BREAKING NEWS
newsdailyFebruary 25, 2021
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1min380

Domino’s Pizza Inc missed estimates for quarterly revenue on Thursday, as the pizza chain faced stiff competition from rival fast-food chains and restaurants that reopened after the easing of some COVID-19 curbs. Shares of the company were down 3% in premarket trading.

Analysts have raised concerns over the ability of pizza chains, including Domino’s, to keep up heightened sales levels seen during the lockdowns in a post-pandemic world, as more dine-in restaurants open up and compete for customers. Sales at Domino’s U.S. stores open for more than a year rose 11.2%, missing market estimates of 12.48%, according to Definitive IBES data.

Net income rose to $151.9 million, or $3.85 per share, from $129.3 million, or $3.12 per share, a year earlier. Total revenue rose to $1.36 billion from $1.15 billion in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 3, compared with analysts’ estimates of $1.39 billion.–Reuters


newsdailyFebruary 24, 2021
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7min560

COLOMBO: Pakistan on Wednesday offered $50 million new credit line to Sri Lanka for cooperation in the field of defence and security.

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Imran Khan who concluded his two-day official visit to the island nation, said the Joint Communique issued by the foreign ministries of the two countries from Colombo and Islamabad.

“The two sides stressed the need for stronger partnership for supporting and coordinating with each other in dealing with matters related to security, terrorism, organized crime and drug and narcotic trafficking as well as intelligence-sharing,” the Communique read.

The two sides expressed satisfaction over the existing bilateral cooperation in the field of defence and noted that the elevation of staff-level talks to Defence Dialogue had provided an opportunity to expand security sector relations. To strengthen sports diplomacy, Pakistan will provide Rs 52 million for promotion of sports in Sri Lanka.

Prime Minister Imran Khan at an interactive session with the sports community of Sri Lanka announced the commissioning of the ‘Imran Khan High Performance Sports Centre’ in Colombo. Pakistan also announced to establish Asian Civilization and Culture Centre at University of Peradeniya at the Sri Lankan resort Kandy.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka have agreed on a broad consensus on ways and means to further strengthen cooperation in diverse fields and promote high-level and delegation-level exchanges.

This was the first visit by the Prime Minister of Pakistan to Sri Lanka since the formation of the new governments in both the countries, clearly reflecting the warmth and goodwill between the governments and peoples of the two countries.

During the visit, Prime Minister Imran Khan held delegation-level meetings with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka. Both sides comprehensively reviewed the multifaceted bilateral relationship in diverse fields of cooperation.

“The talks were held in a warm and cordial atmosphere, marked by mutual trust and respect. The visit afforded a timely opportunity to both sides to further build upon their close and regular consultations, particularly in the areas identified during the recently held Foreign Secretary-level Bilateral Political Consultations, Joint Economic Commission session, and the Commerce Secretaries-level Talks,” the Joint Communique said.

Pakistan announced 100 scholarships in the field of medicines (MBBS and BDS) as part of the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Higher Education Cooperation Programme (PSLHECP). Both sides reached broad consensus on ways and means to further strengthen cooperation in a comprehensive manner and agreed to hold frequent meetings, promote high-level and delegation-level exchanges and enhance the process of consultations.

Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated Pakistan’s support for the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka in line with the vision of a “peaceful neighborhood”. The two sides reviewed the extensive engagement that exists between the two countries in promoting cultural linkages, human resource development, and capacity building in diverse areas as well as educational and technical cooperation.

Realizing the existence of great potential of religious tourism to Buddhist archeological sites and noting the close ancient and cultural ties dating back to Gandhara civilization, the two sides underscored the importance of enhancing cooperation in the field of tourism and highlighted the benefits of sharing expertise in the hospitality industry, including training and capacity building.

At the high-level Pakistan-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Conference held in Colombo, the two countries stressed the importance of realizing the goal of achieving US$1 billion bilateral trade target and also agreed to work towards broadening and deepening of Pakistan Sri Lank Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

The Memoranda of Understanding signed during the visit include i) MoU on Cooperation in Tourism, ii) MoU between the Boards of Investment, iii)MoU between Industrial Technology Institute (ITI), Sri Lanka and International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences, University of Karachi Islamic Republic of Pakistan, iv) Intent of Cooperation between Industrial Technology Institute of Sri Lanka and COMSATS University Islamabad and v) MoU between University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and Lahore School of Economics, Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa jointly acknowledged the reconstitution of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Association. Both sides underlined the importance of inter-religious dialogue and harmony as a key to promote cultural diversity, peaceful co-existence and mutual empathy.

The two sides noted the close cooperation between the two countries at regional and international fora on issues of mutual interest, and agreed to further strengthen a coordinated approach on such matters. Both sides stressed the need to convene the Charter Based bodies and agreed to take forward the SAARC process for further strengthening regional cooperation to achieve prosperity in the region.

Discussing the developments in regional and global environment the two sides reaffirmed their joint commitment to regional peace, security and stability. Prime Minister Imran Khan underscored the need for peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes through constructive dialogue in accordance with international legitimacy.

In the context of regional connectivity, Prime Minister Imran Khan highlighted the opportunities presented by China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of BRI, for regional economic growth and prosperity.

Discussing the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, the two sides underscored the need for collective efforts to deal with the pandemic. Sri Lanka thanked Pakistan for the tremendous assistance extended to the repatriation of stranded Sri Lankans in Pakistan since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Reiterating the commitment of the new government to further strengthen the bilateral relations, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka thanked the government, and people of Pakistan for the constant support extended by Pakistan to safeguard the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

Prime Minister Imran Khan extended an invitation to the President and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to visit Pakistan at their earliest convenience and thanked them for the warm hospitality extended to him and his delegation.—APP


newsdailyFebruary 23, 2021
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6min30

CANBERRA, Australia:  Facebook announced Tuesday that it would lift a ban on Australians viewing and sharing news on its platform after it struck a deal with the government on proposed legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism.

The social media company caused alarm with its sudden decision last week to block news on its platform across Australia after the House of Representatives passed the draft law. Initially, the blackout also cut access — at least temporarily — to government pandemic, public health and emergency services, fueling outrage.

Facebook’s cooperation is a major victory in Australia’s efforts to make two major gateways to the internet, Google and Facebook, pay for the journalism that they use — a faceoff that governments and tech companies the world over have watched closely. Google also had threatened to remove its search functions from Australia because of the proposed law, but that threat has faded.

“There is no doubt that Australia has been a proxy battle for the world,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

“Facebook and Google have not hidden the fact that they know that the eyes of the world are on Australia, and that is why they have sought to get a code here that is workable,” he added, referring to the bill, the News Media Bargaining Code.

In fact, this week, Microsoft and four European publishing groups announced they would work together to push for Australian-style rules for news payments from tech platforms.

The legislation was designed to curb the outsized bargaining power of Facebook and Google in their negotiations with Australian news providers. The digital giants would not be able to abuse their positions by making take-it-or-leave-it payment offers to news businesses for their journalism. Instead, in the case of a standoff, an arbitration panel would make a binding decision on a winning offer.

Frydenberg and Facebook confirmed that the two sides agreed to amendments to the proposed legislation. The changes would give digital platforms one month’s notice before they are formally designated under the code. That would give those involved more time to broker agreements before they are forced to enter binding arbitration arrangements.

A statement Tuesday by Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president for news partnerships, added that the deal allows the company to choose which publishers it will support, including small and local ones.

“We’re restoring news on Facebook in Australia in the coming days. Going forward, the government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won’t automatically be subject to a forced negotiation,” Brown said.

Frydenberg described the agreed upon amendments as “clarifications” of the government’s intent. He said his negotiations with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg were “difficult.”

Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Center for Responsible Technology, a think tank, said in a statement that the “amendments keep the integrity of the media code intact.” A European publishers’ lobbying group that is among those teaming up with Microsoft said the deal shows such legislation is possible — and not just in Australia.

“The latest twist proves that regulation works,” said Angela Mills Wade, executive director of the European Publishers Council. “Regulators from around the world will be reassured that they can continue to take inspiration from the Australian government’s determination to withstand unacceptable threats from powerful commercial gatekeepers.”

Facebook said it would now negotiate deals with Australian publishers.

“We are satisfied that the Australian government has agreed to a number of changes and guarantees that address our core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them,” Facebook regional managing director William Easton said.

“As a result of these changes, we can now work to further our investment in public interest journalism and restore news on Facebook for Australians in the coming days, ” Easton added.

Google, meanwhile, has been signing up Australia’s largest media companies in content-licensing deals through its News Showcase. The platform says it has deals with more than 50 Australian titles and more than 500 publishers globally using the model, which was launched in October.–AP


newsdailyFebruary 23, 2021
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3min40

ISLAMABAD: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), under its refinancing scheme for protecting businesses from the impact of COVID-19, has so far deferred Rs657.14 billion principal repayments of loans up to one year. The bank also allowed restructuring or rescheduling of around Rs235.8 billion so far, according to the updated data of the central bank.

The number of borrowers that would benefit from this rescheduling relief has risen to 1,767,599 with outstanding amount of Rs 2.54 billion, it said. Under its Rozgar scheme for protecting businesses and employees working with them from the impact of COVID-19, the central bank has so far approved Rs238.2 billion for 2,958 businesses. Meanwhile, the bank under this refinancing scheme for hospitals to combat COVID-19, approved financing of Rs10.073 billion for 43 hospitals so far.

As many as 46 hospitals had requested for the financing amounting to Rs13.8 billion.With respect to progress on refinance scheme for setting up new projects or expansion, the central bank approved 457 projects with an amount of Rs385.7 billion for which it received requests for 629 projects with amount of Rs 704.8 billion.

Furthermore, from March 20, 2020 to February 19, the Bank had issued fresh currency notes to the commercial banks worth of Rs1.411 trillion. Similarly an amount of Rs 46.6 billion was quarantined during the period that was received from hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies. While overall the bank received cash worth of Rs1.45 trillion which was quarantined for 14 days.

It is pertinent to mention here that in order to combat the impact of COVID-19 and to help the businesses in payment of wages and salaries to their workers and employees and thereby support continued employment in this challenging environment, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has introduced a temporary refinance scheme for payment of wages and salaries to the workers and employees of the business concerns.

This scheme was aimed at easing cash flow constraints of the employers and thereby avoid layoffs. In addition, the SBP had expanded the scope of existing refinancing facilities and introduced a scheme to support hospitals and medical centers to purchase equipment to detect, contain and treat COVID-19 patients besides, stimulating investment in new manufacturing plants and machinery, as well as modernization and expansion of existing projects.—APP


newsdailyFebruary 22, 2021
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3min20

KARACHI: Banks’ lending to rice processing mills more than doubled to Rs57 billion in Jul-Dec 2020 from Rs26.5 billion in Jul-Dec 2019, according to the latest statistics released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). However, this huge growth in lending to rice millers came in the form of restructuring of old loans under the special financial stimulus package announced by the SBP in March 2020 to mitigate the economic fallout of Covid-19 pandemic. express tribune reported.

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Pakistan exported a little below 1.825 million tonnes of Basmati and non-Basmati rice in Jul-Dec 2020, against exports of 2.083 million tonnes in the same period of 2019.

Variety-wise, exports of Basmati showed a much sharper decline, from 428,590 tonnes in Jul-Dec 2019 to 265,672 tonnes in Jul-Dec 2020. Exports of non-Basmati rice also fell from about 1.61 million tonnes to 1.559 million tonnes. In terms of value, total rice export earnings slipped from $1.033 billion to $963.4 million, the latest PBS data shows.

So, what actually happened? And, is there any chance for Pakistan to recoup the export losses and boost its annual rice export earnings at the end of current fiscal year in June? A breakdown of export data reveals that export earnings went down due to lower earnings from Basmati rice.

The decline in Basmati rice exports was so sharp (down from $381 million in Jul-Dec 2019 to $263 million in Jul-Dec 2020) that it even diluted a rise (from $652 million to $700.7 million) in export earnings from non-Basmati types of rice. So, the real issue is with the Basmati rice.

According to tribune, Rice exporters say from now onwards Basmati exports will likely increase as they earlier suffered a fall in shipments when India mischievously applied for a geographical indication (GI) tag for what it had presented to the world as Basmati rice. Exports of Pakistani Basmati were being blocked by some European countries due to Indian lobbying on this ground.

On Jan 26, 2021, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood announced that Pakistan had successfully got its GI tag for Basmati. This means Pakistan can now export its Basmati rice more freely to those European countries and its Basmati shipments to European countries will likely increase.


newsdailyFebruary 18, 2021
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4min20

SYDNEY: Facebook faced a worldwide backlash from publishers and politicians on Thursday after blocking news feeds in Australia in a surprise escalation of a dispute with the government over a law to require it to share revenue from news.

Facebook wiped out pages from Australian state governments and charities as well as from domestic and international news organisations, three days before the launch of a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Though the measure was limited to Australia, denunciations came from far afield, with politicians elsewhere describing it as an attempt to put pressure on governments that are considering similar measures around the world.

“Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote on his own Facebook page.

“These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of Big Tech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them.”

The dispute centres on a planned Australian law that would require Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google to reach commercial deals to pay news outlets whose links drive traffic to their platforms, or agree a price through arbitration.

Facebook said it had blocked a wide swathe of pages because the draft law did not clearly define news content. It said its commitment to combat misinformation had not changed, and it would restore pages that were taken down by mistake.

“The actions we’re taking are focused on restricting publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content,” a company spokesman said. “As the law does not provide clear guidance on the definition of news content, we have taken a broad definition in order to respect the law as drafted.”

The head of the British parliamentary committee overseeing the media industry, Julian Knight, was among politicians abroad who thought the message was aimed far beyond Australia. Publishers say platforms such as Google and Facebook hoard the bulk of revenue as media shifts online as print and broadcast advertising shrivels, forcing newspapers and TV and radio stations to scale down newsrooms or shut.

Jurisdictions around the world have been enacting rules to require Google, Facebook and others to share revenue with publishers, including a 2019 directive from Brussels which European Union countries are meant to enact into law by June. Google has complained that Australia’s rules go further than Europe’s, because they would apply even to links and snippets of articles, which it says limits internet users’ free speech.

Still, Facebook’s action in Australia represented a tactical split with Google. They had campaigned together against such laws and both threatened to cancel services in Australia, but Google sealed preemptive deals with several media outlets in recent days.—Reuters


newsdailyFebruary 17, 2021
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3min20

ISLAMABAD:  Special Assistant to PM on Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood on Wednesday said that with the effort of PTI-led government the tax net collection has been increased by bringing reforms in the FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) and country’ economy was putting back on fast track.

Talking to a private news channel, he appreciated the efforts of FBR for expanding the tax net and facilitating the tax payers, adding, FBR would achieve the revenue target set for the current year and the economic activities would further improve in coming four months.

He also mentioned that in the month of January almost 13% increase in tax collections was witnessed, adding that the fruits of improvement in the economy would reach the common man soon.

He further explained that during the current period, significant improvement was made in increasing foreign direct investments, tax revenue; improving debt management, and ensuring financial economy discipline.

Replying to a question, he said PTI-led government has no plan to bring mini-budget and government would not impose any new taxes in the upcoming budget for the fiscal year to facilitate the industry and help check contraction of economy.

Talking about tax theft in sugar mills, he said that FBR has decided to install internet protocol cameras at different manufacturing sectors including Sugar mills to undertake real-time monitoring of production process in a bid to curb tax evasion.

“We have given special focus on the IT tools for expanding the tax net, he said, adding, reforms in FBR and revenue collection are targets besides expanding tax network across the country”.

To another Question about doubtful transaction of money, he replied that Federal Board of Revenue has already notified provisions making it mandatory for ordinary citizens to show computerized Identity Card in case of purchase over Rs50,000 from a registered sales tax seller.

Citizens should utilize their CNIC cards while transaction of heavy mount, he said, adding, this condition will help avoid, unverifiable and fictitious business buyers which results in huge sales tax losses in the value chain.–APP


newsdailyFebruary 10, 2021
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1min30

ISLAMABAD:  The exchange rate of Pakistani rupee strengthened by 04 paisa against the US dollar in the interbank trading on Wednesday and closed at Rs159.30 as compared to the previous day’s closing of Rs159.34. Meanwhile, according to Resources, the buying and selling rates of dollar in the open market were recorded at Rs159.1 and Rs159.9 respectively. In interbank trading, the price of euro appreciated by 97 paisa and closed at Rs193.26 against the last day’s trading of Rs 192.29, State Bank of Pakistan reported. The Japanese Yen gained one paisa to close at Rs1.52, whereas an increase of 99 paisa was witnessed in the exchange rate of British Pound which was traded at Rs220.36 as compared to its last closing of Rs219.37.



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