Remittances to Pakistan have been growing steadily since 2005 and whereas regimes with varying outlooks and strategies have been in power in the country, their distinct political and economic outlooks do not appear to have any noticeable impact on this reality.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) routinely highlights its better-than-the-rest rapport with the expatriate community and an unprecedentedly large rally in suburban Washington, DC, earlier this year that attracted thousands, offers proof for such claims.
However, what does that ultimately mean? And one question to ponder is whether there exist tangible benefits to Pakistan of the party's popularity with overseas Pakistanis.
A proxy measure of PTI’s better brand awareness abroad could be the scale of remittances. The underlying hypothesis being that the party's greater popularity and brand recognition among expatriates should result in a higher increase in the growth rate of remittances. This is also a hypothesis that the party itself has promoted time and again.
Recent data does not offer robust evidence for a noticeable uptake in remittance volumes now that the party has completed a year in power. The volume of remittances has increased under PTI's rule but that increase follows the growth trajectories observed earlier under the 2008-2013 and the 2013-2018 tenures of the respective PPP and PML-N governments. Therefore, the data-driven conclusion, although preliminary because PTI has been in power for only a year, does not support a noticeable increase in remittances.
As a matter of fact, remittances in the third quarter of 2019 declined to US$5.478 billion from US$5.747 billion in the preceding quarter. And a comparison of the third quarter remittances in 2019 with the third quarter remittances in 2018 also shows a decline in 2019. What could be the reason(s)?
The fact is the flow of remittances depends on the economic conditions at both ends of the transaction. Factors at the origin, where the expatriate workers earn a living, experience wage increases, job losses, as well as other factors and life events that influence their savings, a part of which is ultimately remitted to Pakistan.
The Gulf region is the primary contributor for Pakistan's remittances, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE as the largest sources. Given the overwhelming reliance of Gulf economies on oil exports, a decline in oil prices can lead to job losses and lower incomes for the labour force. Furthermore, declines in oil prices and exports may also result in impacting the conditions of foreign workers.
Though the preceding argument suggests a direct link between oil prices and remittances, the empirical evidence is rather nuanced. For instance, a review article published in the Economic Notes earlier this year contends that “remittance flows to major remittance recipients in Mashreq, Pakistan, and Yemen fell only modestly following large declines in oil prices and recovered quickly in line with oil prices”. Hence poor economic outcomes in the source countries impact remittance flows negatively, but that impact has been limited.
At the destination end of the transaction, the flow of remittances is largely influenced by the intensity of the kin’s need. Births, deaths, tragedies, celebrations, and other life events may influence the temporal intensity of remittances. One can extend the idea to argue that financial hardships resulting from economic or other stimuli are likely to increase the flow of remittances. Economists Giulia Bettin and Alberto Zazzaro have reached similar conclusions in the Journal of Development Studies.
Moreover, marginalised communities in Pakistan often bear the brunt of a multitude of economic, environmental, and other geopolitical risks. Research by economists Mazhar Yasin Mughal and Amar Iqbal Anwar, published in the journal Defence and Peace Economics, reveals that an increase in terrorist violence in Pakistan, which contributed to destabilisation in economic and consumer activity, correlated with an increase in the financial hardship of low income households in Pakistan. The authors also found a strong correlation between the increase in violence and an increase in remittances to Pakistan.
The aforementioned, albeit non-exhaustive, list of the determinants of remittances does not suggest any role for the charisma of a leader or the popularity of a political outfit. To conclude as such would be a mistake.
When faced with macroeconomic challenges, such as trade deficits and balance of payment crises, struggling economies are often desperate for foreign exchange. In such situations, remittances, when processed through formal channels, can be a reliable source of foreign exchange that could provide some degree of macroeconomic stability.
Former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Tariq Bajwa was acutely aware of the macroeconomic role of the millions of transactions conducted by expatriates bringing small funds to family and friends back home. Earlier this year, he had warned that “it would be hard to manage the country's economy if foreign remittances were to fall below the $20 billion mark” per fiscal year.
In Pakistan’s case, remittances account for six per cent of the GDP. Exports, in comparison, accounted for 8.5 per cent in 2018.
Ten years ago, the government had launched the Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI) to encourage the flow of remittances through official channels. Discouraging sending money through unofficial means in its campaigns and messaging, the government has been trying to get more and more expatriate workers on board so they use state-sanctioned avenues to process remittances. Now, the PRI offers several incentives to users, including a Mobile Wallet that promises fast transactions and a 2-minute mobile balance for every US dollar remitted.
However, the idea that a novelty factor or 'charm' is at play when it comes to remittances does not seem very valid and merits an evaluation in the light of data that suggests otherwise. Finding ways to improve the speed and flexibility of direct transactions at lower rates may attract more traceable remittances. Whereas, the government’s drive to increase tax revenue by tracking financial transactions may counteract its efforts to increase remittances through formal means.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to relax conditionalities under the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) relating to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and issuance of sovereign guarantees to help raise over $4bn from domestic and international markets.
Pakistan has budgeted about $3bn bonds (about Rs450bn) — Islamic Sukuk and Eurobond — to be launched in the international capital markets during the current fiscal year to meet targets under the EFF for foreign inflows. Separately, the government has planned to raise about Rs200bn from domestic Islamic banks for the power sector to scale down circular debt.
“We are dying to complete these transactions at the earliest,” a senior official told Dawn, adding that the capital market conditions were never as conducive as at present. He said the return on bonds had plummeted to almost zero in the international capital markets and investors were finding it hard to secure profits on secured papers. “This provides an ideal opportunity for Pakistan to tap international capital markets to secure sovereign bonds at a minimal interest rate,” the official said.
Pakistan had last tapped the international capital markets in 2016 at about 8.25 per cent mark-up when average yield hovered between 3pc and 5pc for other countries.
Likewise, the government had negotiated Islamic financing worth around Rs200bn for the power sector from domestic banks in recent months on top of another Rs200bn secured earlier this year.
Asks Fund to allow issuance of sovereign guarantees to raise over $4bn through bonds
But all these transactions are handicapped by the IMF conditionalities as part of the 39-month EFF. One of the structural benchmarks under the IMF programme is for Pakistan to “adopt measures to strengthen the effectiveness of AML/CFT (anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism) framework to support the country’s efforts to exit the FATF list of jurisdictions with serious deficiencies” by the end of October 2019.
Likewise, one of the six performance criteria under the IMF programme for Pakistan is to have a “ceiling on the amount of government guarantees” to the extent of Rs1.6 trillion throughout the current year i.e. until end-June 2020.
The official said the finance ministry had already taken up the matter of separating the FATF from the IMF-supported economic programme on the sidelines of recent IMF/World Bank meetings in Washington. The Pakistani delegation, led by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Hafeez Shaikh and comprising State Bank Governor Dr Reza Baqir and Finance Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch, had also met the management and governors of the IMF.
Officials said the authorities had argued that the FATF had a very wide scope, at times of geo-political nature, having no direct link to the economic support package which should be dealt purely on the basis of financial and monetary policies.
Another official said Pakistan was considering launching at least one of the two bonds — Islamic Sukuk or Eurobond — before the end of December this year and complete the budgeted $3bn target before June next year.
A senior official said Pakistan had achieved almost all the targets for the first quarterly review and achieved about Rs9bn saving in current expenditures of the government. The size of sovereign guarantees stood at Rs1.6tr as of end-June 2019 against Rs1.3tr at the end of December 2018.
Under the IMF programme, the guarantees should remain frozen at Rs1.6tr as performance criteria until December and remain so as indicative target until end-June 2020.
Pakistan now wants this limit to be removed so as to go for the launch of domestic and international bonds which are not possible without sovereign guarantees.
Sources said the IMF was also insisting on further electricity tariff adjustments to the extent of 10pc in two phases — in January and March next year — and the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority was being asked to do the needful at the earliest.
An IMF team led by Mission Chief to Pakistan Ernesto Ramirez-Rigo is currently in Pakistan for first review under the $6bn bailout package and will wind up the visit by Nov 7. The successful completion of the review would enable Pakistan to draw another $453 million from the Fund in the first part of December this year, taking the total amount to almost $1.44bn.
The IMF had in July this year made an upfront disbursement of $991m on completion of all prior-actions committed by Pakistan before signing the Fund programme.
Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2019
Monaco and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 3 October 2019, (AETOSWire): AMAALA, the ultra-luxury development situated along Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast, which is focused on integrated wellness and healthy living, signed a partnership agreement on Friday 27th September with The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Centre Scientifique de Monaco and Oceanographic Institute.
The VIP Signing Ceremony took place at the Oceanographic Institute on the final evening of the Monaco Yacht Show and was attended by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, AMAALA Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Naples, the AMAALA Advisory Board, select partners of the brand and esteemed guests. The signing was followed by a VIP dinner prepared by 3-Star Michelin Star Chef Mauro Colagreco.
This follows a framework agreement signed last year at the Monaco Yacht Show to explore areas of mutual collaboration. Together the partners will work on oceanographic and marine life research and conservation initiatives to benefit the world’s oceans with four opportunities identified for joint projects: coral reef management, iconic species protection, Marine Protected Areas (MPA) enforcement, and fighting plastic pollution.
Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Naples of AMAALA said: “We are very selective with whom we align, as is The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. Their mission to raise awareness of the impact of human activities on the natural environment, encourage more environmentally-friendly behaviour, and promote innovative solutions, makes the Foundation a natural fit for AMAALA. We are committed to fully sustainable development throughout the design, build, and operation phases, which includes being net carbon neutral from the start of operations. We plan to create a coastal oasis that not only flourishes but a place that elevates the role of responsible tourism globally.”
H.E. M Bernard Fautrier, Vice President and CEO of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation said: “The impact of human activities on the ocean has been devastating, and through our partnership with AMAALA, we look to come together and raise awareness of that impact, integrating environment preservation and sustainability into the heart of the future. Monaco has long-been committed to the environment, and we look forward to working alongside AMAALA to safeguard the biodiversity of the Red Sea, taking actions for future.”
Professor Patrick Rampal of Centre Scientifique de Monaco added: “We are very pleased to have entered into this partnership with AMAALA, which will allow us to pursue innovative areas of research in a previously undiscovered location. This project will allow us to, collaboratively, better understand the biology of corals in order to better protect their ecosystems. The Red Sea corals offer exceptional characteristics, in particular their resistance to environmental stresses, which will be interesting to explore with Saudi researchers.”
This event marks the first partnership for AMAALA which is anchored around the three pillars of wellness and sports, art and culture, and sun, sea, and lifestyle. The destination of AMAALA, referenced by the press as part of the Riviera of the Middle East, is dedicated to sustainable building practices, with environment preservation and enhancement paramount to the success of the ambitious project. Developing sustainable yachting practices will also be a goal for AMAALA. Only 2,005 miles from Monaco which equates to six days of cruising on average, AMAALA is the ideal haven for sailors and water lovers to extend the Mediterranean yachting season.
The signing was the culmination of participation in the Monaco Yacht Show where AMAALA also hosted its inaugural Advisory Board Meeting. AMAALA, who participated in the third Monte Carlo Gala for the Global Ocean, welcomed its Advisory Board Members and select guests to the celebration. This major fundraising event gathers international artists and philanthropists for an exclusive gala in favour of the Foundation’s worldwide initiatives dedicated to a sustainable ocean. Long-time champion for climate change action Robert Redford was honoured for his global environmental contributions.
AMAALA is part of The Red Sea Collection which, alongside NEOM and The Red Sea Project, participated at the Monaco Yacht Show for the second year. The Red Sea Collection showcased the Kingdom’s west coast, one of the world’s pristine paradises, to the superyacht industry and sailing lovers and sponsored two key show events – The Yacht Summit and the Inaugural Awards Gala, both on 24 September.
Download high-resolution images of AMAALA here.
Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, 03 October 2019:( AETOSWire) Multi-Platinum singer, songwriter, and fashion icon, Najwa Karam, and celebrity singer Waleed Al Shami will headline the Ras Al Khaimah New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner this year as part of several activities being organised to mark the Ras Al Khaimah New Year’s Eve celebration, set to be the grandest ever.
The gala dinner event will be held at the Al Hamra International Convention Centre located on the waterfront near Waldorf Astoria. More than 1,000 guests are expected, who will then join in the New Year’s Eve Gala fireworks celebrations.
This year, the fireworks display will attempt to clinch two more Guinness World Records for Ras Al Khaimah. For the first time, pyro-drones will be deployed create a spectacular display. Another addition to #RAKNYE2020 will be the Japanese aerial shell fireworks display, which is being brought to the region for the very first time.
A range of family activities will be held across several venues from Al Marjan Island, the flagship master-planned community by Marjan, the master-developer of freehold projects in Ras Al Khaimah. Al Marjan Island will serve as the main location of the event. There will be viewing platforms from Al Hamra too, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of spectators can effortlessly watch the firework display.
Arch. Abdulla Al Abdouli, CEO of Marjan, said: “The Ras Al Khaimah New Year’s Eve celebrations have grown in global stature over the past years, welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the world. The celebration has cemented Ras Al Khaimah’s reputation as a must-visit destination, and contributed to catalysing investments into the Emirate, as visitors see for themselves the world-class infrastructure and growth environment we offer.”
Ticket sales for the gala dinner event will be sold through Platinum List and will be available in three packages – Silver, Gold and Diamond, priced AED 800, AED 1300 and AED 1800, respectively. For more details, log on to: www.raknye.com
All government entities – as well as key private sector entities – are working to make the Ras Al Khaimah New Year’s Eve celebration the most memorable experience this year. Dedicated social media channels for the celebration have also been launched at raskalkhaimahnye.com and raknye.com.
Watch the 2020 sneak peek video of the fireworks.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 29 October 2019, (AETOSWire): A survey of more than 1,000 senior accountancy experts on economic conditions worldwide finds that global confidence in Q3 fell to its lowest level since 2011, with confidence in the Middle East falling to its lowest level in a year.
The report Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS), jointly published by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) reveals that global employment and investment intentions also declined – pointing to a slowing world economy heading into 2020.
For the Middle East, key messages from the survey reveal that oil prices declined slightly over the quarter. But a more dominant influence on oil prices is likely to be reduced demand as a result of a slowing global economy.
Fazeela Gopalani, head of ACCA Middle East comments: ‘A positive development for those countries with a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar – such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar - is the cut in interest rates by the US Federal Reserve.
‘The US cuts earlier this year were immediately followed by reductions of similar size in these countries. Lower interest rates should stimulate private sector credit growth and help to boost the non-oil private sector economy. The real estate sector, increasingly important in many economies in the region, will benefit especially from lower borrowing costs. Encouragingly, the region’s GECS index measuring problems accessing finance is close to a three-year low in Q3.’
Commenting on the global findings, Michael Taylor, chief economist at ACCA, warns that risks to the global economy have increased in recent months, saying: ‘The fall in confidence this quarter is not surprising, given the escalation in the US-China trade war, evidence of continued slowdown in China, increased geopolitical risks in the Middle East and the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. Growth in emerging markets, especially those heavily dependent on exports, is slowing. Global trade growth has softened even more than global economic growth over the last couple of years, hurting many emerging markets.’
He continues: ‘The good news is that reduced concerns about inflation, highlighted in the GECS, means that monetary policy is being eased. Significantly, the US Federal Reserve has already cut interest rates by half a percentage point and is likely to do more by year-end. Many other central banks have followed suit, improving monetary conditions in emerging markets. Easier monetary policy and buoyant jobs’ markets in many economies are the case for the global economy avoiding recession.”
Fazeela Gopalani concludes: ‘Our GECS is now ten years old and over this time it has collected the views of accountants and finance professionals “at the coal face” – from those who are experiencing current economic conditions and who will be among the first to see any changes in trends. This is what makes GECS so unique, proving its worth by demonstrating the profession’s ability to identify and anticipate changing economic trends. Over the next ten years there will no doubt be many twists and turns in the economic cycle and GECS will be there, tracking them.’
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ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.
ACCA supports its 219,000 members and 527,000 students (including affiliates) in 179 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 110 offices and centres and 7,571 Approved Employers worldwide, and 328 approved learning providers who provide high standards of learning and development.
Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.
ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally.
Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. More information is here: www.accaglobal.com
About IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants)
IMA®, named the 2017 and 2018 Professional Body of the Year by The Accountant/International Accounting Bulletin, is one of the largest and most respected associations focused exclusively on advancing the management accounting profession. Globally, IMA supports the profession through research, the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) and CSCA® (Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis) programs, continuing education, networking and advocacy of the highest ethical business practices. IMA has a global network of more than 125,000 members in 150 countries and 300 professional and student chapters. Headquartered in Montvale, N.J., USA, IMA provides localized services through its four global regions: The Americas, Asia/Pacific, Europe, and Middle East/India. For more information about IMA, please visit www.imanet.org.
MARLBOROUGH, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE/AETOSWire)-- Cynosure, a division of Hologic, has launched StimSure®, a non-invasive electromagnetic technology to build and tone muscle in the abdomen, buttocks and thighs, in Europe and the Middle East. This new addition to Cynosure’s body portfolio joins SculpSure® and TempSure® to enable customers to offer a full body solution.
StimSure is a state-of-the-art, non-invasive electromagnetic muscle building and toning treatment. CE marked for muscular atrophy, it can be used to strengthen and tighten the abdominal, gluteal and thigh muscles by contracting/stimulating the muscles, delivering up to 24,000 muscle contractions in just 20 to 30 minutes for natural-looking results.
“We are committed to offering our customers a range of innovative technologies that are not only effective, but also deliver on quality and durability,” said Jan Verstreken, Hologic’s Regional President, EMEA & Canada. “The addition of StimSure to our portfolio of body contouring products, which includes WarmSculpting™ by SculpSure for fat destruction and TempSure for skin tightening, will enable our customers to offer their patients a full body shaping package.”
The StimSure applicators generate an electromagnetic field that stimulates the motor neuron cells of the body’s muscles, causing the muscle to contract as it would during movement or exercise. A prolonged contraction, made by a series of individual twitch contractions back to back, creates a ‘maximal tetanic contraction’ that results in more efficient growth of muscle fibers. StimSure uses 1.0 Tesla per applicator, providing an electromagnetic field that can engage the entire target muscle group.
With four pre-set programs and the ability to create personalized programs on StimSure, customers can tailor treatments for the individual. StimSure is suitable for a wide range of people, but is not intended for weight loss, nor is it suitable for obese patients. StimSure is simple to operate, with a secure fixing belt, and can be used through light clothing. Either one or two applicators can be used, and an applicator arm is available. For optimum results, six to eight treatments (twice a week) are recommended.
StimSure is only available in selected countries within the EMEA and Australasia regions. It is not available in the USA.
About Hologic, Inc.
Hologic, Inc. is an innovative medical technology company primarily focused on improving women’s health and well-being through early detection and treatment. For more information on Hologic, visit www.hologic.com.
Hologic, The Science of Sure and associated logos are registered trademarks of Hologic, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries in the United States and/or other countries. Cynosure and SculpSure are registered trademarks of Cynosure, LLC.
This news release may contain forward-looking information that involves risks and uncertainties, including statements about the use of Hologic products. There can be no assurance these products will achieve the benefits described herein or that such benefits will be replicated in any particular manner with respect to an individual patient, as the actual effect of the use of the products can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. In addition, there can be no assurance that these products will be commercially successful or achieve any expected level of sales. Hologic expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any such statements presented herein to reflect any change in expectations or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such data or statements are based.
Source: Hologic, Inc.
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Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 30 October 2019, (AETOSWire): NMC ProVita International Medical Center, the pioneer and leading provider of post-acute care in the Middle East, is sponsoring the 4th Annual MENA Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Congress at the Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai from October 30th to November 2nd.
The Middle East’s main platform for developments in physical medicine and rehabilitation, the Congress aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of the prevention and treatment of common rehabilitation cases with an interdisciplinary approach to rehabilitation.
Dr Ahmad Al Khayer, Medical Director for Rehabilitation Services of NMC ProVita International Medical Center and a Member of the Congress’ Scientific Committee, will be presenting a talk entitled ‘The effect of worldwide ethnic variations on pain experience’.
Dr Al Khayer said, “NMC ProVita specialises in long-term care, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation and home health services, and our multidisciplinary team is committed to delivering premium healthcare. We are delighted to be the Congress’ Titanium Sponsor.”
A subsidiary of NMC Healthcare – the UAE’s largest private healthcare provider – NMC ProVita focuses on enhancing patients’ lives, providing patients of all ages with the highest quality healthcare services and a continuum of care. NMC ProVita is a subsidiary of the UAE’s largest private healthcare provider, NMC Healthcare.