Pakistan's economic turmoil under Shehbaz Sharif's second term as Prime Minister of Pakistan

FearlessRoar

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 11, 2023
Runs
17,477
In recent years, Pakistan has grappled with severe economic challenges marked by corruption, mismanagement, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a global energy crisis, and natural disasters. This turbulent environment has significantly impacted the nation's economy, leading to a sharp decline in real wages for many Pakistanis.

The economic hardship is most acutely felt by the country's poor population, who face difficulties affording essential items and meeting basic needs such as purchasing food and paying electricity bills.

To address ballooning foreign debt and bridge the widening balance-of-payments gap, Pakistan entered into a $3 billion standby deal with the International Monetary Fund last year. While the agreement provided essential relief, it also necessitated Pakistan to implement additional austerity measures.

With Shehbaz Sharif now elected as Pakistan's Prime Minister for a second term following a controversial vote, the government faces new challenges, with the overarching concern being the economy. The question remains whether Shehbaz Sharif can navigate the complexities and lead Pakistan towards recovery from the ongoing economic crisis.

What do you think? Can Shehbaz Sharif steer Pakistan out of the economic crisis?
 
Newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif says Pakistan is facing an alarming debt crisis where even the expenditures of the National Assembly were being paid by borrowing money.

“But if we decide to do a deep surgery and bring changes in the system, basic reform […] and I have no doubt that Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari and others will agree that we can either get rid of a life of debt or we move forward with heads down in shame.

“No this will not happen, we will rise and we will make Pakistan self-sufficient,” he says.

Dawn
 
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has promised to bring investment into the country and create economic conditions that would spur economic growth.

He also vowed to spread the web of “one window” export zones in all four provinces and work day and night to fulfil all these promises.

Dawn
 
Humiliated by his own brother on his 1st day. And can't remember his own role

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Even Shehbaz Sharif knows he should be Opposition leader right now<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/مینڈیٹ_پر_ڈاکہ_نامنظور?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc^tfw">#مینڈیٹ_پر_ڈاکہ_نامنظور</a> <a href="https://t.co/qhZATVrGyq">pic.twitter.com/qhZATVrGyq</a></p>&mdash; PTI (@PTIofficial) <a href=" ">March 3, 2024</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 
His own brother refusing to shake hands because he got selected ahead of him.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
I don't have any high hopes from him tbh. Pakistan needed Nawaz Sharif as PM.

Shehbaz was a total failure in his first stint but I hope he can do better this time.

Personally I think he will be PM for only a few months. But let's see.
 
I don't have any high hopes from him tbh. Pakistan needed Nawaz Sharif as PM.

Shehbaz was a total failure in his first stint but I hope he can do better this time.

Personally I think he will be PM for only a few months. But let's see.
NS and Dar are the very reason PK is in such a mess. They got a golden chance with low gas, oil and other imported materials and they pissed it away. Exports went down because of an overvalued Rp.
 
NS and Dar are the very reason PK is in such a mess. They got a golden chance with low gas, oil and other imported materials and they pissed it away. Exports went down because of an overvalued Rp.
So what are the achievements of Imran Khan as PM?
 
So what are the achievements of Imran Khan as PM?
Well exports Rose by a 1/3rd, growth reaching 6% and was on course to hit 7% if the Mafia hadn't overthrown Him, emphasis on IT exports,Textile growth at record levels,millions of jobs created in Faisalabad, reserves had doubled and the economy was stable in the Corona crisis. He dealt with Corona amongst the best in the World, top 5 and was internationally lauded. PK economy grew while others retracted. A health insurance programme that your thugs will copy and claim as their own. Do you want me to go on. An ehsaas programme that became one of the best in the World and was the subject papers by ivy league Universities
 
While supporters will see it with rose tinted glasses and haters will hate, the truth is Pakistan's economic story under Imran was an era of sameness from the previous era and stagnation.

Let's start by acknowledging that he had two tough headwinds - the Pandemic in the first half & high oil, commodity prices in the second half.

To his credit, he did his bit as a populist leader. Ehsas seems well designed copying similar programs that have worked in Africa and the Health Insurance program though handicapped by lack of funding at least seems well intentioned. He also fought hard against drastic immediate subsidy reductions though he gets less credit for that since it was essentially ignoring reality.

However, the net impact of his 4 year rule was a Pakistan that was virtually flat in per capita income, growth in debt, need for a fresh IMF program and an economy that he left in essentially the same situation that he inherited.

I wouldn't hold him responsible for all of those outcomes. After all, the structural issues in the economy weren't going to be fixed in one 4 year term. The issue I have with him though is that he didn't leave a legacy of a single core reform that could be pointed to - whether privatisation or energy sector reforms or ease of FDI or tax simplification etc.
 
I also think this duffer isn't right medically. The way he speaks he can't string 2 coherent sentences together, genuinely speaking. Must have an underlying health issue.
 
PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal has advised PTI leaders to stop the mudslinging campaign and focus their attention and energies on serving people as the country requires national unity at this time, APP reports.

“PTI has a track record of instigating chaos and blaming others for involvement in electoral rigging”, he said while talking to a private news channel outside the National Assembly.

He said the PTI founder would not get a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), adding that, “he must demonstrate his innocence in court.” Iqbal also emphasised political stability, which he termed vital for achieving economic stability in the country.

To strive for economic stability, all differences must be set aside, he said, adding that there is a need for mutual unity for political and economic stability in the country.

Replying to a question, he said in the past, the PML-N had set a shining example of economic progress and stability and that it would take concrete and practical steps to further improve the economy.

“The era of Mian Nawaz Sharif was a golden era of progress and prosperity. Under the visionary leadership of Nawaz, we will tread the path of happiness and progress for the country”, he concluded

Dawn
 
Pakistan is already in chaos. It's time to work and bring Pakistan back on track.
 
Petrol Rs.280/-
Flour Rs.137/-
Electrify ¿¿[unaffordable]
Gas 300% increased

There is no respite for common man, safe to say this is last tenure of PMLN , all their stalwarts who had some credibility have already abandoned the ship.
 
What is "this" you are referring to? any thing specific

BOP has been issue for a while and every govt has been kicking the can down the road

"This" could only refer to the most strange move to make the most corrupt personality PM of the country which is Shahbaz Sharif
 
"This" could only refer to the most strange move to make the most corrupt personality PM of the country which is Shahbaz Sharif
Corruption doesn’t help. However the import value of essentials such as petroleum and gas far outweigh any possible increase in output in the short term. So it catch 22 regardless of who is in charge
 

LAHORE: Power generation and consumption trends indicate that deindustrialization is in full swing, said sources.

It may be noted that power generation has been falling since October 2023, hitting 33-month low in Nov 23, down by 8.2% YoY in Dec 23 and 2.5% YoY in Jan 24, they added.

Similarly, said the sources, power consumption is down by 8-10% across the country, driven by a decline in industrial and high-end domestic consumption.

It may be noted that Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) has already warned that changes in energy prices are generally likely to have implications for the competitiveness of economies. The fear is that the energy price policies impede the capacity of the domestic industry to compete in export markets, predominantly for energy-intensive sectors.

Beyond that, a more profound concern is the disparity in the availability and price of energy might erode the productive efficiency in industrial units of some regions, eventually leading to deindustrialization, says a study conducted recently.

Both industrial and high-end domestic consumers are considered to be major contributors to power sector fixed costs. Decline in consumption of these consumers means fixed costs are spread over a smaller pool of consumption necessitating tariff increase for all consumers through QTAs and higher tariffs cause consumption to decline further, necessitating yet more increases in power tariffs and so on.

Power sector experts have feared that this cycle will eventually lead to the collapse of the power sector and decimate industry along the way.

The sources said the industrial representatives have recently made a detailed presentation to the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) to this effect where the competent authority has pledged to ensure power supply to them at 9 cents/kWh against TGE present level of over 14 cents/kWh ahead.

Similarly, in another development, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) LESCO has also explained to the NEPRA authorities that exorbitant power tariffs, and not TGE phenomenon of tripping, was the prime cause behind low consumption of electricity in the LESCO region.

High cost power tariff is impacting the industrial growth negatively in terms of its contribution to the total production cost.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024
 
While supporters will see it with rose tinted glasses and haters will hate, the truth is Pakistan's economic story under Imran was an era of sameness from the previous era and stagnation.

Let's start by acknowledging that he had two tough headwinds - the Pandemic in the first half & high oil, commodity prices in the second half.

To his credit, he did his bit as a populist leader. Ehsas seems well designed copying similar programs that have worked in Africa and the Health Insurance program though handicapped by lack of funding at least seems well intentioned. He also fought hard against drastic immediate subsidy reductions though he gets less credit for that since it was essentially ignoring reality.

However, the net impact of his 4 year rule was a Pakistan that was virtually flat in per capita income, growth in debt, need for a fresh IMF program and an economy that he left in essentially the same situation that he inherited.

I wouldn't hold him responsible for all of those outcomes. After all, the structural issues in the economy weren't going to be fixed in one 4 year term. The issue I have with him though is that he didn't leave a legacy of a single core reform that could be pointed to - whether privatisation or energy sector reforms or ease of FDI or tax simplification etc.
Do you know how many people were actually eligible for the Ehsaas programme?

The answer will stun you.
 
I'd like to ask all the lovely PTI supporters on this forum that if the economy was so good under Imran. Why did he change 7 finance ministers in 3 years?
 
I'd like to ask all the lovely PTI supporters on this forum that if the economy was so good under Imran. Why did he change 7 finance ministers in 3 years?
Finance Ministers are changed in the middle of a Govt's term? What the ....
 
Do you know how many people were actually eligible for the Ehsaas programme?

The answer will stun you.
I'm not sure since the data is not readily available but it is a new age program with direct cash transfers to beneficiaries rather than the old-fashioned assistance programs where the State presumed to know what people needed. These kind of programs have been increasingly proven to be more effective.
 
I'd like to ask all the lovely PTI supporters on this forum that if the economy was so good under Imran. Why did he change 7 finance ministers in 3 years?
Bro, during Imran's era what was the condition of the rupee compared to today? Was petrol priced at 280 rupees per liter? Was the electricity unit at 50 rupees? Was the average gas bill 1000?

First give answers to these questions and then I will explain why he changed finance ministers seven times.
 
Bro, during Imran's era what was the condition of the rupee compared to today? Was petrol priced at 280 rupees per liter? Was the electricity unit at 50 rupees? Was the average gas bill 1000?

First give answers to these questions and then I will explain why he changed finance ministers seven times.
Rupee was close to 200 rupees per US dollar and was devaluing sharply when Imran was ousted. Keep in mind that when Nawaz Sharif left, the rupee was 96 rupees to one US dollar. So Imran only devalued it rather than keeping it stable.

The reason petrol was slightly cheaper as compared to today was because Imran went against the IMF policies and handed out subsidies on petrol prices. He did this knowing it would hurt the country's economy but Imran's popularity was going down at the time and in order to save his politics he started handing out subsidies.
 
PM gives nod to IMF talks for long-term bail out

Getting down to business straightaway, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif gave the green signal on Monday to begin negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a new long-term bailout package.

His one of the first decisions after taking oath of the 24th prime minister, was to further strengthen the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and winding up or selling the loss-making enterprises.Shehbaz chaired his maiden meeting on precarious financial situation with his core economic team, taking stock of the discussions with the IMF.

He also directed for preparing a roadmap on war footing to deal with the current situation.The suspicious absence from Shehbaz’s core economic team was former four-time finance minister Senator Ishaq Dar.

The new, but an anticipated, inclusion in the team was Muhammad Aurengzeb, currently President of the Habib Bank Limited.Aurengzeb is expected to be inducted as a special assistant to the prime minister. Aurengzeb is a foreign nationality holder and doesn’t currently have the Pakistani nationality, which was a hurdle in his way to becoming a federal minister.

He belongs to Punjab’s Ramdey family and is considered close to Shehbaz.Among his core teams were Senator Musadiq Malik, former MNA Ali Pervaiz and deputy chairman Planning Commission Dr Jehanzeb Khan. Shehbaz had also included Ali Pervaiz in his core team in April 2022, but he was not brought to the table.

The huddle suggests that Shehbaz Sharif is keen to pick a new economic team instead of relying on experienced hands. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman, Finance secretary and Planning secretary were also part of this core economic group.

Finance Secretary Imdadullah Bosal briefed the prime minister about the current fiscal situation, implementation status on nearly two and a half dozen IMF conditions for the second review of the IMF and the likely IMF demands for the new programme.Bosal informed the meeting that this fiscal year’s budget deficit would exceed the IMF agreed target.

One participant also highlighted the issue of shortfall in the FBR tax revenues and the need for any additional measures, although the FBR had achieved its eight-month collection target of Rs5.83 trillion.

On the issue of next programme, the prime minister was informed about the likelihood of revenue measures and cut in power subsidies. Shehbaz instructed for immediate advanced discussions with the IMF for the Extend Fund Facility (EFF), according to the press statement by Prime Minister’s Office.

The EFF is a long-term debt instrument that the IMF signs with member states, facing balance of payments and debt repayments crisis. Pakistan needs about $30 billion in the next fiscal year for debt repayments and current account deficit financing. Shehbaz also instructed to reduce the government size.

SOURCE: https://tribune.com.pk/story/2458413/pm-gives-nod-to-imf-talks-for-long-term-bail-out
 
The federal government announced a significant rise in the passport fee as citizens would have to pay an additional 50 percent amount to obtain the essential travel document

Directorate General Immigration and Passports issued a notification, according to which the new fee of the passport ranges from Rs4500 to Rs27,000

36-page passport

According to the notification, the fee for an ordinary 36-page passport for five years has hiked from Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,500, while the urgent processing fee has climbed from Rs5,000 to Rs 7,500.

For a 10-year validity 36-page passport, the citizens would have to pay Rs 6,700 instead of Rs 4500. The urgent fee for a 36-page passport having a validity of 10 years climbed to Rs 11,200.

72-page passport

The people would be paying Rs 8,200 for a 72-page ordinary passport valid for 5 years, and Rs 13,500 for urgent processing. For 10-year, Rs 12,400 and Rs 20,200 have been fixed for normal and urgent processing respectively.

100-page passport

For a 100-page passport valid for five years, the new fee has risen to Rs9000 for standard processing and Rs18,000 for urgent processing. For a 10-year validity passport of 100 pages, Rs 13,500 has been fixed for urgent processing and Rs 27,000 for urgent processing.

 
Last edited:
Indus Motor Company Limited has closed its production plant from March 6 to March 11 2024, the automobile assembler informed the PSX on Wednesday.

“Based on the current low level of inventory of manufactured vehicles, and shortage of parts and components for manufacturing of vehicles, due to supply chain challenges, the Company has decided to close its production plant from 6th March 2024 to 11th March 2024 (both days inclusive,” the stock filing stated.

“In case of any change in plan will be updated accordingly,” it added.

This is Indus Motor’s first announcement of production closure this year in 2024.

Earlier in August, Indus Motor Company Limited shut down its plant from August 25 to September 06, 2023, amid supply chain disruptions.

In a letter addressed to the general manager of the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX), he IMC management said that its production will be shut down from August 25 to September 6 due “delay in opening of Letters of Credit (LC) and inventory shortages”.

Accordingly, the company has insufficient inventory levels and cannot continue its production activities.

 
The US dollar continued its winning streak against the Pakistani rupee (PKR) in the interbank on Wednesday, ARY News reported.

According to State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Pakistani Rupee on Wednesday weakened by 04 paisa against the US dollar in the interbank trading and closed at Rs 279.35 against the previous day’s closing of Rs 279.31.

However, according to the Forex Association of Pakistan (FAP), the buying and selling rates of the dollar in the open market stood at Rs 279.2 and Rs 282.1, respectively.

The price of the Euro increased by 32 paisa to close at Rs 303.40 against the last day’s closing of Rs 303.08, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

The Japanese Yen gained 01 paisa to close at Rs186, whereas an increase of 93 paisa was witnessed in the exchange rate of the British Pound, which was traded at Rs 355.05 compared to the last closing of Rs 354.12.

The exchange rates of the Emirates Dirham and the Saudi Riyal increased by 01 paisa each to close at Rs 76.05 and Rs 74.48 respectively.

Earlier today, the rates of per tola 24 karat gold increased by Rs1,500 and was sold at Rs225,400 compared to its sale at Rs 223,900 on the last trading day.

The price of 10 grams of 24 karat gold also increased by Rs 1,286 to Rs193,244 from Rs 191,958 whereas the prices of 10 gram 22 karat gold went up to Rs177,140 from Rs 175,962 the All Sindh Sarafa Jewellers Association reported.

The rates of per tola and ten-gram silver remained constant at Rs 2,600 and Rs 2,229.08 respectively.

 
Now it feels like a dream that someday 1 USD will return to less than 100 PKR.
 

Finally a relief for Pakistan​

=====

Moody’s changes outlook on Pakistan’s banking sector from negative to stable​

Moody’s Investors Service on Thursday changed its outlook on Pakistan’s banking sector from “negative” to “stable” citing its solid profitability, stable funding and liquidity, which it said “provide an adequate buffer’ to withstand the country’s macroeconomic challenges and political turmoil.

The international rating agency — one of the top three global rating firms — said that the economic and fiscal pressures were easing for the country, as it forecasted that the economy would return to a 2 per cent growth rate in 2024 after subdued activity in 2023. The report also said it expected inflation to fall from 29pc to 23pc.

“Pakistani banks remain highly exposed to the government via large holdings of government securities that amount to around half of total banking assets, which links their credit strength to that of the sovereign,” the global rating agency said.

According to the report, the macroeconomic conditions remained weak while government liquidity risk and external vulnerability were high. It said the recovery from the 2022 floods and “low base effects” will support a modest economic recovery.

“However, high-interest rates and inflation will continue to curb private-sector spending and investment,” it said, adding that banks were financing the sovereign’s wide fiscal deficits, leaving little space to lend to the real economy “Initiatives to deepen financial inclusion and assistance for key sectors will only partly support credit demand,” it added.

SOURCE: DAWN NEWS
 
Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Senator and former finance minister Ishaq Dar on Friday urged all political parties to get united and sign a Charter of Economy to get the country out of the financial trap, ARY News reported.

In his farewell speech, the Senator said that the time has come to work together for the betterment of Pakistan.

Ishaq Dar thanked his party leadership for honoring him with the role in the Senate of Pakistan since 2002.

He said that during his tenure, he witnessed many ups and downs and the Senate played an important role in the parliamentary history of Pakistan and will always be remembered in golden words.

Dar stated difference of opinion is the beauty of democracy but opposition for the sake of opposition is a disaster for the country.

He said Senate is a symbol of the federation therefore the sanctity of this House must be maintained at all costs and the protest should be within the limits.

The former finance minister stressed all political parties for the Charter of Reconciliation and Charter of Economy to get the country out of financial trap. “We should avoid personal vengeance against each other and take the country forward collectively”, said the Senator adding that all political parties should work together to get Pakistan’s name included in G-20 countries.

He said Pakistan is an atomic power, therefore the enemies of Pakistan have interest in weakening the country and all political parties remain busy fighting with each other. He said that all political parties should make sacrifices for Pakistan.

 
You eat up the country and then discussions about getting out of an economic crisis begin.
 
The absence of a federal cabinet has led to a delay in crucial economic decision-making processes, with approval for significant summits pending, ARY News reported on Sunday.

Despite being elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan a week ago, the formation of a federal cabinet is still pending, leading to a delay in approving crucial summaries.

Sources revealed that, after the establishment of the federal cabinet, critical economic decisions and approval of summaries will be made.

Sources also revealed that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has placed conditions on sending a team, tying it to the formation of the federal cabinet.

Once the federal cabinet is in place, the IMF will dispatch a team for negotiations with Pakistan regarding financial matters.

A day before this development, PM Shehbaz Sharif consulted with his elder brother Nawaz Sharif and finalised names for the federal cabinet, with Ishaq Dar dropping out of the race to become finance minister, citing sources.

Sources told ARY News that Ishaq Dar, a close Sharif family associate and four-time finance minister, will be handed over the portfolio of foreign minister.

However, the ruling party is yet to finalize its finance minister, the person who has to lead an immediate effort to negotiate a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout. Pakistan has a narrow path to recovery and the current IMF agreement expires on April 11.

According to sources, renowned bankers Muhammad Aurangzeb Khan and Shamshad Akhtar are likely to become the advisers to prime minister on finance and revenue.

Akhtar has been a key part of the recent caretaker government that has been praised by the IMF for “decisive policy efforts” to maintain stability.

Furthermore, sources claimed that Khawaja Muhammad Asif will retain the charge of the defense ministry. Ahsan Iqbal is in line for planning minister, Ataullah Tarar for information minister, and Musadik Malik for energy ministry.

Meanwhile, Jalil Abbas Jilani and Tariq Fatemi will become advisers and special assistants on foreign affairs, respectively. Former Punjab chief minister Mohsin Naqvi will be appointed as an adviser on the interior ministry.

 
Appointing Mohsin Naqvi as an advisor in the Interior Ministry, what role can he play? What a joke. And the cabinet absence is because they have no idea what to do with the economy now.
 
Hope he does fine for Pakistan, but still slim odds
=======
HBL’s Muhammed Aurangzeb to be appointed the new finance minister: report

According to Reuters, HBL’s chief executive, Muhammed Aurangzeb, is going to be appointed the new finance minister in the newly elected government.

Reuters, citing sources, said that the banker was the top choice to head the national kitty.

Source: Dawn News
 
Hope he does fine for Pakistan, but still slim odds
=======
HBL’s Muhammed Aurangzeb to be appointed the new finance minister: report

According to Reuters, HBL’s chief executive, Muhammed Aurangzeb, is going to be appointed the new finance minister in the newly elected government.

Reuters, citing sources, said that the banker was the top choice to head the national kitty.

Source: Dawn News
Decent move I guess. Not an Economist but at least someone with exposure to International Finance even if only on the Corporate side.

Much better than knackered politicians like Ishaq Dar. Miftah Ismail seemed pretty sensible. I've heard his speak a few times and he was logical and knowledgeable. Plus he is an actual Economist. Can't they have him back?
 
Appointing Mohsin Naqvi as an advisor in the Interior Ministry, what role can he play? What a joke. And the cabinet absence is because they have no idea what to do with the economy now.
PPP have also played their hand cleverly. Sharing power but pmln with all the blame of the inevitable collapse. And pmln who in the lust of power are just puppets of the estb
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Pakistan has achieved a milestone in regional trade by beginning the transportation of fruit to Russia via land, Pakistani state media reported on Monday.

In this regard, 16 trucks of Pakistan’s National Logistics Corporation carrying oranges entered the Russian cities of Derbent and Grozny after covering a distance of almost 6,000 kilometers.

“Russia applauded the efforts of the NLC for the promotion of bilateral trade between both the countries,” the state-run Radio Pakistan broadcaster said.

Pakistan, which has been facing an economic slowdown for the last two years, is currently making efforts to expand bilateral trade with several countries.

The South Asian country is also trying to attract foreign investment, particularly from the Middle East, to strengthen its diminishing reserves and volatile currency.

Prior to the export of fruit to Russia, the NLC also provided logistics support for the export of bananas, meat and seafood to Central Asian states and China.

Arab News
 
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stressed on Monday that his government’s priority would be transforming Pakistan-Saudi Arabia’s time-tested relationship into a “mutually beneficial” economic partnership, a statement from his office said.

Pakistan set up a hybrid government body, the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) last year to attract foreign investment in the country’s key economic sectors. The SIFC has been seeking investment in sectors like energy, mines and minerals, information technology, agriculture and livestock, and industry and tourism.

The council has specifically paid attention to the Gulf countries where its economic interests remain deeply entrenched.

Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, called on PM Sharif on Monday, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said. The Pakistani premier thanked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and King Salman bin Abdul Aziz during his meeting with Malki for felicitating him after he was elected as the country’s chief executive.

“The Prime Minister highlighted that his government’s priority would be to transform the time-tested bilateral relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia into a mutually beneficial, strategic and economic partnership,” the PMO said. “With a focus on attracting Saudi investment for bankable projects in Pakistan.”

In his meeting with Malki, Sharif thanked Saudi authorities for expanding the Makkah Route Initiative’s scope to facilitate Pakistani Hajj pilgrims. Launched as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, it allows for the completion of immigration procedures at the pilgrim’s country of departure. This makes it possible to bypass long immigration and customs checks upon reaching Saudi Arabia, which significantly reduces the waiting time and makes the entry process smoother and faster.

A Saudi delegation arrived in Pakistan last week to evaluate Karachi airport to explore the possibility of extending the facility to the city.

Malki invited PM Sharif to visit Saudi Arabia, assuring him of the Saudi leadership’s full support, the PMO said. “He said that Saudi Arabia would always remain a reliable partner for building a stronger and prosperous Pakistan,” it added.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong trade, defense and brotherly relations. The Kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates, serving as the top destination for remittances for the cash-strapped South Asian country.

 
Pakistan set to initiate ‘difficult’ IMF talks

The country’s debt burden will feature prominently in talks as Pakistan engages with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) later this month to seek assistance in boosting its ailing economy.

The first such engagement, expected this month, will focus on the release of the final tranche of the expiring $3 billion loan package. Pakistan will initiate another round of talks for a new three-year arrangement worth $6bn.

In a statement earlier this week, the IMF conveyed its interest in opening talks with the country’s new government on both packages.

The inaugural foreign task for Pakistan’s incoming finance minister, upon appointment, will involve representing the country at the IMF and World Bank’s annual spring meetings next month.

The primary ministerial meetings are scheduled from April 17 to 19, accompanied by additional events and activities throughout the week from April 15 to 20. Pakistan has communicated its intention to attend the meetings, with the new finance minister slated to lead the delegation.

A noteworthy occurrence this year is India’s appeal to the IMF, urging them to “ensure that Pakistan does not divert loans to cover defence expenses”, as reported by the Indian media.

While India holds a position on the IMF Executive Board, it has historically refrained from making public comments on the Fund’s loan packages for Pakistan.

While the influence of India’s request on the IMF’s decision remains uncertain, it is evident that the political stability or instability in Pakistan will significantly shape the country’s negotiating position for loans with lenders.

As Michael Kugelman, a South Asian affairs scholar at Washington’s Wilson Center, noted, in recent months, the IMF has conveyed its desire to Pakistan for enhanced political stability at least twice.

“For an institution that doesn’t typically publicly comment on the domestic politics of the countries it funds, this is remarkable,” remarked Kugelman.

He pointed out that the Fund’s latest statement was “clearly a response” to Imran Khan’s letter, urging the IMF to assess the political situation in Pakistan before finalising a new deal.

“We are likely witnessing the Fund recognising its significant stake in overall stability, including the political environment, in a country that is one of its most longstanding yet challenging clients,” he said.

As Murtaza Haider, a professor at Toronto Metropolitan University who is also associated with the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, noted, last month’s election alleviated immediate concerns of instability but the lingering risk of a comprehensive economic crisis underscores the urgency for the new administration to secure a more substantial IMF programme.

The current $3bn IMF package concludes this month, making the acquisition of a larger financial arrangement a top priority for the government.

“The IMF statement referring to the importance of the institutional environment for economic stability and growth must alert the establishment and the newly formed government in Pakistan,” he said.

Pakistan faces a challenging economic situation with a debt-to-GDP ratio surpassing 70 per cent. Analysts highlight that the primary concern lies in domestic debt, accounting for 60 per cent of the total debt and 85 per cent of the interest burden.

Additionally, the external debt, largely in dollars, is predominantly owed to bilateral and multilateral creditors, making up 85 per cent of the total.

Notably, China holds a significant portion, nearly 13pc, of Pakistan’s total debt, mainly allocated to infrastructure projects.

Pakistan’s reliance on tax and gas tariff hikes, coupled with a sharp rupee depreciation, has led to a staggering 30pc year-on-year inflation rate.

Despite expectations for a decrease later in the year, economists predict it will continue to intensify pressure on the local currency.

Dawn
 
Meet Muhammad Aurangzeb, Pakistan's new Finance Minister, personally chosen by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Aurangzeb is a seasoned private banker, widely known as one of the country's highest-paid executives. Despite never being in public office before, his financial expertise is highly respected.

In his recent role, he led HBL to a record profit of 113.6 billion Pakistani rupees ($407 million) in 2023, a whopping 47% increase from the previous year. His smart decisions also turned around HBL's international businesses, as mentioned in the bank's financial statement.

Before joining HBL, Aurangzeb was the CEO of JP Morgan's Global Corporate Bank in Asia, showing his experience in working with global markets. With his down-to-earth approach and proven success, he brings a wealth of knowledge to the role of Finance Minister, promising positive changes in Pakistan's financial landscape.
 
My only ask for the chor minister is to improve relations with India. Want to see a bilateral series with them.

Baqi iss ke bas ki baat nahi hai
 
Meet Muhammad Aurangzeb, Pakistan's new Finance Minister, personally chosen by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Aurangzeb is a seasoned private banker, widely known as one of the country's highest-paid executives. Despite never being in public office before, his financial expertise is highly respected.

In his recent role, he led HBL to a record profit of 113.6 billion Pakistani rupees ($407 million) in 2023, a whopping 47% increase from the previous year. His smart decisions also turned around HBL's international businesses, as mentioned in the bank's financial statement.

Before joining HBL, Aurangzeb was the CEO of JP Morgan's Global Corporate Bank in Asia, showing his experience in working with global markets. With his down-to-earth approach and proven success, he brings a wealth of knowledge to the role of Finance Minister, promising positive changes in Pakistan's financial landscape.
Hope so, he is not another Ishaq Dar type of guy. "Naam baray darshan chotay"
 
Shehbaz speed on the move or just another hoax?

----------------

Rupee appreciates to 5-month high

Pakistani currency on Wednesday hit almost five-month high at Rs278.78 against the US dollar in the inter-bank market ahead of talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for releasing the last tranche of $1.1 billion and securing a new, larger loan programme.

According to State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) data, the rupee gained 0.11%, or Rs0.30, compared to Monday’s close at Rs279.08 against the greenback. With the latest appreciation, the currency has cumulatively risen 10.16%, or Rs28.32, in the past six months since plunging to the all-time low close at Rs307.10/$ in the first week of September 2023.

The Wednesday’s close was the highest level since October 17, 2023, when rupee stood at Rs277.03/$. Market talk suggests that the supply of foreign currency remained higher than its demand as exporters were selling the greenback on futures counters in anticipation dollar inflows would improve following receipt of IMF’s last loan tranche of $1.1 billion in March-April 2024. Moreover, talks for a new and larger IMF loan package will further accelerate the flow of the greenback.

Pakistan received more dollars on account of improved remittances sent home by overseas Pakistanis to their family members and friends back home to help them cope with high inflation during Ramazan and meet Eid expenditures.

According to the Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan, the rupee appreciated Rs0.25 to Rs281.22/$ in the open market. Accordingly, the disparity between the two currency markets further narrowed to Rs2.44 (0.87%) compared to more than Rs3 (over 1%) in the recent past. The IMF has recommended the maximum ceiling of 1.25% (around Rs4).

Gold down

Gold price on Wednesday decreased Rs1,800 to Rs228,300 per tola (11.66 grams) in line with the global trend. The precious metal in the international commodity market dropped $18 to $2,179 per ounce (31.10 grams).

SOURCE: EXPRESS TRIBUNE
 

Pakistan’s planning minister announces development of five economic corridors for sustainable growth​

Pakistan plans to develop five economic corridors to ensure sustainable national growth and create better opportunities for its citizens, according to reports from Pakistani and Chinese state media, quoting newly appointed Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal during a recent ministerial meeting.

The initiative will unfold under the multibillion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that was launched about a decade ago for infrastructure development in the South Asian country while striving for greater regional connectivity.

“Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Ahsan Iqbal has directed to expedite the implementation of CPEC project as no further hindrance will be tolerated,” the state-owned Radio Pakistan reported. “He was chairing a meeting to initiate work on the five new corridors in the second phase of CPEC.”

According to China’s Xinhua news agency, the minister plans to develop economic corridors of job creation, innovation, green energy and inclusive regional development.

During the meeting, he highlighted the significance of the Gwadar port that is jointly developed by the Pakistani and Chinese authorities to be the primary maritime gateway connecting Pakistan with the Central Asia and the rest of the region.

“The development of Gwadar port and its associated free zone is expected to attract foreign investment, stimulate economic activities and create job opportunities in the region,” Xinhua quoted him as saying.

He also mentioned an increase in Pakistani exports to the Chinese markets, asking the meeting participants to devise a strategy to enhance them further.

“Immediate research should be conducted with the help of experts to determine which sectors Pakistan can promote its exports to China,” he said.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has already highlighted his government’s interest in operationalizing special economic zones under CPEC to attract more foreign investment to Pakistan.

 
A perfect way to utilize CPEC for the betterment of Pakistan's economy.
 
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has demanded ‘do more’ from Pakistan during the first round of talks for the second review of SBA programme, ARY News reported, citing sources.

In a first meeting with the Finance Ministry officials, the IMF showed concerns over the supply of gas to fertilizer producers at subsidised rates, the sources said.

The international lender demanded to end the provision of gas to the fertilizer producers at a subsidised rate. The delegation also expressed their concerns over increasing prices of commodities in Pakistan despite stability at the international level.

During the meeting, the IMF delegation was also briefed on circular debts in the energy sector, tariff outlook, cost side reforms, tax administration, tax policy, BISP outlook, and its development by the concerned officials, the sources said.

The IMF delegation also asked Pakistan authorities to tax real estate, manufacturing and retailer sectors.

Yesterday, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb said that Pakistan wants to seal the biggest and longest-running program from the International Monitory Fund (IMF), in the country’s history.

Aurangzeb said that the improvement of Pakistan’s economy is the goal of our government more than the IMF. PM Shehbaz Sharif has a clear vision for the upliftment of the ill economy, the minister said and added the premier has given strict instructions in this regard.

 
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday called upon Pakistan to reopen discussions on the National Finance Commission (NFC) award, seeking to address the ongoing imbalance in the distribution of fiscal resources between federal and provincial governments.

During the opening round of discussions for a $1.1 billion loan tranche, Nathan Porter, the IMF Mission Chief to Pakistan, raised concerns over the distribution of resources and responsibilities, underscoring the need for a more equitable arrangement. Representing Pakistan in these talks was Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb.

Government officials disclosed to The Express Tribune that the IMF emphasised the need to reassess the NFC award, citing disparities in resource allocation between federal and provincial authorities.

The current formula, established in 2010, resulted in provincial shares increasing from 47.5% to 57.5% of total federal taxes, without a commensurate transfer of additional responsibilities. This has led to a sustained fiscal imbalance and a rise in public debt.

The Pakistani authorities informed the IMF that the provincial shares cannot be reduced without bringing a constitutional amendment and making all the provinces agree to a new formula.

The 2010 NFC award had been agreed for a period of five years but since then there has not been any consensus to revisit it.

Addressing the challenge of garnering provincial support for reforms, particularly within a politically diverse landscape, presents a formidable task for the coalition government.

Despite possessing a two-thirds majority necessary for constitutional amendments, securing agreement from all four provincial governments remains uncertain, with parties such as the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) advocating strongly for the NFC award. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government is controlled by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) has also been making efforts to shift some responsibilities to the provinces with little success.

The sources said that the IMF’s demand for the redistribution of the resources is for the new programme, as the country has already met the conditions set for the last review of the $3 billion arrangement.

The IMF also raised the issue of excessive spending by the provincial governments, which can undermine this fiscal year’s primary surplus target of Rs400 billion. The IMF was assured that the Punjab Chief Secretary would brief the IMF about the fiscal developments and the corrective measures that have been taken to fix the excessive spending.

Despite the federal government's success in achieving the primary surplus target, its expenditure has continued to spiral out of control, primarily due to the high cost of debt servicing. Consequently, the overall budget deficit for the first seven months (July-January) of this fiscal year remained at Rs2.7 trillion, despite the provincial governments generating a cash surplus of Rs432 billion.

During the first quarter of this fiscal year, the provincial current spending increased 57% while development spending increased 61%. Subsequently, the provincial governments amended their memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed with the federal government to include the estimated federal revenue, annual provincial revenue, and total expenditure plans, in line with the agreed cash surplus.

The Punjab provincial government has committed through a supplemental MoU to restrict its spending in the remainder of the period of this fiscal year by Rs115 billion to achieve a surplus of Rs336 billion as committed in the MoU associated with this budget.

The IMF team also separately met with the Energy Minister Musadik Malik. Nathan Porter advised the government to stay on the course of price correction by timely making tariff adjustments on account of monthly, quarterly and annual base tariff adjustments. The IMF also raised the issue of Power Purchase Agreements signed with the power generation firms, which are near expiry.

A day earlier, the Ministry of Finance announced that Pakistan had met all structural benchmarks, qualitative performance criteria, and indicative targets for the successful completion of the IMF review. This will be the final review of the Stand-By Arrangement, with a staff-level agreement expected afterwards, said the ministry.

The finance ministry said that the second review of the Stand-By Arrangement with IMF is scheduled from March 14 to March 18, 2024, in Islamabad. Once staff-level agreement is reached, the final tranche of $1.1 billion will be disbursed, following the approval of the executive board of the IMF, it added.

An official handout by the Ministry of Finance stated that an IMF mission called on Muhammad Aurangzeb in the Ministry of Finance. The Finance Minister welcomed the mission and expressed the government's commitment towards working with IMF on the reform agenda for economic growth and stability of Pakistan, according to the ministry.

Discussions were held on the overall macroeconomic indicators, the government's efforts on fiscal consolidation, structural reforms, energy sector viability, and SOE governance, according to the finance ministry.

In the meeting with the energy minister, the IMF highlighted the issue of the fate of the privatisation of the power distribution companies and subsidies to the agriculture tube wells.

The Privatization Minister Abdul Aleem Khan said on Thursday that in the present circumstances of the of the economy, 15 to 20 institutions must be privatised immediately.

He added that loss-making institutions are akin to termites for the economy, as they deplete the national capital and exchequer each year without any solution or cure in sight.

Abdul Aleem Khan pointed out that the deficit of PIA over the last 5 years amounts to Rs500 billion, a figure that lacks justification. He emphasised that the privatization of loss-making institutions is not merely about convincing others, but rather it's a critical issue concerning the survival of the country's economy, including the decision regarding Steel Mills.

 
IMF is controlling Pakistan, it seems like we have lost our sovereignty.
 
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday called upon Pakistan to reopen discussions on the National Finance Commission (NFC) award, seeking to address the ongoing imbalance in the distribution of fiscal resources between federal and provincial governments.

During the opening round of discussions for a $1.1 billion loan tranche, Nathan Porter, the IMF Mission Chief to Pakistan, raised concerns over the distribution of resources and responsibilities, underscoring the need for a more equitable arrangement. Representing Pakistan in these talks was Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb.

Government officials disclosed to The Express Tribune that the IMF emphasised the need to reassess the NFC award, citing disparities in resource allocation between federal and provincial authorities.

The current formula, established in 2010, resulted in provincial shares increasing from 47.5% to 57.5% of total federal taxes, without a commensurate transfer of additional responsibilities. This has led to a sustained fiscal imbalance and a rise in public debt.

The Pakistani authorities informed the IMF that the provincial shares cannot be reduced without bringing a constitutional amendment and making all the provinces agree to a new formula.

The 2010 NFC award had been agreed for a period of five years but since then there has not been any consensus to revisit it.

Addressing the challenge of garnering provincial support for reforms, particularly within a politically diverse landscape, presents a formidable task for the coalition government.

Despite possessing a two-thirds majority necessary for constitutional amendments, securing agreement from all four provincial governments remains uncertain, with parties such as the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) advocating strongly for the NFC award. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government is controlled by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) has also been making efforts to shift some responsibilities to the provinces with little success.

The sources said that the IMF’s demand for the redistribution of the resources is for the new programme, as the country has already met the conditions set for the last review of the $3 billion arrangement.

The IMF also raised the issue of excessive spending by the provincial governments, which can undermine this fiscal year’s primary surplus target of Rs400 billion. The IMF was assured that the Punjab Chief Secretary would brief the IMF about the fiscal developments and the corrective measures that have been taken to fix the excessive spending.

Despite the federal government's success in achieving the primary surplus target, its expenditure has continued to spiral out of control, primarily due to the high cost of debt servicing. Consequently, the overall budget deficit for the first seven months (July-January) of this fiscal year remained at Rs2.7 trillion, despite the provincial governments generating a cash surplus of Rs432 billion.

During the first quarter of this fiscal year, the provincial current spending increased 57% while development spending increased 61%. Subsequently, the provincial governments amended their memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed with the federal government to include the estimated federal revenue, annual provincial revenue, and total expenditure plans, in line with the agreed cash surplus.

The Punjab provincial government has committed through a supplemental MoU to restrict its spending in the remainder of the period of this fiscal year by Rs115 billion to achieve a surplus of Rs336 billion as committed in the MoU associated with this budget.

The IMF team also separately met with the Energy Minister Musadik Malik. Nathan Porter advised the government to stay on the course of price correction by timely making tariff adjustments on account of monthly, quarterly and annual base tariff adjustments. The IMF also raised the issue of Power Purchase Agreements signed with the power generation firms, which are near expiry.

A day earlier, the Ministry of Finance announced that Pakistan had met all structural benchmarks, qualitative performance criteria, and indicative targets for the successful completion of the IMF review. This will be the final review of the Stand-By Arrangement, with a staff-level agreement expected afterwards, said the ministry.

The finance ministry said that the second review of the Stand-By Arrangement with IMF is scheduled from March 14 to March 18, 2024, in Islamabad. Once staff-level agreement is reached, the final tranche of $1.1 billion will be disbursed, following the approval of the executive board of the IMF, it added.

An official handout by the Ministry of Finance stated that an IMF mission called on Muhammad Aurangzeb in the Ministry of Finance. The Finance Minister welcomed the mission and expressed the government's commitment towards working with IMF on the reform agenda for economic growth and stability of Pakistan, according to the ministry.

Discussions were held on the overall macroeconomic indicators, the government's efforts on fiscal consolidation, structural reforms, energy sector viability, and SOE governance, according to the finance ministry.

In the meeting with the energy minister, the IMF highlighted the issue of the fate of the privatisation of the power distribution companies and subsidies to the agriculture tube wells.

The Privatization Minister Abdul Aleem Khan said on Thursday that in the present circumstances of the of the economy, 15 to 20 institutions must be privatised immediately.

He added that loss-making institutions are akin to termites for the economy, as they deplete the national capital and exchequer each year without any solution or cure in sight.

Abdul Aleem Khan pointed out that the deficit of PIA over the last 5 years amounts to Rs500 billion, a figure that lacks justification. He emphasised that the privatization of loss-making institutions is not merely about convincing others, but rather it's a critical issue concerning the survival of the country's economy, including the decision regarding Steel Mills.

The Pakistan government has rejected the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) demand for National Finance Commission (NFC) Award revisit, ARY News reported, citing sources.

Citing the shortage of federal funds, the IMF asked Islamabad to revisit the NFC Award with the provinces during the second review talks under the $3 billion loan programme under SBA.

The sources within the government said no any recommendation on the NFC Award against the constitution will not be approved.

Share of provinces under NFC Award will not be cut, however, the federation and its units can devise a joint strategy on the matter, the sources said.

The sources further said that the federation will find ways to increase its income from alternate ways.

Article 160 of the Constitution authorizes the president to approve the distribution of revenues between the federation and the provinces through order of the NFC Award.

The 2010 NFC award had been agreed for five years but since then there has not been any consensus to revisit it.

The IMF delegation is currently in Pakistan for the second review under the SBA loan programme.

A nod from the IMF would unlock the $1.1 billion loan tranche for Pakistan.

 
Minister for Foreign Affairs (FM) Ishaq Dar on Friday received a congratulatory telephone call from his United Arab Emirates (UAE) counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

During the conversation, the two foreign ministers discussed the sustained momentum of multi-tiered cooperation between the two countries, Foreign Minister Dar wrote on his X.

“I look forward to working closely with His Highness in transforming the bilateral relations with the UAE into a mutually beneficial economic partnership,” the foreign minister added.

After formation of the government, former finance minister Ishaq Dar was named as the country’s foreign minister, at a time when growing economic and security challenges will dominate the nation’s foreign policy.

The senator is also a previous four-time finance minister, suggesting a ramped up role for economics in the nation’s diplomacy as the country tries to secure another International Monetary Fund Deal and shore up external financing from foreign capitals.

However, even his political allies have criticised his handling of the economy in his tenure as finance minister in the last coalition set-up, which took over in April 2022 after the removal of former Prime Minister Imran Khan in a parliament vote of confidence.

Inflation spiked as high as 38% and interest rates to 22% during Dar’s 16-month stint, mostly due to the IMF’s policy requirements.

ARY

 
The government is focusing on macro-economic reforms to stabilise the economy and attract foreign investment, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday.

PM Shehbaz said this in a meeting with Donald Blome, Ambassador of the United States of America to Pakistan, who paid a courtesy call on the prime minister, according to an official statement shared by the Government of Pakistan.

During the meeting with the US envoy, PM Shehbaz emphasized the need to maintain the positive momentum by regular convening of existing dialogue mechanisms, focused on trade, investment, energy, health, defense, education, agriculture and climate change.

He also highlighted the role of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) that has been established to fast-track foreign investments in priority sectors in Pakistan.

As per the statement, multiple issues of bilateral and regional significance were also discussed during the meeting, including the situation in Gaza and the Red Sea, developments in Afghanistan, as well as the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, which was “raised forcefully by the prime minister.”

While congratulating PM Shehbaz on his re-election, the envoy said the US considered Pakistan an “important partner” and hoped to work with the government to build stronger ties between the two countries.

 
These changes are expected to make our economy stronger and attract investment from abroad. By making it easier for businesses and investors, Pakistan hopes to boost growth, create jobs, and improve infrastructure. The new Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) is especially important as it aims to speed up foreign investment in important areas.
 
I have a new slogan like "Go Nawaz go" or "vote ko izzat do" type and the new slogan will be "FEED ME MORE"

----------------------------

PM vows to meet army’s needs, seeks US support for economy

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday committed to fulfilling the military’s resource requirements, as he sought US support for economic reforms and a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.

“Government shall provide all the resources required for ensuring operational readiness of the Armed Forces,” PM Shehbaz said during his first visit to the General Headquarters after assuming office, where he was accompanied by some of his key ministers.

The prime minister was given a security briefing during his visit, which covered the threat spectrum, response to the security threats and ongoing counterterrorism operations.

“During the visit, Prime Minister and Cabinet members engaged in discussions with military leadership on matters of national security, regional stability and military preparedness,” a statement released by the PM Office said.

The official press release did not explicitly state whether the economic crisis was discussed, except for making public the PM’s assurance on fulfilling the requirements related to operational readiness. This implied that while the government may cut some of its expenditures as part of its belt-tightening, defence spending would remain unaffected.

PM Shehbaz said that Pakistan was destined to rise and the armed forces had a crucial role in ensuring the peaceful rise of the country.

“PM and cabinet members appreciated the professionalism, operational readiness, and sacrifices of Pakistan Army in war against terrorism and commended the dedication of the Pakistan Army in safeguarding the nation’s territorial integrity and ensuring peace and stability,” the statement said.

According to the statement, Army Chief Gen Asim Munir affirmed that Pakistan Army will live up to the nation’s expectations and will resolutely support the government in addressing the security challenges facing the country.

US support for IMF programme

Earlier on Friday, the PM met with the US ambassador to pinpoint areas of cooperation, including Islamabad’s engagement with the IMF.

According to the US Embassy in Islamabad, “US support for continued economic reforms with and through the IMF” was among the key areas of bilateral cooperation discussed during a meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and US envoy Donald Blome — the first since Mr Sharif assumed office for the second time.

The meeting occurred a day after the commencement of discussions between Pakistan and the IMF for the second review of the Stand-By Arrangement.

Although a new programme is not on the agenda of the ongoing meeting, the new finance minister Muhammad Aurangzeb has already hinted that Pakistan would advocate for a larger, long-term programme during the review.

The discussions with the IMF for the release of the last tranche under the SBA will continue until Monday (March 18).

During his meeting with Ambassador Blome, PM Shehbaz stated that his government would focus on macro-economic reforms to stabilise the economy and attract foreign investment.

He highlighted the role of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), established to expedite foreign investments in the country’s priority sectors.

Other areas of cooperation discussed during the Shehbaz-Blome meeting included regional security, trade and investment, education, climate change, and private sector-led economic growth.

The prime minister called for regularly convening existing dialogue mechanisms on areas of cooperation, particularly trade, investment, energy, health, defense, education, agriculture, and climate change.

The envoy noted that the US considered Pakistan an important partner and hoped for stronger ties.

The US embassy said that Ambassador Blome “expressed US support for Pakistan’s democracy and the role of an independent press”.

PM launches plantation drive

Separately, PM Shehbaz launched a countrywide spring tree plantation drive and urged the nation to vehemently take part in the campaign.

The PM kicked off the drive on Friday by planting a sapling in the Prime Minister House’s lawn.

Reiterating the government’s resolve to increase the green cover, the PM announced doubling the number of saplings planted in 2024 compared to the previous year’s target.

PM Shehbaz highlighted the urgency of expanding the forest cover from five per cent of the total area to mitigate the impact of climate change.

The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to make all possible efforts to expand the plantation drive to every corner to make Pakistan “green and pollution-free”.

He also asked the citizens to help the government by participating in the drive.

SOURCE: DAWN
 
Rupee hits new 5-month high at 278.74/$

The Pakistani currency edged up to a new over five-month high at Rs278.74 against the US dollar in the interbank market, maintaining an uptick for the third consecutive working day, fuelled by relatively better supply of the greenback in the domestic economy.

According to the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) data, the domestic currency improved by Rs0.03 against the foreign currency on a day-to-day basis on Friday.

The local currency has cumulatively strengthened by 10.17% or Rs28.36 over the past six months compared to its all-time low of Rs307.10/$ in the first week of September 2023. The Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan (ECAP) reported a Rs0.01 increase on a day-to-day basis, closing at Rs281.25/$ in the open market.

The currency received a boost from a $17 million increase in the country’s foreign exchange reserves (held by the SBP), which rose to $7.9 billion, according to the central bank’s weekly update on Thursday.

The increase in reserves confirms that the supply of foreign currency has remained higher than demand in the system, as exporters continued to sell higher amounts of US dollars on futures counters. Additionally, overseas Pakistanis maintained sending higher funds to their family members and friends in the homeland during the ongoing fasting month and ahead of the Eid festival.

SOURCE: THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE
 
The Pakistan government has rejected the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) demand for National Finance Commission (NFC) Award revisit, ARY News reported, citing sources.

Citing the shortage of federal funds, the IMF asked Islamabad to revisit the NFC Award with the provinces during the second review talks under the $3 billion loan programme under SBA.

The sources within the government said no any recommendation on the NFC Award against the constitution will not be approved.

Share of provinces under NFC Award will not be cut, however, the federation and its units can devise a joint strategy on the matter, the sources said.

The sources further said that the federation will find ways to increase its income from alternate ways.

Article 160 of the Constitution authorizes the president to approve the distribution of revenues between the federation and the provinces through order of the NFC Award.

The 2010 NFC award had been agreed for five years but since then there has not been any consensus to revisit it.

The IMF delegation is currently in Pakistan for the second review under the SBA loan programme.

A nod from the IMF would unlock the $1.1 billion loan tranche for Pakistan.

Sindh asks federal govt to announce new NFC award: Murad

Sindh has asked federal government to announce a new National Finance Commission (NFC) award, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah here said.


CM Shah was talking to media while accompanying the People’s Party’s Senate candidates at the election commission office here.

On a question he said that the federal government could not deduct the NFC Award. “The constitution says that the provinces’ share could increase but not be reduced,” Sindh’s chief minister said.

Replying a question, Murad Ali Shah said “I desire that the People’s Party wins all 12 Senate seats from Sindh.” “We have submitted nomination papers for nine general seats.” He said that the assembly members will vote the PPP candidates to victory.

He said the Senate election held under the secret ballot; it is upto the voter to cast vote to anyone they want. “The prime minister and chief minister’s elections held under the open vote rule,” he said.

“We will try to get maximum seats in the election,” he added.

He said the PTI has shortage of politicians due to which they are depending on lawyers.

On a question he said the answer about writing the letter to the IMF should be taken from the PTI. “An individual’s interest being kept ahead of the people,” he added.

 
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) denied reports, circulating on social media and news channels, that it was issuing a new series of polymer currency notes.

In a statement on Saturday, the central bank refuted the reports as 'unfounded and lacking merit'. According to the SBP, there are currently no plans or proposals to transition from paper to plastic (polymer) currency notes.

The statement emphasised that the utilization of cotton-based paper for currency production remains the standard, with materials primarily sourced locally from Security Papers Limited – which uses mainly local raw materials.

The reports regarding the issuance of polymer currency notes come days after the recent controversy about the misprinting of Rs1,000 notes in circulation.

A one-minute video went viral earlier this week, showing no printing on the backside of a few Rs1,000 notes. The video maker, who did not appear on camera but identified himself with his voice in the background as a National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) branch manager in Model Colony, Karachi, displayed the misprinted notes in his hand.

A spokesperson for SBP – later on Wednesday - said that commercial banks and individuals who have received the one-sided printed notes can exchange them at the bank branches where they received the faulty notes. They can also exchange the notes at the designated 16 offices of the central bank nationwide.

 
But what's wrong with issuing a new series of polymer currency notes?
 
Pakistan finds itself positioned at 52nd place, with Bangladesh trailing closely behind at 62nd and India at 63rd in the ranking of the world's poorest countries released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Meanwhile, Nepal stands out as the poorest country in South Asia, ranking in the 40th position on the list.

Topping the list is South Sudan, with a per capita GDP of $492.72, making it the poorest nation globally. The country’s poverty is primarily attributed to political instability, conflict, and limited infrastructure in the country, which gained independence in 2011, making it the world's newest nation.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Luxembourg takes the lead as the wealthiest country globally, boasting a staggering GDP per capita of $145,834. Following closely behind are Ireland, Singapore, and Qatar.

The arrangement of countries in the IMF's list is based on the per capita GDP and the purchasing power of the population, as highlighted by the American financial magazine Forbes.

GDP serves as a measure of a country's overall economic output while purchasing power indicates the standard of living.

A significant trend observed in the IMF's report is the prominence of African nations among the top 10 poorest countries globally.

After South Sudan, Burundi secures the second position with a per capita GDP of $936.42, followed by the Central African Republic and the People's Republic of Congo.

Other African countries featured in the top 10 include Mozambique, Malawi, Niger, Chad, Liberia, and Madagascar, highlighting the economic challenges prevalent across the African continent.

 
A country filled with resources is now on the list of poor countries.
 
The government of Pakistan has ‘assured’ the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of expediting the privatisation program, ARY News reported citing sources.

According to sources within the finance ministry, the privatisation of Pakistan International Airline (PIA) is proceeding as per the plan and efforts are underway to complete the process soon.

Sources said that the federal government has also prepared a plan to privatise the power-sharing companies. The other loss-making state-owned enterprises including First Women Bank, state life insurance, Pakistan Engineering Company are also on the list.

Sources revealed yesterday that Pakistan is likely to sign the staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next week.

The signing of staff level agreement with the IMF will clear the way for Pakistan to receive the last tranche of $1.1 billion under the SBA Agreement, the sources said.

They further said that during the talks with the IMF, Pakistan’s officials assured the international lender of jacking up the electricity tariff from July 1, while monthly, quarterly and yearly fuel adjustments will be slapped on consumers for cost recovery.

Earlier, the Pakistan government rejected the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) demand for a National Finance Commission (NFC) Award revisited, sources said.

Citing the shortage of federal funds, the IMF had asked Islamabad to revisit the NFC Award with the provinces during the second review talks under the $3 billion loan programme under SBA.

The IMF delegation is currently in Pakistan for the second review under the SBA loan programme.

It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan secured a $3 billion IMF stand-by arrangement last summer, but the country is still struggling with record inflation, currency devaluation and shrinking foreign reserves.

 
Cool, a small step towards betterment; it will reduce the burden on government finances.
 
Iranian Ambassador Dr Reza Amiri Moghaddam has called on the Speaker of the National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq at Parliament House in Islamabad.

According to a press release issued by NA, the pair’s discussion encompassed various topics, focusing on bolstering parliamentary and economic relations between Iran and Pakistan.

During the meeting, Sadiq reaffirmed Pakistan’s “deep-rooted fraternal bond with Iran, steeped in a shared history, culture, and religion”.

He emphasised the need to strengthen these ties further by expanding cooperation across all mutual areas of interest, particularly in energy and trade, to uplift the economies of both nations, especially those living on both sides of the common border.

Dawn
 
Information Minister Attaullah Tarar has emphasised “political stability” while assuring the public that the government was working with full force to bring economic stability.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he said, “I think not a single day goes by that prime minister sahib does not do a meeting about the economy.”

“The government’s priorities are very clear; financial stability results only from political stability and we are working very hard on this,” Tarar added.

Dawn
 

President orders equal tax benefits for manual filers​

The president has mandated that manual filers of income tax returns will now enjoy the same tax benefits as those filing electronically, while issuing a warning to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) regarding maladministration and highlighting the federal tax ombudsman’s authority to intervene under the FTO Ordinance, 2000.

The decision came following the rejection of an appeal filed by the FBR against an order of the FTO, wherein the president emphasised the obligation of statutory bodies to operate within the bounds of the law. There is thus no valid justification to interfere with the order of the FTO.

Sources revealed that the initiative was prompted by Lahore-based tax lawyer, Waheed Shahzad Butt, who brought attention to the discrimination faced by manual filers before the FBR and FTO.


Waheed Butt’s efforts culminated in consultations between FTO officials and FBR executives, leading to the resolution of the issue without resorting to costly litigation.

Waheed Butt further emphasised that Dr Asif Jah, the FTO, has mandated the FBR to implement specific mechanisms and establish Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure the activation of all manual filers’ income tax returns for the latest tax year, in accordance with the Active Taxpayers List (ATL) issued by the FBR.

Despite the FBR’s obligation to ensure fair and equitable taxation for all citizens, it has been revealed that manual filers of tax returns have been subjected to unlawful discrimination compared to electronically filed returns.

This failure to address the specific needs of this segment of the taxpayers has elicited sharp criticism from various quarters. A categorical written intimation/information regarding the violation of Rule 73 of Income Tax Rules 2002 by the FBR and the illegal exclusion of some taxpayers from the ATL database, was moved but all in vain.

The FBR, in direct violation of Rule 73, has deemed/ treated the manually filed income tax return as “inactive,” despite it being filed within the time specified by law, Butt added.

He said that the FBR should implement substantial measures to rectify these shortcomings and issues. This would benefit the general public and other individuals or taxpayers who experience such injustices, even though they have filed their returns.

“The recommendations of the FTO to adopt some mechanism and put in place an SOP to ensure that all filers of returns for the latest tax year are active as per ATL issued by the board are unassailable.” the president ordered that the representation was liable to be rejected with these observations.

Source: The Express Tribune
 
Sorry if this is old...

A British doctor said: "In Britain, medicine is so advanced that we cut off a man's liver, put it in another man, and in 6 weeks, he is looking for a job."

The German doctor said: "That's nothing, In Germany, we took part of a brain, put it in another man, and in 4 weeks he is looking for a job."

The Russian doctor said: "Gentlemen, we took half of a heart from a man, put it in another's chest, and in 2 weeks he is looking for a job."

The Pakistani doctor laughed and said: "You are all behind us. A few days ago, we took a man with no brain, no heart, no liver, and made him PM. Now, the whole country is looking for a job!"
 
Sorry if this is old...

A British doctor said: "In Britain, medicine is so advanced that we cut off a man's liver, put it in another man, and in 6 weeks, he is looking for a job."

The German doctor said: "That's nothing, In Germany, we took part of a brain, put it in another man, and in 4 weeks he is looking for a job."

The Russian doctor said: "Gentlemen, we took half of a heart from a man, put it in another's chest, and in 2 weeks he is looking for a job."

The Pakistani doctor laughed and said: "You are all behind us. A few days ago, we took a man with no brain, no heart, no liver, and made him PM. Now, the whole country is looking for a job!"
Yeah, I remember this joke from the time when we were not in the era of Android phones
 
The Cabinet Division set in motion on Monday the federal government's austerity policy, detailing measures for foreign visits of government officials

The officials were encouraged to opt for teleconferencing over in-person foreign visits whenever possible, with a strict prohibition on staying in five-star accommodations.

Approval for official visits by federal ministers, advisors, and others must be sought from the PM's office, according to the policy.

The policy also imposes a ban on simultaneous foreign trips by ministers and secretaries, except under unavoidable circumstances.

Additionally, officials of grade 20 or above must obtain permission from the relevant office, the policy maintains. All pertinent details of foreign trips are to be furnished to the Ministry of External Affairs within 15 days.

Exceptions to these regulations include the ministries of foreign affairs and commerce, which are exempted from certain restrictions related to attending international conferences.

The cabinet session on Monday also outlined the travel entitlements; the president and chief justice eligible for first-class travel facilities, while the PM, senate chairman, speaker of the national assembly, foreign minister, and federal ministers are entitled to business class accommodations.

In February, the federal government constituted a monitoring committee to oversee the implementation of austerity measures - administered by PM Shehbaz Sharif - in a bid to cut the government’s expenses.

The highlight of the austerity measures is the withdrawal of salaries and perks of the prime minister, ministers, special assistants and advisers along with a 15% cut in the expenses of all government departments.

 
Buddy, this step needs to be appreciated because now the money that used to be spent on foreign visits will be saved.
 
IMF, Pakistan reach staff-level agreement on final bailout review

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reached a staff-level agreement with Pakistan on the final review of a $3 billion bailout, where the country will receive $1.1 billion after approval from the Fund’s Executive Board, the lender said on Wednesday.

“The agreement recognises the strong program implementation by the State Bank of Pakistan and the caretaker government in recent months, as well as the new government’s intentions for ongoing policy and reform efforts to move Pakistan from stabilisation to a strong and sustainable recovery.

“Given the timing of the Second Review mission, immediately following the formation of the new cabinet, we expect the review to be considered by the IMF’s Board in late April,” the Fund said in a statement on its website.

Nathan Porter, the IMF mission chief in Pakistan, issued the following statement, “Pakistan’s economic and financial position has improved in the months since the first review, with growth and confidence continuing to recover on the back of prudent policy management and the resumption of inflows from multilateral and bilateral partners.”

However, he added that growth was “expected to be modest this year” and that inflation remained well above target.

“Ongoing policy and reform efforts are required to address Pakistan’s deep-seated economic vulnerabilities,” he said, adding that new government “is committed to continue policy efforts”.

The statement added that the current government will continue its “efforts towards broadening the tax base, and continue with the timely implementation of power and gas tariff adjustments to keep average tariffs consistent with cost recovery while protecting the vulnerable through the existing progressive tariff structures, thus avoiding any net circular debt accumulation”.

Moreover, the statement said that the central bank remained “committed to maintaining a prudent monetary policy to lower inflation and ensure exchange rate flexibility”.

Following the statement, shares at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) climbed up by 374 points.

A day earlier, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb and the IMF mission chief in Pakistan, Nathan Porter, led their respective teams at the final customary concluding session, sources told Dawn. Both sides remained tight-lipped because of IMF communication protocols.

Last year, the IMF Executive Board had approved the nine-month arrangement with Pakistan “to support its economic stabilisation programme”. The approval had allowed for an immediate disbursement of $1.2bn, with the rest to be phased over the programme’s duration — subject to two quarterly reviews.

In November 2023, a Staff-Level Agreement (SLA) was reached between the IMF staff and the country regarding the first review under Pakistan’s SBA. This agreement was contingent upon approval by the IMF’s Executive Board.

In January, the IMF released the much awaited $700 million tranche, shoring up the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) foreign reserves following a successful first review by the Executive Board of the IMF under the agreement.

The country now eyes a “longer and larger” economic bailout package with the IMF, as indicated by the newly elected Finance Minister Aurangzeb Khan in his first formal media interaction.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the lender also confirmed that the IMF supported formulating a new economic programme for the country if the new government sought one.

Subsequently, the primary ministerial meetings are scheduled from April 17 to 19, accompanied by additional events and activities throughout the week from April 15 to 20. Pakistan has communicated its intention to attend the meetings, with the new finance minister slated to lead the delegation.

SOURCE: DAWN
 
‘Need charter of unity’ for economic stability

PM Shehbaz also called for “national unity”, stressing that political stability was vital to bring economic stability to the country.

“We need investments, for which we need to create a suitable environment in Pakistan — economically [and] politically — and create unity.”

“After the proposal of a Charter of Economy, we should also present a Charter of Unity”, the premier said, recalling the offer he made earlier in his victory speech in the Parliament.

Speaking about the staff-level agreement secured with the International Monetary Fund earlier today, PM Shehbaz said the country was compelled to secure another IMF package.

“We need a new programme; it is not with happiness but out of necessity. We need to strengthen our economic foundation [and] make it stand on its own feet. We need to break free from loans,” he said.

Commending the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), PM Shehbaz said work on bringing foreign investment to the country would continue under the newly formed government.

Stating that loan rollovers and debt were “damaging” for Pakistan, the premier said the government had taken a “conscious decision to try not to take further loans and only take loans when we have no other choice”. “Slowly, we will break away from taking loans,” he added.

Expressing the resolve to enhance the tax base and bring the potential sectors into the tax net, PM Shehbaz said the Federal Board of Revenue would be “100 per cent” digitalised.

Dawn
 
The nation has been paying taxes unitedly for so long, now it's time for you all to do something as well.
 
Back
Top