Musk no longer joining the Twitter board: CEO

SAN FRANCISCO: Elon Musk is no longer joining the board of Twitter, the CEO of the social media company said late on Sunday, in a reversal less than a week after announcing the Tesla and SpaceX chief would be appointed.

Musk was named to join the Twitter board after buying a major stake in the firm and becoming its largest shareholder.

“Elon has decided not to join our board,” Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted.

“Elon’s appointment to the board was to become officially effective 4/9, but Elon shared that same morning he will no longer be joining the board,” Agrawal said.

“I believe this is for the best.” Currently the world’s richest man and with more than 80 million followers on the microblogging platform, Musk last week disclosed a purchase of 73.5 million shares — or 9.2 percent — of Twitter’s common stock.

Man City retain top spot after Liverpool draw, Brentford stun West Ham

LONDON: Manchester City preser­ved their one-point lead at the top of the Pre­mier League after a pulsating 2-2 draw against title rivals Liverpool on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s side twice led in the blockbuster showdown at the Etihad Stadium thanks to goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus.

Liverpool hit back to equalise on both occasions through Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane, but it was City who finished happier with the result of a high-quality encounter between arguably the world’s two best teams.

With just seven games left, reigning champions City remain in pole position to pip second placed Liverpool to the title.

That would give City a fourth English title in five seasons as they look to win a treble of the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup this term, Liverpool’s hopes of a second top-flight crown in three years have undoubtedly been dented by their failure to take three points home from Manchester.

Jurgen Klopp’s team will need a slip from City during the run-in if their bid for an unprecedented quadruple is to come to fruition.

Since the start of the 2018-19 season, combining the four campaigns, City and Liverpool are separated by just a point and the latest instalment of their title riv­alry is set to go down to the wire again.

On January 15, the title race looked done and dusted as City were 14 points ahead of Liverpool, who had two games in hand.

Liverpool’s 10-match winning run in the league had whittled away at City’s advantage, but the leaders’ ability to end that streak leaves the destiny of the trophy in their hands.

City made a flying start in the fifth minute as De Bruyne skipped past Fabinho on the edge of the area and unloaded a shot that took a wicked deflection off Joel Matip before glancing in off the far post.

City’s joy at De Bruyne’s sixth goal in his last six games was short-lived and Liverpool were level eight minutes later.

Andrew Robertson’s cross reached Trent Alexander-Arnold at the far post and he clipped the ball towards Jota, whose low shot from 10 yards beat Ederson’s weak attempted save.

City regained the lead in the 37th minute as Jesus repayed Guardiola’s faith for selecting him instead of Riyad Mahrez. Cancelo’s superb pass picked out Jesus’s run behind the slow to react Alexander-Arnold and the Brazilian forward guided a fine finish in off the underside of the bar.

Trailing at half-time in a Premier League game for the first time in a year, Liverpool hit back 47 seconds after the interval.

Mohamed Salah’s sublime defence-splitting pass found Mane’s run and the Senegal forward fired a composed strike into the top corner to celebrate his 30th birthday in style.

City thought they had gone ahead when Raheem Sterling converted De Bruyne’s pass, only for VAR to disallow the goal for a tight offside.

Mahrez almost won it for City in the last minute with a free-kick that smacked off the post.

Away from the day’s summit meeting, West Ham’s hopes of finishing in the top four suffered a major blow in a 2-0 defeat at Brentford.

Brentford struck in the 48th minute when Ivan Toney’s flick reached Bryan Mbuemo for a thunderous low finish.

Mbuemo returned the favour with an assist for Toney as the striker headed home in the 64th minute.

David Moyes’ sixth-placed side are now six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, who have played a game less than their London rivals.

Norwich kept alive their faint hopes of beating the drop with a 2-0 win against fellow strugglers Burnley at Carrow Road.

Pierre Lees-Melou and Teemu Pukki scored for bottom-of-the-table Norwich, who are seven points from safety with seven games remaining.

Third-bottom Burnley are four points adrift of fourth-bottom Everton, with both teams having eight matches to play.

Leicester beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at the King Power Stadium as Ademola Lookman bagged his first goal since February.

Pakistan’s policy continuity in doubt amid political turmoil, says Moody’s

ISLAMABAD: While the Pakistan Stock Exchange and the rupee made a steep recovery, Moody’s Investors Service on Monday highlighted Pakistan’s “significant uncertainty over policy continuity” and falling foreign exchange reserves.

However, the New York-based credit rating agency forecast a stable outlook for Pakistani banks and estimated the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate to remain between three and four percent.

Commenting on the ouster of former prime minister Imran Khan through a no-confidence vote and the subsequent confirmation of Shehbaz Sharif as the country’s new premier until August 2023, Moody’s said that “the political upheaval reflects the volatility that besets Pakistan’s political environment and raises significant uncertainty over policy continuity, at a time when Pakistan is encumbered with surging inflation, widening current account deficits and declining foreign-exchange reserves”.

It said it was unclear how the new government would approach the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) program during this interim period before the next election is called, prolonging the uncertainty around whether Pakistan would be able to secure financing from the IMF to bolster its foreign-exchange reserves, which have fallen to a level sufficient to cover only about two months of imports.

Forecasts stable outlook for Pakistani banks, GDP growth at 4-5pc in FY23

Meanwhile, it said the banks’ stable outlook was supported by an expanding economy and their sound finances and hence maintained a stable outlook for the banking sector (B3 stable).

Moody’s expected real GDP growth of between 3pc and 4pc for the ongoing fiscal year and between 4pc and 5pc for the 2023 fiscal year, with credit growth surpassing 12pc.

Pakistani banks successfully navigated the pandemic, although nonperforming loans (NPLs) remained high but broadly stable at around 9pc of gross loans, it said.

Profitability will rise moderately, with returns on assets to remain around 1pc to 1.1pc, supported by new business generation and gradually recovering net interest margins. However, investment gains are likely to be lower.

Dividend payouts are expected to rise this year, but earnings should be sufficient to keep capital at current, rather modest, levels. Pakistani banks will remain deposit-funded and liquid.

These are credit strengths, but their high exposure to Pakistan government securities means their credit profiles are anchored to the low-rated sovereign. Operating conditions will be supportive for banks, despite new pressures. The Russia-Ukraine military conflict will pressure Pakistan’s current account deficit via higher oil prices while rising inflation will weaken private-sector spending. Sharp increases in interest rates will also weigh on private-sector investment.

The GDP growth forecast is based on expectations of reform agenda and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) helps boost economic growth. Also, government support for specific sectors, such as a subsidy scheme for housing finance, subsidized interest rates, and partial credit guarantees for small businesses and agriculture, will also boost credit demand.

“Asset risk is mainly linked to banks’ high exposure to government securities. Pakistani banks’ exposure to government securities accounts for 45pc of their total assets and around seven times their equity, one of the highest levels among our rated banks globally. This exposure links their credit profiles to the sovereigns. After a moderate rise in problem loans during the pandemic, we now expect these to stay around 9% of gross loans for the rated banks,” Moody’s said.

Loans to sugar, textiles, and leather, and electronics sectors will be the most vulnerable. The phased introduction of the new IFRS-9 accounting standard containing stricter rules on loan-loss provisioning will likely increase provisioning needs.

Capital buffers will be stable but modest. According to data from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the banking sector’s capital-to-assets ratio stood at 6.3pc as of December 2021. The sector’s reported Tier-1 capital stood at 13.5pc of risk-weighted assets. “Once we risk-weight government securities at 100pc in line with the government’s B3 credit rating, however, tangible common equity (TCE) to adjusted risk-weighted assets drops to a modest 7.4pc for the rated banks,” it said.

The SBP has also introduced additional Shariah-compliant liquidity facilities for Islamic banks. Some pressure points remain but these will be manageable.

The introduction of a Treasury Single Account will lead to modest deposit outflows and Pakistan’s inclusion on the Fina­ncial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list of countries with deficient anti-money laundering regimes is being addressed with 26 out of the 27 actions required already completed.

Govt seeks adjournment of hearing on presidential reference

ISLAMABAD: A day before the hearing on the presidential reference for interpreting Article 63-A of the Constitution by the Supreme Court, the Attorney General’s Office on Monday sought its adjournment to next week.

A one-page request on behalf of Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Aamir Rehman stated that in the wake of Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan’s resignation, the apex court may adjourn the reference pending the formation of the new government and the appointment of an attorney general.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) also moved an application seeking the formation of a full-court consisting of all the judges of the Supreme Court to hear the reference.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, a five-judge Supreme Court bench was supposed to commence hearing on Tuesday (April 12), but the application has now been delisted.

PTI wants full court to take up matter regarding Article 63-A interpretation

Moved by Babar Awan, a member of the PTI legal team, the application pleaded that the presidential reference is placed before the full court.

The application stated that the bench named to take up the reference is the same bench that decided the suo motu case and passed a short order on April 7 requiring then prime minister Imran Khan to face the no-confidence motion.

The application highlighted that the five-member bench in its April 7 short order had issued certain observations regarding Article 63-A by clarifying that the short order would affect the operation of Article 63A of the Constitution and the consequences in relation to any member of the National Assembly if he votes on the no-trust motion or election of the prime minister in such a manner as is tantamount to his defection from the political party to which he belongs within the meaning of Article 63A.

The intricate questions of independence and separation of judiciary from other state institutions and also the question of the supremacy of parliament, as definitively enshrined in multiple articles of the Constitution and rules of business of parliament itself, are involved as questions of public importance, future of the parliamentary form of government and preservation of the trichotomy of powers.

Life-long disqualification

The reference has submitted before the apex court that the most suitable and appropriate disqualification for a declared defector should be a disqualification for life as provided under Article 62(1)(f) since the constantly recurring defection was a self-feeding menace.

“Such members must never be allowed to return to parliament nor their tainted votes be counted in any constitutional or democratic exercise,” the reference had emphasized.

The reference had also asked whether keeping in view the spirit of the Constitution, which provides for a parliamentary form of government, which interpretation of Article 63A should be adopted and implemented to achieve the constitutional objective of curbing defections and purification of the electoral process.

The reference wondered where a member engages in a constitutionally prohibited and morally reprehensible act of defection, can the member nevertheless claim a vested right to have his vote counted and given equal weightage.