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SPI rises 0.31percent

The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) for the week ended May 17, 2018 registered an increase of 0.93percent for the combined income group, going up from 224.47 points in the previous week to 226.56 in the week under review. Compared to the corresponding week of previous year, the SPI for the combined income group raised 2.70percent. The SPI for the lowest income group increased 0.83percent compared to the previous week. The index for the group stood at 212.48 points against 210.74 in the previous week, according to provisional figures released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. During the week, average prices of 21 items rose in a selected basket of goods, prices of four items fell and rates of remaining 28 goods recorded no change.

SSUET offers management sciences degree programs

Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology (SSUET), a prominent Engineering university in the private sector, is striving to improve and access the quality of education in Pakistan is actively engaged in offering Bachelors and Masters degrees in various disciplines of engineering ably under the supervision the Chancellor, Mr. Jawaid Anwar and Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. M. Afzal Haque, the Ex-Vice Chancellor of NED University. SSUET which has been recently awarded a NOC by the Higher Education Commission, Pakistan (HEC), offers Bachelors, Masters and MPhil degree programs in the major field of management sciences. In this context Professor Dr. Abdul Rahman Zaki, the ex Chairman of the Karachi University Business School has joined SSUET as the Chairman of the Faculty of Management Sciences. Dr. Zaki says, the faculty of management sciences, SSUET has already enrolled students for MBA and BBA morning as well as evening programs in Finance, International Marketing, Project Management, Supply Chain Management, Human Resource Management and Islamic banking disciplines and classes are in session by qualified and experienced permanent as well as visiting faculty members. To achieve the educational goals of Pakistan, the management intends to launch PhD. Programs well in the said disciplines in the near future, Dr. Zaki added.

Pakistan receives $9.2bn in foreign loans, but reserves still plunge

Pakistan received $9.2 billion in new foreign loans during the first 10 months of the ongoing fiscal year, increasing cumulative borrowing by the PML-N government to over $44 billion in tenure of four years and 10 months. Largely pulled by Chinese commercial loans and issuance of sovereign bonds, the disbursements of foreign loans touched $9.2 billion from July through April of this fiscal year, said officials in the finance ministry. In April alone, Pakistan received $1.6 billion as loans and three-fourths of it was contributed by two Chinese commercial banks, they added. China’s share was $3.7 billion or 40.3percent, indicating Pakistan’s heavy reliance on its northern neighbour. From July through April, China gave $1.5 billion as project financing and $2.2 billion in commercial loans.

Pakistan’s current account deficit widens to register high

Pakistan’s current account deficit has widened 50percent to a record high of $14.03 billion in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year 2018, reported the central bank on Friday. The deficit stood at $9.35 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal year, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). The deficit increases woes of the country’s economic managers as a widening current account takes toll on foreign exchange reserves that have already fallen below $11 billion last week. The situation may even force the government to go back to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package, analysts say. The deficit is also expected to surpass the estimated figure of $16 billion for fiscal year 2018 after the price of crude oil (the benchmark Brent crude) surged sharply in the international market to three-and-a-half-year high of $80 per barrel on Thursday from around $50 per barrel at the outset of the current fiscal year on July 1, 2017.

Sindh govt announces relief package for taxpayers

The Sindh government has announced a sales tax relief package for its taxpayers by waiving the entire penalty, cutting default surcharge by up to 95percent and giving immunity from arrest and prosecution till June 20 this year, according to a notification issued on Friday. Sindh Revenue Board Chairman Khalid Mahmood, in a notification, said taxpayers who would deposit “arrears of tax (principal amount) plus 5percent of default surcharge between May 21 and 27, 2018” would be able to fully enjoy the offered tax relief package. The taxpayers who will miss the first deadline may still enjoy the relief by submitting 10percent of default surcharge along with the principal amount of taxes from May 28 to June 3, 2018. Later, the taxpayers can opt for the package by submitting 15percent of default surcharge from June 4-10, 2018. Finally, the taxpayers can take benefit of the package by paying a maximum 20percent of default surcharge along with tax arrears from June 11-20, 2018.

As security concerns subside, Pak’s tourism portal attracts traffic

A start-up named Find My Adventure, which is focused on making tourism easier for those who love to explore Pakistan, has started meeting some success by drawing an increasing number of travellers to the portal. Find My Adventure was among the five start-ups invited by China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba for the second eFounders Fellowship, a joint initiative of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) and Alibaba Business School. This fellowship has been designed to train 1,000 entrepreneurs in developing countries. Pakistan’s tourism industry has started thriving with a marked improvement in security situation over the past few years following a military operation against militants. “Direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP (gross domestic product) was Rs930.9 billion – 2.9percent of GDP – in 2017 and is forecast to rise by 5.9percent in 2018 and by 5.8percent per annum from 2018-28 to Rs1,727.7 billion, 3percent of GDP,” said the World Travel and Tourism Council. The company offers a readymade trip anywhere in Pakistan – from the shores of Arabian Sea to the Karakoram, Himalayas and Hindu Kush ranges in the north.

PKR stable against dollar

The rupee remained stable against the dollar at Rs115.5/115.7 in the inter-bank market on Friday compared with Thursday’s close of Rs115.5/115.7. Since December, the rupee has cumulatively shed close to 9percent of its value after the central bank reportedly abstained from intervening in response to the pressure due to a widening current account deficit. The State Bank of Pakistan has maintained that the slide in the rupee’s value is due to supply and demand dynamics of foreign exchange in the inter-bank market. While it has promised prompt intervention in case of speculative or momentary pressures, the central bank will sit on the fence and let “market-driven adjustment in the exchange rate to continue to contain the imbalance in the external account and sustain a higher growth trajectory”, according to a press statement. Market rumours suggest the move is part of IMF’s conditions for another bailout package.


Cigarette producers: audit report not yet ready as deadline draws closer

The Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) is likely to miss the deadline for presenting an audit report on cigarette manufacturing industry to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which will provide an opportunity to the industry to escape action over tax shortfall of billions of rupees. The auditor general is conducting a special audit of tobacco industry on the PAC directive and is required to prepare a comprehensive report that will be discussed in the committee’s meeting on May 23. The directive came in the wake of a substantial fall in revenue collection from the cigarette manufacturing industry as the government kept the third slab of federal excise duty in the budget for fiscal year 2018-19. Under this slab, a significantly lower duty is imposed on cigarette manufacturers, which has not only caused revenue shortfall, but has also led to increase in smoking among the country’s youth.

From Gwadar-Kashgar: crude oil pipeline requires $10 bn investment

The Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) and foreign investors have estimated an investment of $10 billion in laying a crude oil pipeline from Gwadar to Kashgar that will have transmission capacity of one million barrels per day. The federal cabinet, in its recent meeting, was informed that engineering company FWO, in cooperation with private-sector foreign investors, wanted to build a crude oil pipeline from Gwadar (Pakistan) to Kashgar (China) and had requested the Petroleum Division to sign a memorandum of agreement that would assure the investors that Pakistan government would not take over the planned investment. Provisional capacity of the oil pipeline will be one million barrels per day that can be enhanced further at a later stage. Furthermore, Price water house Coopers audit and consulting services company has confirmed viability of the project for securing required funding of $10 billion.

APBF expresses concern over rising trade deficit

The All Pakistan Business Forum (APBF) has expressed concern over the alarming rise in the trade deficit, which widened to almost $30 billion during the first 10 months of the current fiscal year. Only a recovery in exports would ease pressure on the external sector, said APBF President Ibrahim Qureshi, who said that policy intervention has started yielding positive results but a lot more still needed to be done. The Pakistani rupee has weakened around 10 percent against the dollar since December last year. This has given exporters an opportunity to improve their global competitiveness. The government also imposed regulatory duties on hundreds of non-essential imports late last year. The APBF president expected the current account deficit to reach $17 billion in the outgoing fiscal year, advising the government to take measures to avoid depletion of foreign currency reserves.

Govt rejects to revoke PSO-PNSC oil supply deal

The government has refused to scrap an oil supply agreement between Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC), saying the two companies are commercial entities that should take their own decisions instead of coming to the federal government. The case for revoking the Contract of Affreightment between PSO and PNSC was tabled before the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, on Thursday. It is interesting to note that a summary in that regard was presented to the ECC with the consent of Abbasi, who is also minister in charge for petroleum division. However, during discussions, it was pointed out that both commercial entities should take their own decisions.

Public sector units suffer hefty pkr 3.74tr loss over 5-year

Although government officials are boasting about their economic achievements over its five-year tenure which is about to end, public sector enterprises (PSEs) have continued to bleed and suffered a cumulative loss of Rs3.746 trillion over that period. Earlier, during the tenure of PPP administration, the scenario was not favourable either as these state-owned enterprises recorded an average loss of Rs400 billion annually. Seeing that, the ruling PML-N party had made reforms in state enterprises a crucial part of its election campaign through a combination of restructuring and privatisation.

Mango growers feel the heat as Pakistan tackles climate change

Pakistan may be among the top five producers of mangoes in the world, but its production was 50percent of its capacity last year, according to industry players, who are now concerned over future yield as climate change and other factors play their role in squeezing produce. While there are expectations that this year’s production may be higher, issues facing the industry will continue to haunt mango growers. “I haven’t seen a yield so low since I started working in 1995,” Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association (PFVA) Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmed told. His comments came after Pakistan registered its lowest production in history last year, amounting to 0.9 million tons, according to industry players.

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