Telecom sector sees growth, transport sector meagrely up

AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan seemed starting much anticipated economic revival as indictors in telecom and transport sectors during first half of current fiscal (July-December 2013) portrayed much better description as compared to corresponding period of the last fiscal.
Growth of telecommunication sector in Pakistan suppressed to some extent even many pressures during the last few years however, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) revealed a much positive figures in its recently issued second quarterly Fiscal Year 2013-14 (FY14) report in which the statistics showed the telecom sector posted encouraging performance in first half of FY14.
Strong telecom imports, an increase in the subscriber base and an improvement in telecom revenues helped this sector to post Rs 109.9 billion revenues, representing 4.07 percent yearly growth as compared to Rs 105.60 billion revenues in same period of FY13.
Teledensity (percentage of telephone connections for total population) in Pakistan reached to 77.1 percent at the end of November 2013 as compared to 72.1 percent in FY13 while this sector import bill also significantly swelled during the said period to $ 662.1 million that was 54 percent more than $429.3 million of import bill in same period of FY13. Most encouraging growth witnessed in the sector during the first quarter of FY14 was substantial increase in foreign investment as cellular companies envisaging next generation technologies’ auction invested 12 percent more in Pakistan compared to same period last year. Telecom sector fetched $120.9 million of foreign investment by the end of September 2013 while it was recorded at $108.2 million in corresponding period of last fiscal.
Transport sector in Pakistan showed a mixed performance during the period under review however the SBP’s indicators depicted a much improved scenario in comparison of deteriorating performance during last decade. Pakistan International Airline (PIA) witnessed skyrocket increase in operating losses to Rs 13.6 billion in first quarter (July-September) FY14, enormously increasing by 209 percent as compared to Rs 4.4 billion in the same period last year.
However, SBP said, “The subjective evidence suggests an improvement in PIA’s financials during Oct-Dec 2013 on account of an expansion in its fleet size as PIA has added four aircrafts in its fleet during second quarter of FY14 which led to an improvement in its flight operations”.
Government plans to disinvest 26 percent of PIA’s shares by end-December 2014, which would bode well for the financial performance of PIA.
Pakistan Railways (PR) has slightly picked up boost in the first half of FY14 due to good governance of new rulers as PR witnessed a marginal improvement by posting smaller losses, compared to the same period last year.
According to the SBP’s data PR registered 8 percent lesser losses during the period under review to a loss of Rs 13.8 billion as against a loss of Rs 15 billion in same period of FY13.
The operations of PR are likely to improve due to an expansion of its fleet size, as a total of 22 locomotives have been made available for freight operations during the last six months, while other 10-15 locomotives are added for passenger operations, said SBP.
Although this entity is not included in the list of Public Service Enterprises (PSEs), which are to be disinvested by the government, the authorities have hired new board members for PR, who are in the process of preparing a medium-term restructuring plan, SBP report added.

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