Iran ready to complete gas pipeline
Ambassador of Iran to Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Hosseini on Tuesday said the Iranian government is ready to complete the Pak-Iran gas pipeline to enhance cooperation in the energy sector. Iran wants full cooperation with Pakistan in gas and other sources of energy, he said. “To further strengthen trade cooperation with Pakistan, completion of energy projects, especially the Pak-Iran gas pipeline, remains vital,” he said in an interview to APP. Adding that other initiatives to enhance economic cooperation include progress in the establishment of a border market, finalisation of a free trade agreement and joint cooperation of major ports of both countries. “Iran and Pakistan are making a joint effort to enhance mutual trade to $5 billion on both sides,” he said.
Government opens purse to appease allies
n total disregard for the evolving flood catastrophe, the government has included four dozen new projects worth Rs78 billion in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) seemingly to appease the coalition partners and diverted Rs23 billion to finance these schemes. The PML-N-led coalition government rushed through the approval process— a prerequisite to release funds for these 47 schemes — after the bureaucracy at the planning and development ministry refused to give funds in the absence of regulatory cover. This comes at a time when floods have caused an estimated $11 billion to over $12 billion losses to the economy, including infrastructure.
Nepra hikes energy tariff by Rs3.39 per unit
Amid ongoing protests against inflated electricity bills, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has indicated allowing power distribution companies to raise the power tariff by Rs3.39 per unit on account of quarterly adjustments. The fresh increase in electricity rates will put an additional burden of Rs94 billion on consumers who were already making a hue and cry over inflated bills. Critics have argued that the increase in electricity rates is due to faulty agreements with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) made by the previous governments, and inefficiency and power theft by power distribution companies.
Roshan Digital Accounts inflows reach close to $5bn
The Inflow of investment in Roshan Digital Accounts (RDA) hit the $5 billion mark in August 2022, helping stabilise Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves and shielding the rupee in foreign exchange markets. Overseas Pakistanis sent $187 million through the RDA in August 2022, taking total gross inflows to $4.98 billion in two years since launch of the investment scheme in September 2020, reported Arif Habib Limited citing central bank’s data on Tuesday. A majority of non-resident Pakistanis are investing in the lucrative Naya Pakistan Saving Certificates through the RDA.
ADB points to inadequate funds
Insufficient to cover the losses associated with the natural calamities, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in a report on Tuesday. The report titled ‘Narrowing the Disaster Risk Protection Gap in Central Asia’, said that private insurance solutions for the natural disasters’ risks had achieved only a minimal market penetration. “These challenges are compounded by a challenging external financing context at the sovereign level, making it difficult to access debt quickly and cheaply after a disaster,” the report said. “Low levels of financial inclusion that exacerbate the vulnerability to disaster events [even the most frequent recurrence of flood and earthquake disasters] of many in Pakistan”, the report added.
PSMC enlarges plant closure
Pak Suzuki Motor Company (PSMC) has announced an extension in its plant shutdown due to a shortage of Completely Knocked Down (CKD) parts. Analysts fear this will put pressure on local vendors. As explained earlier, in a letter dated August 16, 2022 on the above subject, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) introduced a mechanism for prior approval for import under HS code 8703 category (including CKDs) vide circular No 09 of 2022 dated May 20, 2022, read the notice issued to the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX). Restrictions had adversely impacted the clearance of import consignments which resultantly affected inventory levels.
Exports to China just a fall in ocean
China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has paved the way for enhancing bilateral cooperation and Pakistan aims to promote local products through e-commerce platforms, remarked Pakistan’s Commercial Counsellor to China Ghulam Qadir. Speaking at the “Summit Forum on China’s International Economic Cooperation Going Global”, held at the National Convention Centre, he informed the participants that Pakistani products were available on famous Chinese online platforms and Pakistan had a national pavilion on Jingdong (JD.com), one of China’ largest e-commerce platforms. “Pakistan’s current exports to China are just a drop in the ocean. China-Pakistan FTA gave access to over 91 percent of Pakistani export market at zero rates,” he pointed out.
Oil and gas regulatory authority takes notice of LPG mafia
Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has swung into action after complaints rolled in against the LPG mafia selling liquefied petroleum gas at an exorbitant price of up to 90 percent higher than Ogra’s determined rates for September. LPG Industries Association Chairman Erfan Khokhar claimed that LPG is being sold at Rs300-360 per kilogram instead of the Rs212 per kilogram rate determined by Ogra for the month of September 2022. Further highlighting in flood affected areas, LPG is being sold for up to Rs400 kilogram, 90 percent higher than Ogra’s determined rate. Taking notice of the development, Ogra has written letters to all chief secretaries and the chief commissioner of Islamabad to ensure compliance of Ogra’s notified price for the ongoing month. The maximum selling price of LPG for the month of September is Rs2496.30 per 11.8kilogram cylinder. Expressing concern over the high prices of LPG, the LPG Industries Association has issued a call for a nationwide strike.