Tag Archives: Pick

Gearing up: Business likely to pick up for Eid



ISLAMABAD: 

As Eid approaches, traders are hopeful business will pick up. According to vendors from different markets in the twin cities, business has been slow this Ramazan as most people prefer to stay home.

Kashif, who works at Le Balto restaurant in F-11, said it was only a matter of days before things got back to normal. “Business for us has dropped by almost 50 per cent this month. Most of our customers only come in after iftar for a drink or tea. No one wants to eat after they have had a hearty meal at home.”

Restaurants which do not offer a special iftar buffet suffer the most, such as ours, he stated. “We often have to keep our restaurant open till sehri to be able to serve more customers and meet our target.”

Abdul Ghaffar, a florist in Rawalpindi’s Lalkurti Bazaar, said that they had been unable to meet their financial target this month, despite having better turnover than last Ramazan. “A large variety of flowers bought at wholesale rates does not help us reach our goals or make the required profit.” There has been a recent increase in sale by people who are now gearing up for the festive occasion of Eid, he added.

Superstores have also seen a loss of business this month. The store manager at D Watson F-10 stated that only wheat, rice, sugar and edible items had been selling out this month. He remarked that the store timings had to be extended often till after 2am as customers usually came in to buy grocery items late at night.

“The sale of chocolates and sweets has also been on the rise as people have begun to stock up for Eid now that prices are comparatively low. Eid brings a lot of business for us and helps us return to normal profit levels.” Sale of drinks and snacks has been stagnant ever since Ramazan started, he added.

Street vendors are also hopeful of good returns. According to Mohammad Akram, owner of a shop selling fried items for iftar, sellers celebrate the spirit of Ramazan by increasing the prices of their goods by a large margin. Faisal who works at a shop selling fried snacks for iftar in the capital, stated that business had approximately dropped by 40 per cent since last Ramazan and hoped to make up for it before Eid.

It is a different story for consumers, however. People are increasingly finding it difficult to provide for their families. Khurram abid, a labourer, sits on a green belt in G-9, in the hope of getting food from a kind passerby. He said that times were not as tough last year, when it was possible for him to provide for his family.

According to Sajid Hussain, customers would soon have to resort to window-shopping for food if prices were not controlled. He said that his kids loved mangoes but he was now unable to buy any.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2014.


Cement sales likely to pick up further this year



KARACHI: Thanks to the uptick in domestic demand, cement sales have remained robust in line with expectations of the industry and analysts in fiscal year 2013-14 (FY14) as they have eclipsed the previous peak recorded in 2009-10.

With this, what is important to see is that the analysts are predicting even further pickup in sales in the new fiscal year in the face of growing construction activities as the government focuses its energies on building major dams and highways.

Overall, cement sales (domestic and overseas) jumped a healthy 2.51% in FY14, standing at 34.27 million tons compared to 33.43 million tons a year earlier.

“The increase of 2.5% in cement sales is a healthy growth and it will further rise in the next 12 months. I think demand will touch 35.5 million tons in 2014-15, recording a jump of 3.6%,” Saad Hashmi, analyst at Standard Capital Securities, told The Express Tribune.

“Only the recently inaugurated Dasu Dam is going to create a demand for one million tons of cement over the next five years,” he added.

On June 20, just before the close of the fiscal year on the 30th, the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) – the lobbying group of all cement-makers in the country – expressed the hope that overall dispatches in FY14 were expected to remain at an “all-time high”.

Though sales hit a record high, they were just marginally higher than the previous peak touched in 2009-10. Sales in FY14 stood at 34.27 million tons compared to 34.24 million tons in FY10, up just 0.08%.

A gradual improvement in economy and growing construction activities, especially in the wake of higher allocation by the government for the Public Sector Development Programme, are the reasons behind the expected rise in cement demand over the next 12 months.

In FY14, the federal and provincial governments set aside over Rs1 trillion for development schemes with the Centre alone targeting to spend Rs525 billion.

The growing construction schemes are mainly visible in large cities. According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2013-14, the construction sector posted an exceptional growth of 11.3% in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014 compared to a negative growth of 1.7% in FY13.

In the same way, analysts say, domestic cement demand, compared to overseas sales, will primarily support overall dispatches in the current fiscal year.

Based on local demand, prospects of the cement industry look better and this comes at a time when exports are dropping on the back of a sharp appreciation of the rupee against the dollar in the past six months.

Apart from growing appetite for cement, the local market is also offering improved profit margins to the companies in stark contrast to overseas markets where they face stiff competition from cheap Iranian and Chinese cement.

Another major reason why industry officials and analysts are upbeat is the increasing capacity utilisation in the industry over the years. It is touching 80%, a six-year high, something that the manufacturers had achieved in FY08.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2014.

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Live updates: I am here to pick up threads broken in 1999, says Nawaz



ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has arrived in New Delhi to attend the swearing-in ceremony of India’s incoming premier Narendra Modi. Being optimistic and expressing the significance of his trip, Nawaz has said that his meeting with Modi is crucial for both countries.

Nawaz is among a clutch of regional leaders who will be attending Modi’s inauguration. This is the first time in the history of India that a Pakistani prime minister has been invited to the oath-taking ceremony of an Indian premier.

Modi will be sworn in as the 15th prime minister of India by President Mukherjee. Nawaz will hold bilateral talks with Modi on May 27 and will also meet Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.

3:50pm

In an interview with an Indian television channel, Nawaz says that he is looking forward to his meeting with Modi.

He also says that ties between the two countries should improve.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Policy Sartaj Aziz, Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, PM Principal Secretary Javed Aslam, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry and premier’s son Hussain Nawaz are accompanying Nawaz on his trip.

Nawaz on May 24 had accepted Modi’s invitation to the swearing-in ceremony – a development welcomed on both sides of the border.

The premier, while speaking to the Indian media, says that better relations with India were the top priority, further stating that he was going to India with a message of peace.

Nawaz also says that “negotiations were the only solution to the problems between the two countries.”

On May 21, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader invited Nawaz to his swearing-in ceremony following his party’s landslide win in the Lok Sabha election.

This latest gesture is considered significant, considering Modi’s anti-Pakistan rhetoric during his election campaign.

Modi’s invitation has inspired hopes that the change in government will lead to improved relations between the two countries.

Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, to be held at the forecourt of the historic Rashtrapati Bhavan, is likely to be attended by as many as 3,000 guests.