Vietnam aims to take trade with Pak to $1 b

LAHORE: ICMD, April 1, 2018 The Vietnamese want to take bilateral trade with Pakistan from the current $700 million to $1 billion, as economic and trade relations between Pakistan and Vietnam can be further enhanced through market research, information sharing and highlighting opportunities in both countries. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Vietnam Pham Hoang Kim expressed these views in a special meeting held at the regional office of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), while Commercial Attache Pham Tri Trung also accompanied him, according to Federation’s spokesman here Sunday. Pham Hoang Kim said that Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) had already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the FPCCI on March 26, 2004 during President Tran Duc Luong’s visit to Pakistan. He appreciated that Pakistan had established diplomatic relations with 185 countries, economic-trade relations with 224 countries and territories, strategic partnership with 15 countries, comprehensive/extensive strategic partnership with countries comprehensive partnership with 10 countries. On this occasion, FPCCI Regional Chairman and Vice President Chaudhry Arfan Yousaf said that Vietnam was an important country for Pakistan in ASEAN and Pakistani business community gave great importance to its relationship with Vietnam. He said Pakistan was a nation of great economic importance in South Asia situated at the transportation route connecting Pacific and Indian Ocean to Arabian Sea, close to petroleum region of Middle East and Central Asia, bridging EU and Middle East with South Asia and South East Asia, a potential market of 200 million customers. He said that cotton fabrics, accessories for textile, garment and footwear industries, cotton yarns, pharmaceuticals products, surgical instruments were Pakistan’s major exports to Vietnam, and ‘We also trade in tea, synthetic and cotton fibres, pepper, iron and steel, fish fillet, rubber cashew nuts.’ Arfan said Pakistan should be seen as an emerging centre of trade for landlocked Central Asia, South Asia, fast-developing Western China and the Gulf – any trade among them had to take place through Pakistan. He said trade delegations between two countries should be exchanged frequently. Commercial Attache Pham Tri Trung said that Vietnam had good expertise in producing hydropower and it could cooperate with Pakistan in this field. He said Pakistani pharmaceutical products, black pepper and many other products had good demand in the Vietnamese market. FPCCI Vice President Waheed Ahmad highlighted the importance of joint trade fairs and single country exhibitions.

World Bank debars Pak Elektron for 33 months

ICMD, Feb 23, 2018 Pak Elektron (PAEL), its affiliates PEL Marketing (Private) Limited, Kohinoor Power Company (KOHP), and its former general manager have been debarred for a 33-month period due to collusive practices during bidding on contracts under the World Bank (WB) financed Electricity Distribution and Transmission Improvement Project in Pakistan, as revealed by WB in its press release today. As a result, PAEL and its affiliates have become ineligible to participate in WB-financed projects. This might have been a blow to the company had PAEL engaged in WB financed energy projects as the company generates about 40 per cent revenues from its power division. However, PAEL over the last four to five years have participated in $40,000 – $50,000 worth of energy projects with the World Bank. The company is engaged with Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for funding some of its current and future energy projects. -- PR

Details of 31 Pakistani investors in real-estate in Dubai

ICMD, Feb 15, 2018 The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government Thursday confirmed the details of 31 wealthy Pakistanis who own over 55 properties worth around Rs60 billion in the heart of Dubai. The revelation comes weeks after Pakistan shared details with the UAE authorities of the individuals who had allegedly invested in real estate in Dubai. The Economic Crime Wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had requested the Ministry of Finance of UAE for the exchange of information about rich Pakistanis on November 16, 2017. FBR said that the “UAE tax authorities exchanged detailed information in respect to 53 Pakistani individuals who have investments in real estate along with copies of passports in 31 cases vide letters dated January 22, 2018, and January 28, 2018, respectively.” FIA officials claimed that these 31 Pakistanis have pumped have around Rs60 billion into 55 properties in Dubai. Geo News had disclosed earlier that some 7, 000 Pakistanis have bought properties worth an estimated Rs1.1 trillion in the heart of Dubai in the past one-and-a half-decade. Majority of them did not disclose these properties in their annual returns and were said to be moving their assets out of the country to avoid getting caught in the event of a serious crackdown on this unaccounted-for money. -- PT

NAB to probe Pakistanis’ Dubai investment

ICMD, Feb 9, 2018 In a major development, a parliamentary committee on Friday unanimously decided to send the case of illegal investments of over $8 billion by Pakistanis in the Dubai realty sector to the National Accountability Bureau for investigation. Headed by PML-N MNA Qaiser Ahmad Sheikh, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance took the decision on the recommendations of its subcommittee that had been constituted to look into the issue. Members from all political parties unanimously decided to hand the case over to the anti-graft body, which is the only institution that can deal with Dubai authorities under a legal framework. The subcommittee came to the conclusion that no other state institution has the capability to get the information on a fast-track basis, and that NAB would have to adopt the same procedures it used to get information about former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s assets named in the Panama Papers. PML-N’s Shezra Mansab headed the subcommittee panel and the major input was given by Asad Umar of the PTI. The sub-committee had been set up to look into the modus operandi of sending abroad $8 billion; whether that money can be brought back and how future overseas investments by individuals can be stopped. The volume of the illegal investment is expected to jump further, as the list balloons further. All the investment made in the Dubai’s real estate are illegal, as the State Bank of Pakistan has already informed the committee that the central bank never gave the permission to any individual to invest in the real estate sector anywhere in the world. The money laundering and terrorism financing remain a serious issue, as the wealth generated through illegal means or by evading taxes is either invested in the real estate in Pakistan or channeled to other destinations like Dubai. During Friday’s proceedings, fresh revelations were also made about the dubious role of the Federal Board of Revenue in the Dubai real estate investigation case. PTI’s Asad Umer and a senior journalist from a private news channel claimed that the FBR was in possession of a list of thousands of Pakistanis since 2015 who have investment stakes in Dubai. But during the meetings of the subcommittee, both the FBR and the Federal Investigation Agency denied that they knew about the Pakistanis who invested abroad. “During our committee’s proceedings, the FBR kept lying and gave misstatement that it did not have any information about the people who invested abroad,” said Umar. “According to my information, the report about 3,000 Pakistanis, who invested in Dubai, was in the possession of FBR Chairman Tariq Pasha and former finance minister Ishaq Dar,” said Umar. A senior journalist from a private news channel claimed that he obtained a list from sources in the FBR that carried the names of more than 5,000 Pakistanis who owned properties in Dubai. During the subcommittee’s proceedings, the FIA director had informed the committee that the agency has shared a list of 100 people who own properties in Dubai with the FBR. Neither the FBR nor the FIA told about the existence of the list carrying the names of thousands of Pakistanis. The FBR (Member) Inland Revenue Policy Dr Mohammad Iqbal claimed before the standing committee that he did not have knowledge of the existence of any such list. But Minister of State for Finance Rana Mohammad Afzal said that the federal government could take action only where the information was authentic and obtained through legal channels. Umer, challenging the contention, said former finance minister Ishaq Dar had talked about $200 billion wealth of Pakistanis stashed in Switzerland. “Despite that, he did not get this information from official channels.” Dr Mohammad Iqbal said that the FBR had shared the list of 100 Pakistanis with the Dubai authorities and it got the first response just last week. “The Dubai authorities have so far confirmed that about 55 Pakistanis have bought properties in Dubai and they also shared the copies of 35 passports,” said Dr Iqbal. He said the information has been sent to the FBR field formations for further action. -- ET