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Government mulls allowing private sector to import lng

A looming dispute between Pakistan LNG Limited (PLL) and Pakistan GasPort Consortium Limited (PGPCL) over the utilisation of excess capacity at an LNG terminal may be resolved as Pakistan’s caretaker government pledges to implement the agreement before September 17, 2023, potentially allowing the private sector to import LNG.

PM: Recovery hinges on tax reforms, curbing smuggling

Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Thursday outlined the plan for tax reforms through digitisation and underscored the need to improve the tax collection for economic progress. The development came a day after the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) assured the PM it would bring one million new taxpayers on the roll and 20,000 retailers to the Point-of-Sale (POS) system — a real-time mechanism to document sales — by the end of June 2024. According to the latest data issued by the FBR on Sept 4, some 16,387 branches of 7,798 retailers across the country were integrated with the system.

Terms of $3 bn standby arrangement

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked the caretaker government to implement the terms of the $3 billion standby arrangement, including reducing costs and speeding up the process of privatisation of public entities.

The Washington-based lender has also demanded that 203 government companies should be removed from the ministries and placed under the finance ministry as per the pact.

Government okays $300mn expensive loan

The interim government on Thursday approved four development schemes costing Rs126 billion and also gave the go-ahead for a highly expensive loan of $300 million for improving tax compliance, an objective that does not need any money but a strong will and an efficient tax department.

The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) approved those schemes including the concept clearance for the Domestic Resource Mobilisation Reform programme, which would be funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with a $300 million loan at over 6 percent interest in dollar terms.

Timely completion of Mohmand dam

Chairman WAPDA Lt Gen (Retd) Sajjad Ghani inspected the ongoing construction progress of the Mohmand Dam Project on Friday and directed the contractor to ensure the completion of the diversion system during the upcoming low-flow season for the River Swat. During his visit, the chairman assessed various construction sites, including concrete works on the upper stilling basin of the spillway, construction activities at the left and right abutments of the dam, and various components of the diversion system, including diversion tunnels. He was accompanied by GM and PD Mohmand Dam Project, as well as consultants and contractors.

Forex down to $7.78bn

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has reported a marginal 0.89 percent decline in foreign exchange reserves on a week-on-week basis, with the total now standing at $7.78 billion as of September 1, 2023. This announcement, made by the central bank on Thursday, reveals a decrease of $70 million compared to the previous week’s figure of $7.85 billion. The SBP attributed this decline in Pakistan’s forex reserves to debt repayments. The overall liquid foreign currency reserves, which includes reserves held by commercial banks, amounted to $13.13 billion, with commercial banks accounting for $5.35 billion of the total.

Government cracks down on dollar smuggling

The government has initiated a sweeping crackdown on individuals and groups involved in dollar smuggling, hoarding, and organised crime cartels that have been causing substantial losses to the national economy.

This decisive action comes on the heels of identifying government officials implicated in these illegal economic activities. The crackdown against foreign currency smugglers has resulted in a remarkable 3.5 percent appreciation of the Pakistani currency against the US dollar, marking a gain of Rs11 in a single day, with the exchange rate reaching Rs312 against the dollar on Wednesday.

Pakistan aims for $50bn trade with Central Asia

Federal Minister for Commerce, Industries & Production, Dr Gohar Ejaz, unveiled an ambitious trade potential of $50 billion with Central Asian countries during the independence day celebration of Uzbekistan in Islamabad. Ejaz expressed Pakistan’s commitment to enhancing trade ties with Uzbekistan, pledging to achieve $1 billion in trade between the two nations within the current year.

Over the past four years, Pakistan and Uzbekistan have made significant strides in revitalising their bilateral trade relations, witnessing trade grow from $27 million in 2019-20 to an impressive $126.05 million in 2022-23.

July interest payments surpass government income

Interest payments in July increased alarmingly to Rs537 billion, surpassing the federal government’s net income for the month by Rs156 billion. This has raised concerns that the annual debt servicing cost may exceed budget allocations due to rising interest rates.

Provisional federal fiscal operations for July, marking the beginning of fiscal year 2023-24, have indicated that Pakistan’s debt situation is no longer sustainable. The country is now borrowing primarily to meet interest payments, which is contributing to an elevated debt burden.

In Pak Chinese investment workforce sought

Commercial Counsellor of the Embassy of Pakistan in China, Ghulam Qadir, extended a warm invitation to Chinese entrepreneurs to consider investing in Pakistan. Speaking at the China International Economics and Technology Administration Forum (CIETAF) during the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), Qadir emphasised the potential benefits of tapping into Pakistan’s young and skilled workforce. The theme of the forum, which centres on empowering entrepreneurs, especially small businesses and marginalised communities, offers a unique opportunity for Chinese businesses to compete and thrive in both local and global markets, Qadir noted.

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