Pakistan In Focus

Business community decry hurdles to trade

Businessmen have said that Pakistan-Turkey cargo train has kick-started operations in a smooth manner, however, commercial banks are creating bottlenecks in the way of issuing export forms on the pretext that the trade route involves journey through a sanctioned country, ie Iran.

In a statement on Thursday, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo said that hurdles were being created in the way of smooth land-based trade with Turkey under the TIR Convention.

He pointed out that banks were not issuing export forms, citing that trade with a sanctioned country was underway.

Maggo recalled writing a letter to Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin in December 2021 to highlight the issue but unfortunately no action was taken.

“The business community is very enthusiastic about the prospects of land-based trade with Azerbaijan and Turkey, and they have pre-booked trucks and train cargoes under the TIR Convention,” he pointed out.

Senate panel turns down various GST proposals

The opposition and the government joined hands on Thursday to fast track the approval of the Rs375 billion mini-budget by parliament to meet an International Monetary Fund (IMF) deadline.

The opposition-controlled Senate Standing Committee on Finance on Thursday continued discussions on the Supplementary Finance Bill in the absence of the Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin.

Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Dr Mohammad Ashfaq briefly attended the proceedings, chaired by its chairman, Senator Talha Mehmood of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). However, the committee continued its deliberations in his absence.

The standing committee of the upper house of parliament supported some budgetary proposals but objected to some others that had an impact on certain classes. The Senate

’s recommendations are not binding on the government in case of finance bill.

Liquefied natural gas import delay irks senate panel

A parliamentary panel on Thursday expressed concern over the lethargic attitude of government departments that created bottlenecks in the way of liquefied natural gas (LNG) import by the private sector to maintain their monopoly over the gas network.

This led to the gas crisis in winter, which resulted in suspension of gas supply to the captive power plants of industries and compressed natural gas (CNG) stations in Sindh and Balochistan.

The government approved a policy in July 2020 which allowed the power sector to import LNG. However, the private sector faced hurdles as Pakistan LNG Limited (PLL) failed to allocate idle capacity of an LNG terminal.

Consumers have paid around $99 million in three years on account of capacity charges for not utilising idle capacity of the LNG terminal.

Exporters asked to bring proceeds within 120 days

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has amended foreign exchange regulations following which exporters are liable to bring export proceeds within a maximum period of 120 days from the date of shipment.

According to a statement issued on Wednesday, the objective of the decision is to improve the inflow of foreign exchange from export proceeds in the market.

“Earlier, exporters were required to bring export proceeds within a maximum period of 180 days,” it said. “This move also brings Pakistan’s regulations closer to international best practices.”

It is pertinent to mention that in the recent past, the SBP introduced a number of policy measures in its foreign exchange regulations to facilitate exporters.

These include allowing up to 10 percent of exporters’ annual exports for equity investment abroad to establish an overseas subsidiary/ branch office.

Moreover, it also permitted eligible exporters to retain part of their export proceeds to make payments abroad from their export retention account for a number of additional purposes including marketing and promotion, purchase of design/ patterns and warehousing.

UAE businesses eyeing investment in KPK

Investors from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are pouring money in the budding industrial sector of Pakistan.

Recently, six industrial groups from the emirates have expressed keen interest in setting up their industries in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), for which they have signed letters of intents with the provincial economic zones management company.

According to a press release issued on Wednesday, the letters of intents were signed during the ongoing Dubai Expo 2020 between the groups and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zones Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC). The groups that signed the letters included Sigma Group (telecommunication), Malek Foam, Al-Ibrahimi Group (travel and tours), Jannat Travel and Tours, Samara Group (food processing) and VR Group of Companies (marble and granite), the release said.

These industries will sign a memorandum of understanding with KPEZDMC during the investment conference, scheduled to be held on January 16, 2022, in the presence of K-P Chief Minister Mahmood Khan.

“The companies are interested to invest in marble and granite, hospitality, telecommunication and tourism sectors of Pakistan,” it said.

Cement sales contract 4.2pc in Dec

The cement sector registered a contraction of 4.2 percent in December 2021 as total sales stood at 4.59 million tons against 4.79 million tons in the same period of previous year.

According to the data released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) on Tuesday, sales of the commodity in the local market came in at 4.1 million tons last month against 4.2 million tons in December 2020, a reduction of 2.45 percent.

On the other hand, cement exports declined 15.61 percent as volumes dipped from 637,511 tons in December 2020 to 538,002 tons in December 2021.

Cement mills based in northern parts of Pakistan supplied 3.38 million tons to the domestic market in the month under review, which was 2.71 percent lower against 3.47 million tons in December 2020.

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