyers_target_Dubai_property_assets-ZAWYA20140218080350/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wall Street Journal story on multi-screen theaters construction boom in Pakistan:

KARACHI, Pakistan—At the brand-new Nue Multiplex here, chauffeured cars drop families at the door. Excited squeals of children reverberate from the games arcade. Hollywood and Bollywood movies play on five screens.

"We wanted to have something of international standard," said Tariq Baig, executive director of the $100 million multiplex that opened in August, replete with a Canadian sound system, Danish carpeting, and chairs and screens imported from the U.K. "We didn't go for anything local."

Nue is part of a wave of Western-style cinemas that are opening across Pakistan, aiming to serve the entertainment-starved middle classes in a country where movie houses were traditionally dilapidated, seedy, and shunned by families.

The blossoming of Western cinema in Pakistan is something of a phenomenon, taking place even as Islamist militants—who view all cinema as sinful— increasingly target the country's moviegoers.

There are just 104 movie screens in all of Pakistan, a country of 180 million people. Still, that is a jump from 20 screens in 2005, according to various distributors and cinema owners. There are another 100 screens under construction, they say.

Pakistan's cinema renaissance began in 2006, when the then military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, loosened a law dating back to the 1965 war between India and Pakistan that banned the import of Bollywood films. Though imports of Indian movies are still restricted, Mr. Musharraf's ruling allowed them to be granted a "No Objection Certificate" by the government in special cases. The ordinance also created a loophole in the law that allowed Indian films to be imported via another country.

"Everyone wants to go to the cinema," says Nadia Jamil, a popular TV and film actress based in Lahore. "It's the Indian films that have created the market that everyone wants to rush to."
----------
Cinema construction has been on a tear over the past few years in a number of developing countries where growing middle classes are flocking to theaters. China last year added 5,077 new film screens, boosting its total to 18,200, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
---------
Peshawar's cinemas are a far cry from the multiplexes of Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi. The only defense against the intense summer heat are ancient fans. In the winter patrons come with their own blankets. The audiences are exclusively male, and many of the theaters show porn, crudely dubbed into Pashto, the local language. Audiences are small and profits are slim. Tickets cost around 50 rupees (50 cents), depending on how popular the film is.

Habib ur Rehman, the manager of the Picture House cinema, the first theater to be attacked by the Taliban, said in conservative Peshawar being in the cinema business isn't something you boast about. He said the modern multiplexes springing up in other parts of the country would never come to the city. "They will not succeed here. The people don't like Hindi and English films. They want Musarrat Shaheen, " he said, referring to a famous Pashto actress.

Despite the Taliban threats, Rehan Shah, who works at the Shama Cinema, the second Peshawar theater attacked, said people are eager for these cinemas to reopen.

"People are already asking, 'Why are you not open? We want entertainment,' " he said.



http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303546204579439371307729670

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Tech In Asia on Pakistan's online real estate listings portals:

In Pakistan, one homegrown startup is now facing a wave of overseas tech companies entering the country as more investors see the appeal of this growing – yet troubled – emerging market. In the online property listings niche, Zameen started early, founded by British-Pakistani entrepreneur brothers Zeeshan Ali Khan and Imran Ali Khan way back in 2006. It then grew to become the nation’s top real estate site. According to Shehryar Qureshi, Zameen’s marketing manager, it now covers 500,000 verified listings of places to rent or buy across Pakistan. Despite Pakistan having barely 15 million mobile internet users (from about 130 million total mobile SIM subscribers), foreign firms are rushing in to compete in some of the most easily monetizable parts of the web – things like ecommerce and ad-supported web portals. That includes online property listings. As a consequence, Zameen is now up against classifieds sites like OLX Pakistan (a branch of Argentina-born OLX) and the brand-new Dekho.com.pk (created by Sweden-based venture incubator Saltside, which got US$25 million in funding last week to expand into more emerging nations). But Zameen’s biggest challenger is a dedicated property site of the same genus – Rocket Internet’s Lamudi. Lamudi launched in Pakistan in January this year, marking the 16th nation entered by this spin-off from the German startup dynamo that is Rocket Internet. It’s more like Zameen than any other competitor and is the rival most likely to scale quickly. It’s part of a huge push into Pakistan by Rocket, which now covers seven startup sites in the nation. See: The future of the mobile internet is in Asia So far, Zameen is keeping its lead. Aside from having more listings, Qureshi says that the incumbent site is ahead with 700,000 monthly visitors in Pakistan alone. Qureshi points out that Zameen is adding more funding and extra know-how to prepare it for the tougher battle ahead. Last month Zameen secured an undisclosed amount of funding from Singapore’s Catcha Group and Malaysia-based Frontier Digital Ventures that gives the new investors a collective 30 percent stake. That also brings in expertise from Frontier Digital Ventures co-founder Shaun Di Gregorio, the CEO of iProperty, who joins the startup’s board of directors. Earlier in 2012 a similar thing happened when French investor Gilles Blanchard, who co-founded SeLoger, France’s largest property portal, came on board as an angel investor and also took up the role of Zameen chairman. Since the startup’s founders are part of the Pakistani diaspora, the business is taking into account the spending power of the nation’s overseas businesspeople. That’s why Zameen has extra offices in London and Dubai, catering to members of the diaspora looking for property investment opportunities in their home country.

Read more: Pakistan’s Zameen braces for growing competition from every startup’s nemesis: Rocket Internet....


http://www.techinasia.com/pakistan-zameen-property-portal-battles-rocket-internet-lamudi/

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan is a country is identified as one of the rapidly emerging markets, which is further reaffirmed by the fact that Pakistan has the 27th largest purchasing power parity in the world. It is also the 15th largest trader of goods and seventh largest trader of services.

The Ministry of Finance in Pakistan conducts an annual economic survey, and according to the survey for the year 2012 – 2013, the ‘manufacturing sector accounts for 13.2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 13.8% of the total employed labour force. Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM), at 10.6% of GDP, dominates the overall sector, accounting for 81% of the sectoral share.’ The manufacturing industry is considered to be the backbone of economic prosperity for any country and, therefore, growth of the sector itself is very important.

Pakistan’s cement industry – yesterday

With the industry facing its own share of ups and downs, the history of the cement sector in Pakistan has been an eventful one. The industry, which started with only four plants and a production capacity of 0.5 million t, now boasts 24 integrated facilities and an installed production capacity of 44.64 million t.

During the 1950s, five cement plants were set up with a combined capacity of 2.8 million t. This number soared to 14 operational plants by the end of 1969. However, setbacks such as the nationalisation of state-owned plants, to form the State Cement Corporation of Pakistan following the Economic Reforms Era in 1972, hampered growth.

Nevertheless, policy changes in the late 1980s and ever increasing demand for housing encouraged the private sector to step forward. Seven more plants were set up with a combined capacity of 2.54 million t. The public sector also invested in four new cement grinding units, thereby increasing the total production capacity. However, it was not until the year 2000 that the country’s cement industry began to experience rapid expansion, with production capacity increasing from 16 million t to over 44 million t today.

Pakistan’s cement industry – today

At present, the cement industry directly and indirectly employs over 150 000 people and supports a host of subsectors, including the construction, shipping, packaging and logistic industries. The industry contributes handsomely to the national exchequer in the form of duties and taxes, and is bringing in foreign reserves through exports.

In the first nine months of FY14, the cement sector exported 6.017 million t of cement and clinker. The domestic cement market is divided into two large clusters, namely the North and the South regions, which absorb a large portion of local production. The remaining portion is exported to countries such as Afghanistan, South Africa, Iraq, India, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Djibouti, Mozambique, Sudan and Kenya, among many others.------
Pakistan is one of the top 20 producers and the eighth leading exporter of cement in the world. With the global cement market constantly expanding, there is a huge opportunity for Pakistani cement manufacturers to export their products to the Middle East, Africa and developing countries in other regions.

Lucky Cement has recently started operations in Iraq in an effort to meet the immense demand in the country as it rebuilds its infrastructure. The plant, Al Mabrooka Cement, is a joint venture grinding unit located near the port in Basrah. The company is now set to start operations in DR Congo in 2016 in another joint venture cement plant, Nyumba Ya Akiba.

Additionally, Gwadar, a planned free trade port city on the Arabian Sea coastline of Pakistan in the Balochistan province, is expected to help increase exports due to its strategic location and close proximity to the Gulf countries. Even within the country, the industry can greatly contribute to the government’s plan to upgrade infrastructure, constructing dams and providing housing to the poor.

http://www.worldcement.com/news/cement/articles/Pakistans-Potential-Part-Two-629.aspx

Riaz Haq said...

LAHORE: The cement industry of Pakistan is one of the main stream sectors that generates foreign exchange for the country due to its certified quality.
The main reason why Pakistani cement is preferred by other countries is due to the abundance of its basic raw material, limestone. However, the country is still far behind in introducing different varieties of cement to be used in different categories. The most commonly used cement is the Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) in order to meet all construction requirements.
“The construction sector is expanding and there is dire need to introduce new cement qualities in Pakistan for better efficiency and cost reduction,” said Nabeel Asghar, head of project and operations, Technology Up gradation and Skill Development Company (TUSDEC), while talking to The Express Tribune.
Tusdec is operating a subsidiary – Cement Research and Development Institute – through which it is testing the quality of cement and allied materials. The institute was established in 1983 by the State Cement Corporation, at that time primarily for the Kalabagh Dam. Inauspiciously, the institute started lurking into dormancy and was looming in abjection in 2005, when Tusdec was entrusted with its operations on January 2006.
The institute after its re-launch was primarily testing different samples from cement manufacturers, contractors and consultants for quality certifications, however, the institute started testing samples to introduce Blended cement, and Fly-Ash cement.
Though blended cement is being manufactured in Pakistan by a single manufacturer, but at large, the contractors of mega projects mix other materials in OPC for mega structures, like dams, bridges, highways etc.
“For instance if we talk about the overall housing industry, contractors widely use OPC for constructing walls, and for renovating them,” Asghar said, adding that very few know that in the modern world Masonry cement is used for wall furnishings since low level cement is required.
Counterfeiting the impact of its strengths, the cement industry of the country is lagging behind when it comes to innovation due to the sink in latest technological advancements, he said.
The industry is also suffering from a lack of skillful human resource at each tier. The induction of manpower is required to enhance the output quality while minimising the cost and augmenting the distribution channels.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/780103/construction-sector-cement-industry-weak-due-to-lack-of-innovation/

Riaz Haq said...

Lafarge Pakistan held a launch ceremony for its new specialised OPC, Stallion, an early-setting cement formulated to meet the needs of the precast industry.

Marketing director, Rizwan Jamil, said, “Pakistan’s cement industry remains quite basic due to lack of initiatives by the players. Lafarge Pakistan is committed to lead the change by bringing new innovative value offerings tailored to meet the specific needs of various customer groups.”

The product is currently available for the precast channel in Rawalpindi and Islamabad and will be launched in other markets in the next few months. Mirza Sheeraz Zahoor, the brand manager for the new product said: "Developing new innovative products that work to make a process easier for professional builders, is core to our business ethos. Customers will greatly benefit from Lafarge Pakistan's first-of-its kind quick setting cement as jobs will now be finished earlier."

http://www.cemnet.com/News/story/155545/lafarge-pakistan-launches-new-precast-cement.html