Railways adds 95 locomotives for freight operation

ISLAMABAD (APP): Pakistan Railways has improved availability of locomotives in freight pool and now increased its strength to 95 from mere eight in 2013. The addition of dedicated, freight specific 55 new locomotives of 4000 to 4500 HP in freight pool has also been made during last two years as part of steps taken to make Pakistan Railways a substitute for cargo transportation in the country. The revenues from freight sector which were Rs 1.9 billion in June, 2013 have risen to Rs 10.768 billion in June, 2017, registering an unprecedented 567 per cent growth, official sources said. Highlighting the other measures adopted so far, official sources said an agreement with Pakistan State Oil (PSO) has been inked in May this year for transportation of two million tons of fuel in a year. Freight Deposit Account (FDA) based agreement with Maple Leaf Cement Factory and MoUs with other companies have been signed for transportation of coal.

The other steps included preferred loading of high rated commodity like POL while terminal facilities are being improved by introducing modern loading/unloading facilities to curtail loading-un-loading time and introduction of high capacity/high/speed Hooper Trucks for swift transportation of coal.

The sources said existing track on main corridor (ML-I) is being upgraded under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to increase speed of passenger and freight trains and improve better turn round of wagons and locomotives.

Pakistan Railway Freight Transport Company (PRFTC) has been established which has entered into long term contract for transportation of 4.4 million tons of imported coal for Coal Fired Power Plant at Yousafwala.

The commercial management of Cargo Express train, carrying 27 high capacity wagons has been out-sourced under Public Private Partnership (PPP) running between Karachi Bandar-Badami Bagh/Lahore on daily basis.

Another proposal for out-sourcing of commercial management of Cargo Express train (503UP/504Dn) between Karachi Bandar-Faisalabad via Multan City is under process.

The negotiations are underway to re-introduce international container train on Islamabad Zahidan-Istanbul route.

The sources said as a result of these efforts, the number of freight trains originating from port has increased to 12 per day which was less than one train per day in June, 2013.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Railways has started a project for upgradation of Main Line-1 (Peshawar to Karachi) and establishment of new dry port near Havelian under CPEC.

The project entails up-gradation of railway system from Peshawar to Karachi including Taxila to Havelian section having speed of 160/120 kms/hr, modern signaling system, upgraded stations and rolling stock.

For implementation of the project, a Framework Agreement has already been singed between governments of Pakistan and China. Currently, the preliminary design of the project is under review and it is expected that the work on ground would be started early next year.



PRGMEA for earliest implementation of textile package

KARACHI (APP): Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association’s central chairman Shaikh Mohammad Shafiq has demanded early resolution of the issues being faced by important value-adding textile sector. "We are continuously demanding for the extension of time bared cases as the same relaxation was given to non-textile sectors. We also demand for the earliest release of DDT incentive to exporters, as well as other stuck amount of the exporters in DLTL, R and D, sale tax and custom rebate. But, the response is still awaited," PRGMEA Chief said in a statement here on Monday. He said PRGMEA also urged the immediate implementation of new textile package, which was announced in mid of October. This package was for the shipment from July 2017 to June 2018. Almost six months had passed since the announcement yet it was not implemented, he maintained. The exporters included this 3.5% incentive in their cost, and were worried of bearing big loss if the Government do not give them the amount in the package.

Shaikh Mohammad Shafiq pointed out that relief to the textile sector meant the relief to the people of Pakistan as the textile sector employed about 38 percent of Pakistan's total labor force.





Pakistan losing manpower export

market to India, Bangladesh

ISLAMABAD (NNI): President PBIF, Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday said Pakistan is losing manpower export market to India, Bangladesh and some other countries. Pakistan is losing ground to regional countries in the manpower export market once considered its domain which is resulting in falling remittances that is very disturbing, he said. Indian Prime Minister has inked manpower export deals with various Arab nations at the cost of Pakistan but it has not been noticed here, he said. He said falling exports and drying foreign direct investment leaves the country with only option to boost remittances for which our Prime Minister should not only direct Pakistani missions abroad to play their role but he should also visit the ME and Gulf countries. Otherwise, he warned, the country will remain dependent on foreign and local loans which is a recipe for the economic disaster. On the other hand, increased manpower exports will stabilize forex reserves, reduce unemployment and dependence on loans and pave way for rapid development.

Hundi is still attractive to legal channels due to the problems in sending remittances through banks, its high cost, lack of facilities and absences of incentives for expatriates, he noted.

The business leader said that remittances are in the decline for which government must play an active role.



Mobile banking emerging rapidly


ISLAMABAD (APP): Pakistan is now one of the countries with incredible growth in the market of branch-less & mobile banking. Consumers belonging to any bank and mobile operator would have the freedom of managing their finances when and where they want. All banks and mobile operators would be able to connect with each other resulting in a situation where any bank customer can access their accounts, transfer funds, and interact with all other bank customers using mobile connection. These services have empowered mobile subscribers to deposit and withdraw cash, make utility bill payments, send or receive money, purchase mobile card vouchers, make postpaid mobile bill payment and much more by using diversified array of convenient channels. A bank official Sadia Sohail told APP beside the benefits and convenience created for the consumers, commercial banks will witness reduced costs on branch maintenance and resources. It will also increase the profit margins of banks and further encourage them for the development of innovative banking techniques in the industry.

The government is further encouraging innovation by encouraging the use of branchless banking to distribute government payments. For example, NADRA has designed a distribution platform “e-Sahulat” to provide online payment and collection facility for the general public as well as for organizations.

A student Ali Minhas said, services offerings like “m-commerce” over mobile networks have far-reaching effects. Mobile banking services make your life easy in this busy era.”

According to an official statement, “It is also expected that the percentage of Pakistan’s adult population using mobile financial services could go up from the current 2% to 35% by 2020.”