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WEEK-ON-WEEK: SPI FALL 0.19PC

The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) for the week ended March 30, 2017 registered a decrease of 0.19% for the combined income group, going down from 226.02 points in the previous week to 225.60 in the week under review, Kamal Hayder, Research Analyst-PAGE said. Compared to the corresponding week of the previous year, the SPI for the combined income group rose 4.12%. The SPI for the lowest income group also decreased 0.24% compared to the previous week. The index for the group stood at 214.96 points against 215.47 in the previous week. During the week, average prices of 12 items rose in a selected basket of goods, prices of 11 items fell and rates of remaining 30 goods recorded no change, he added.

SHIKARPUR-JACOBABAD: GAS PIPELINE TO BE LAID BY AUG-17

Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) will complete the laying of a gas pipeline from Shikarpur to Jacobabad in Sindh, covering a distance of 34 kilometres, in August this year, officials say. Talking to PAGE-source, they said after completion of the project, natural gas supply to Quetta and other districts of Balochistan would improve. The company is executing a number of projects to augment its transmission network, under which eight gas pipelines are being laid in different areas of Sindh and Balochistan. These supply lines will be spread over 126 km in various localities. These included a 12-inch diameter pipeline from Palijai to Tando Allahyar covering a distance of 27 km, eight-inch diameter pipeline from Sinjhoro gas field to Sanghar over 14 km, eight-inch supply line from Khairpur to Khairpur city covering a distance of 11 km, six-inch pipeline from upstream Halani to Kandiaro over 11 km and other few routes. These were being laid to ensure uninterrupted gas supply to the consumers.

PAKISTAN, BAHRAIN TO DEVELOP BIG PROJECTS UNDER CHINA-PAKISTAN CORRIDOR

Federal Commerce Minister Engineer Khurram Dastgir has announced that Pakistan and Bahrain will build economic partnership under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with mega projects of regional connectivity, source said to Research Analyst-PAGE. Pakistan has laid the foundation of economic engagement with Bahrain, which will be transformed into 21st century economic partnership to step up trade and investment opportunities for the two countries, Dastgir said at the Second Pakistan-Bahrain Business Opportunities Conference. Minister for Commerce and Industry of Bahrain Zayed Rashid Alzayani and business leaders of both countries were present at the huddle. We get excellent support and cooperation from Bahrain government. Bahrain is now going through economic reforms envisioned by its leadership, Dastgir said. Bahrain has an important geographical location which provides a gateway to member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

SBP PREDICTS 5-6PC ECONOMIC GROWTH IN CURRENT FISCAL YEAR

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has anticipated a significant growth in the country’s economy for the current fiscal year, according to its quarterly report released on Friday. The projection is backed by an accelerated productive spending and a rebound in agriculture produce, despite Pakistan experiencing current account and fiscal deficits, along with decelerated growth in revenue collection. The real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in fiscal year 2016-17 is expected to be 5-6%, higher than last year’s 4.7%, said the SBP report. Major contribution is expected from the rebound in agriculture and increased pace of work on infrastructure and energy projects. In particular, the completion of energy projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is expected to provide additional boost to industrial growth. These expectations are in line with continuing robust trends in the private sector credit and import of machinery and raw materials, the report said.

PAKISTAN STRENGTHENING RELATIONS WITH OTHER STATES: FATEMI

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi Friday said that Pakistan was strengthening relations with other countries. Talking to PAGE-source, he said that India was trying to isolate Pakistan but on the other hand, Pakistan’s relations with other countries increasing. He said that Prime Minister, Muhammed Nawaz Sharif desired to have good relations with regional and neighboring countries. He said that India was involved in the barbaric activities and killing of innocent Kashmiris in the occupied Kashmir valley. Pakistan had caught the Indian officer involved in the terrorism activities here. He said that terrorism was a primary challenge for the whole world. Pakistan was playing an important role in war against terrorism, he added.

ISHAQ ARRIVES IN DUBAI FOR CONSULTATIONS WITH IMF TEAM

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar arrived in Dubai Friday to join the Pakistan delegation for the ongoing Article -IV consultations with the IMF team, source said to Research Analyst-PAGE. He is leading the Pakistan side while IMF team is being led by Harald Finger, IMF Mission Chief to Pakistan. The Minister after arrival was given a detailed briefing, by senior members of the Pakistan delegation, on proceedings of the first round of talks spanning over 3 days since March 28. The Minister later also had interaction with Pakistan media based in Dubai. It may be mentioned that during the consultations that may continue till April 5, a detailed review of reforms carried out by Pakistan in different areas of the economy, particularly the energy sector, would be undertaken. Although Pakistan last September completed the 12th and final review with IMF under EFF programme that spanned 36 months, its engagement with IMF through policy dialogue in the context of regular consultations and post-program monitoring is continuing, source added.

GUZARA ALLOWANCE CANNOT BE DISBURSED TO ALL DESERVING POOR PEOPLE DUE TO LACK OF FUNDS, PA SAID

Sindh Assembly Friday was told that the number of deserving poor people in the province is excessive and due to lack of funds Guzara allowance cannot be disbursed among all of them. The Assembly session commenced with recitation of Holy Quran and Naat Sharif with Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani in the chair. The floor of the house also experienced rumpus over Bagh-e-Ibne Qasim (Park) and other issues on the day. Sindh Minister for Zakat and Ushr Syed Nasir Hussain Shah admitting said that presently the department is providing Guzara allowance for around 85,000 deserving poor people whereas the number of them is excessive in the province and the department cannot provide allowance to all of them. He said that if the department receives more funds then it will increase the number of deserving people as well add some more amount to Guzara allowance.

GWADAR STEALS CONCENTRATION AS REAL ESTATE MARKET FLUCTUATES

Pakistan’s real estate market saw a fluctuating trend in February with some areas showing growth. According to source, a property portal, investor sentiments turned towards Gwadar, which is in the limelight due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative. Another preference for realty investors remained Gujranwala, as a lot of development is underway in the city and majority of the emerging societies do not come under the tax-net due to lower prices.

RCCI INKS MOU WITH BAHRAIN CHAMBER TO BOOST TRADE

The Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) and Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the sidelines of Pakistan-Bahrain Business Opportunities Conference in Islamabad on Thursday, source said to Research Analyst-PAGE. RCCI President Raja Amer Iqbal and BCCI Chairman Khalid Rahman Almoayed signed and exchanged documents at a ceremony attended by chamber representatives, government officials including Federal Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir, Pakistan Ambassador to Bahrain Javed Malik and RCCI group leader Sheikh Muhammad Shabir. Speaking on the occasion, Iqbal said the major objective of the MoU was to promote bilateral trade between the chambers and mutual benefits of business communities of both the countries. Both chambers will cooperate with each other to establish and develop direct and effective business relations between their respective members to facilitate business-to-business meetings on a reciprocal basis, said the RCCI president. Under the agreement, both chambers will assist each other in organising exhibitions, conferences, seminars, research and development, information sharing, mutual trade and joint ventures, source added.

FTA BETWEEN PAK, GCC ON THE CARDS

Minister of Commerce Khurram Dastgir has announced that Pakistan and the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will finalise a free trade agreement (FTA) soon in order to step up and streamline trade between the two sides. A draft of the initial FTA framework has been prepared with cooperation of the GCC which comprises Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. The minister was talking to PAGE-source on sidelines of the Pakistan-Bahrain Second Business Opportunities Conference on Thursday along with Minister of Commerce and Industry of Bahrain Zayed Rashid Alzayani. Speaking about bilateral ties, Dastgir said Pakistan and Bahrain were committed to liberalising and promoting trade and business relations. He pointed out that the first Pakistan-Bahrain Business Opportunities Conference was held in September 2016 in Bahrain and it was a milestone that within six months the second sitting had been organised to give a push to business activities between the two countries. Pakistan and Bahrain had entered into a new era of economic partnership and their priority was to promote private sector in an effort to ramp up business linkages and increase the trade volume, he said. Pakistan is negotiating with Bahrain for the export of rice, meat and fruits as well as investment in an agro-processing unit at home. Alzayani emphasised the need for enhancing trade with Pakistan, believing that private sector would play an important role in that regard. In 2015-16, bilateral trade stood at $143.10 million including $66.47 million worth of exports from Pakistan and $76.63 million worth of imports from Bahrain.

US ENVOY ASKS EXPATS TO POUR CAPITAL INTO PAK

Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, while highlighting improved security and economic conditions, has invited the US-Pakistan Business Council to capitalise on the new investment opportunities emerging in Pakistan. According to a message received on Thursday, Chaudhry was speaking at a luncheon roundtable hosted by the business council in Washington DC. The ambassador emphasised the need for forging closer economic, commercial and investment relations between Pakistan and the US. Commenting on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he called CPEC a major development on the economic front and a win-win situation not only for both the countries but for the entire region. Bulk of the investment is going into the energy sector and during the next phase, new industrial zones will be established to open up investment opportunities for investors from all over the world, particularly the US, he said. Chaudhry called for reaching out to the potential investors and businessmen to reap benefits of the new investment avenues appearing in Pakistan. The government is pursuing investor-friendly policies to encourage foreign investment. Pakistani diaspora in America can play a very significant role in strengthening bilateral economic and trade ties, he said. On the occasion, the envoy was given honorary membership of the US-Pakistan Business Council. Council President Esperanza Jelalian and Chairman Dr Mehmood Khan welcomed the ambassador on his new assignment as ambassador to the US.

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