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People are ready to welcome New Year 2017 with a lot of spirit and joy as New Year is the time of enthusiasm, optimism, and hope for a better, peaceful, and more stable future, Kamal Hayder, Research Analyst-PAGE said. It is the largest global celebrations including Pakistan which marks the last day of the year and welcome New Year 2017 with new hopes. Resolutions are made, new aspirations are born, and goals are decided for the coming time. Some major cities organise fireworks show, which are set off at midnight and host cultural festivals, music festivals, modern day New Year parties, and live concerts which help people forget all their past troubles of the past, and move ahead to the new time with smiles and cheers all around, Kamal added.


The rupee improved with slight gains against the dollar on the money market on Friday in the process of trading, Kamal Hayder-Research Analyst-PAGE said. The rupee managed to halt erosion in its value versus the dollar, recovering 10 paisas for buying and selling at Rs 108.10 and Rs 108.30 respectively, however it shed 20 paisas in terms of the euro for buying and selling at Rs 112.80 and Rs 114.30 respectively. Open Market Rates: Inter-Bank Market Rates: The rupee also picked up five paisas in relation to the dollar for buying and selling at Rs 104.60 and Rs 104.63 respectively. In the final Asian trade, the euro jumped to its highest in three weeks in holiday-thinned Asian trade, but was on track for a losing year on expectations that US President-elect Donald Trump’s policies will boost inflation and prompt the US Federal Reserve to hike interest rates at a faster pace, he added.


An inquiry commission under the supervision of Sindh High Court’s (SHC) Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro was formed on Friday to probe into water adulteration in Sindh. According to details, Chief Justice of SHC Sajjad Ali Shah has appointed Justice Kalhoro as head of the team on the directives of Supreme Court (SC). The commission would hold inquiry over the matter of mixing dirty water into clean water. It will also highlight the affected places where this crime is being carried out and would also unveil the culprits behind it.


The Regional Directorate, Intelligence and Investigation-FBR, Peshawar, with the help of local police has seized a container along with the trailer, carrying a number of smuggled goods. It is learnt that smuggled goods recovered from the container included 36,184 yards cloth, 990 pieces of CNC clutch plate for HTV, 17 outdoor units of LG air conditioners, 16 indoor units of LG air conditioners, 20 indoor units of Panasonic Split AC and 19 outdoor units of Panasonic Split AC. All the abovementioned goods as well as the vehicle have been seized under the relevant provisions of the Customs Act, 1969. The value of the same has been assessed at Rs 31 million. An FIR has also been lodged and further investigation is in progress. In addition to the smuggled goods listed, a few small cartons containing firecrackers have also been recovered from the seized container.


Prices showed firmness on the cotton market on Friday in the process of improved business activity, Kamal Hayder-Research Analyst-PAGE said. The official spot rate was unchanged at Rs 6250. In Sindh, seed cotton prices were at Rs 2600-3250 he said that in Punjab, phutti rates were at Rs 2800 and Rs 3500, as per 40 kg. In the ready session, over 11,000 bales of cotton changed hands between Rs 6150-6575. Kamal further said that prices maintained firm posture due to rising trend in the international markets. In China rates are firm and prices followed the same trend in India, particularly after the decision by the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) to purchase local cotton, he said.


The Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation Inland Revenue (IR) has detected non-deposit of withholding tax to the tune of Rs 62,954,774 by Pakistan Railways on the award of contracts to different firms/companies under agreements. Source told to Research Analyst-PAGE on Friday that the said state-owned entity had entered into agreement with various firms/companies since the year 2006 whereby contracts for operating passenger trains were awarded through open auction; however, due withholding tax u/s 236A, of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 has not been collected/deposited by the Pakistan Railways from the contractors. An inquiry/ investigation has been conducted in this regard and default u/s 161 of the Income Tax Ordinance has been ascertained to the tune of Rs 62,954,774 along with default surcharge u/s 205 at Rs 1,505,294, source added.


The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has categorically conveyed to the Ministry of Water and Power that the sales tax would continue to be charged on supply of electricity to Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJ&K) unless explicit amendment is made in the tax law. It is learnt that the issue came to light during the last meeting of FBR and Ministry of Water and Power on taxation issues of power sector entities. On the other hand, Ministry of Water and Power is expected to refer the matter to the Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) or Federal Cabinet for exemption from sales tax on supply of electricity to AJ&K.



The government has admitted its failure to curtail the electricity pilfering in the country, which is going on in league with employees of DISCOs and consequently contributing to increase the circular debt, source said to Research Analyst-PAGE. This confession came to light by the officials of Ministry of Water and Power on Friday during a meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power chaired by Senator Taj Haider. The additional secretary and joint secretary of the ministry stated, the helping hand of the officials of distribution companies can not be denied and this practice has been going on for years and can not be completely done away with. Joint Secretary Zargham also briefed the committee on future strategy of power generation while Additional Secretary Hassan Nasir Jami stated that power theft with the connivance of the officials of WAPDA has been going on over the years and it is difficult to control it, source added.


State Grid of China will help build a 4,000 MW power transmission line in Pakistan in a project valued at $1.5 billion, Pakistan said on Friday, the latest in a series of Chinese investments in its South Asian neighbour. The high-capacity transmission line will be the first of its kind in Pakistan and will link Matiari town in the south, near a new power station, to Lahore city in the east, a key link in transmission infrastructure, the Pakistani government said. An agreement on the project was signed on Thursday in Beijing between Mohammad Younus Dagha, secretary of water and power, and Shu Yinbiao, chairman of State Grid Corporation of China, the government said in a statement. Construction will begin in January, and should take about 20 months, said a spokesman for the Pakistani prime minister’s office. Pakistan has been plagued by a shortage of electricity for years, with widespread rolling blackouts in both rural and urban areas.


The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) Friday reduced gas prices from Rs 600 per Million British Thermal Unit (MMBTU) to Rs 400 per MMBTU for power houses in a bid to supply cheap electricity to industrial units aimed at minimising the cost of production, source said to Research Analyst-PAGE. According to a notification issued, the regulator following the policy guidelines of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources has cut natural gas prices for power houses by Rs 200 per unit, effective from December 15, 2016. The decision will be effective on all the power producing units including K-Electric (KE). The authority has also reduced the gas tariff for fertilizer plants by Rs 0.41 per unit from Rs 123.41 to Rs 123 per unit. The authority has made no change in the gas tariff for domestic, commercial and industrial consumers, source added.


The federal government has prepared the drafts of ‘National Energy Plan’ and Integrated Generation, Transmission and Distribution Plan (IGTDP) to meet future requirement of energy as well as to control mushroom growth of power projects. The IGTDP, which is two steps ahead of ‘National Energy Plan’, would ensure power transmission from the National Grid and its distribution. Additional Secretary Ministry of Water and Power, Hassan Nasir Jamy told this to the Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power, which met with Senator Taj Haider in the chair at the Parliament House Friday. He said that drafts of National Energy Plan and Integrated Generation, Transmission and Distribution Plan have been prepared and would be finalised after consultation with the provinces. He said that the consultation process with the provinces would be completed within three months. He said these plans would be approved in the mid of 2017 and implemented at the end of 2017. He said that purpose of the plans is to block mushroom growth of power projects and prepare future strategy.


Karachi Tax Bar Association (KTBA) on Friday requested the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to extend the date of e-filing of corporate and non-corporate tax returns and statements till January 31, 2017. In a letter, sent to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the KTBA said that the date of e-fling of non-ccorporate tax returns and statements for the tax year 2016 had already been expired on December 15 last and the date of corporate tax returns was going to expire on December 31. It cited that Bar had time and again informed the FBR about the difficulties and problems being faced by the taxpayers in e-filing of the tax returns 2016. It further said that although the efforts of FBR and PRAL in making the IRIS system efficient and workable were laudable, the system was still slow and was not up to the mark and was creating difficulties especially during the last hours. The letter further said that IRIS system, which was malfunctioning till the end of October, 2016. It said that from November 1, 2016, system was relatively improved and since then, the taxpayers and tax consultants were striving to complete the job of filing of taxes. However, they remain unable to do so, due to slow functioning and the huge backlog of tax returns of the regular filers. Keeping all this in view, the KTBA requested the finance minister to extend the date of e-filing of corporate and non-corporate tax returns and statements till January 31, 2017 in order to facilitate the genuine tax-filers.


While expressing serious concerns over cost overrun of various power generation projects, Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power has sought a detailed briefing from the government on cost escalation of Nandipur power plant, source said to Research Analyst-PAGE. A meeting of the committee chaired by Senator Taj Haider decided to take a briefing from Ministry of Water and Power on cost escalation of Nandipur power project, Sahiwal Power Plant and Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Power Project in the first phase. The committee also constituted a four-member sub-committee headed by Nauman Wazir to take a briefing on the reasons behind cost escalation of these projects and submit a report to the main committee. Nauman Wazir said the ultimate sufferers of cost escalation of the project are the consumers because over-expenditures are recovered through tariff. He added that 425MW Nandipur power project was approved with Rs 23 billion cost initially which was subsequently revised upward to Rs 42 billion and further to Rs 65 billion. The government, he said, sought tariff increase from the regulator, which was refused, source added.

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