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Talks on program resumption to start from Could 18, says IMF



The federal government of Pakistan will start a vital spherical of talks with the Worldwide Financial Fund on Could 18th. The talks might be held in Doha. In a press release launched on Friday the IMF resident consultant in Islamabad, Esther Ruiz, confirmed the talks to Revenue.

“An Worldwide Financial Fund crew will begin a employees mission on Could 18 with the Pakistani authorities in Doha, Qatar” she mentioned in a brief word despatched on to Revenue.

That is the primary official affirmation from the IMF on the resumption of the talks.

The talks are a part of the continued 7th evaluate of the Prolonged Fund Facility that Pakistan signed in July 2019 however that was suspended in March of 2020 when the Covid lockdowns started. Since then Pakistan has struggled to renew this system. In March 2021 targets for resumption of this system have been finalized by then finance minister Hafeez Shaikh, solely to be suspended shortly thereafter when Shaikh was summarily dismissed and changed with Shaukat Tarin because the finance minister.

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Tarin struggled with resuming this system till January 2021, when the 6th evaluate was lastly accomplished and the employees report launched the next month. However as soon as once more this system was despatched into limbo when the Prime Minister introduced caps on gas and energy costs.

The brand new authorities of Shehbaz Sharif mentioned its high precedence was searching for a resumption of the fund program within the face of dwindling reserves and mounting pressures on the alternate price and the fiscal framework. In his maiden go to to Washington DC beginning in April 22, present finance minister Miftah Ismael sought an enhancement of the power with a further $2 billion in disbursements and extension of this system will June 2023.

After these consultations, the fund acknowledged receipt of the request from the Pakistani aspect, however added that “immediate motion is required to reverse the unfunded subsidies which have slowed discussions for the seventh evaluate.”

Former finance minister Shaukat Tarin has claimed, by way of his private twitter account, that these subsidies rising out of the worth caps have been “totally funded”.

The 7th evaluate has remained in limbo ever since as the federal government deliberates on the implications and modalities of reversing the worth caps. The motion might see petrol and diesel costs spiralling past Rs200 per litre, arguably the biggest worth soar in a single go in no less than a decade. Some stories in latest days prompt the fund is just not prepared to speak till the reversal of the worth caps is undertaken first.

The federal government is anticipated to decide quickly, following the return of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his cupboard from London the place they’d gone to “search counsel” from Nawaz Sharif about the way to deal with the nation’s delicate political and financial state of affairs since they got here into energy greater than a month in the past.

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FBR freezes PIA’s financial institution accounts over Rs55bn unpaid federal excise responsibility



The Federal Board of Income (FBR) has taken motion to freeze all financial institution accounts of Pakistan Worldwide Airways (PIA) attributable to non-payment of federal excise responsibility, including to the airline’s ongoing monetary challenges.

FBR officers report that PIA’s excellent liabilities for federal excise responsibility have reached Rs55 billion as much as September 2023. Regardless of repeated notices, the airline has failed to handle these obligations. Moreover, the tax liabilities for October 2023 stay unresolved as tax returns for that month are but to be filed.

The Massive Taxpayers Unit (LTU) in Karachi, a subsidiary of FBR, executed the freezing of PIA’s accounts with the purpose of recovering the excellent tax liabilities. Already, an quantity of Rs1.5 billion has been recovered and deposited into the nationwide treasury. Banks have been instructed to promptly switch any funds obtained in PIA’s accounts to the FBR’s treasury accounts.

Latest reviews point out that PIA has not filed returns since February, and a tribunal’s order requires the airline to promptly pay Rs2.77 billion. The freezing of accounts occurred two days earlier than the top of the month, deviating from the same old follow of such actions happening on the month’s final day.

It’s pertinent to say right here that final month, PIA confronted operational disruptions, together with flight cancellations and delays, attributable to unpaid dues to the state’s oil advertising firm, Pakistan State Oil (PSO). Studies from Bloomberg spotlight that PIA’s liabilities stand at Rs743 billion (roughly $2.5 billion), surpassing its complete property by 5 instances.

PIA sought extra borrowing of over Rs7 billion from banks amid considerations about potential flight operation suspensions amidst a extreme monetary disaster. The airline has approached the Aviation Division for quick loans, together with a government-guaranteed possibility for securing Rs7.5 billion.

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Pakistan’s cotton exports see a big rise this season, transport 125,000 bales



Pakistan has efficiently exported a minimal of 125,000 cotton bales, with prospects indicating additional enchancment in export volumes.

Notably, all export offers have been secured by a singular cotton ginner from Sindh, Dr. Jasso Mal, with locations together with China, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

It’s anticipated {that a} comparable amount of cotton bales shall be exported within the remaining length of the season. The present season marks a possible document, contemplating that cotton exports haven’t surpassed six digits since 2017-18 when the determine reached 207,424 bales. In distinction, the nation exported solely 4,900 bales in 2022-23, 16,000 bales in 2021-22, and 70,200 bales in 2020-21.

Ginners attribute this upswing in exports to the superior high quality of lint and favorable worldwide markets, drawing international consumers to Pakistani cotton.

Based on Cotton Ginners Discussion board Chairman Ihsanul Haq, the absence of typical rains in most cotton-growing areas has positively influenced crop high quality. Moreover, a big issue has been the document devaluation of the rupee, making native cotton extra aggressive on the worldwide stage.

Haq acknowledges that the potential document in cotton exports may need been greater if not for a decline in lint yield in Punjab on account of a extreme whitefly assault. Environmental air pollution has additionally negatively impacted the business.

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Senate committee sad with SBP’s probe into Rs70bn photo voltaic panel rip-off



The Senate Standing Committee on Finance expressed its dissatisfaction with the State Financial institution of Pakistan (SBP) over its dealing with of the investigation into the trade-based cash laundering of over Rs70 billion by way of the import of photo voltaic panels.

The committee, chaired by Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, met on Wednesday to debate the problem for the third time, however discovered the newest report by the SBP to be insufficient and missing in new data or progress.

The committee members questioned why the SBP was not sharing the total particulars of the case, when the Federal Board of Income (FBR) had already established the proof of cash laundering by way of the duty-free imports of photo voltaic panels.

A consultant of the SBP advised the committee that the banks concerned within the case had been recognized and penalised, however didn’t disclose their names.

The committee members, together with PMLN’s Musadik Malik and Saadia Abbasi and PTI’s Mohsin Aziz, demanded that the SBP present the entire data and the names of the banks to the Senate panel.

Senators additionally identified that the cash laundering was a critical offence, particularly at a time when the nation was going through international change constraints and needed to limit important imports.

Mandviwalla mentioned he had been suggesting that the case ought to be referred to the Federal Investigation Company (FIA) for a radical probe, because the SBP was not giving a transparent image to the committee.

PMLN’s Malik mentioned the FBR and Customs authorities had revealed that 63 importers had laundered cash by way of over-invoicing of photo voltaic panels, however this was primarily based on an audit of solely 200 out of 450 importers. He mentioned the whole sum of money laundering could possibly be as excessive as $2.5 billion if all of the importers had been audited.

Customs officers reiterated their earlier stance that they’d began the investigation in October 2022 and located 63 importers concerned in over-invoicing of photo voltaic panels, which had been imported from China however funds had been routed to the UAE or Singapore. They mentioned the photo voltaic panels weren’t bodily examined by the customs as they had been duty-free objects and solely good declarations (GDs) had been introduced to the customs desks.

The FBR had reported that photo voltaic panels had emerged as a high-risk merchandise for over-invoicing and trade-based cash laundering as a consequence of their duty-free import standing and the absence of gross sales tax on native provide.

They mentioned the photo voltaic panels, which had been imported at Rs72.83 billion, had been bought within the home market at nearly half the value, i.e. Rs45.61 billion.

Customs officers mentioned they’d registered instances in opposition to the most important suspects, together with Rab Nawaz and his spouse of Shiny Star Firm, who had been now on bail. Senator Mohsin Aziz mentioned the Shiny Star had laundered round Rs40 billion by way of two banks.

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