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ECONOMIC TIMES OF PAKISTAN
Pak unveils strategy to move to cashless economy

Pakistan has launched a strategy for transforming its payment system from the one mainly based on cash to an almost cashless system with the support of the World Bank, as it will launch a mobile app and install one million digital access points nationwide over the next three years.

“The cost of cash right now is huge in Pakistan…[it] is one of the countries which stands out with a very large ratio of cash,” said State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Reza Baqir, before he along with World Bank President David Malpass formally launched the National Payment System Strategy (NPSS) on Friday.

The strategy lays out the road map for a modern and digital payment network. It will make it easier for new companies; banks and fintechs to enter the market and also aid people in accessing the financial system,

“which means for the people, it will be easier to make payments, it will be easier to receive payments, it will be easier to save and it will be easier to plan for your financial future,” Baqir added.

Islamabad to propose latest projects for inclusion in CPEC

Pakistan decided on Friday to pitch billions of dollars worth of new projects for inclusion in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) but no major financing and framework agreements were expected to be signed next (this) week.

The new projects that would be placed before the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting next (this) week include those on the western route of CPEC, Taunsa hydropower project, Right Bank Chashma project, North South Gas Pipeline project, up-gradation of an oil refinery, road projects of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and a Thar block engineering project.

“The size of Pakistan’s economy will grow four times if all these projects are implemented,” claimed Federal Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar while briefing the media about the government’s decisions on CPEC.

Pak receives $2bn in foreign loans in first quarter

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has secured nearly $2 billion in foreign loans in first quarter of the current fiscal year, which is double the amount received in the previous year, but is still lower than estimates.

Foreign loan disbursements by multilateral and bilateral creditors and commercial banks came in at $1.93 billion from July through September of fiscal year 2019-20, according to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The disbursements were higher by $995 million or 106% compared with loans of $930 million received in July-September of the previous fiscal year.

Steel producers offer discount as demand declines

Owing to declining demand coupled with a slowdown in the international market, steel producers in Pakistan are offering a discount of Rs5,000 per ton on the sale of flat steel.

“Producers of flat steel namely International Steels and Aisha Steel Mills have started offering a discount of Rs5,000 per ton on both cold-rolled coils as well as hot-dipped galvanised coils,” stated JS Global in its research report on Friday.

Prior to the discount, the prices of cold-rolled coils and hot-dipped galvanised coils were hovering at Rs108,500 and Rs115,850 respectively.

IMF asks pak to spend more on development

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday urged Pakistan to spend more on development as the combined spending by federal and provincial governments in the first quarter remained less than one-tenth of the annual allocations.

The lower spending on development than the allocated budget during the July-September quarter has also undermined the economic growth prospects in this fiscal year.

The savings by the four provincial governments were more than the amount they spent on development in the first quarter.

IMF Mission Chief Ramirez Rigo Ernesto held meetings with the federal and provincial authorities aimed at aligning fiscal and taxation policies of the Centre and the four federating units.

Adviser to the PM on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting to review the implementation of the fiscal policies in the provinces under the IMF Programme, according to the finance ministry.

 

PPP board to take up Rs21bn projects for approval

The Punjab government has managed to establish the Punjab Public Private Partnership (PPP) Authority under the recently introduced PPP Ordinance 2019.

Under the ordinance, the government has drawn up a PPP policy and set up a monitoring board, the first meeting of which is scheduled to be held on Monday next (this) week with Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar in the chair.

Six proposals worth Rs21 billion will be presented to the board which, after approval, will be advertised for inviting bidders.

“These six projects are ready to be executed,” said PPP Authority acting Chief Executive Officer Dr Farrukh Naveed while talking to source. “Apart from the six schemes, we are working on 55 other projects, which will largely cover social and infrastructure development in south Punjab.”

Unlawful appointments’ in Parc eat away millions

A member of the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (Parc) board of governors has criticised the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for its intervention into the affairs of the council and has called for convening a meeting of the board to resolve the outstanding issues.

In a letter sent to the minister for national food security and research, Parc board of governors non-executive member Naseer Muhammad Khan revealed that posting of project directors on political grounds as well as family and friendly connections had made a mess of all projects.

It was evident from their performance in terms of very low rate of fund utilisation, surrender of funds, inordinate delay in recruitment of project staff, etc, he said.

PM greenlights plan for tax assessment surveys

Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved an ambitious three-year plan to conduct nationwide surveys for tax assessment, evaluating wealth parked in real estate and implementing a new value added tax system.

The plan, which was approved days before the government succumbed to pressures exerted by traders, also includes setting up the Pakistan Revenue Authority by June next year and restructuring the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in interim period, showed the official documents.

Prime Minister Imran Khan took these decisions in a meeting held on October 3 at the PM House, which he had earlier announced to make a public university. It carries some of the recommendations given by Tax Reforms Commission over three years ago. But the TRC proposals remained unimplemented.

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