Traders ask government to ensure flour supply
Pakistan Businesses Forum (PBF) President Mian Usman Zulfiqar has urged provincial governments to ensure the availability of flour in markets at competitive rates and a strict check and balance on a daily basis.
“Subsided flour has almost disappeared from markets amid worsening shortage of the commodity in Punjab and other provinces,” he claimed in a statement.
He pointed out that flour had become quite expensive for the common man because of the weekly increase in prices.
In Punjab, the price of 15kg flour, which was available at Rs1,200 some time ago, is now Rs1,600. “Government rates are much lower but the Punjab district administration has failed to ensure the supply of flour at official rates”.
Pakistan cannot prosper with stopgap financing, says Pasha
Minister of State for Finance Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha has said that Pakistan needs to undergo some mega structural reforms as the country cannot prosper both economically and intellectually with stopgap financing arrangements.
“Since 1988, we are in the 23rd International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, which tells that something is really wrong with Pakistan; this is not my fault and neither that of previous governments,” remarked Pasha.
She was speaking at a conference titled “Evolution of social, economic, political order – past, present and future of Pakistan and its impact on creation of enabling business environment”, organised by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Tuesday.
Businessmen concern over oil prices
Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) President, Salman Aslam expressed concern over the government’s delay in revising prices for petroleum products.
“There is a downward trend in global oil prices and the government should immediately announce a reduction in petrol prices so that inflation and production costs are reduced,” said Salman.
Welcoming the Saudi government’s decision to offer a one-year extension of $3 billion to stabilise Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves he said, “Saudi Arabia is Pakistan’s best friend and has helped the country in many difficult times in the past. With this decision, Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves and economic stability in the country will improve,” he added.
PIDE finds flaws in IMF statement
The Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) has questioned the credibility of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report that showed a reduction in public debt, saying the debt sustainability remains a distant dream due to the stagnant economy and high external financing needs.
In its commentary on the recently released report on the seventh and eighth review of the IMF, PIDE – a public sector think tank – argued that Pakistan could not control inflation by simply increasing the interest rate.
It also criticised the IMF’s approach to addressing the debt sustainability issue by solely relying on revenues and completely ignoring the expenditure rationalisation plan. PIDE’s commentary came amid criticism of the IMF over becoming part of the problem instead of providing a solution due to its inflexible approach towards Pakistan, which was first hit by the Ukraine war-induced global commodity price pressures and then by the devastating floods.
Government asked to remove ban on gas connections
Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Muhammad Shakeel Munir has called on the government to urgently lift the ban on new commercial and domestic gas connections as the business community is facing great difficulties.
He said that the continuous ban on the provision of new gas connections was causing trouble for the business community and the people alike and the backlog of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) was also increasing. Munir highlighted that the restriction came into effect in December 2021, which had not been lifted yet, depriving a large number of people of vital energy supplies. At the same time, “SNGPL’s backlog has reportedly reached 2.8 million applications”.
He underlined that new gas connection was not available even to those who were seeking it under the “urgent category” by depositing a heavy fee of Rs25,000.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had also demanded that the Petroleum Division immediately withdraw the curbs and start installing new gas meters, but the PAC’s order “has not been implemented so far”. He urged the government to give a serious consideration to the important issue as many members of the business community and citizens in Islamabad were facing difficulties due to the continuous ban on new gas connections.
Pak, Iran vow to boost trade, energy cooperation
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday met Iranian President Syed Ebrahim Raisi wherein both the countries agreed to further promote bilateral relations in diverse fields.
During the meeting, held on the sidelines of the annual Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation being held in Samarkand, both sides affirmed the desire to strengthen cooperation in economic, trade, connectivity, energy, culture and people-to-people links.
The two leaders exchanged views on the entire range of bilateral relations.
Both the leaders positively evaluated the outcome of the Pakistan-Iran Joint Economic Commission and agreed to further promote bilateral relations in diverse fields.
The prime minister underscored the need for closer bilateral engagement for boosting economic and energy cooperation, operationalising barter trade, opening border sustenance markets, and facilitating Pakistani Zaireen.
It was agreed that Pakistan would be sending a delegation to discuss measures for expanded cooperation in bilateral trade and energy sectors.
PM Shehbaz extended his gratitude to President Raisi and to the people of Iran for their solidarity and support with the Pakistani nation during the massive floods in the country.