Pakistan In Focus

Government aims to consolidate economic stability

Pakistan has witnessed significant macroeconomic imbalances in recent years due to a combination of factors like rising international commodity prices, global financial crisis and domestic supply constraints, said Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan. Addressing an online session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) on Wednesday, he stated that the government was aiming to consolidate the emerging macroeconomic stability through appropriate monetary and fiscal measures. According to him, this step will steer private investment, mobilise domestic savings and increase economic growth.

Policy rate to increase due to high bond yields

The rate of return on rupee-denominated bonds, T-bills and Pakistan Investment Bonds (PIBs) moved up sharply on Thursday, indicating that the central bank is poised to jack up the benchmark policy rate in the near future. Bond yields surged by up to 33 basis points in the secondary market in the wake of market talk that the central bank was considering increasing the benchmark interest rate by holding an emergency meeting of Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on the directives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Ex-FBR Chief order termed unlawful

Former Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman Shabbar Zaidi’s instructions to stop recovery of disputed taxes from bank accounts without prior intimation to taxpayers were “illegal”, one of the top functionaries of the tax machinery said on Thursday. The revelation was made by Member Inland Revenue Operations Qaiser Iqbal before the Senate Standing Committee on Finance. The committee, however, unanimously stood by the side of Zaidi and recommended the government to revive the instructions which the FBR withdrew 10 days ago.

Prices of steel rebar rise again

Steel rebar manufacturers have hiked prices once again citing that persistent disruption in global market amid continuous devaluation of the local currency had increased input costs. According to a notification issued by Amreli Steels on Thursday, the company increased steel rebar prices by Rs5,000 per ton due to surge in input costs on the back of currency depreciation and unprecedented increase in fuel and electricity tariffs.

“The new ex-factory booking rates of 9.5mm, 10 mm and 12mm deform and xtreme rebar are Rs187,500 per ton, while steel of measurement 16mm and above will be priced at Rs185,500 per ton,” the notification added.

Power tariff to decline after privatisation of companies

Privatisation of power distribution companies can steer improvement and efficiency which, in turn, can lead to a decrease in power tariff, said National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) Chairman Tauseef Farooqi. Conducting a public hearing on the package for incremental use of electricity in winter season on Thursday, he reviewed an extension in the package for K-Electric

’s industrial consumers. During the hearing, Nepra officials said that the government had sought approval of the package from November 2021 to February 2022. The package will be applicable to the consumers of ex-Wapda distribution companies and K-Electric, who utilise over 300 units per month.

SBP reserves decilne $1.65bn to $17.5bn

The foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank fell 8.6% on a weekly basis, according to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Thursday. On October 15, the foreign currency reserves held by the SBP were recorded at $17,492.2 million, down $1.65 billion compared with $19,138.4 million on October 8. According to the central bank, the decrease came on the back of external debt repayment that included repayment of $1 billion against Pakistan International Sukuk.

SBP to launch full range of digital banking

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is all set to introduce full-fledged digital banking in a month to allow people performing financial transactions without physically visiting banks and to accelerate the financial inclusion drive, said SBP Deputy Governor Sima Kamil. Addressing the 19th annual conference on Future Banking 2021 Summit on Thursday, she revealed that an intensive consultative phase for digital banking had been concluded.

Pak moving towards digitalisation

The government is making utmost efforts to connect households and businesses through fiber deployment to realise the ‘Digital Pakistan’ vision, said Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Amir Azeem Bajwa. Speaking at roundtable discussion titled ‘Right-of-Way Implementation and Socio-Economic Development at the SAMENA Accelerator’ in Dubai on Wednesday, he said that the dream of a truly sustainable and economically viable fourth industrial revolution could not be realised unless fiber optic makes up the core of the country’s digital infrastructure. He stated that Pakistan was well cognisant of the importance of fiber to achieve the policy objectives and socio-economic wellbeing of the people.

Growing coal cost perturbs cement makers

Rising global coal prices have badly affected the cement industry in Pakistan, which is under severe pressure to stay afloat amid rising input costs. Talking to journalists, cement sector officials pointed out that the industry had been using coal as fuel for clinker manufacturing since 2004, which it imported from South Africa, Mozambique, Australia and Indonesia. Supply of local coal to meet requirements of the sector was not sustainable due to the lack of infrastructure and its inferior quality, they added.

Vietnam, Pakistan to discuss PTA in Nov

Vietnam and Pakistan will likely hold talks on progress on the proposed Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) by mid-November 2021, Vietnam Ambassador to Pakistan Nguyen Tien Phong revealed on Wednesday. In the upcoming “5th Vietnam-Pakistan Sub-committee on Trade” meeting, both sides would discuss two top subjects – PTA and an agreement on investment protection, the envoy said, adding that other issues of bilateral trade cooperation would also be discussed in the meeting. He voiced hope that after signing the PTA the trade volume between the two countries would increase.

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