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Remittances increase 21% to $2 bn

Overseas Pakistani workers sent home 21% higher remittances amounting to $2 billion in October 2018 as a historic drop in the rupee’s value attracted increased flow of remittances through official channels – banks and registered currency dealers. The overseas workers remitted $1.65 billion in October last year, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). The rupee recorded a historic drop of Rs9.38, or 7.6%, in a single day to the then record low of Rs133.64 to the US dollar on October 9. Cumulatively, the rupee has depreciated by a massive 27% in five rounds in the last 11 months.

SSUET offers admissions in management sciences

Education lays the foundation of a developed and progressive society. It empowers and creates ability among the individuals and the societies to utilize their human capabilities and builds a strong correlation with socio-economic development. In this regard, Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology (SSUET) has been still offering quality of education various disciplines in Pakistan through the contribution and excellent support of Chancellor, Mr. Jawaid Anwar. SSUET has also started to offer admissions in similar bachelors and masters degrees in the field of management science under the supervision of highly qualified and well experienced faculty.

Professor Dr. Abdul Rahman Zaki, the ex Chairman of the Karachi University Business School (KUBS) has assumed charge as the Chairman of the Faculty of Management Sciences department, SSUET. The University had commenced enrolment of students for the pilot MPhil, MBA and BBA morning also evening programs various disciplines such as Finance, International Marketing, Project Management, Supply Chain Management, Human Resource Management and Islamic banking. At SSUET, the management also intends to launch PhD. program in the said disciplines soon. Considering the academic and professional acumen/management of SSUET as well as the experience of Dr. Zaki in this domain, the university has added management Sciences faculty, grooming business professionals for the expanding need of corporate sector and industry.

APTMA seeks uniform gas rate

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Punjab Chairman Adil Basheer has sought uniform energy prices across the country to restore viability of the industry in order to boost exports and create sustainable jobs in the country. Speaking at a press conference at the Aptma Punjab office on Friday, he said the industry was already facing a liquidity crunch, leading to the closure of 100 mills and more are on the verge of closure due to prevailing uncertainty. Already, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has withheld Rs200 billion worth of tax refunds of the industry, he said, adding Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) has billed the industry notified re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) price of $12.54 per million British thermal units (mmbtu) instead of $6.5 per unit for October 2018. “The industry cannot pay the hefty bills and faces serious liquidity constraints as millions of tax refunds of the industry are stuck with the government under DLTL, sales tax and other textile policies/schemes.

UAE, PAK efforts needed for houbara conservation

Hamad Obaid AlZaabi, the Ambassador of UAE in Islamabad, has stressed that in the framework of the tireless efforts for the conservation of Houbara birds, as a symbol linked with the cultural heritage of Arab and the world civilisation, an international conference for Houbara conservation was held in Abu Dhabi under the patronage of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces. It was was also attended by Adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam to discuss ways of cooperation to conserve these species throughout the area from Morocco to Mongolia. Ambassador AlZaabi said that the UAE has long been committed to preserve the environment and wildlife inspired by the vision of the founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and today we see his projects in preserving and developing wildlife from Mongolia to the Far East. He stressed that the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) until 2018 has managed to breed more than 400 thousand Houbara birds, and all of us proud of this achievement and continued effort over four decades of hard work.

Jul-Oct FY2019: Trade gap narrows to $11.8bn as imports stay static

The trade deficit marginally contracted to $11.8 billion in first four months of the current fiscal year on the back of almost flat growth in imports for the fourth consecutive month while the pace of increase in exports remained modest despite numerous rounds of currency depreciation.

The $11.8-billion deficit, recorded in July-October FY19, was nearly 2% or $237 million lesser than the same period of last fiscal year, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported on Friday.

Exports in the July-October period increased 3.52% to $7.3 billion. In absolute terms, the export receipts rose $248 million, but the pace of increase was slower than the preceding year.

The value of imported goods stood at $19.1 billion, which was only 0.6% or $11 million higher than the import bill in the corresponding period of previous fiscal year.

Exports of goods were 261% less than the value of imports. Imports of the country have started to ease due to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)’s numerous policy and administrative measures. Additionally, the federal government has imposed heavy regulatory duties on imported goods.

Over the past 10 months, the SBP has let the rupee depreciate by 26.6% to Rs133.7 against the US dollar in a bid to curtail the current account deficit which is presently Pakistan’s biggest challenge.

Owing to the slowdown in imports, the current account deficit narrowed to $3.7 billion in first quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal year.

However, despite a steep fall in the value of the currency, Pakistani exporters are unable to take full advantage of the situation because of their failure to diversify shipments. The government voices hope that exports will bounce back and register average growth of 18% compared to the last year’s level.

 

China has offered a $1-billion duty-free facility to Pakistan for enhancing its exports. As compared to over $15 billion worth of imports, Pakistan exports only $1.2 billion worth of goods to China, which is not commensurate with the potential. Bilateral trade is regulated under the 2006 Free Trade Agreement.

Pakistan does not have exportable surplus and there is a high probability that the country will avail itself of the $1-billion facility by exporting additional quantity of rice and some other agriculture produce.

PBS data showed that Pakistan’s exports grew only 1.1% to $1.9 billion in October 2018 over the same month of previous year. Monthly export receipts have been hovering around $2 billion for the past few years despite getting subsidies and taking benefit of currency depreciation.

In absolute terms, the export receipts rose only $49 million to $1.9 billion. Imports marginally contracted to $4.84 billion in October 2018. The import bill was $49 million less than the same month of last year.

Consequently, the trade deficit contracted 2.4% to nearly $3 billion in October over the same month of previous year. In absolute terms, the deficit narrowed by $71 million.

On a month-on-month basis, exports in October 2018 increased 10.2% over September mainly because of a lower base effect. In absolute terms, export receipts increased $175 million.

Imports also grew more than 9% to $4.84 billion. There was an increase of $411 million in the import bill in October alone.

Senate seeks details of international monetary fund conditions

Lawmakers in the upper house of the parliament on Friday demanded of the government to come clean about its economic policies and inform the Senate about the steps being taken to address the issue of inflation. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman while talking about the ‘precarious’ economic conditions, said inflation and price hike are a matter of concern for the citizens. “The government should take immediate steps to address the issue of rising inflation as reported by the State Bank of Pakistan,” she said.

She said the house should be informed about the conditions on which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – whose delegation is currently in Pakistan for talks – is going to offer a bailout package.

“The government should also give details of the visits made by the prime minister to China and Saudi Arabia,” she demanded. Senator Lutfur Rehman sought explanation from the government for not placing Asia Bibi’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL). Bibi was released on Wednesday, a week after a three-judge Supreme Court bench absolved her of blasphemy charges levelled against her in 2009. Leader of the House Shibli Faraz clarified that Asia Bibi was not shifted to any other country – as reported in a section of the local and international media – and the decision to put her name on ECL would be taken by the relevant ministry. Senator Hasil Bizenjo brought to the notice of the house the Thursday incident of unauthorised entry of unknown persons into the Karachi Press Club – a trespassing that was followed by a call for protest by journalists. The Senate chairman referred the matter to the relevant committee. Senator Muhammad Akram said 25 million children were out of school and unequal distribution of wealth was undermining fabric of social life. “The nation is plagued with problems of law and order and economic deprivation,” he said. In his remarks on a point of public importance, Senator Tahir Bizenjo said illegal fishing was being carried out at the coast of Balochistan and the nets banned by other countries were used in waters of Gwadar. The Senate chairman also referred to a committee the matter of suspension of financial assistance to Balochistan students, who were studying in Burn Hall College. Senator Rehman Malik felicitated the Senate chairman on holding of a meeting of Asian Parliamentary Assembly in Gwadar. He raised the issue of killing of citizens on the Line of Control (LoC) and said the government should take some action on the matter. The chairman deferred the calling-attention notices of senators Usman Khan Kakar, Sardar Muhammad Azam Khan Musakhel and Mir Kabeer Ahmed Muhammad Shahi on the matters related to work on Quetta Airport and anti-encroachment campaign. Senator Kabeer drew attention of the house towards lack of platform for addressing legitimate grievances and claims of the people affected by the government’s anti-encroachment campaign. Chairman Sanjrani issued a show-cause notice to the secretary interior and the secretary Aviation Division due to their absence and directed that the order should also be conveyed to the Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Pakistan cotton ginners association suspends cotton purchase from growers

The Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) has announced that it has suspended the purchase of phutti (raw cotton) from growers in protest against the continuation of a new system of sales tax and the federal cabinet’s refusal to restore the old system.

Farmers sharply reacted to the ginners’ decision, describing it as a “stab in their back” and said it came despite earning profit of millions of rupees in the current season. According to sources, another group of ginners has announced that they will continue to purchase raw cotton from the farmers as usual.

They stated that it was a dispute between the composite units and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) because they did not pay taxes over the last four to five years and made excuses to evade the taxes. Now, there are defaulters of more than Rs5 billion, but they are putting pressure on the government to accept merely Rs1.5 billion. About 90% of factories have so far been closed in Sindh after completion of their season and 60% of ginning factories are working in south Punjab.

Oil mill owners have not recognised and approved the association and there are two associations working in the field, but both are reluctant to pay taxes.

PAK delegation arrives in China

A Pakistani delegation arrived in China on Friday to discuss trade opportunities and avenues for enhancing bilateral cooperation between the two countries, it is reported.

The State Bank of Pakistan governor and the finance secretary will lead the delegation in meetings with Chinese officials. Officials of the two countries will also discuss an economic package and the currency swap agreement signed between Pakistan and China during Prime Minister’s recent visit.

Both sides will also deliberate on cooperation in the banking sector and discuss investment opportunities in connection with the CPEC.

During the prime minister’s visit, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou said the two sides had made it clear, in principle, the Chinese government would provide necessary support and assistance to help Pakistan overcome the current economic difficulties.

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