Pakistan In Focus

Revised state bank bill vague on inflation

The revised State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Amendment Bill still remains vague about the inflation target and accountability of the central bank governor for missing the goal while maintaining a complete ban on federal government’s borrowing, reveals a new draft.

A comparison of the SBP Amendment Bill – passed by the federal cabinet in March 2021 but later withdrawn – and the revised bill circulated for cabinet’s approval disclosed that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) did not budge much from its earlier stance.

This is despite the fact that the government spent months and burnt the proverbial midnight oil in negotiating concessions with the IMF.

The Cabinet Committee on Legislative Cases (CCLC) approved the draft on Friday that was circulated for cabinet’s approval.

The federal cabinet on Tuesday deferred the approval of the revised SBP Amendment Bill 2021. It was also taken up for discussion by the newly constituted Economic Executive Council (EEC) on Thursday.

WB to lend $195 mn to boost DISCOs efficiency

The World Bank will lend $195 million to Pakistan to help it enhance electricity distribution efficiency.

In this regard, an agreement was signed by Pakistan’s Economic Affairs Division and the international lender in Islamabad on Thursday.

The project objectives of the Electricity Distribution Efficiency Improvement Project are to improve operational efficiency in targeted areas of three Electricity Distribution Companies i.e. Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO), Multan Electric Power Company (MEPCO), Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO) and achieve progress on the power sector reform agenda.

Gas crisis to hit GDP growth rate

Industrialists have voiced fear that the ongoing gas crisis will deal a lethal blow to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth, bring down export orders and increase the cost of production for the business community.

In a statement on Thursday, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo stated that the failure of the government to provide gas to the industry would result in mammoth losses to the country as well as the business community.

SBP reserves fall $415mn to $18.15bn

The foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank fell 2.23% on a weekly basis, according to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Thursday.

On December 17, the foreign currency reserves held by the SBP were recorded at $18,153.7 million, down $415 million compared with $18,568.3 million on December 10.

According to the central bank, the decrease came mainly due to external debt repayment.

Overall liquid foreign currency reserves held by the country, including net reserves held by banks other than the SBP, stood at $24,633 million. Net reserves held by banks amounted to $6,479.3 million.

Earlier in the week ended on August 27, the foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank soared to an all-time high of $20.15 billion after Pakistan received general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) worth $2,751.8 million from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on August 24.

China, Pakistan join hands for new wheat varieties

Pakistani and Chinese researchers have collaborated to enhance food security of Pakistan and develop different varieties of seeds to withstand harsh conditions.

“We are trying to cross the high-yielding and drought-resistant Chinese wheat germplasm with our local ones,” said Bahauddin Zakariya University Professor Habibur Rehman Athar while speaking to the China Economic Net.

“Once accomplished, they are expected to reduce the cost by 13% and increase farmers’ return by 25-27%.”

He is working with researchers of the Northwest A&F University, China at the Sino-Pak Biohealth Agriculture Demonstration Park.

Imran Khan for tapping it export potential

The government is focusing on exploiting the true potential of exports in the technology sector, said Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Chairing a meeting of board of governors of the Special Technology Zones Authority on Wednesday, the PM stressed that Pakistan must leverage technology to not only earn foreign exchange but also reduce the current account deficit.

He directed the authorities concerned to take all possible measures to facilitate potential investors in the IT sector.

The prime minister stressed the need for ease of doing business to attract a higher amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) to the field of IT.

Earlier, the prime minister was apprised that an investment of Rs520 million had been promised for different projects in Islamabad Technopolis as well as the Special Technology Zones of Karachi and Lahore, developed under the Special Technology Zones Authority.

Telecom firm plans to boost investment

A telecom giant has expressed the intention to enhance investment and introduce the best technology in Pakistan.

In a meeting with Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haque on Wednesday, Ericsson Chairman Ekow Nelson underlined that his company wanted to expand and diversify in Pakistan.

On the occasion, Haque pointed out that strong measures were underway for boosting connectivity both in urban and rural areas of the country.

He termed the provision of low-priced and quality mobile phones “the need of the hour”.

“Pakistan is a mega market for technology and there is great potential in our youth,” he said and urged the company to provide employment opportunities to the skilled youth of the country.

Minister proposes tax-free zone

Pakistan possesses a massive potential in the fields of human resources, fisheries, cheap labour and agriculture, remarked Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi.

In a meeting with Japanese Ambassador Wada Mitsuhiro at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs on Wednesday, he proposed the establishment of a tax-free zone at Port Qasim for a period of 10 years and hoped that it would help boost investment and development of both the nations.

Matters of mutual interest were discussed in the meeting, said a press release.

The federal minister highlighted the opportunities present in the maritime sector of Pakistan, which could also benefit Japan.

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