Press Releases/Media
Mr. Omar Hamid Khan, Special Secretary/Spokesperson, Ph. 9201023, D.G. (Media) Mr. Hamid Raza Watto, Ph. 9211707, Deputy Director (Media) Ph. 9211707

 

 

April 08, 2020 (PR No. 287)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Cabinet Division.
ECC approved six technical supplementary grants;

i)     Rs. 842 millions for paying off the Executing Agencies of the Prime Minister's youth loan scheme during the current financial year.
ii)    Rs. 90.459 million for Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority, to help PNRA meet its obligations.
iii)   Rs. 5.00 million in respect of Punjab Rangers to enable Ministry of Defence to purchase spare parts for the maintenance of helicopter during the current financial year.
iv)   Rs. 2.074 million, received as grant from the US Embassy in favor of HQ Frontier Constabulary Peshawar for the construction of Frontier Constabulary Training Center at Michni Shabqadar.
v)    US $.1.5 million for the Ministry of  energy to pay the legal counsels hired on behalf of the State in the international litigation case against Ms. Karkey.
vi)    Rs. 300 million in favor of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to execute the communication campaign for the Ehsaas Program in the next three months.

On the summary moved by the Economic Affairs Division for the recovery of foreign currency loans from the Private Sector borrowers, i.e Ms Gladari Cement Limited, ECC decided that EAD should resubmit the proposal after consultation with State Bank of Pakistan.

On the proposal by the Ministry of Energy for allowing foreign exchange gains/losses in excess of 7% on delayed payment for Kohala Hydro power project, ECC directed State Bank of Pakistan to negotiate with all relevant stakeholders and come up with a viable and practical solution of the issue.

ECC approved Rs 50 billion (as TSG) for the Utility Stores Corporation announced under PM relief package. Utility Stores Corporation was further directed by the Chairman ECC to be ensured provision of essential items at reduced prices to the people in the wake of current situation prevalent in the country due to COVID-19 as well as during the approaching month of Ramadan. Rs. 21 billion have already been disbursed to the USC after December 2019 for the procurement of essential items and the MD, USC assured the ECC that it is effectively utilizing its market presence for providing affordable goods to people in this hour of need.

 
April 06, 2020 (PR No. 286)

Ambassador of Japan called on Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue

Ambassador of Japan, Mr.Kuninori Matsuda, called on the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here at the Finance Division.

The Ambassador shared with Adviser Finance the steps being taken by the Japanese Government to contain the Corona Virus pandemic and the impact they had created so far. The Japanese Ambassador said that the Japanese Government supports the People of Pakistan in these trying times and is ready to offer its expertise and any sort of assistance to the government of Pakistan if the situation so requires. The Ambassador also discussed certain issues of the Japanese investors in Pakistan arising out of the restrictions on business activities.

The Adviser appreciated the efforts of the Government of Japan to control the Pandemic and thanked the Japanese government for its support to the people of Pakistan.

 
April 02, 2020 (PR No. 285)

British High Commissioner called on Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue

British High Commissioner Dr. Christian Turner, called on Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here at the Finance Division.

The Adviser expressed his and the Government's commiseration with the High Commissioner on the deaths of the people due to Corona Virus pandemic. He said that it is a testing situation for the nations all over the world and every loss of life is a cause of concern. He further shared with the High Commissioner the losses that have taken place due to the pandemic and the strategy adopted by the government of Pakistan to provide relief to the people.

The British High Commissioner said that his Government fully supports the efforts of the Government of Pakistan to provide relief to its people and it is ready to provide any assistance, if required, in the form of aid through DFID. The High Commissioner assured that in the times of global crisis the British government stands with the people of Pakistan to further strengthen their already well established relationship.

The Adviser thanked the High Commissioner for his support and assistance in the hour of need.

 
April 01, 2020 (PR No. 284)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting through video conference with business community amid Coronavirus outbreak

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division through video link with the business community. Adviser to PM on Commerce was also present during the meeting.

The business community shared with the Adviser Finance the current situation of their businesses and the issues they had been facing because of a global slump in business activities. It was briefed to the meeting that the daily wagers and SME sector is the worst hit during the crisis. The participants deliberated upon a feasible plan to distribute the amount earmarked in the Prime Minister's relief package for the daily wagers and laborers (Rs. 200 billion) to support them in the scenario of lesser business activities in the country. The participants from the business community committed to take care of their daily wagers with the help of the government and promised to fulfill their social responsibilities in the hour of need.

The Adviser directed that the mechanism for distribution of monetary assistance should ensure transparency and simplicity of procedures that the poor daily wagers may get relief without any complication.

The business representatives requested for the speedier refunds for providing them enough liquidity to manage their activities. The Adviser directed Chairperson FBR to expedite the process of refunds so that the business community is provided with maximum relief. Chairperson FBR briefed that she is personally engaged with her team and business representatives to speed up the matters.

The Adviser assured the business community of his full support during this difficult period and said that he hopes that the future is more promising for Pakistan's export sector after the crisis is over.

The meeting was also participated by Dr. Waqar Massod Khan, Mr. Ali Jameel, Mian M. Mansha, Mr. Shahid Hussain, Mr. Shahzad Saleem, Mr. Bashir Ali Muhammad, Mr. Ali Habib, Mr. Aurangzeb, Mr.Tariq Saigol, Mr. Almas Hyder, Mr. Shahid Soorty, Mr. Fawad Anwer, Mr.Saqib Sherazi, Mr. Tariq Habib and senior officials of Ministries of Finance, Commerce and FBR.

 
March 30, 2020 (PR No. 283)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a special meeting ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a special meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet today at the Cabinet Division. The purpose of the meeting was to fulfill the necessary requirements for different relief measures already announced by the Prime Minister for the public due to the ongoing Corona Virus Pandemic.

ECC approved the fiscal stimulus package of Rs. 1.2 trillion with main components as follows: -

ECC approved Supplementary Grant of Rs. 100 billion for the "Residual/Emergency Relief Fund" in terms of article 84(a) of the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan for provision of funds for mitigating the affect of COVID-19.

The special Package for providing relief to the poor through cash assistance under the Ehsaas Program was also approved by the ECC. The package shall provide cash grants to 12 million families under the regular “kafalat program” and Emergency Cash Assistance on the recommendation of the district administration. The assistance will be provided for four months and besides the BISP beneficiaries it will be one time dispensation, the cash will be provided either in one installment of Rs 12000 through Kafalat partner banks i.e Bank Alfalah and Habib Bank Limited after biometric verification or it may be provided in two installments of Rs. 6000/- each. The Poverty Alleviation Division was asked to present both options with feasibilities. The partner banks may be asked to make arrangements through branchless banking networks to disburse cash. Rs 72.9 billion of additional funds through technical supplementary grant would be given to BISP under "Ehsaas Cash Assistance Package in Response to COVID-19" Pandemic.

After Ministry of Industries and Production presented a comprehensive proposals regarding the targeting parameters , implementation mechanism, cash assistance per family per month and financial phasing of the program, ECC approved Rs. 200 billion of cash assistance for the daily wagers working in the formal industrial sector and who had been laid off as a result of COVID-19 outbreak. It was estimated that around three million workers will fall in this category and they will have to be paid a minimum wage of Rs.17500 per month. The estimated cost of this provision for daily wagers comes around to Rs. 52.5 billion a month. The provincial labour departments shall ensure the delivery of assistance to the laborers while the provision of funds shall be the responsibility of the federal government. ECC directed that immediate consultation with the provincial labor departments( mentioned under the provincial rules of business) may be carried out for providing timely assistance to those who are in need.

ECC approved Rs. 50 billion for Utility Stores Corporation to provide essential food items to the vulnerable section of the society at subsidized rates. USC has prepared an initial plan to deliver 9 essential food items @ Rs 3000 for a family of 2+4 people through Pakistan Post Foundation Logistics Division. USC has further planned to procure essential items within 2-3 weeks. it was  directed that USC may engage with BISP to obtain data for targeted assistance and again come back to the ECC for a detailed proposal for reaching out to the poor families for the effective use of this package before making any expenditure from this amount.

ECC also approved Rs.75 billion for FBR to enable them to payback the sales tax and income tax refunds, duty drawbacks and customs duties which is due for the last 10 years. The amount shall help approximately 676055 beneficiaries by improving their liquidity position.

ECC also allowed to reduce different taxes and duties on import and supply of different food items for alleviating the adverse impact of COVID -19 on different sections of the society. Rate of advance tax on the import of different pulses was reduced to 0% from 2%. individuals and associations of persons providing tea, spices, dry milk and salt to USC without a brand name will pay 1.5% withholding tax instead of 4.5%. Individuals and AoP receiving payments from USC for supplying ghee, sugar, pulses, and wheat flour shall be charged 1.5% withholding tax instead of 4.5% earlier. ACD (additional customs duty) @ 2% on soya bean oil, canola oil, palm oil and sunflower oil (and on these four oil seeds) has also been exempted.

ECC approved the supplementary grant of Rs. 30 billion to Ministry of Commerce to payback duty drawbacks to textile exporters in the current financial year to improve their liquidity position when their businesses are experiencing a slow down due to worldwide outbreak of Corona epidemic. ECC was briefed SBP is working on payment of claims worth Rs. 49 billion out of which around 40 billion will be paid by June 2020.

ECC approved supplementary grant of Rs. 6 billion for Pakistan Railways to meet its expenses. Pakistan Railways has suspended its passenger train services around the country since 19-3-2020. The approved amount shall be utilized for paying salaries to 70,000 employees, repairs, paying for utilities and performing disinfectant sprays on platforms and inside trains for proving safe journey to the passengers. Currently Pakistan Railways is earning only 1/6th of its monthly income through coal freight and the rest is suspended.

 
March 26, 2020 (PR No. 282)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting ECNEC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) here at the Cabinet Division.

ECNEC approved the “Toiwar/ Batozai Storage Dam Project District Killa Saifullah, Balochistan at the 2nd revised cost of Rs 4905.667 million. Irrigation Department Government of Balochistan will execute the project. The project will provide storage of 95000 acre feet of water 16750 acres of land will be brought under cultivation. Prevention from flood damages and improvement of socio economic conditions are other benefits of the project. ECNEC directed the government of Balochistan to ensure the completion of the project within revised approved scope and cost.

 The Naulong Dam Project- Updated 2nd Revised PC-I at a total cost of Rs.28,465 million, was given approval in principle to enable Economic Affairs Division to start negotiation with Asian Development Bank for finalizing details of project financing. ECNEC also directed to constitute a committee under Minister EAD, Minister Planning Development and Reforms, Deputy Chairman Privatization Commission, representative from Ministry of Water and Power and Government of Balochistan to discuss the issues related with preparation of second revised PC-I of the project. The committee will give its input within 2 weeks time.

Operationalization of Green Line BRTS and Installation of integrated Intelligent Transport System Equipment- updated Modified PC-I was approved by ECNEC at the total cost of Rs.10,956.16 million with Rs. 53,16.68 million as FEC.

National Electronic Complex of Pakistan, Phase 1 in H-9/1 sector Islamabad at a revised total cost of Rs.16,081.617 million. Out of this total budgeted cost Rs.13, 371.729 million has been provided by China as loan and grant. The Project will help in technology acquisition for achievement of self-reliance in research, design and manufacturing in the following fields. 1:Information and Communication Assurance for e-Governance,2:  Early Warning Systems for Disaster Management, 3: Electronic Measures for security of National Assets,4: Electronic Exploration of Natural Resources at Land/ Sea, 5: Designing and Fabrication of integrated Circuits and Systems on Chip,6: Communication, displays, automation and medical systems. It is expected that the project shall be completed by June 2022.

National Program for enhancing the Command Area in Barani Areas of Pakistan was approved at a  total cost of Rs.25,345.672 million. The project scope includes construction of 2664 farm ponds for storing rainwater from various sources and installation of solar pumping systems on farm ponds for operation of high efficiency of irrigation systems. Development of 4156 dug wells to promote irrigated agriculture. Development / improvement of 2432 watercourses carrying water from various sources for enhancing water conveyance efficiency at farm level and building other beneficial infrastructures and provision of useful equipment for farm land development.

Dualization and Improvement of Mandra-Chakwal Road Project ( 2nd Revised) at Districts Rawalpindi and Chakwal at total cost of Rs. 11892.639 million. The project will be completed from federal PSDP.
 
March 26, 2020 (PR No. 281)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Cabinet Division.

Four technical supplementary grants (1: Rs. 275 million in favor of Ministry of Housing and works for capital outlay on civil works, 2: Rs. 84,352,265 equivalent to $ 532,152 to be provided to NADRA for FATA TDP Emergency Recovery Project, 3: Rs, 5500 million for Sustainable Development Goals Achievement Program, 4: Rs. 5 billion to NDMA for fighting the spread of Corona virus on emergency basis) were approved by ECC. The technical supplementary grant approved for NDMA shall be utilized to gain logistic support and the provision of different types of personal protection equipments against the virus like respirators/face masks etc.

ECC formed an inter-ministerial committee, to firm up proposals in a month’s time on incentive package for National Electric Vehicle policy, comprising Minister Planning & Development, Minister Science and technology, SA PM on Austerity and Institutional Reforms , Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, SA PM on Commerce (Chairman), SA PM on Petroleum, Secretaries Industry and Climate Change.

ECC acknowledged the role and efforts made by Ministry of Climate Change on preparing Incentive proposals for National Electric Vehicle Policy.

ECC also approved Quarterly adjustments of tariff of K-Electric limited for the period from July 2016 to March 2019. As a relief measure for the people of Karachi amidst Corona Virus outbreak and in Ramazan, ECC directed to notify the tariff after 3 months in the meanwhile directed Finance and Power Division to facilitate K- electric by advance provision of subsidy amounting to Rs. 26 billion. The ECC was briefed that the revision of tariff would have an impact of Rs 1.09 to Rs 2.89 /Kwh for various categories of consumers.

On the summary moved by the Ministry of Energy Power Division on execution of LPG Air Mix supply projects by Sui Companies, ECC decided to continue the operation of two already installed and working plants at Awaran and Bella and approved the installation of another four plants at Gilgit, Drosh, Ayun and Chitral town where the equipment has already been procured for plant installation.  The work on other projects of the same nature was stalled as it required a huge amount of subsidy to both SSGPL and SNGPL. It was briefed to the ECC that SNGPL requires Rs. 19.851 billion per annum for operation of 16 projects and SSGCL will require Rs. 14.474 billion to operate 32 approved projects. ECC decided that the Ministry of Energy should engage with the Government of Balochistan and decide upon more efficient projects which would give the maximum benefit to the population of Balochistan province within the same amount of allocation/subsidy. The decision was taken in the context that the existing revenue shortfall of SNGPL was Rs. 143 billion and for SSGCL Rs 72 billion as of end 2018-2019.

ECC also decided to allocate 5.0 MMCFD gas from Saand#1 to M/S SSGCL. The price of gas shall be according to the petroleum policy.
 
March 24, 2020 (PR No. 280)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting to streamline funding for relief measures

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division to smoothen the funding for accelerating the work on relief measures amid the Corona virus outbreak in the country.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Economic Affairs, SA PM on National Health Services, CEO NDMRF, Secretaries Finance, Economic Affairs Division, National Health Services and Chairman NDMA.

Minister for Economic Affair gave a briefing on the availability of funds that can be utilized for the provision of relief to the people. Chairman NDMA and CEO NDMRF shared their strategies for procurement of medicine and other relief equipment for timely and effective measures against the pandemic. All participants shared their level of preparedness for dealing with any emergency situation and showed firm resolve to serve the people in the time of need.

The Adviser directed Secretary Finance to make use of the best of his judgment to eliminate any procedural hurdles that are in the way of provision of funds for the relief measures for the people while ensuring transparency and simplicity of the process.
 
March 22, 2020 (PR No. 279)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue met with Governor Sindh

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division today with the Governor Sindh Mr. Imran Ismail and Business community from Karachi through video conferencing. Advisers to Prime Minister on Commerce and Austerity and Institutional Reforms and Petroleum were also present during the meeting.

The businessmen included representatives from the garments and textile sector, pharmaceutical industry, Pakistan Stock exchange and tourism and hotel industry, gave proposals regarding the issues they had been facing and the assistance they require from the government in the times of this crisis. They requested that they should be enabled to look after their daily wagers in the next 2-3 months times and be provided with assistance to carry on their business with improvement of their liquidity position.

The Adviser to PM said, “the government is faced with a challenging situation and in this challenging situation, the prime objective of the government is to do three things. A) Contain the Virus, B) provide health care facilities, essential food items at affordable rates and help to maintain enough cash in hand to the common man and C) provide help and assistance to the business community to run their businesses during the times of the pandemic without a permanent set back to the economy. For this we are seeking proposals and working on them, we are hoping to give a plan that is simple and implementable to meet our objectives.” He further said “have faith that the government is there to support you”.

On the request of the business men the secretary finance told that SECP has given proposal and mechanism to home department Sindh to help in running business/ trading at stock exchange Karachi. The food industry shall remain open and continue business as usual and wherever needed the federal government will have dialogue with the provincial government to facilitate the business and trader community. Governor Sindh told that they have prepared food bags with the help of USC for the needy and shall soon be distributed. Governor Sindh also assured of his assistance wherever needed.

In the end the Adviser asked the business community to look after the daily wagers and workers who are outside the registered regime as helping them is also our social responsibility.
 
March 22, 2020 (PR No. 278)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue met with Dr. Sania Nishtar

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh met Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr. Sania Nishtar on Sunday to discuss and finalise the contours of the special relief package being prepared by the Government for the people in the wake of Corona virus epidemic.

During the meeting, different options and proposals as part of the proposed package were discussed. Secretary Finance Naveed Akram Baloch, Special Secretary Finance Mr. Omar Hamid Khan and other senior officers of the Finance Division also attended the meeting.

 
March 20, 2020 (PR No. 277)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting with a delegation of Exporters

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division with a delegation of Exporters to discuss various issues exporters have been facing after the outbreak of Corona Virus and the evolving position of the global economies and its impact on the export sector of Pakistan. Advisers to PM on Commerce and Textile and Austerity and Institutional Reforms were also present during the meeting.

The delegation briefed the Adviser that due to the outbreak of the corona virus pandemic the global economies have gone into a recessionary phase and the demand for their products especially apparel has reduced to a considerable level. The exports which had shown an improvement in the February and March will receive a setback in the coming months. In view of the changing position of the global trade they had been facing problems with their cash flow situation and need help and assistance from the government mainly in expediting the re-payments/ refunds due so that they could come out of this crisis and could resume their business as early as possible.

The delegation presented a list of proposals to the Adviser Finance that could help them improve on their liquidity position and to run their businesses in the current situation when they are not expecting further orders and faster recoveries from their international buyers. The delegation apprised the Government that they have decided not to lay off their daily wage staff in this difficult time.

Dr. Hafeez Shaikh, while discussing each and every proposal in detail with the exporters said “I would like to make a statement here that the Government has no desire or policy to keep the money even a day longer that belongs to the exporters and nor do we find any reason to delay the repayments.” We shall do whatever possible to ease out the exporters and committed to provide them relief with earlier repayments of export rebates/ duty drawback and GST refunds, he added. He said that the GST refunds will be cleared within March and export rebates will be granted within April. He further directed Secretary Finance and Chairperson FBR to hold meetings with the relevant stakeholders and provide relief to the Export sector as much possible for the government. He appreciated the decision taken by APTMA not to lay off their labour in the time of crisis and advised them to take care of their workers as the government is taking care of them.
 
March 18, 2020 (PR No. 276)

Delegation of All Pakistan Audit and Accounts Association met with Special Secretary Finance

A delegation of All Pakistan Audit and Accounts Association (Combined) met the Special Secretary Finance Mr. Omar Hamid Khan on their request to highlight issues on account of promotions and increase in salary / allowances. The following issues were discussed:-

  1. 120% increase in salaries, which includes 100% increase in salary plus 20% secretariat allowance.
  2. Long pending promotions of Accounts Officers and Assistant Accounts Officer.
  3. Pending cases of Time Scale.
  4. Service Reforms for Officer of Accounts Service.

During the meeting, Accountant General Pakistan Revenue was also present. The Special Secretary Finance listened to their views in the matter and assured them that the Finance Division shall help in resolution of all their issues. He mentioned that recommendations to increase the salaries will be made in due course.

Regarding regular promotions and time scale, he committed to ask the CGA to expedite the process. He further mentioned that the time scale is under discussion with Establishment Division for a career planning approach and the decision as taken broadly will be implementable for Accounts Officers, Assistant Accounts Officers and Senior Auditors, as well.

The Special Secretary Finance advised them to prepare proposals for their service structure and he would arrange a meeting of their representatives with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms.

In the end, the Association assured full cooperation from their side based on assurances by the Special Secretary.

 
March 18, 2020 (PR No. 275)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr.Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Cabinet Division.

The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development presented a report of the Task Force on Overseas Employment and Welfare of Overseas Pakistanis. ECC in its earlier decision of 19th Feb 2019 had constituted an inter-ministerial task force under the chairmanship of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development to look into the issues of overseas employment for Pakistani manpower and make recommendations in consultation with relevant stakeholders. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human resource development, Mr. Zulfi Bukhari gave a presentation on various important issues and the measures taken regarding:

  • Identification of trades and skill sets in demand in order to meet the requirements of international job market
  • Development of a centralized TVET certification and verification system and improving regulatory mechanism for curbing sub-standard certifications and helping provincial TEVTAs in developing their skill development capacities
  • Developing mechanism for sharing data among NAVTTC and BE&OE/OEC on employment opportunities and available skills
  • Efficient provision of E-Passport, NICOP, POC to overseas Pakistanis
  • Issues of overseas Pakistani Schools
  • Developing a National Emigration and Welfare Policy for Overseas Pakistanis

The Chair appreciated different measures taken by the Committee and further directed the Committee to come to the ECC forum, a month after the budget, and brief on the overall progress made on the measures taken by the Committee for the welfare of overseas Pakistanis.

ECC also approved a Technical Supplementary Grant of Rs.4152 million for FBR from Pakistan Raises Revenue Program to meet the mandatory and inevitable expenditures for the achievement of DLIs and supplement budgetary resources for expenditures in this regard. ECC also directed Chairperson FBR to give a detailed briefing on the initiative to the ECC in the next meeting.

On the request from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs for the recovery of outstanding wharfage of Rs. 1.696 billion on import of LNG by PSO, ECC directed that the outstanding amount will be paid in 10 equal installments without interest over a period of next ten years. However in Jan 2023, a committee will review the circumstances and suggest any possibility for early repayment of the remaining sum. The decision was taken on the recommendations of the committee constituted under the chairmanship of Minister for Economic Affairs.

ECC approved the Technical supplementary Grant of Rs. 44.447 million for Islamabad Capital territory to execute “National Program for improvement of Watercourses phase ii in ICT, Productivity Enhancement of wheat, Prime Minister’s Initiative for save the calf, calf feedlot fattening in Pakistan and development of backyard poultry in ICT”. Ministry of National Food security and research had surrendered the amount in favor of ICT Administration.

 
March 16, 2020 (PR No. 274)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting on Pakistan Economy

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division to review the progress being made by the major sectors of the economy.

Ministers for Energy and Economic Affairs Division, Chairperson FBR and Secretaries of Finance Division, Ministry of National Food Security and Research and Ministry of Commerce attended the meeting.

The participants of the meeting shared the details of the ongoing major initiatives of their respective Ministries and Divisions, their current status of progress to meet the targets set during the current financial year, the impact of the ongoing corona virus epidemic on the economy and the strategy to achieve the targets with maximum success. It was agreed during the meeting that all sectors related with the economy will work in unison to achieve the economic targets with maximum effort and that the government will ensure that the common man is not affected by any adverse fallout of the epidemic.

 
March 16, 2020 (PR No. 272)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECNEC

Adviser to the PM on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) here at the Cabinet Division today.

The Winder Dam Project, which is to be constructed across Winder River in District Lasbela, Balochistan, was approved by ECNEC at the total cost of Rs. 15,230.76 million without FEC with the condition that command area development and land acquisition components will be started in parallel to the main project by the Government of Balochistan. The Govt. of Balochistan will ensure completion of the project within approved scope and cost. In case of further revision, increase in cost will be borne by the provincial government from own resources. It is expected that the project will be completed in four years time.

Kachhi Canal Project( Remaining works of Phase-I) at District Dera Bugti, Balochistan Province was also approved at the revised cost of Rs. 22,921 million without FEC with the recommendation that there will be no deviation from scope and cost firmed by the follow up committee constituted by CDWP. A component of detailed engineering design / tender documents/ PC-Is for phase II and phase III costing Rs.120 million has been added in the cost summary of this project which will be actively pursued. The Balochistan Agriculture Department will ensure resolution of land settlement issues and development of command area of 102,000 acres to be developed by December 2020. The responsibility of technical soundness of design will rest with the project consultants NESPAK and no deviation from the design will be made. The project shall be completed in 3 years from the date of approval.

The Pakistan Raises Revenue Project including its IPF Component (For FBR Headquarters Islamabad) was approved at the total cost of Rs. 12,480 million with FEC component of US$ 80 million. The aim of the proposed program is to eliminate country’s fiscal constraints through sustainable increasing revenues and reducing tax expenditure by broadening tax base and modernizing Federal Board of Revenue with advanced ICT based operations under its Transformation Roadmap. The proposed project is part of World Bank’s funded IDA soft loan amounting to US$ 400 million. The loan has two components i.e US$ 320 million for Result based / Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLI) based financing, and US$ 80 million for its traditional investment project Financing (IPF). Up-gradation of connectivity of FBR offices through installation of ICT equipment at all FBR offices and Customs control posts for data sharing and communication is envisaged under this project. The Chair directed that FBR shall give a detailed presentation on the strategy for the utilization of the funds specially the DLI component and its impact on the Human Resource Building at FBR in the next meeting of ECNEC.

EX- Post Facto approval for the Development of Kartarpur Sahib corridor on EPC/ turnkey basis phase- I (Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib District Narowal) at a modified cost of Rs. 16546.2 million was also granted by ECNEC.

Lahore Water and wastewater Management Project – Sewerage System from Larech Colony to Gulshan-e Ravi, Lahore (Through Trench _Less Technology) was approved by ECNEC at the revised cost of Rs. 14430.506 million. The cost includes Rs. 14,165.06 million AIIB loan (US$256 million) in addition to already incurred amount of Rs 265.446 million. The project aims at comprehensive and detailed design of sanitation system for disposal of sewerage and wastewater from Larech colony to Gulshan-e Ravi, Lahore through trench less technology. The project intends to ensure efficiency in safe and quick disposal of sewage / waste water by laying of trunk sewerage system and to develop a comprehensive, technically viable plan.

The construction of Eastern Wastewater Treatment Plant (44 MGD) of Faisalabad City ( Phase-I) at the total cost of Rs. 19,071.222 million was approved by ECNEC. The foreign component of the project includes loan and grant from the government of Denmark (DANIDA) amounting to Rs. 17, 238.179 million, 35% of this amount is grant and loan component is 65%.

The Chair directed to set up a committee with Minister EAD and Deputy Chairman Planning Commission to prepare a mechanism for planning disbursement of necessary aid in a fair and transparent manner where all provinces have an equal chance of getting a fair share according to their developmental needs and the priorities of the Government of Pakistan.

 
March 13, 2020 (PR No. 271)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue reviewed Proposals for Export Promotion

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division to review the proposals for the facilitation of Exports Oriented Sectors with special focus on small and medium enterprises which can play a more vibrant role in export promotion with provision of certain facilities by the Government.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razzaq Dawood and Mr. Ali Habib gave a detailed briefing to the participants of the meeting on improving the system of duty drawbacks and export rebates that could help with the cash flow situation of the exporters and reduce the burden through automation and reduced tiers for verification. Other proposals included updating the lists of rate of rebates offered on different exported items and provision of funds to SBP for clearing rebates in a faster manner. The meeting was briefed that 26 sectors, which can provide exportable materials, have put forward their suggestions for the facilitation and promotion of exports from the country and some of the proposed measures do not even require any monetary contribution from the government.

Adviser Finance appreciated the work done by the Commerce Ministry and the input given by FBR and Customs on the proposals. He said that the Government aims to provide ease with maximum degree of automation and transparency to the exporters. He directed the Ministry of Commerce to hold further discussions with all stakeholders and prepare draft proposals for making an effective policy for increasing the volume of exports from the country. He said all possible cooperation in the matter shall be provided by the Ministry of Finance and the needful will be done in the next budget.

 
March 12, 2020 (PR No. 270)

ECC fixed minimum support price for wheat at Rs 1,400 per 40kg

Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Thursday fixed the minimum support price of wheat at Rs 1,400 per 40 kg to ensure parity in wheat prices throughout the country and set up a high-level Wheat Procurement Monitoring Group to ensure a smooth procurement of wheat by the public sector departments in the upcoming harvest season.

Earlier, the ECC in its meeting held on 19th February 2020 had decided to fix the minimum support price of wheat crop 2019-20 at the level of Rs 1,365 per 40 kg. However, a meeting of Wheat Review Committee convened on 9th Mach 2020 under the chairmanship of National Food Security & Research Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar and attended by the Food Ministers of KP, GB and AJK and secretaries of Food Departments of various provinces had recommended enhancement of support price of wheat for wheat crop 2019-20 from Rs 1365 per 40 kg to the level of Rs 1400 per 40 kg.

The ECC meeting held at the Cabinet Block with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair today, discussed the support price for wheat in detail and decided to fix the price of wheat at Rs 1,400 per 40 kg to ensure parity in wheat prices throughout the country.

The ECC also set up a Wheat Procurement Monitoring Group comprising National Food Security & Research Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, Economic Affairs Minister Muhammad Hammad Azhar and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Petroleum, Nadeem Babar. The Group would coordinate with the provincial governments, involve the public and use technology to ensure the process of wheat procurement by the PASSCO and provincial governments in the coming harvest season was carried out in an efficient and transparent manner.

The Wheat Procurement Monitoring Group would also ensure that the allied issues related to incidental charges, supply of adequate gunny bags to farmers and procurement of wheat by provinces and the private sector as per plan and targets were properly streamlined and addressed to provide a level-playing field to all stakeholders, including the public in terms of provision of flour at the lowest possible price throughout the year.

Earlier, the ECC was given a detailed presentation on the arrangements made for the procurement of enhanced target of 1.8 million tonnes by the PASSCO which also shared with the ECC an enhanced efficiency model in procuring increased target and mechanism to rationalise the incidental charges.

Besides the wheat issue, the ECC also discussed the falling prices of oil in the international market and its impact on the national economy and announced the benefit of the reduced oil prices in the global market would be passed on the consumers in Pakistan in due course of time as per the mechanism already being followed by the government.

The ECC also approved a technical supplementary grant of Rs 12.813 million of Inter Board Committee of Chairman in favour of Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training and another technical supplementary grant amounting to Rs 13.02 million in favour of Human Rights Division.

The ECC also approved the Annual Report of Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) for the Financial Years ended 2015, 2016 & 2017, and asked the CCP to give a detailed presentation to ECC in the next meeting on the overall scope of its work and what had been achieved by the Commission so far with regard to its mandated role to ensure fair competition in different sectors of economy it governed.

 
March 12, 2020 (PR No. 269)

Finance Division to propose suitable Pay raise in next Budget

In response to the strike call by the Secretariat employees for raising their salaries the Ministry of Finance has held meetings with the Federal Government employees to assure them that their proposals will be duly considered and proposed to the government in the next budget.

In a statement issued here Thursday, the Finance Division has said that on the instructions of Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, separate meetings of Secretary Finance as well as Special Secretary Finance had been held with the protesting employees to get a full understanding and awareness of the financial constraints and problems of the government employees due to the inflation.

The statement said that the government understood and acknowledged the difficulties and economic constraints faced by the federal government employees and in view of their inputs obtained in the meetings held, proposal for a suitable raise in their salaries would be prepared by factoring in the overall economic situation, and available fiscal space and incorporated in the upcoming Federal Budget 2020-21.

 
March 12, 2020 (PR No. 268)

Finance Division denied any cut in PSDP

The Ministry of Finance has denied a news report published in a section of the press suggesting and insinuating a Rs 100 billion cut in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the current fiscal year as per briefing by the Finance Secretary to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue the other day.

The Finance Division strongly denies and rebuts this news report as the Secretary Finance never stated at any point during his presentation to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue that there could be cut in the federal development programme this year, said an official statement issued by the Finance Division today.

The statement asserted that the Finance Division has actually facilitated maximum and speedy disbursements for the year and there is no cut planned or suggested in the development spending for the current fiscal year. The Finance Division has always provided full support to Planning Division to ensure timely expenditure, said the statement.

 
March 12, 2020 (PR No. 267)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired the meeting of the NFC Monitoring Committee

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr.Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the NFC Monitoring Committee here at the Finance Division today. Provincial Finance Ministers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan were also there while Punjab and Sindh were represented by their Finance Secretaries.

The meeting was convened to seek approval of the bi-annual report on the implementation of the NFC Award for the periods of July –December 2018 and January – June 2019 and the establishment of the National Tax Council (NTC). The reports which were approved by the NFC monitoring Committee shall be presented in the National and Provincial Assemblies under the requirements of the Article 160 (3B) of the Constitution. The bi-annual reports contain the information on Distribution of Revenues and Grants in Aid to the provinces under NFC Award announced in 2010 (7th NFC Award). The report also contained the inputs from the provinces. The reports were endorsed by the provinces.

The Bi-Annual Report of Period July- December (FY 2018-19) stated that out of FBR’s divisible pool collection of Rs.1949.752 billion, Rs.1121.207 was the provincial share. Punjab had 580.061 billion, Sindh 275.232 billion, KP 163.906 billion, Balochistan got 101.909 billion. In addition to these transfers KPK received 1% as war on terror fund of 19.694 billion, Balochistan additionally 10.149 billion and Sindh OZT grant 7.399 billion. Straight transfers for the period were Rs.48.225 billion.

In addition to the divisible pool funds, Rs. 19.708 bn were given to KPK for WoT, Balcohistan additionally received 10.079 billion and Sindh got OZT grant of 7.404 billion. Straight transfers of Rs 46.826 were also made to the provinces during the period under four heads of royalty on crude oil, royalty on natural gas, gas development surcharge and excise duty on Natural Gas.

During the meeting suggestion were also presented for sales tax harmonization in Pakistan. Pursuant to the decision of CCI dated 24th November 2017, the framing of ToRs of the Fiscal Coordination Committee (FCC) was assigned to the NFC Monitoring Committee. The said ToRs were framed and approved in today’s meeting. The terms of reference state the FCC shall review and discuss the fiscal policy issues of the federal and provincial governments and suggest solutions. It will monitor current and development expenditures of the federal and provincial governments. The discussion on issues related to FBR receipts shall also fall under the ambit of this committee. The review of debt stock of the federal and provincial governments in the perspective of FRDL Act, discussion on the position of provinces’ own receipts and suggestion of measures for enhancement of provincial revenues and the review of cash balances of the federal and provincial governments are also assigned to the Committee.

The composition of National Tax Council and its proposed ToRs were also approved in the meeting. The Provinces are represented in the National Tax Council and it shall enable them to decide collectively the rate for sales tax for both goods and services. It was proposed during the meeting that the National Tax Council shall meet at least once in every quarter and the recommendations of the NTC shall be expressed in terms of majority and shall be placed before NFC Monitoring Committee.

 

 
March 05, 2020 (PR No. 266)

Finance Secretary chaired the meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC)

A meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) was held with Finance Secretary in the chair today (Thursday) to discuss the prices of essential food and stock of supply of the essential items.

The meeting held at the Finance Division was attended by the representatives from the Provincial governments, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries of Industries, Interior, Law & Justice & Human Rights, Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, National Food Security and Research, Federal Board of Revenue, Competition Commission of Pakistan , Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and Utility Stores Corporation.

The meeting discussed the trend of Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a headline measure of inflation. It has been observed that prices of food items such as pulses, fresh vegetables and wheat which have been the main top drivers of inflation saw a downward trend on the monthly basis. The meeting was informed that CPI inflation decreased by 1.0% on MoM in February 2020 over January 2020. However on YoY, recorded at 12.4% in February 2020 over February 2019 and July-February CPI inflation on YoY reached to 11.7% (6.0% last year). It was stated by the Secretary Finance that the government is committed to reducing inflation and more steps are underway in coming months.

It was noticed that Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) which monitors the price movement of 51 essential items on weekly basis recorded a decrease of 1.16% for the week ended on 27th February, 2020. During the week, 13 items recorded decline in their prices while 25 items remain stable. This was the third consecutive decline in SPI during the month of February 2020.

The Committee also discussed the price movements of these items among the provinces/ICT and observed variations in price level. The provincial governments also informed that they are proactively monitoring the prices as well as supply of essential food items. Price trend in international market are on declining trend which would augur well for the domestic prices in near future.

The meeting also discussed the outbreak of novel coronavirus and its impact on demand and supply of essential items. The Chair advised that all relevant authorities along with provincial governments should in close coordination monitor the provision of essential food items at affordable prices keeping in view the forthcoming Ramadan. He further stressed to check the undue profit margin exists between the wholesale and the retail level, which should be prevented.

The Chairperson Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) informed that they are holding a meeting in second week of this month with all stakeholders to discuss Food Laws and developing a uniform formula for pricing to remove price disparity among districts.

The Chair emphasized that the provincial government should play a proactive role in checking hoarding and undue profiteering to ensure smooth supply of essential food items at reasonable prices.

 
March 05, 2020 (PR No. 265)

UNFPA Country Representative called on Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Ms. Lina Mousa, Country Representative United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Thursday called on the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh at the Q Block to discuss ways for further strengthening her organisation’s strategic partnership with Pakistan.

During the courtesy call-on, the UNFPA country representative briefed the Adviser on various initiatives undertaken by the UNFPA with different ministries and departments both at the national and provincial level in the areas of population & development, family planning & reproductive health, data for development, youth and gender.

Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh lauded the efforts of UNFPA, particularly the technical and financial support for enhancing the national capacity on population related issues and wished the partnership would be further strengthened in the coming years.

 
March 04, 2020 (PR No. 264)

ECC approved measures to boost remittances through formal channels

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved a host of measures to encourage and facilitate the overseas Pakistanis to send their remittances through official banking channels.

The approval was granted at a meeting of the ECC held at the Cabinet Block today with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair. Under the decision, following measures for the enhancement of home remittances through banking channels were approved:

  1. The rebate of reimbursement of T.T. Charges transactions between USD 100 and USD 200 will be increased from SAR- 10/- to SAR-20/-.
  2. Continuation of the New Scheme of incentives launched in 2018-19 for banks and exchange companies during the current calendar year from January 2020. As per Scheme financial institutions would be incentivized Rs. 0.50 per 1 USD on 5% growth, Rs. 0.75 per 1USD on 10% growth and Rs. 1/- per 1USD on 15% growth.
  3. The amount of the remittances transferred into bank accounts will be exempted from withholding tax with effect from July 1, 2020.
  4. A “National Remittance Loyalty Program” will be launched from September 1, 2020 with collaboration of major commercial banks and government agencies through which various incentives will be given to remitters through mobile apps and cards.
  5. ECC approved a technical supplementary grant of Rs.9.6 billion during the current financial year to finance the above mentioned initiatives.

Taking up other agenda items, the ECC approved a proposal by the Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training for a technical supplementary grant of Rs 5 billion in favour of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for the current Financial Year 2019-20 with instruction for a judicious and need-based distribution of funds among the universities.

The ECC also approved a proposal by the National Security Division for a technical supplementary grant amounting to Rs 15 million for the Strategic Policy Planning Cell (SPPC) created in the National Security Division with the approval of the Prime Minister to act as an intellectual hub for evidence-based policy input on key national security issues.

On a proposal by the Ministry of Defence, the ECC okayed a proposal for a technical supplementary grant amounting to Rs 34.528 million for Internal Security Duty Allowance to the Pakistan Air Force.

On a proposal by the Petroleum Division, the ECC approved allocation of gas to SSGC and Provisional Tight Gas Incentive for Rehman-4 Well in Kirthar Block subject to the finalization and approval of requisite third-party certifications for Tight Gas for the same well.

The ECC also discussed a proposal regarding quarterly adjustments of the K-Eectric Limited for the period from July 2016 to March 2019 and in the light of input and discussion by the members, set up a committee including Minister for Power Mr. Omar Ayub Khan, Minister for Economic Affairs Mr. Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Secretary Finance and a representative from the K-Electric to examine the issue in detail and recommend to ECC within a week a solution and roadmap for resolving the issue.

The ECC also deliberated upon a proposal by the Ministry of Energy to further extend till June 2020 the grant of subsidy to agricultural tubewell consumers in Balochistan. Earlier, the ECC was briefed that nearly 30,000 agri consumers in Balochistan had been given subsidy since 01.01.2015 with 40 % of the burden of subsidy born by the Government of Pakistan and the remaining 60% picked up the Balochistan government. However, the recovery of dues from the farmers for the electricity consumed over and above the limit of subsidy had been negligible and attempts to recover these dues from defaulters in the past had not been successful. The ECC discussed the issue in detail and set up a Committee, including the Minister for Power, to discuss the issue with the Government of Balochistan to ensure a credible solution to the problems impeding a judicious execution of the scheme for which the federal government alone was contributing Rs 9 billion annually, and also allowed the extension of subsidy until a solution to the issue was found by the Committee and put in place.

On a proposal by the Ministry of Industries and Production for revival of M/s Tuwairqi Steel Mills Limited (TSML) - A Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) Unit, the ECC discussed the issue and asked the Ministry of Industries and Production to resubmit the proposal in the light of recent and ongoing development on different issues among stakeholders on the proposal.

 
March 02, 2020 (PR No. 263)

Economic Outlook is strong -- Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said the outlook for the economy is strong and pick up in exports and remittances are supporting growth momentum.

“In December 2019, the large scale manufacturing output expanded by 16% on month on month basis, indicating that growth is starting to pick up,” he said while talking to a group of television anchorpersons at his office on Monday.

The meeting was part of the Advisor Finance efforts to update the media and public on key economic policies and progress on reforms. The meeting was also attended by MNA Ms Kanwal Shauzab and Mr Omar Hamid Khan, Special Secretary Finance.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh shared updates on the recently-concluded 2nd review of the IMF staff by saying that the IMF staff concluded that “all end December performance criteria were met, and structural benchmarks have been completed.” “This has led to the IMF staff and Pakistan authorities reaching a staff level agreement which has paved the way for the IMF Board to release the next tranche of U$ 450 million in April 2020.

The Adviser also highlighted that the government had achieved a primary surplus of 0.6% of GDP (Rs 286bn) in first half of the FY2020, first time in over 10 years. “This has been achieved through stronger revenue collection with FBR tax collection rising by over 16.5% and through austerity in expenditure,” he said.

He further said that the non-tax revenue collection during the first half of the FY2020 had also gone up by 170% on year-on-year basis to reach Rs 876 billion (Rs 323 billion in same period last year) which would help reduce the build-up in debt. “During the first two years of the current government, over Rs 5 trillion in debt had been repaid to domestic and international creditors,” he added.

Dr Shaikh expressed concern over high inflation and apprised the participants on government efforts to reduce the burden on public. He highlighted that inflation has declined in the last 7 weeks and CPI inflation has declined to 12.4% in February 2020, down from 14.6% in January 2020 as a result of proactive measures by the government to allow imports and increase supply through utility stores.

He said the government had doubled allocation in social safety programmes under the Prime Minister’s Ehsas Program to Rs 192 billion in FY20. However, many challenges remain particularly in resolving the energy sector challenges, he added.

 
February 26, 2020 (PR No. 262)

Secretary Commerce, USA called on Adviser to PM Finance and Revenue

Mr. Wilbur Ross, Secretary Commerce of the United States of America, along with the accompanying delegation, called on the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here at the Finance Division.

The Adviser welcomed the Secretary Commerce and said that Pakistan and United States had maintained a durable relationship over the years and there was a need to build it further. The Adviser said that the arrival of the delegation from the commerce sector is good news for Pakistan and would have positive consequences for the country. “This is at a time when the government is looking forward to a major boost in exports after offering concessions to the export oriented sector of Pakistan.”

The Adviser said that Pakistan was trying to carve out a new progressive image in the comity of nations. We have tried to follow the FATF action plan to a significant level, opened our markets to the foreign investors by providing ease of doing business and we are trying to build our image as a tourism-friendly and investment-opportunity country in the region. The Adviser also shared the updates on the economy with the US Secretary of Commerce. He said that though the country is trying to revive the economy through stabilization reform and inviting foreign investment to the country as well as taking care of its vulnerable, the rising prices of food items, high energy prices and slow revenue generation were issues that concerned him. He said that the Government’s efforts are directed towards providing ease to the common man and it would require guidance from its global partners as well. The trade between the two countries is only around $7 billion and the country has an urgent need to increase that to help in GDP growth which requires long term planning for economic development. He said that we have made a mistake in the past of not forming our alliances on the economic front based on our developmental requirements. He felt this was the time to enable the relationship to become more long lasting on a firm footing.

The US Secretary Commerce said they can help Pakistan in the energy sector and the details of the projects where economic cooperation could be enhanced are being worked on. The Adviser said that he hopes that a healthy interaction shall continue in future as well.

 
February 25, 2020 (PR No. 261)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired the meeting of CCOP

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCOP) here at the Cabinet Division.

CCOP was given an update on the Privatization program. The Committee was briefed that in case of the SME Bank Limited and Pak Reinsurance Co. Ltd (up to 20% divestment) the privatization process is moving ahead in a relatively faster manner and they are expecting to complete the process in the required time frame. On the status of the revival of Pakistan Steel Mills CCOP gave directions to the Privatization Commission to complete all the standard requirements in a regular but expeditious manner and keep on updating the Government on any issues that may surface during the smooth running of the process.

On the proposal of the “Privatization of the Guddu Power Plant (747 MW)” Ministry of Privatization briefed that they have received EoIs from Financial Advisers and parties have been shortlisted for issuance of request for proposals. Other issues related to the transaction were also discussed. CCOP directed that there is a need for further discussion on the project between NEPRA, Power Division and Ministries of Finance and Privatization. CCOP directed that they should come up with a joint proposal in the next meeting of CCOP for moving ahead in the transaction so that it may complete within the given time frame.

For divesting shares of OGDCL, CCOP directed that the matter requires further deliberation. CCOP directed that all the relevant stake holders including the Ministry of Energy to come up with a presentation on the proposal in the next meeting.

The Chair directed that all the processes related to the Privatization Process may be carried out in a transparent but expeditious manner so that all the targets are achieved within the given time frame.

 
February 21, 2020 (PR No. 260)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue thanks China on support in FATF meetings

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue met Mr. Yao Jing, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China here at the Finance Division to review the preparations of the upcoming visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping. The meeting took place on the instructions of the Prime Minister as the government has attached significant importance to this meeting.

The Adviser and the Ambassador shared the details of progress of preparation of the upcoming visit of President Xi Jinping. The Adviser said that Pakistan values the relations with China highly and would welcome the President with highest respect and regards. He also thanked the Chinese Government on their massive support in the FATF meetings. The Adviser said that China and other brotherly countries have supported Pakistan throughout the Process in terms of guiding the country to improve its frameworks

The Adviser condoled with the Ambassador on account of the Virus outbreak. The Ambassador said that it is a difficult time for the people of China but we are dealing patiently with the calamity and hoping to overcome it very soon. The Ambassador thanked Pakistan on the support in this difficult time.

They also discussed progress on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and measures to enhance the bilateral trade between the two countries stating that it was progressing smoothly. Matters of bilateral interest were discussed and both sides agreed to enhance economic cooperation in future.

 
February 21, 2020 (PR No. 259)

FATF Plenary and Working Group Meetings in Paris, France

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary meeting was held in Paris from February 16-21, 2020. The Pakistan delegation was led by Mr. Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs Division.

During the last reporting period, Pakistan has made significant progress in the implementation of FATF Action Plan, which has been demonstrated by the completion of 9 additional action items.

FATF reviewed progress made by Pakistan towards implementation of the Action Plan, while acknowledging the steps taken by Pakistan towards implementation of Action Plan and welcoming its high level political commitment, FATF highlighted the need for further actions for completing the Action Plan by June 2020. FATF members agreed to maintain Pakistan’s status on FATS’s Compliance Document, normally referred as the Grey List.

The Government of Pakistan stands committed for taking all necessary action required for completing the remaining items in the Action Plan. A strategy in this regard has been formulated and is being implemented.

FATF will undertake the next review of Pakistan’s Progress in June 2020.

 
February 20, 2020 (PR No. 258)

Federal Govt and Balochistan Government agreed to resolved their energy issues amicably

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr.Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting here at the Finance Division to review various energy sector issues that were pending between the Federal Government and the Government of Balochistan for many years.

Balochistan Government was represented by Secretary Energy Department Balochistan, and Federal Government was represented by the Minister for Energy and the Adviser to the PM on Petroleum. There were other members from the Ministry of Inter- Provincial Coordination.

In the meeting various issues regarding the extension of lease of gas fields of Balochistan, rights and share of Government of Balochistan in the new and old oil and gas exploration business, rationalization of gas tariff for the local population, gas allocation to power plants and the creation of training fund for Balochistan were discussed. For creating a training fund, it was decided that the matter shall be resolved within a fortnight.

After discussion on the other issues, the Adviser decided that the representatives from the Government of Balochistan and the relevant Federal Ministers should hold further meetings with representatives of the Law Division among them for expert advice and firm up proposals with consensus that could benefit both the Federal and Provincial Governments without violating the spirit of the18th Constitutional Amendment and the interests of any private party involved in the business. The groups are expected to hold meeting within a month’s time to firm up appropriate proposals for submission before the competent forum for final approval.

 
February 20, 2020 (PR No. 257)

Delegation of Commonwealth Enterprise called on Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

A delegation of Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) led by the Deputy Chairman of the Enterprise Rt Hon Sir Hugo Swire, called on the Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here at the Finance Division.

Head of the delegation briefed the Adviser that Commonwealth Enterprise has a mandate to facilitate trade and investment through 53 member nations of the Commonwealth. Every two years, they host the Commonwealth Business Forum in association with the Host country of CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings), told the delegation representative. This year the Commonwealth Business Forum 2020 is going to be held in Rwanda and they wish to invite the PM along with the Business delegations to the Forum, added the Deputy Chairman. As far as the working of the CWEIC is concerned, CWEIC highlights the key opportunities in the member countries and arrange small forums around the world to provide access to new markets, said Mr. Swire. The Deputy Chairman specially praised the efforts made by Pakistan to improve its rating on Ease of Doing Business Index and acknowledged the macro-economic stability Pakistan has gradually achieved.

The Adviser informed the delegation that Pakistan is making serious efforts to improve its business environment for foreign investors and it is in search of finding new markets for its exports and the commonwealth countries can become excellent destinations. He specially mentioned the steps taken by the Government for simplification of procedures that can reduce the administrative burden on investors, if they come here with their resources and expertise. In this context, joint efforts can be made to provide opportunities to Pakistan’s local businessmen. The Adviser appreciated the idea of creating a “business hub” and forming coalition among various hubs that can benefit all partners.

The Adviser assured the delegation for his support in their endeavors for forming business alliances and sharing useful experiences among the business groups for prosperity and development of the member states.

 
February 19, 2020 (PR No. 256)

Meeting of NPMC held under the Chairmanship of the Secretary Finance

The meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee was held under the chairmanship of the Secretary Finance here at the Finance Division.

Senior representatives of the Provincial Governments, ICT Administration, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Utility Stores Corporation, Pakistan Customs and Cabinet Division attended the meeting.

Data on CPI and SPI was presented by the Economic Adviser’s wing at the Finance Division with input from Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. It was noted that inflation has increased around 14.6% in January when compared to same period last year, noteworthy aspect being observed is that during the past five weeks the SPI (Sensitive Price Index) was showing a declining trend. On the week ending on 13th Feb 2020, SPI was -0.38. The prices of 13 items decreased and 19 remained stable in the past week. It was observed that wheat was the cheapest in Punjab and highest in Sindh ( Rs 809 per 20 kg and Rs 1058 respectively).

Secretary Finance, after concluding the discussion on the prices of the essential items and a follow up on the decisions taken in the last meeting, made the following conclusing remarks; he was also joined by Secretary NFS&R;

Prices of essential items are increasing in the markets around the country and causing unrest in the public, but it must also be remembered that after devolution the function of price control falls under the domain of the Provinces. They must accept this responsibility and make efforts to appease the masses.

The local governments should be ready and prepared to take additional measures during Ramazan to save masses from price hike. If any help is required from the Federal Government, the Federal Government shall be ready to facilitate.

Provinces should share information as to which items other than the essential items, they think, add to inflation and how the government can help in coping with the scarcity. They should also share and guide the federal government and other provincial governments that how network of sasta bazaars will help to reduce inflationary pressures on the common man.

Hoarding for profiteering should be checked at every level and every stage and necessary action under the law should be taken against profiteers and hoarders.

The local government heads should ensure display of price lists and its applicability.
Smuggling of essential food items should be dealt with utmost severity.

As far as the Federal Government is concerned, Secretary Finance stated, the issue is being taken with utmost importance as the Prime Minister is particularly interested in reducing the burden on the common man which is increasing due to increase in prices. The PM is personally engaging the provincial Chief Secretaries twice a week to ensure swift action. The PM has also given subsidy to Utility stores Corporation (Rs 15 billion) and there are suggestions to open more of the stores in various parts of the country where they are needed. Federal Government is also taking measures to control smuggling of essential food items. Ministry of NFS&R is also preparing proposals to be approved by ECC that will help in controlling the deficiency of essential items. The Federal Government is doing everything possible in its domain.

The Secretary said that “there will be accountability for all those who are not taking the appropriate action keeping in view the distress the general public is enduring due to increase in the prices, as the Government is mindful of the welfare of the people”.

It was also decided that there will be a follow up meeting in the next week as the PM has special interest in reducing the level of prices of essential items all over the country.

 
February 18, 2020 (PR No. 255)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue emphasized price stability

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul hafeez Shaikh chaired a high level meeting here at the Finance Division to evaluate the current situation of prices of essential food items in the country.

The Adviser was given a detailed briefing on the prices of essential items, the price trends over the years and the comparative situation of prices in the international markets. The Adviser was also briefed on the measures taken to control the price hike of essential food items and the preparations for the upcoming months including Ramazan.

The Adviser directed the relevant stakeholders to take all requisite measures to ensure that reasonable prices of all essential items are maintained across the country with effective coordination of the provincial governments and the burden on the common man is not enhancd with runaway prices.

 
February 18, 2020 (PR No. 254)

Minister for Science and Technology met with Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry called on the Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here at the Finance Division.

The Minister for Science and Technology discussed with the Adviser details of a proposal they are preparing for the promotion of Research and Development in the country specifically with reference to bio-technology and chemical production the country. The proposal envisages a liaison between the business community, different Universities and research institutions. The Minister briefed the Adviser that the proposal envisages an export value of $1.3 billion worth of chemicals that are used for different industrial purposes.

The Ministry of S&T is working on a proposal to establish Special Economic Zones to promote research in Chemicals and bio-technology, initially in some major cities of the country, said Minister for Science and Technology. The Minister also stated that research and development in the field will not only boost the quality of local production but also has chances to fetch foreign exchange by export. A pilot project shall be started soon, he said

The Adviser appreciated the prospects the project is likely to offer and the role of the Ministry of S&T in bringing in innovative ideas for the promotion of exports and promoting projects that will help in promotion of investment in research with commercial application. He assured the Ministry of S&T of all possible coordination and facilitation.

 
February 18, 2020 (PR No. 253)

Delegation of Mitsubishi Corporation called on the Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

A delegation of Mitsubishi Corporation called on the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here at the Finance Division.

The delegation gave an update of their new LNG Project terminal which is under construction at Port Qasim . The delegation briefed the Adviser on the status of progress on the project so far and the status of Import of LNG.

The adviser appreciated the performance of the Corporation and agreed to facilitate the corporation in coordination with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Ministry of Petroleum and other stakeholders to bring in valuable investment in the country.

 
February 17, 2020 (PR No. 252)

Finance Division dismisses speculations on IMF Review

The Ministry of Finance has described as misleading and factually incorrect a news item published in a section of the press suggesting that tough prior actions [are] needed for IMF’s $452 million third tranche.

In an official statement issued here, the Ministry of Finance has stated that it is completely normal for quarterly reviews to sometimes take a few days more than planned, which must never be viewed as something extraordinary; the second and third quarterly reviews will be presented before the IMF board separately as planned; no decision has been taken as to any prior actions; China is Pakistan’s iron brother and there is no apprehension whatsoever on the roll-over/refinancing of Chinese loans.

The article in question is equally ill-conceived in trying to portray that only a miracle can save the IMF program. The press statement issued by the IMF on Friday explains that:

“The IMF staff team had constructive and productive discussions with the Pakistani authorities and commended them on the considerable progress made during the last few months in advancing reforms and continuing with sound economic policies,” and that “[a]ll end-December performance criteria were met, and structural benchmarks have been completed.”

The Finance Division would like to make it very clear that the Government’s reform program supported by the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility is on track.

 
February 12, 2020 (PR No. 251)

UAE Ambassador called on Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Mr. Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salim Al-Zaabi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates called on the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here at the Finance Division.

Both sides discussed preparations for the upcoming Pak-UAE Joint Ministerial Commission meetings expected to be held by the end of the next month. The Ambassador apprised the Adviser about the visit of potential UAE investors, due in next month to look for opportunities of investment in the SME sector. The Ambassador also briefed the Advisor on the Dubai Expo 2020, where the Pakistan’s presence is expected to boost business and trade. He said that the Pak- UAE JMC and Dubai Expo 2020 are an excellent opportunity for Pakistan and UAE business leaders to interact and start joint ventures. Other bilateral issues were also discussed.

The Adviser appreciated the interest taken by the UAE business community to invest in Pakistan; he said that all possible cooperation shall be provided by the Finance Ministry to facilitate the bilateral trade between the two countries.

 
February 11, 2020 (PR No. 250)

Finance Division urges careful reporting of ebb and flow in stock market

The Ministry of Finance has described certain reports appearing in a section of the press over the ebb and flow of the Pakistan Stock Exchange yesterday as being unfortunate as such reports highlighting sharp volatility in the market damage the interest of the small investors and create uncertainty in the market.

“The role of the media in reporting the ebb and flow in the market needs to be carefully analysed particularly in the wake of rumours spread by a section of the media regarding alleged changes in the government’s economic team which sent wrong signal to the market and damaged the interest of small investors and hurt overall sentiment in the market,” says an official statement released by the Finance Division today.

The Ministry of Finance has noted that it is natural for the market to see a correction after rising sharply by over 50%. “Yesterday, the market fell 846 points. Today the market gained 417 points. These ebbs and flows of the market are driven by sentiments, whereas the fundamentals remain strong and continue to improve.”

The Ministry of Finance also pointed out that after rising by 50% from August 2019 to January 2020, the KSE 100 index had already been named as the top performing market in the world by Bloomberg in December 2019. The improved investor confidence was based on corrective measures taken by the government to reduce the twin deficits. These measures were also strongly endorsed by Moody’s Investor Services in December 2019 with an upgrade in outlook to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’. Foreign portfolio investment in the stock market during the first 6 months of the current fiscal year has also stood at US$ 18.8 million after 4 years of heavy selling by foreign investors.

 
February 11, 2020 (PR No. 249)

American Business Council delegation met with Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

A delegation of the American Business Council called on Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here at the Ministry of Finance.

During the meeting, the Adviser highlighted the government policies and measures aimed at facilitating the business and investment climate in the country with focus on the ease of doing business which had been acknowledged by the World Bank as well. He said that the government would take all possible measures to facilitate the businesses and provide them with a level-playing field as the government believed in investment and export-led growth which was more durable and sustainable.

The delegation lauded the efforts made by the government to promote investment in the country and shared with the Adviser a number of recommendations and proposals related to taxation, sale of IT products, tariff rationalization of imported goods, ports and shipping and registration processes. The Adviser assured them full government support for their business endeavours and said the government would continue to interact with the business community and investors to further streamline the business and investment regime in the country.

 
February 10, 2020 (PR No. 248)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired the meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet this afternoon.

ECC considered and approved the Technical Supplementary Grant for release of funds amounting to Rs 3300.00 million during FY 2019-20 in respect of the project tilted “Prime Minister’s special package to implement “Skill for All” strategy as catalyst for TVET sector Development in Pakistan.

ECC also approved the continuation of funding facility to ISGS. It was decided that the loan agreement between ISGS and GHPL be approved for a period of one year. Any extension thereafter be subject to progress on the undertaken projects and as soon as the first project reaches closure, ISGS needs to become financially self-sustaining and after closure of the project it will also put forward a business plan how it will return the loan.

ECC was given a briefing by the Ministry of Industries and Production on the current situation of sugar supply in the country. It was briefed to the ECC that adequate stocks of Sugar are available in the country but prices in both domestic and international market are showing an upward trend. In order to maintain the prices in the domestic market, ECC banned export of sugar.

ECC further directed that in case there is considerable decrease in available stock, ECC would be willing to reconsider the proposal for import of sugar as well as the removal of tariff and taxes on subject import. The members of the ECC were all convinced that there are adequate stocks of sugar available in the country and there is currently no compeling reason to import the commodity in the country. It was briefed to the ECC that there are 1.719 million tons of sugar stocks available with the Mills. ECC also directed Ministry to talk to the provincial governments to control price of the commodity in the country as it is provincial subject.

ECC also approved the request by the Ministry of Law and Justice for a technical supplementary grant of US$ 1 million equivalent to Pak rupees as legal and miscellaneous expenses in the case of Reko-Diq. ECC also directed the Ministry to give a detailed briefing on the details of the case in the next meeting.

 
February 10, 2020 (PR No. 247)

Govt policies based on good economic management -- Finance Division

The Ministry of Finance has said that the economic policies and economic reforms programme of the government being implemented with the support of IMF are based on sound and well-established principles of good economic management.

“The objective of these policies is stabilization in the first phase, followed by rapid, sustainable and inclusive growth,” says the Finance Division in response to certain news reports insinuating that the “IMF policies [are] leading to destruction of economy”.

The Finance Division has maintained that the government’s policies have already started showing positive results. There is significant improvement in economic indicators. The external sector has stabilized and the fiscal deficit has declined significantly in the first six months of the financial year.

Low tax-to-GDP ratio is amongst the fundamental problems of Pakistan’s economy. Unless this is corrected, the country cannot achieve prosperity. Therefore, a multi-pronged revenue mobilization strategy is being pursued to broaden the tax base and raise tax revenues in a balanced and equitable manner.

To cushion the low-income groups from any adverse effects of stabilization measures, the Government has allocated sufficient resources for income support and social protection programs and has increased spending on health and education. Furthermore, targeted energy subsidies have been given to the vulnerable group.

 
February 06, 2020 (PR No. 246)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting to discuss Power Sector issues

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chairs a meeting here at the Finance Division to discuss different issues related to the Power Sector.

In the presence of Minister for Energy, Adviser to PM on Petroleum, Secretary Energy and Secretary Finance, different proposal were discussed that were related to how monthly, quarterly and yearly adjustments should be treated and a uniform tariff could be given to the consumers for a period of 12 to 18 months to save them from the inflationary pressures. Tariff proposals for the industrial sector were also discussed.

Adviser Finance asked the Energy Division to take input from other stakeholders as well to build a final proposal with the objective of saving the energy consumers from inflationary pressures and providing ease by gradual reduction in the prevailing tariffs.

The participants are expected to firm up their proposals further with valuable input from other stakeholders before final approval by the competent forum (ECC).

 
February 04, 2020 (PR No. 245)

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said "Pakistan wants to enhance brotherly relations with Iran"

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said Pakistan wants to enhance brotherly relations with Iran and bilateral trade and investment are the potential areas for furthering this cooperation.

He made this statement while talking to Ambassador of Iran to Pakistan Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini who called on the Adviser here at the Finance Division on Tuesday. Both the sides discussed various ways and means to enhance mutual cooperation and enhance bilateral trade and investment ties.

The Adviser referred to recent efforts made by Pakistan as well as statements made by Prime Minister Imran Khan for ensuring regional peace by saying that any escalation of tension was harmful for the regional peace and Pakistan would keep playing its role for any possible facilitation to deescalate the situation.

Ambassador of Iran thanked Pakistan for its support and hoped the bilateral relations between the two countries would further grow in diversified fields, only trade, banking and investment.

 

 
February 04, 2020 (PR No. 244)

CCoP allowed open auction bidding for 27 state properties

The Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) has allowed open auction bidding for 27 land assets owned by federal government entities in pursuance of a federal cabinet decision to dispose of unproductive state lands and assets.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the CCoP held at the Cabinet Block with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

Earlier, the CCoP discussed the issue in detail and approved the recommendations of the Transaction Committee, Inter-Ministerial Committee and Privatisation Commission Board for an open auction bidding procedure and total reserve price of Rs 6.62 billion for 27 properties belonging to different federal government divisions and entities.

The CCoP was further told by the Privatisation Commission that the bidding process for the 27 properties was likely to be completed by the end of April 2020.

 
February 04, 2020 (PR No. 243)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Cabinet Division.

ECC considered and approved the grant of amount Rs 153.25million from the budget of the Ministry of Finance, as technical supplementary grant for the Ministry of Interior, to be given through the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad, for compensation to the victims of suicidal attack at District courts F-8 Islamabad on 03-3-2014. Finance Division supported the proposal in compliance with the orders of the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan.

In order to register Postal Life Insurance as Public Limited Company, ECC approved an amount of Rs 700 million as initial paid up capital. The amount shall be allocated by the Finance Division and transferred to the proposed Postal Life Insurance Company. After the approval Postal Life Insurance shall fall under the regulatory frame work of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

ECC also approved the Creation of Digital Media Wing in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The purpose of the Wing shall be to effectively counter the fake/libelous news and highlight the development agenda of the government. The ECC directed the MoI&B to move ahead for the creation of the wing by using its already available resources.

ECC also approved the amendment in SRO 192(1)/ 2019 dated 11-02-2019 extending exemption from regulatory duty to export oriented units.

ECC gave approval to the transfer of funds amounting to Rs 31.5 million in equivalent foreign exchange from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Defence as Technical Supplementary Grant for the logistic support for the maintenance of Cessna aircrafts.

ECC was attended by Federal Ministers for National Food Security and Research, Railways, Energy, Privatization and other senior officials of the different Ministries.

 
February 03, 2020 (PR No. 242)

Stabilisation policies, agri sector interventions, monitoring to help ease higher inflation -- Finance Division

Ministry of Finance has said that the outcome of stabilization policies, agriculture sector interventions, rigorous monitoring at federal/provincial levels and favourable weather will bring in better results in easing out inflation and sustain the economy towards growth and productivity in the coming days.

Adverse effects of pre-monsoon rains on wheat crop, disruption of supply chain of essential items due to harsh winters and thick fog, delay in harvest and arrival of crop in the market and lower production of vegetables, including tomato in Sindh, led to a higher food inflation but the change of weather and better supply of potatoes, tomatoes and onions should result in smooth supply and decrease price pressure, says the Finance Division in an official statement on Monday.

The Finance Division noted that another factor contributing to higher inflation was the global price impact due to international commodity prices like Palm oil increased by 43.9%, Soybean oil by 12.8%, Crude oil by 16.6%, etc in December 2019 over December 2018 also pushed up the domestic prices. Downward trajectory in crude oil in the market will result in downward pattern in domestic prices in coming months.

While the factors above are likely to ease the inflation, the government has also taken several relief measures to protect the vulnerable from the price-hike. These measures include provision of subsidy to Utility Stores Corporation on 05 essential items for which Rs. 7 billion has been transferred to Ministry of Industries and Production; Rs. 226.5 billion allocated in the budget, Rs. 141 billion already released so far, for low end consumers using less than 300 units of electricity in a month; PM’s Ehsaas program with doubled social safety net allocation of Rs.190bn from 100bn; out of Rs. 24 billion allocated for gas subsidy, Rs. 12 billion have so far been released; and Rs. 1000 per family given to 5.1 million families as a special transfer in August, 2019.

Similarly, Rs. 5,000 quarterly tranche was paid to 4.3 million poor families in December, 2019; Under Kifalat monthly stipends of Rs. 2,000 per month to 4.5 million families for consumption smoothing starting from 1st February, 2020; 1 million new beneficiaries to be added to Kifalat in the next five months with a monthly transfer of Rs. 2,000; undergraduate scholarships to cover the cost of tuition fee and other expenses at the University for 50,000 needy students; Rs. 750 for boys and Rs. 1,000 for girls quarterly stipends to primary school going children three million children covered; record allocation Rs.152 bn for merged FATA districts; and reduced GST on LPG to 10% from 17%.

The Ministry of Finance said the government had also devised a strategy to control and ease out the impact of inflation through a host of policy measures which included ECC permission for import of 0.3 million tons of wheat to decrease the local wheat price and meet the domestic requirement; Zero borrowing by Govt from SBP in Current FY. Government retired Rs. 837.2 billion (1st July-17th January 2020) compared to borrowing of Rs. 3770.5 billion same period last year; Reduction in fiscal deficit, primary surplus H1FY 20; monetary tightening and demand compression by austerity; complete restriction on supplementary grants; prices monitoring Cell in Ministry of National Food Security & Research to check price hikes of essential food items; network of Sasta Bazaars and Utility Store outlets is being expanded for provision of essential items; cheaper Roti provided with subsidy of Rs.1.5 bn for public tandoors; provincial governments monitoring display of price list and quality of items in open market and Sasta Bazaars; and 10) effective measures being taken by the CCP to control Cartelization and undue Profiteering.

 
February 01, 2020 (PR No. 241)

Govt borrowed Rs 4.11 trillion to finance budget deficit in 15 months -- Finance Division

Finance Division lays before the National Assembly the Debt Policy Statement and Fiscal Policy Statement every year to fulfil the requirements laid out under Section 6 and 7 of the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act 2005. The recent statements cover the 15-month period including FY 2018-19 and first quarter of FY 2019-20 and contain all factual information with respect to debt and fiscal performance over the stated period.

The figure of increase in Total Debt and Liabilities by Rs 11.61 trillion being reported in the media needs to be properly interpreted, says a press release issued by the Ministry of Finance, as the Government borrowed only Rs 4.11 trillion to finance its budget deficit.

The figure of Total Debt and Liabilities consists of the following five components:

1. Total Public Debt
2. Public Sector Entities’ (PSE) Debt
3. Debt for Commodity Operations
4. Foreign Exchange Liabilities of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)
5. Private Sector’s External Debt

Out of the total increase of Rs 11.61 trillion in Total Debt and Liabilities during Jul 2018 - Sep 2019,

  • Rs 3.54 trillion (31% of the increase) is due to currency depreciation which is a consequence of the misplaced exchange-rate, industrial, and trade policies of the previous government that led to large and unsustainable current account deficits and ultimately to sharp exchange rate adjustment;
  • Rs 3.13 trillion (27% of the increase) is on account of cash balances and SBP’s foreign exchange liabilities. It should not be interpreted as Debt because it is offset by cash balances of government and liquid assets of SBP.
  • Rs 4.11 trillion (35% of the increase) has been borrowed for financing of fiscal deficit;
  • Rs 0.47 trillion (4% of the increase) has been borrowed by PSEs for spending on their financing needs;
  • Rs 0.08 trillion (-1% of the increase) has been retired on account of commodity operations which is a welcome development;
  • Rs 0.25 trillion (2% of the increase) is due to accounting adjustment due to difference in realized value and face value of long-term bonds issued during this period;
  • Rs 0.18 trillion (2% of the increase) has been borrowed by private sector from external sources which is a healthy sign indicating private sector’s capacity to borrow from abroad for domestic investments.
 
January 29, 2020 (PR No. 240)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet today at the Cabinet Division.

ECC considered and approved waiving off all port dues/ charges amounting to Rs 194,951,059 on 31-1-2020 or till the vessels leave the port accruing against Karkey. The said waiver was required as a consequence of the settlement agreement reached between the Government of Pakistan and Karkey.
On the summary moved by the Ministry of Industries and Production for the payment of outstanding liabilities of Pakistan Steel Mills against Sui-Southern Gas Company for the non- payment of Gas bills, ECC approved the release of Rs.350 million for the partial settlement of the SSGC liability.

Establishment of Trust Fund to implement risk sharing facility under 3rd Tranche of US$10 million of credit line of US$140 million obtained from World Bank for Pakistan Mortgage Refinance Company Limited (PMRCL) was also approved. The purpose of the Trust will be to leverage the Trust Funds by issuing guarantees in favor of the mortgagors to cover possible losses from eligible mortgage loans.

Finance Division also sought approval for the demand of Rs 80 million as Technical supplementary grant in the budget of the Finance Division for the Financial Year 2019-20 for providing assistance for families of the government employees who expired during service and provision of Adhoc relief allowance 2019.

ECC also approved the proposal sent by the Ministry of Finance for the issuance of direction of the Federal Government to the State Bank of Pakistan under sub-section 6(A) of the section 17 of the SBP Act 1956 to sell its shares in House Building Finance Company Limited (HBFCL).

ECC approved the grant of Technical Supplementary Grant amounting to Rs.100 million to National Information Technology Board (NITB) under the Ministry of IT & Telecommunication for centralized procurement of ICT infrastructure to ensure e-readiness of Federal Government for the implementation of the E-governance program.

 
January 20, 2020 (PR No. 239)

ECC allowed import of 0.3 million tonnes of wheat

A meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has allowed import of 0.3 million tonnes of wheat to decrease the local wheat price and meet the domestic requirement.

Under the decision, the wheat would be imported by the private sector by withdrawing regulatory duty to the extent of the approved quantity. The ECC further decided that the wheat to be imported under the ECC decision would be allowed in the country until 31st March 2020 to ensure that the local wheat to be available from the start of April was picked up at the right price from the market. The ECC also issued instruction for the immediate release of stocks held by the PASSCO and the provincial departments.

Besides the import of wheat, the ECC approved a proposal by the Ministry of Industries and Production to reduce the GIDC on gas consumed by the fertilizer manufacturers from Rs 405 to Rs 5 per bag so that this benefit could be passed on to the farmers.

ECC also allowed the raising of Rs 200 billion on the request of Ministry of Energy (Power Division) from the Islamic Banks as fresh facility through Power Holding Limited by way of issuance of Pakistan Energy Sukuk-II against assets of the DISCOs/GENCOs as collateral through open competitive bidding to procure financing in a fair and transparent manner. The amount will be utilized for the purpose of the funding the repayment liabilities of the DISCOs.

ECC approved the proposed mechanism by the Ministry of Finance for the grant of Sovereign guarantees. All requests for government guarantees are to be accompanied by request for guarantee by the governing body of PSE’s. Further

  • Every request must be reviewed and endorsed by the concerned Administrative Ministry/Department of the relevant entity.
  • Audited Financial statements of previous year prior to issuance of guarantee is mandatory for evaluation of guarantee request
  • Business plan including an explanation of the business model and financial projections for at least 5 years;
  • A note explaining the following;
    1. Whether its need for guarantee is short term or long term
    2. Business model followed by the entity since inception or over the last 5 years, whichever is less
    3. Financial as well as non-financial performance of the entity since its inception or over the last five years, whichever is less
    4. Request, along with justification, for the type and amount of guarantee needed by the entity and the timelines over which it is required

The Finance Division shall evaluate the request internally and finalize its recommendations with the approval of the Finance Secretary.

ECC also approved the report on proposed exemption of 5% sales tax on cotton seed cake. It was briefed to the ECC that in case the exemption of sales tax on Cotton Seed Cake cannot be introduced during CFY 2019-20, the same can be considered for inclusion in the Finance Bill of 2020-2021.

The approval of Technical Supplementary Grant of Rs. 96.652 million of National Book Foundation in favor of Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training was also granted by ECC.

Technical Supplementary Grant amounting to Rs 15 million for centralized procurement of ICT infrastructure to ensure e-readiness of Federal Government for implementation of E-Governance program was also approved.

ECC granted approval to the request of the Ministry of Interior for the Technical Supplementary Grant amounting to 458 million for payment of subsistence allowance to Personnel of Civil Armed Forces deployed in UN Peacekeeping Missions.

 
January 14, 2020 (PR No. 238)

Govt taking steps to address inflation, low domestic productivity -- Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said the government is taking steps to tackle inflation and enhance domestic productivity through greater spending on social safety net, improving cash transfer programme, ensuring greater ease of doing business and providing subsidized loans, electricity and gas to the exporters.

“The government has worked very hard to pull the economy out of the ICU as it was in 2018, and the stage is now set for greater stabilization and enhanced domestic productivity that would help overcome inflation, boost businesses and create more employment opportunities,” he said while talking to Ambassador of France Dr. Marc Barety who called on the Adviser at Finance Division today.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said that the government was focusing on revitalising the agriculture sector and several mega projects had been approved for improving irrigation management, watercourses and construction of water storage facilities at the farm level. These projects are also aimed at productivity enhancement of various crops, oilseeds enhancement, cage culture development, shrimp farming cluster development and water conservation in arid areas.

He said the government had doubled the social safety budget from Rs 100 billion to Rs 190 billion while it had also recently revamped its cash transfer programme by replacing nearly 800,000 people with more deserving people. The government had also recently launched a special food package at a cost of Rs 7 billion to provide essential food items at reduced rates through the utility stores to the poor segment of population adversely affected by the food inflation.

On the macro front, he said the government had brought down the current account deficit from 20 billion dollars to 13 billion dollars and it would be further reduced to 8 billion dollars this year. Similarly, exports which had remained stagnant for almost five years had showing an upward trend.

He said the revenue collection had jumped by 16 per cent and foreign direct investment had gone up by 280 per cent growth in the current financial year. Similarly, Pakistan’s exchange rate had begun to stabilize due to enhanced external flows while Pakistan Stock Exchange had been declared by Bloomberg as the best performing market in the world.

France Ambassador to Pakistan Dr. Marc Barety said he was impressed with the good work done by the government in Pakistan to introduce institutional reforms and achieve stability and growth. He said both France and Pakistan enjoyed excellent relationship and hoped this relationship would further deepen in coming days through greater economic collaborations and business partnerships.

 
January 13, 2020 (PR No. 237)

Fitch Ratings has affirmed Pakistan's sovereign credit rating at B- with a Stable Outlook in its press release dated 13th January, 2020

Fitch takes note of the improved external resilience due to the policy actions taken by the Government. Going forward, Fitch forecasts further narrowing of the current account deficit to 2.1 percent of GDP in FY20 and 1.9 percent in FY21, from 4.9 percent in the last fiscal year. The Rating Agency has also appreciated the adoption of a flexible exchange rate by the State Bank of Pakistan. According to Fitch, with the reform agenda on track as evident from the successful review of the arrangement with the IMF, the Government is consolidating public finances though stronger revenue growth, broadening of tax base and increased documentation of the economy.

Fitch has also acknowledged improved fiscal discipline, ensured by the recently introduced Public Financial Management Act and the steps taken by the Government to manage domestic debt risks following cessation of borrowing from the State Bank of Pakistan. The country’s progress on business reforms, reflected in the country's move from 136th to 108th in the World Bank's latest Ease of Doing Business survey is also noted as a significant achievement.

Going forward, Fitch Ratings expects continuation of policies to further ease external account vulnerabilities, strengthening of fiscal consolidation and further improvement in business environment as key drivers for enhanced economic stability.

 
January 13, 2020 (PR No. 236)

New measures to help achieve $24 billion remittances target for FY2020

The growth in foreign remittances that soared to $ 11.4 billion during the July-December period of FY 2020 is likely to continue for the rest of the year due to a host government measures that may help achieve the target of $ 24 billion set for the financial year 2020.

“Due to this increasing trend in remittances, the target of $ 24.0 billion at the end of FY2020 is likely to be achieved as the data of last five years suggests that the workers remitted more in the last six months as compared to the first six months of the fiscal year,” said a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance.

The Ministry said that seasonal effect was also a leading factor in boosting remittances and it was expected that with the start of Ramadan and the following Eid, the flow of remittances would increase as the workers generally sent more money during the holy events and activities.

Giving a break-up of the remittances received during the Jul-Dec 2019, the statement said that the remittances reached $ 11.394 billion as compared to $ 11.030 billion in the corresponding period last year, showing a growth of 3.3 percent. Overseas Pakistani workers remitted $ 2.097 billion in December 2019 as compared to $ 1.819 billion during November 2019.

On month-to-month basis, the remittances increased by $277.56 million in December, with a growth of 15.25per cent, the highest recorded remittances in a month since May 2019. Similarly, on year-to-year basis, remittances witnessed a growth of 20 per cent in December 2019 as compared to 0.14 per cent in the corresponding period last year. The share of remittances from Saudi Arabia was at 23.0 per cent ($ 2618.0 mn), U.A.E 20.6 percent ($ 2349.3mn), USA 16.6 per cent ($ 1889.8 mn), U.K 15.4 ($ 1753.0 mn), other GCC countries 9.6 per cent ($ 1089.20 mn), Malaysia 7.0 per cent ($ 798.0 mn), EU 3.0 per cent ($ 339.2 mn) and other countries 4.8 per cent.

The statement by the Ministry of Finance further said that increased efforts by the Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI) helped to attract higher remittances from the Pakistani diaspora through Enhancing outreach, Reimbursement of T.T. Charges Scheme (Free-send Model) and Improvements in Payment System Infrastructure etc. Similarly, visa fee reduction from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is likely to boost up the inflows while export of manpower had also been increased from 382,000 to 625,000 during January-December 2019, with an increase of 243,000 as compared to the corresponding period last years.

The statement further said that the government had improved its diplomatic relations with the Gulf States which had helped restored the confidence of foreign employers in Pakistani workforce. Similarly, reimbursement of T.T. Charges Scheme had also been revised in December 2019. Accordingly, the amount of home remittance transaction equal to and above USD 100/- but less than USD 200/- (or equivalent in other currencies) would be reimbursed at SAR 10/ while the amount of home remittance transaction equal to and above USD 200/- (or equivalent in other currencies) would continue to be reimbursed at SAR 20/-.

In order to further encourage promotion of home remittances through formal channels, the Government of Pakistan had re-launched the performance based scheme effective from January 01, 2020 in which, Rs. 1 per each incremental USD mobilized over 15% growth in remittances in calendar year 2020 compared with the levels achieved in calendar year 2019.

 
January 09, 2020 (PR No. 235)

Seats for two federal colleges approved, others being expedited

Ministry of Finance has described as factually incorrect a news report published in a section of the press claiming that the Ministry of Finance had been using bureaucratic procedures to delay the sanction of 64 posts of teaching and non-teaching staff for federal colleges despite their approval and recommendation by the Planning Commission.

In a statement, the Finance Division has clarified that the case for creation of 64 posts for IMCG I-8/3, IMCG I-14/3, was moved to Finance Division without complete information and requisite documentation. Hence the matter was referred back to Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training for the needful.

The statement further said that requisite input from the relevant ministry had been received and the case was being processed in an expeditious manner. The statement pointed out that similar posts for educational institutions in Bhara Kahu and Sihala areas of Islamabad had already been approved by the Finance Division and the same had been acknowledged and mentioned in the news report, belying the impression of red-tape created by the news report in the case of other colleges.

 
January 09, 2020 (PR No. 234)

Economy moving progressively on adjustment, stabilisation path

The Ministry of Finance has said that the government’s extensive measures have helped the economy move progressively along the adjustment path and stabilization process and economic recovery is expected towards the end of FY2020.

“The government is focused on bringing improvement in the real sector growth through inclusive growth in agriculture, industrial and services sectors,” said a statement by the Finance Division in response to certain news reports carried in a section of the regarding downward revision of growth by the World Bank.

The government is cognizant of challenges and stringently focused on resolving them particularly, reducing inflation, creating job opportunities and achieving high growth rate. Keeping in view the positive developments on major economic indicators, we expect that the economy will likely to achieve better growth prospects as against the projections of the World Bank.

The World Bank in its report ‘2020 Global Economic Prospects’ had forecasted Pakistan`s current year growth rate at 2.4% before touching 3 % next fiscal year and 3.9 % in FY2022. The bank’s report had also mentioned that the growth had decelerated an estimated 3.3 % in FY2018-19, reflecting a broad-based weakening in domestic demand. In addition, the report had described that significant depreciation of the Pakistani rupee resulted in inflationary pressures, monetary policy tightening restricted access to credit, curtailing public investment to deal with large twin deficits and budget deficit rose more sharply than expected.

It may be pointed out that during FY2019, the slowdown in economy was largely attributed to various policy measures to manage the twin deficit crisis. Consequently, these measures helped to contain demand pressures and contributed to import compression. However, the outcomes of these measures were realized on the industrial sector. Particularly LSM sector witnessed a negative growth. At the same time, high input costs along with water shortages weakened agriculture sector’s output and hence, the drag in the commodity-producing segments spilled over to the services sector as well. Resultantly, the real GDP growth recorded at 3.3 percent.

At the start of current fiscal year, with government’s extensive measures, Pakistan’s economy is now moving progressively along the adjustment path and stabilization process; however towards the end of FY2020, economic recovery is expected. In this regard, Government is focused on bringing improvement in the real sector growth through inclusive growth in agriculture, industrial and services sectors.

For growth in agriculture sector, the target production of wheat is 27 million tons given by FCA in last meeting held in October. In addition to uplift agriculture sector “National Agriculture Emergency Programme” in coordination with all provinces has been introduced and approved 13 mega projects at the cost of Rs 287 billion. Agriculture credit disbursement target for CFY20 has been set at Rs.1,350 billion. Agriculture credit disbursement increased by 20% to Rs 482 bn during Jul-Nov, FY2020 against Rs.402 bn last year.

To boost industrial sector, the government is providing a series of subsidies and incentives to industrial sector. These include subsidies to industry for electricity and gas, export development package and continue to provide Long-Term Trade Financing (LTFF) and Export-Refinancing Scheme (ERS) at subsidized rate.

Similarly, PSDP release process is simplified and up to 3rd January, 2020 Rs.301.4bn (Rs.225.4 bn) released to encourage construction related industries especially cement & steel. In addition, Cement dispatches growth of 6.55% (24.8 mn) during July-Dec, FY2020 against 23.2 mn in the last year. This development would likely stimulate the growth in LSM in coming months.

On fiscal side, to control expenditures, government is following austerity measures with complete restriction on supplementary grants. For export promotion several initiatives have been announced such as support duty structure on raw materials and intermediate goods, improve mechanism for tax refunds, provide electricity and gas at competitive cost, and make Pakistan part of the global value chain.

Government’s various measures to stabilize the economy has already started to reap benefits in the form of sustained adjustment in current account deficit (CAD) and continued fiscal prudence. A brief review indicates that CAD reduced by 72.9% during July-November FY2020, Fiscal deficit contained at 1.6% of GDP (Rs 686 bn) during Jul-Nov FY2020 ,Primary balance posted surplus of Rs 117 bn during Jul-Nov, FY2020 (0.3 percent of GDP), significant rise in FBR tax revenues to Rs.2085.2 bn (16.4 %) during July-December, FY2020, improved ranking in ease of doing business, ranked among the world’s top 10 best business climate improver and ‘Stable’’ credit outlook to B3 from ‘Negative’ by Moody’s is an affirmation of Government’s success in stabilizing the economy and laying a foundation for robust growth.

 
January 08, 2020 (PR No. 233)

CCOE urged plan to improve energy supply, reduce shortage

The Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) in its meeting held on Wednesday with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair has sought a detailed plan from the Ministry of Energy to overcome the shortage of energy and improve gas supplies throughout the year.

The instruction was given to the Ministry of Energy after it briefed the Cabinet Committee on Energy on the current situation of demand and supply of gas/RLNG, natural gas allocation and management, average gas supplies, winter load management, indigenous gas production, supplies and consumption in different regions and LNG requirement by the SNGPL/SSGC.

Earlier, the CCoE was told that due to lack of gas exploration during the last 10 years, production of gas had declined by 7 per cent while demand had risen by 5 per cent annually which had resulted in a heavy gas shortfall which stood at nearly 270mmcfd in December 2019. One of the major reasons for this upsurge is the consumption of gas in winter season, almost double than the summer, by the domestic sector which prefers to use heavily-subsidized gas as compared to other energy sources, the meeting was told.

The CCoE was further told that work to add 70mmcfd in SSGC system and take LNG supplies for SNGPL up to 1300mmcfd had already started but its implementation was hampered by grant of Right of Ways from the Government of Sindh which had granted only one so far and two more were still awaited since last summer. With these measures, nearly 70mmcfd gas is likely to be added to SSGC by end January.

The CCoE was further told that in view of 2020-21 projections showing a shortfall of 477mmcfd, the government had decided to build additional terminals and five new private terminals had been awarded in Nov 2019, while process for a dedicated pipeline of 1.2 BCFD+ required to carry imported LNG from these terminals to north, would also begin soon.

The CCoE noted that there was a need to work on contingency plans for 2020-21 to overcome the gas shortage and improve its supplies by using energy produced through gas and electricity as a whole to provide more options to energy consumers and bring in more efficiency in the system.

The CCoE also asked the Ministry of Energy to brief it in the next meeting on the current situation in power sector so that the issues and problems in both the gas and power sectors could be properly analyzed and contextualised uniformly to come up with realistic and more efficient solutions to bridge the gap between the demand and supply in the energy sector.

 
January 08, 2020 (PR No. 233)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet here at the Cabinet Division.

ECC approved the Technical Supplementary Grant of Rs 1.00 billion under demand No.04-Cabinet Division for establishment of Pakistan Tourism Development Endowment Fund under Public account. The Chair directed Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation to come up with their tourism development and soft image promotion plan in the next meeting.

ECC also granted approval of allocation of Gas from PGNiG’s RIZQ Gas Field to M/S SSGCL. It was briefed to the ECC that currently 2 wells namely Rizq-1 and Rizq -2 are producing 16 MMFCD gas from Rizq gas field, which are allocated to M/s SSGCL, whereas Rizq -3 which is under drilling, is expected to add another 9 to 10 MMCFD gas to the existing production. Upon completion of this well, the cumulative gas production from this gas field is expected to raise upto 25 MMCFD. The price of the gas shall be according to the applicable Petroleum Policy.

ECC also gave approval for the constitution of the price Negotiation Committee (PNC) for TAPI(Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) Gas pipeline project. The PNC shall negotiate the price with Turkmen gas. The Committee shall consist of the following members; Secretary, Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) as chairman. Secretary Finance or his nominee, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Energy (Power Division), Director General (Gas)/ Director (Gas) and Managing Director, SSGCL as members.

On the Demand moved by the Ministry of Industries and Production for Rs 3.02 billion for the payment of outstanding dues of SSGC Private Limited by Pakistan Steel Mills on account of gas bills, the ECC directed to constitute a three-member Committee under the Chairmanship of Secretary Finance to find out a feasible solution for the issue so that the already allocated budget may not be exceeded and the liabilities of both SSGC and PSM are duly settled.

ECC directed Ministry of Finance to explore the possibilities for improving the liquidity position of Pakistan State Oil as exchange losses of around Rs 28 billion have incurred on FE-25 loans by PSO. The loans were acquired under the instructions of Ministry of Finance for financing of import operations of PSO. Finance Ministry assured the ECC of utilization of possible all funding options in the ongoing financial year and any deficiency in the funds shall be entertained in the upcoming budget.

ECC granted extension of Government of Pakistan guarantee against credit facility of National Bank of Pakistan amounting to PKR 5 billion in favor of Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan.

On the request of the Ministry of Water Resources ECC granted approval to WAPDA to raise loan for the settlement of the Financial Facility amounting to PKR to PKR 17.500 billion with one-year tenure and GoP guarantee. Clearance under Prudential Regulations R-4(clause 1a and 2) from the State Bank of Pakistan to disburse the facility initially against a letter of comfort was also granted.

 
January 06, 2020 (PR No. 232)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

A meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has recommended for submission to the federal Cabinet a set of amendments proposed by the Ministry of Energy to the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electronic Power Act 1997.

The ECC was told that the proposed amendments to the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electronic Power Act 1997 were aimed at bringing more clarity and precision in the market operation, uniform tariff, timely submissions and determination of quarterly and annual tariffs.

The ECC discussed the proposed draft amendments in detail and recommended their submission to the cabinet with a slight modification in the text to make it more clear as per input from some members of the ECC.

After the ECC’s go-ahead, the proposed Amendments would be taken up by the federal Cabinet and later submitted to the National Assembly Secretariat for further discussion by the NA Standing Committee and other relevant stakeholders, including Nepra, before being put to vote by the House.

 
January 06, 2020 (PR No. 231)

ECNEC approved Southern Punjab Poverty Alleviation Project

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Revenue and Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of Executive committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) here at the Cabinet Division. ECNEC considered and approved seven projects put forth by Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives.

ECNEC considered and approved the Southern Punjab Poverty Alleviation Project (SPPAP)-IFAD assisted, Revised-III at the total cost of Rs15.52 billion with Rs 7.5 billion as the FEC. Government of Punjab and the International Fund for Agricultural Development are the financers of the project and the aim of the project is to contribute to reduction of poverty in the Southern Punjab Region through improving the living standards of the people, boosting agricultural production and provision of infrastructure such as water supply, irrigation, access roads, sanitation and drainage facilities to the population. The project is expected to be complete by 2023. It was briefed to the ECNEC that the main cause of the revision in the cost of the project was the change in the exchange rate.

ECNEC also gave approval to “Higher Education Development in Pakistan” (HEDP) Islamabad, at the total cost of Rs12.08 billion with FEC of Rs 7.72 billion to be provided by World Bank IDA Financing. The project has five components; Nurturing academic excellence in strategic sectors, supporting decentralized Higher Education Institutes for improved teaching and learning, equipping students and Higher Education Institutions with modern technology, Higher Education Management Information System and Data driven services and technical assistance. The project is expected to raise the overall quality of Higher Education in the country with the use of IT services.

The “Pakistan Multi Mission Communication satellite system(PakSat-MMI) project” for the establishment of the Geostationary Communication Satellite and its ground control stations located inside Pakistan, cohosted with the PakSat-IR ground control equipment also got approval by ECNEC at the total cost of Rs 39.7 billion. 15% of the cost of the project shall be finance through Federal PSDP and 85% shall be Chinese Concessional Loan. The project aims to help in increasing mobile density, tele density, broadband internet density, employment generation and quick to establish means of communication over a large geographical area stretching beyond national borders. The project shall complete in 44 months.

ECNEC approved the Terbela 4th Extension Hydropower project Revised PC I, at the total cost of Rs122.9 billion. The objective of the project is the expansion of the present capacity of Terbela Dam Hydro Power Project from 3478 MW to 4888 MW (addition of 1410 MW) by installation of three units of 470 MW on the existing irrigation tunnel 4. World Bank IBRD/IDA shall be providing 90% of the financing of the project (US$692 million) and 10% of the financing shall be done by WAPDA’s own resources. The Project is located at Swabi and Haripur Districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The renewable Energy Development Sector Investment Program (3rd Revised) also got approval by ECNEC at the total cost of Rs12.8 billion with Rs 8.84 billion as FEC. The project shall be sponsored by the Government of Punjab with the financial assistance of Asian Development Bank (ADB). The main objective of the REDSIP project is construction of hydel projects i.e Marala (7.64 MW), Chianwali (5.38 MW), Deg-Outfall (4.04 MW) and Pakpattan (2.82 MW) at Canal Falls of Punjab. The project also envisaged capacity building of Energy Department, Punjab and PCII for additional feasibility studies/ construction of hydropower stations in Punjab.

The “Evacuation of Power from Wind power projects at Jhimpir and Gharo Wind Clusters” Revised PC-I at the total cost of Rs13.40 billion was also approved by ECNEC. The National Transmission & Despatch Company Ltd. (NTDC) will be the Executing Agency. The main objective of the project is evacuation of 1256 MW power from the Wind Power Plants (WPPs)installed at Jhimpir and Gharo wind clusters for supply of power to respective load centers of DISCO i.e HESCO through transmission network of NTDC system. The Project shall be financed by KfW (27 million Euros) and NTDC’s own resources. The expected time for the completion of the project is 33 months.

In today’s meeting the Report of the Committee constituted by ECNEC (on its meeting of 15-7-2019) for the determination of tariff for PC I based public Sector Power Projects was also presented. According to the submission of the Report it was decided that “in future all Power Projects (irrespective of fuel technology) funded through PSDP should comply with NEPRA tariff regime by applying to NEPRA for tariff determination at feasibility, EPC and COD stages, including Balakot Hydropower project. Public sector Projects must have assured funding”.

The Chair directed the Ministry of Planning to inform the forum on the status of all PSDP funded projects in the next meeting.

 
January 02, 2020 (PR No. 230)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired the Inter-Ministerial meeting

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the Inter-Ministerial meeting regarding the issue of pending payments by Etisalat. Minister for IT Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui was also present in the meeting.

In the presence of all the stakeholders i.e Secretary IT, Secretary Privatization Commission and Secretary Finance, pending matters regarding the final settlement were discussed in detail. The Adviser to the PM on Finance said that “we want to move beyond the status quo maintained on the issue for over a decade and bring the matter to a final settlement beneficial for our country and our long-term business interests”.

The Adviser directed the participants to come up with the final proposal for the resolution of the pending payments before the end of this month.

 
January 01, 2020 (PR No. 229)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue urged FBR to strive for optimal resource mobilisation

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has asked Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to aggressively follow up on its agreement with the traders to expand the tax base, work optimally to enrol nearly 20,000 points of sales in the country, grant timely and full payment of tax refunds and draw up and pursue a futuristic work-plan using modern communication tools to achieve organisational targets and goals in an ongoing manner.  

“An efficient and robust communication with the public and stakeholders should be at the centre of every activity undertaken by FBR to harness public support for its efforts for broadening the tax base and promoting a tax-compliant culture in the country,” he said during a visit to FBR House where he was given a detailed presentation by the Chairman FBR Mr. Shabbar Zaidi and his team on the results of various revenue collection initiatives and reforms, key challenges, public facilitation and confidence-building measures to boost the revenue growth and resource mobilisation. Secretary Finance Naveed Kamran Baloch, Special Secretary Finance Omar Hamid Khan and Members of FBR were also present.

Earlier, Chairman FBR told the Adviser that FBR had registered 16.3 per cent revenue growth by collecting Rs 2,083.2 billion as per provisional figures for the period between July-December 2019, netting Rs 292.3 billion more than the revenue collected during the corresponding period last year. Similarly, he said that more than 2.168 million tax returns had been received by FBR by 31st of December 2019 and at least 600,000 more people were likely submit their returns in the time extended till end January 2020.

The Chairman also dilated on the domestic tax collection which had picked significantly showing 21 per cent growth in domestic income tax, 34 per cent growth in domestic sales tax and 25.6 per cent increase in domestic federal excise duty, raising the share of domestic revenue to Rs 1,172 billion in the overall tax collection so far as against Rs 934.5 billion in the corresponding period last year.

Mr. Shabbar Zaidi said the FBR had doubled its focus on the taxpayer facilitation and automation of processes and now all steps of interaction of taxpayers with the department, including registration, issuance of certificates, returning filing, audit and monitoring were fully automated. He said FBR had given away tax refunds worth Rs 100 billion to the taxpayers so far this year as against Rs 36 billion refunds given last year.  

The Adviser lauded the Chairman FBR and his team for a commendable performance and asked them to redouble their efforts for an optimal revenue collection in view of the current economic condition of the country where the people were looking more towards FBR because each dollar not earned by the revenue authority would have to be borrowed from somewhere else, affecting the future choices of the country.

He also advised the FBR management to follow an integrated media and communication plan using all modern tools of information and expertise of top-level service and content providers in the market to communicate with the public and share with them on a consistent basis the results of efforts on revenue collection and tax facilitation, particularly its agreement with the traders and the follow-up work afterwards, enrolment of 20,000 new POS (point of sales), progress on release of tax refunds, information about changes in Form H and the result of other reforms undertaken so far by the FBR. “These areas should be the focus of the FBR team in the new year,” emphasised the Adviser.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said all his support was available to the FBR team for their honest work and he hoped that the revenue collection arm of the government would not disappoint the nation and work harder to fulfil the expectations of the Prime Minister.

The Chairman FBR said that he had appointed five new complaint commissioners for the redress of complaints and by March many of the pending cases would be resolved. He also committed to provide results of their sector-wise collection and progress on new initiatives and implementation of reforms to the Adviser in the next week.
 
December 31, 2019 (PR No. 228)

POL prices revised as per OGRA recommendations

The Government has decided to revise the prices of petroleum products for the month of January 2020 as recommended by OGRA. 

The new POL prices are as follows

(Rs. / liter)

Product

Existing Prices w.e.f.
01-12-2019

New Prices w.e.f.
01-01-2020

Increase (+)/
Decrease (-)

MS (Petrol)

113.99

116.60

+ 2.61

High Speed Diesel (HSD)

125.01

127.26

+ 2.25

Kerosene (SKO)

96.35

99.45

+ 3.10

Light Diesel Oil (LDO)

82.43

84.51

+ 2.08

 
December 30, 2019 (PR No. 227)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting with Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan

The Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting with a six-member delegation of the “Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan” (ABAD) here today.

The delegation was represented by Mr. Hassan Bakhshi, various proposals were presented that could enhance and boost the property business in the country and improve tax collection for the government. The proposals were regarding taxation rates on property, building height restrictions in Karachi and rationalization of Property valuation tables and some other policy related exemptions that could help in smooth functioning of the property business and further accelerate the economic activity in the country.

The Adviser to the Prime Minister discussed the proposals in detail with the delegation and after taking the views of the Chairman FBR, assured the members of the delegation that all possible help will be provided to the sector keeping in view the principles of equity, transparency and fair play. The Adviser said that he realizes the importance of the business and wants to engage more with the sector for better facilitation and understanding. He directed the delegation to further refine their proposals for a positive outcome and meet again in the second week of January so that the matters could progress ahead.

 
December 30, 2019 (PR No. 226)

ECC decided to withdraw duties on imported cotton

Under the Chairmanship of the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) decided to withdraw the 3% regulatory Duty, 2% additional Customs Duty and 5% Sales Tax on the imported cotton from January 15th 2020. The decision was taken in the light of the information provided to the ECC after the 1st Cotton Crop Assessment Committee’s meeting held on October 4th 2019, in which it was briefed that against the target production of 15 million bales of cotton for FY 2019-20, the cotton production at the year end would be 10.20 million bales. The Chair was briefed that the bulk of the cotton will be lifted from the local farmers by 1st of January 2020 and the given exemption will not adversely affect the interests of the local farmers. On the other hand, it was also assured by the Ministries of Commerce and National Food Security & Research that the import shall facilitate the textile sector exports which are showing a rising trend. The Chair, in the interest of the Local farmers directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to devise a comprehensive policy in consultation with all the relevant stakeholders which could help in improving the production of cotton locally and serve the interests of the local farmers. The Chair directed that the policy shall be presented within one month’s time to the ECC.

The ECC also approved the Technical Supplementary Grant of Rs.6.210 billion during current financial year 2019-20 for recurring cost of Special Security Division North of Pakistan Army. Two other Technical Supplementary Grants were also approved for internal Security Duty Allowance to Pakistan Army (4.966 billion) and for the construction of Community Bunkers (Rs.500 million) by the ECC with the support from the Ministry of Defence.

ECC also allowed the import of Cotton from the Torkham Border through Land Routes from Afghanistan and Central Asian States; similar to last year, fumigation arrangements were allowed to be made at designated areas for 2019-20. The Ministry of National Food Security and Research and the Ministry of Commerce were directed to engage the importers for establishment of facilities at Torkham, for cotton imports through the land route. Necessary steps will be initiated in Plant Quarantine Rules for providing facility of meeting SPS requirements for import of cotton through land rules.

ECC also allowed the Consortium with PPL as the operator and OGDCL, MPCL and GHPL as partners to submit the bid directly or through their subsidiaries in Abu Dhabi 2019 bidding round for one Block and make initial investment through their own resources in proportion to their shares, any additional financial requirement shall be met by the Government of Pakistan in case the need arises. The approval for bidding was given in view of enhancing the technical skills of the Consortium which is also working in Pakistan and for bringing additional foreign exchange to the country.

 
December 29, 2019 (PR No. 225)

IMF Board Assessment key economic performance indicators

On the completion of first review of Pakistan’s economic performance, IMF has acknowledged that Pakistan’s reform program is on track and already producing results. Decisive policy implementation has started to address the deep-seated problems of Pakistan’s economy and to reverse its large imbalances, preserving financial stability.

The report acknowledges that the business climate has improved, and market confidence is returning. IMF further adds in its assessment that the Government recognizes that structural reforms, especially in SoE sector are key to revive economic activity and growth.

IMF has released SDR 328 million (about $ 452.4 million), bringing total disbursements to SDR 1,044 million (approx $1.45 billion).

The report has confirmed that End-September performance criteria (PCs) were observed with wide margins. These include:

o   Zero budgetary borrowing from SBP
o   Primary budget deficit ceiling
o   Ceiling on government guarantees
o   Zero external public payment arrears
o   SBP net international reserves (NIR), net domestic assets (NDA), and swaps/forwards targets all met


In addition to above, all structural benchmarks (SBs) for end-September, except the SB on AML/CFT, were completed.

With regard to inflation outlook, IMF has lowered Inflation projection for FY20 to 11.8%, down from 13% earlier on account of this fact that the administrative and energy tariff adjustments are expected to offset the effects from weak domestic demand. Thereafter, inflation is expected to converge to 5-7%.

The report confirms that inflation has been started to stabilize, along with core inflation, and the SBP stance is appropriate (no need for further rate hikes).

However, we are of the view that we will do much better than IMF projection. As inflation during Jul-Nov was 10.8% and with measures taken we target to bring inflation down to 5% over the medium term.

With regard to the external sector, significant improvement has been witnessed. Overall, Current Account Deficit (CAD) shrunk by almost two-thirds (74%) in the Q1 FY 20 compared to the same period of FY 2019. CAD is projected to decline to 2.4% of GDP in FY20 (4.9%), which is lower than earlier IMF forecasts of 2.6%.

Total imports fell by 23% y-o-y in Q1 of FY2020, but imports of machinery and equipment were more resilient, rising about 2 % y-o-y. Exports are showing some sign of recovery, up 2% y-o-y for the same period with 17% volume growth, mainly driven by food and textiles.

The report states that transition to a market determined exchange rate has allowed the rupee to find its new equilibrium quickly, thereby, successfully correcting the ‘exchange rate overvaluation’ of the last 5 years.

The report has also acknowledged strong Fiscal performance in the First Quarter of FY2020 while stating Primary surplus of 0.6% of GDP and an overall deficit of 0.6% of GDP, about 1% of GDP better than programmed.

In addition, Tax revenue growth was in double-digits (net of refunds) even though customs receipts and other external sector related taxes have suffered due to import compression.

Key Concessions won by Government includes:


·         Ceiling on NDA of SBP (Performance benchmark) has been enhanced to Rs 9.1 trn (8.7), an increase of Rs 339bn in FY20.
·         This is positive for growth and will be utilized for concessional financing for the export industry
·         Ceiling on government guarantees has been enhanced to Rs 1.8trn (1.6), an increase of Rs 252 bn in FY20
·         This is positive for growth and will allow government to settle the outstanding stock of circular debt
·         Floor on FBR tax collections for FY20 has been revised lower to Rs 5.2trn (5.5), due to strong improvement in non-tax revenue
·         During H1 Fy20, government non tax revenue collection has hit Rs 878 bn which is 75% of full year budgeted collection of Rs 1.16 trn.
·         This is positive for growth and will ease the burden on public and businesses

Current Economic Performance

Pakistan economy has witnessed significant improvements in recent months as evidenced from the performance of key economic indicators mentioned below:

Exchange rate is stable for 5 months, Rupee appreciated by 3.2% (Rs/$ 160.1 to 154.89)(20th Dec, 2019), Stock Exchange 100-Index up 20.1 percent since 1st July, 2019 (33,996) to 40,832(20th Dec, 2019) , SBP FX Reserves increase to $ 10.8bn (13th Dec, 2019), from 7.2bn (June 2019) , Ease of Doing index up by 28 points (108/190) and World Bank rank Pakistan in Top 10 improvers.

After 4 years of outflow, total foreign portfolio investment up $ 1.2 bn during Jul-Nov FY20 (-330mn last year). FDI increased to 850mn (477.3mn last year)↑ 78.1%. Total foreign investment reached to $2 Bn (last year 147mn).

Similarly, Incorporation of Companies increased 25.8 % (7,177 from 5,707)  during Jul-Nov FY2020.
FBR tax collection grew by 16.8% to Rs 1615.2bn during July-November, FY2020 against Rs 1382.9bn last year. Within total FBR tax collection Domestic tax collection grew up 21.5% and Import taxes down 2.6% (import compression)

On external side, Exports increased by 4.7% to $10.31bn during July-November, FY2020 against $9.85bn in the same period last year, while Imports decreased by 21.1% to $18.31bn during July-November, FY2020 against $23.22bn in the same period last year.

Consequently, Trade deficit decreased 40.1% to $8.002bn during July-November, FY2020 against $13.36bn in the comparable period of last year.

Cement dispatches increased by5.8% to 20.462 million ton (15.4million ton).  Cement export increased 21.5% to 3.608 million ton (2.4 million ton).

Other Developments include

PSDP releases system is accelerated. In this regard ways & means and Finance Division endorsement is eliminated.

As a major development, PSX becomes best performing market as per Bloomberg in last three months. PSX benchmark KSE 100-Index gained around 10,500 point in last three months.
Similarly, the Moody’s Investors Service upgraded Pakistan’s credit rating outlook to stable from negative.
On external front, in the month of November, 2019 Exports increased 11.23% to $2.110bn against $1.897bn in the same month last year while Imports decreased 13.18% to $3.648bn as compared with $4.202bn in the comparable period last year.
In October 2019, on M-o-M, LSM registered a growth 4.01% (Sep 1.9%), indicating upward trajectory. Cement dispatches increased 10.6% in November to 4.35 million ton (3.9 million ton).
Another important development is that Karkey renegotiated to save Pakistan $ 1.2 bn.
Circular Debt:
·         Monthly flow decreased from Rs 38 bn in July 2019 to about Rs 10 bn. Targeted to be zero next year.
·         Strategy for dealing with the stock of debt being finalized.
·         Protection for lower end consumers <300 from price rationalization.
·         More effective recovery/detection of electricity theft (>50 mn).
·         Ministry of Energy will issue an additional Rs 250bn Sukuks (with government guarantee) in FY2020 to retire the CPPA liabilities of the IPPs.


Compact for Jobs & Growth
·         Scale up Affordable Housing devised by Naya Pakistan Housing Authority

  • Additional budgetary allocation of Rs 20bn to 30bn in FY2020 to cover the 10% down payment by beneficiaries of affordable housing. The total impact of this stimulus to the economy would be equivalent to Rs 200bn to Rs 300 bn.
  • Tax Credits equal to 10% of the amount of expense related to these projects including labour related costs will be allowed to the developer for the first two years

Exporter’s package

  • Additional credit of Rs 200bn for exporters under the Export Finance Scheme (EFS) in FY2020
  • The interest rate differential (between Kibor and EFS markup) will be paid by additional Rs 10bn subsidy by the government in FY2020
  • This will boost export sector and reduce their cost of doing business
SBP will give additional Rs 100bn worth of lending to the exporters, to be subsidized by government through SBP profits

 

 
December 23, 2019 (PR No. 224)

ECC reallocates relapsed Rs 4.05 billion funds under SAP

Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved a technical supplementary grant equal to Rs 4.05 billion funds lapsed during the financial year 2018-19 under the Sustainable Development Goals Achievement Programme (SAP).

The approval to the proposal submitted by the Cabinet Division was granted by the ECC at its meeting held in the Cabinet Block today (Monday) with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair. The re-allocated funds would be used under the SAP to make specific interventions as per demand of the community across the country in line with the UN Conventions.  

The ECC also granted ex-post facto approval to a proposal by the Ministry of Interior for a technical supplementary grant amounting to Rs 100 million on making security arrangements in the federal capital in October 2019. However, the ECC expressed its concern at the manner in which ad hoc arrangements were made which were costly and disruptive for business sector and for perception of the country, and asked the capital administration to find a permanent solution to deal with the issue in future.

The ECC also approved a proposal by the Ministry of Industries & Production for utilisation of the subsidy as approved by the Cabinet in pursuance of the Prime Minister’s directive dated 8th November 2019 involving grant of Rs 6 billion for the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) of Pakistan for subsidy and procurement of essential commodities, including flour, sugar, ghee/oil, pulses and rice. The ECC also constituted a committee headed by Mr Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industries & Production and Investment, to monitor the disbursement of subsidy and provision of commodities at a fair price to the poor segment of the society through a transparent and effective mechanism and report back to the ECC in its next meeting.  

On a proposal by the Ministry of Narcotics Control for a technical supplementary grant of Rs 7.904 billion for operational cost of Anti-Narcotics Force after the release of said money by the International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Affairs (INL-P), US Embassy Islamabad, the ECC approved the proposal with instructions that such proposals involving transfer of money from external sources should be taken up by the Ministry of Finance itself instead of the ECC and release of money be ensured through a smooth manner.

The ECC also approved a proposal by the Finance Division for submission of supplementary budget statement (addendum) amounting to Rs 170.418 billion from the Federal Consolidated Fund for the financial year 2018-19 to the National Assembly as per Article 84(a) of the Constitution. The ECC also approved another proposal from the Finance Division for laying before the National Assembly the supplementary demands for grants and appropriations for the financial year 2018-19.

The ECC also took up a proposal by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for exemption of 5% sales tax on cotton seed cake and after a detailed discussion on the issue, referred the matter to the Finance Division for examination and a report to ECC in its next meeting.

 
December 18, 2019 (PR No. 223)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting on Pak startup ecosystem

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Tuesday chaired a meeting held at the Finance Division to discuss ways and means for enhancing foreign investment in Pakistani startup ecosystem.

The meeting was attended among others by Ms. Tania Aidrus, Chief Digital Pakistan, Dr Reza Baqir Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Secretary Finance Naveed Kamran Baloch and investors from Thrive Capital, a New York based venture capital firm with more than US $ 2 billion invested in assets under management.

During the meeting, representatives from the Thrive Capital also expressed a desire to invest in the Pakistani startup ecosystem with a view to putting local startups on the map. 

 
December 17, 2019 (PR No. 222)

Dr Hafeez Shaikh and Christian staff in Finance Division cut Christmas cake

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Tuesday joined his team and staff at the Ministry of Finance in cutting a Christmas cake arranged by fellow staff and officials belonging to the Christian community in the Finance Division.

The Adviser felicitated the Christian community in general and the Christian staff and officials employed in the Ministry of Finance in particular on the joyous occasion and wished them a happy Christmas. Secretary Finance Naveed Kamran Baloch, Special Secretary Finance Omar Hamid Khan and other senior officers and staff of the Ministry of Finance were also present at the cake-cutting.

 
December 16, 2019 (PR No. 221)

Development Spending Grows by 27% in Four Months -- Ministry of Finance

The Ministry of Finance has said that the development spending during the first four months witnessed a growth of 27% compared to the same period of last financial year while the development spending of the four provinces (combined) during the first four months also stood at Rs.112 billion as compared to Rs.88 billion spent during the same period of last financial year.

“It is incorrect to say that the provincial government has provided the surpluses at the cost of development activities,” said the Finance Division in an official statement in response to certain media reports appearing in a section of the press claiming that the "provinces forego uplift plans and return Rs.202 billion to Centre".

In its statement, the Ministry of Finance described the media reports as "misleading" and "incorrect" and maintained that as per the factual position, neither the provincial surplus is Rs.202 billion nor the surplus amount had been transferred/ returned to the federal government. The actual provincial surplus for the period July-September, 2019 is Rs.190 billion, it added.

The Finance Division further stated that according to standard procedure federal transfers are made to the provincial governments as per NFC formula and are transferred from Federal Government Account to the respective Provincial Government Account maintained with State Bank of Pakistan. The amount so transferred remains available to the respective Provincial Government all the time in their separate accounts with State Bank of Pakistan.

The statement further clarified that the Ministry of Finance compiles and consolidates fiscal operations of State of Pakistan (Federal Government and all the four provincial governments) on quarterly basis. The cash balance position of Federal Government and provinces is shown in a consolidated manner. The consolidated cash surplus position helps in driving the fiscal policy of the Government. Federal Government has neither a role in provincial expenditure planning nor its spending. Provincial surplus for the same period of last financial year was Rs.199 billion.

 
December 12, 2019 (PR No. 220)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to brief the ECC in its next meeting on the measures taken so far, including the areas treated so far with spray and pesticides, to control the threat of desert locust in different parts of the country.

The direction was issued in a meeting of the ECC held at the Cabinet Block with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the Chair.

For coping with the emergency of desert locust threat in Pakistan, the ECC approved a technical supplementary grant of Rs. 459.5 million on a proposal moved by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research. The ECC was informed that nine districts of the country are affected by the Locust and the Department of Plant protection has been given the responsibility of dealing with the threat. So far 170,000 hectares have been cleared and the Ministry has been provided updates on daily basis. The ECC also directed that in the next meeting of the ECC a detailed briefing on the control of the threat be presented in the ECC.

The ECC also approved the “Enactment of Pakistan Single Window Bill, 2019” to be sent to the Cabinet. The enactment of the Bill will highly facilitate the businesses in Pakistan. The ECC was apprised that 42 government agencies are involved in granting approvals for different business. Through this Single window, all parties involved in trade and transport can lodge standardized information and documents with a single-entry point to fulfil all import, export and transit related regulatory requirements. The Customs Wing in FBR developed NSW Roadmap and implementation Framework, in April 2018 with the help of International Experts. This initiative is expected to improve Pakistan’s rating at ease of doing business index. It is expected that the project will be completed in December 2021.

The ECC also allowed the continuation of funding facility by Gas Holding Private Limited (GHPL) for Inter state Gas Systems (Private) Limited for another 2 years. There will be a provision in the agreement that as soon as the first project reaches closure, ISGS needs to be financially self-sustaining and it should put forward a business plan as how it will return the loan it has taken.

The ECC approved the placement of the Annual Report of the National Economic Council (NEC) (as required by Article 156 of the Constitution), before the Cabinet after the Chair was briefed that the points raised regarding the report for its placement before the Cabinet, had been duly addressed.

Ministry of Energy got the approval of a proposal for the extension and Rehabilitation of gas network in oil and gas producing districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Phase 1). Supply of gas to villages falling beyond 5-KM radius of Mardan Khel-III District Hangu and supply of Gas to Hafizabad. Accordingly, SNGPL was allowed to execute gas development schemes recommended by DWP and endorsed by the Board of Directors of SNGPL along with appropriate share of the funding shared between SNGPL and Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

On the proposal sent by the Ministry of Interior, the ECC approved the allocation of Rs300 million through Technical Supplementary Grant (TSG) for raising of 1 Special Wing of Pakistan Rangers for (Protection of) Kartarpur Corridor on the recommendation of GHQ. The ECC directed that a three-members committee consisting of Adviser to Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Secretary Finance and a representative of Ministry of Interior shall look into the details of the proposal and further rationalize the costs.

 
December 05, 2019 (PR No. 219)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue reviewed progress on sales tax refunds payment to exporters

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Wednesday met a group of leading businessmen representing various export sectors contributing nearly US $ 2 billion exports, to discuss and review progress on the issues pertaining to payment of Sales Tax refunds to exporters.

Adviser to Adviser Commerce Mr. Ali Habib, Chairman FBR Syed Shabbar Zaidi and Secretary Finance Naveed Kamran Baloch were also present in the meeting which was attended by leading exporters from Lahore and Karachi, including Mr. Shahid Soorty, Mr. Musaadiq Zulqarnain, Mr. Fawad Anwer, Mr. Shahid Abdullah, Mr. Bashir Ali Mohammad, Mr. Rizwan Dewan, Mr. Asif Tata, Mr. Ahmed Ibrahim, Mr. Sameer Chinoy and Mr. Khurram Mukhtar.

During the proposals, various proposals were put forward from the businessmen and exporters and FBR was advised to work more aggressively on reforming and simplifying the processes through automation for early and prompt payment of sales tax refunds.  He told the businessmen he had already constituted a committee comprising officials from FBR and members of APTMA to simplify the Form-H within the next few days to make it simpler and easy for the exporters claiming sales tax refunds. The businessmen were asked to nominate anyone they liked to become part of the Committee as he wanted to ensure a hassle-free submission of tax refund claims and their subsequent payment without any delay.

The businessmen thanked the Adviser and his team in FBR for ensuring payment of Rs 32 billion sales tax refunds to the exporters in the last couple of days. The Adviser told the businessmen that FBR was working very hard to facilitate the exporters and another Rs 2 to 3 billion tax refunds would also be issued within the next couple of days.

 
December 04, 2019 (PR No. 218)

Stable Outlook reflects World's Confidence in Pak Economy -- Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Stable outlook reflects world’s confidence in Pak economy, Dr Hafeez Shaikh Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Wednesday said that 15 months of effort and hard work by the government had paid off and one could see the beginning of an economic turnaround and the economic environment becoming more stable as being recognised by the international community and global economic institutions.

“We inherited a very grim economic situation with the debt levels and the fiscal and current account deficits reaching at the highest level, but through serious work and collaboration with international community, we have stabilised the economy and the international community is also recognising our efforts,” he said while addressing the inaugural session of the two-day conference arranged at a local hotel on the theme of “Rethinking Microfinance: Developing a New Inclusive Finance Compass”.

The Adviser said that an over US$ 1 billion investment in Pakistan’s bond market and a 238 per cent growth in the foreign direct investment in the first four months of this fiscal year which comes to $650 million, were reflection of an increased level of confidence the international community had begun to show in the Pakistani market. “Similarly, IMF applauding Pakistan for meeting all agreed structural benchmarks with comfortable margins in the first quarter, Bloomberg declaring Pakistan Stock Exchange as the world’s best performing market in last three months and now Moody’s upgrading Pakistan’s ranking from the negative to stable are positive developments and signs of the progress achieved on the economic front by the government,” he added.

He further pointed out that the government also inherited the highest ever current account deficit of $ 20 billion but this massive current account deficit was contained and turned into a surplus for the first time in many years in the month of November. Similarly, the fiscal deficit adjusted for interest payment which is also called primary balance had also turned into a surplus in the first quarter of this year.

Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh also told the participants about government efforts to boost the exports which had previously shown negative growth for five consecutive years, but because of incentives given to exporters in terms of no taxes on export sector as well as subsidization of gas and electricity and grant of additional Rs 300 billion subsidized loans, the exports had gone up by 3.4 per cent during the first four months of current fiscal year with 9.6 per cent growth recorded in the month of November alone. “The government is working on a strategy to lead a transition away from a largely import-oriented economy to the one where the focus is on exports and earning of dollars to improve the quality of life of the common Pakistanis,” he said.

Talking about the microfinance sector, the Adviser asked the conference participants to deliberate on how the cost of doing business could be reduced in terms of reduced rate of interest and the time lost in processes, and how one could increase access or scale up and how we could enhance the impact and what exactly the impact meant in terms of jobs and tackling poverty. “We also need to debate how we can keep learning as these are important questions that need to be debated and answered to formulate strategies for furthering growth in this sector,” he said.

Meanwhile, Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh also held a detailed interaction with a group of television anchorpersons in his office. During the informal discussion that continued for about two hours, the Adviser briefed the anchors on the current state of economy with a focus on what state of economy the government inherited in 2018 and what policy steps and measures were adopted by the government for stabilisation of economy and subsequent success achieved in various areas, including 16.4 per cent revenue growth, 238 per cent growth in FDI, 3.4 per cent growth in exports in the first four months of this fiscal year as well as stabilisation of exchange rate, declaration of Pakistan Stock Exchange as the world’s best performing stock by Bloomberg and the upgradation of economic outlook of Pakistan from the negative to stable by the Moody’s.

 
December 03, 2019 (PR No. 217)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue directed FBR to simplify the H-Form

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has directed FBR to take input and suggestions from the textile exporters and simplify the H-Form within a week to ease and expedite the processing and payment of Sales Tax refunds to textile exporters.

He gave the instruction during a meeting with the office-bearers and members of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA). Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms & Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production Abdul Razak Dawood, Chairman Task Force on Textile Mr. Ali Habib, Chairman FBR Syed Shabbar Zaidi, former finance minister Mr. Shaukat Tareen and Secretary Finance Naveed Kamran Baloch were also present among others.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh told the exporters that the government was not at all interested in keeping their money held up for any length of time and the government was willing to listen to and accommodate any solution or recommendations from the exporters to simplify the H-Form and ensure a prompt payment of sales tax refunds to them. He also directed the FBR to expedite the payment of nearly Rs 10 billion worth of customs duty drawback to the exporters.

FBR Chairman Mr. Shabbar Zaidi told the meeting that FBR had so far received claims for sales tax refunds to the tune of Rs 10.14 billion pertaining to the period from July to October 2019 and cases amounting to Rs 8.02 billion had already been processed for payment out of which 1604 cases has been accepted for payment which would be made at the earliest.

Earlier, the APTMA leaders and members told the Adviser they were happy and satisfied with the documentation drive of the government and wanted to process their claims for sales tax refunds through the newly-introduced Form-H. They said they had formulated their recommendations to further simplify the Form-H in view of certain problems being faced by them in filling out the form.

 
November 28, 2019 (PR No. 216)

ECC fixed minimum support price for wheat at Rs 1365 per 40kg

Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has raised the minimum support price of wheat from the previously announced Rs 1350 per 40 kg to Rs 1365 per 40 kg in view of representations from various farmers and growers’ associations as well as the Federal Cabinet and the National Assembly Special Committee on Agricultural Products which had proposed a reconsideration of the minimum support price in order to compensate the farmers in areas where the cost of wheat production had increased to Rs 1349.57 per 40 kg.

The decision to raise the minimum support price of wheat to Rs 1365 to compensate and safeguard the interests of growers and ensure food security for the masses was taken at a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet held at Cabinet Block today (Thursday) with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

Earlier, the Ministry of National Food Security & Research briefed the ECC on the feedback received from various farmers’ associations as well as different government forums and requested for fixing the minimum support price of wheat at Rs 1400 per 40 kg. The ECC deliberated on the proposal at length and in view of the discussion and input regarding the impact of any further increase in wheat price on food inflation and financial impact on the commodity stock operations, decided to raise the minimum support price of wheat to Rs 1365 per 40 kg. The ECC also viewed a presentation from the Ministry of Finance on the government commodity operations which had over the years resulted in Rs 757 billion as total debt and liabilities and recommendations for reducing the debt.

The ECC also considered a proposal from the Ministry of Energy regarding tariff rationalization for power sector in the first quarter of financial year 2019-20 and a approved proposal for notifying the NEPRA approved quarterly adjustment of 15 paisa per unit after incorporating a additional charge of 11 paisa per unit for maintaining uniform tariff on all categories of consumers except lifeline and domestic consumers. The increase coming into effect on 1st December 2019 for the next twelve-monthly billing cycle would not be applicable to nearly 20 million using up to 300 units per month, out of the total 30 million consumers while 600,000 of the remaining one million consumers would only pay 7 paisa per unit as a result of this increase. The ECC also constituted a committee headed by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and comprising Minister of National Food Security and Research Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Prime Minister's Advisor on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar to examine the current framework of determining power tariff and make it more simple in line with the practice in mature markets.

The ECC also considered a set of proposals from the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) for risk mitigation post privatisation of National Power Parks Management Company, especially the impact on fuel basket price due to non or reduced off take of 66 per cent generation under the PPA till year 2024 and cost of diversion of Regasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) to other sectors with workable options to mitigate the risk. The ECC discussed the proposals in details and approved them with a proviso that any other option that could be considered as part of the mitigation plan by the Power Division could also be taken into account and approved, if found suitable, by the ECC.
 
To a proposal by the Ministry of Industries and Production, the ECC constituted an inter-ministerial committee under the chairmanship of Minister Planning, Development and Reforms and comprising Adviser to Prime Minister on Industries and Production, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Petroleum, Secretary Finance, Secretary Industries and Production and Chairman FBR for preparation of a policy framework for promotion of steel and iron in the country through foreign direct investment.
The ECC also considered a proposal by the Ministry of Communications that all cash development loans and foreign loans, whether direct or relent, including interest accumulated thereon, received up to June 30, 2019 by the National Highway Authority be converted into government grant or the Government of Pakistan may either “write-off” the said loans while for future, all PSDP allocations including relent/direct loans, both rupee and foreign exchange component i.e. for non-commercially viable projects and for strategic/defence roads to NHA may also be provided as government grant. The proposal also sought the CDL may be advanced only for commercially feasible projects on which Finance Division and NHA mutually agree regarding the terms and conditions of the loan and its repayment or these viable projects may be undertaken by NHA in PPP/BOT mode of financing. The ECC discussed the proposals and in view of input from the members constituted a committee comprising Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Secretary Finance, Secretary Communications, Secretary Economic Affairs Division and Deputy Chairman Planning Division to examine the proposals and submit their recommendations to the ECC.

The ECC also took up a proposal from the Ministry of Industries and Production for a technical supplementary grant of Rs 6 billion to the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) for subsidy and procurement of essential commodities, including flour, ghee/oil, rice, sugar and pulses, to be sold at a fair price to the poor segment of the society. The ECC discussed the issue in detail and in view of input from the members, asked the Utility Stores Corporation to prepare within the next few days a practical and comprehensive mechanism involving use of information technology to ensure the disbursement of specific food items to the poorest of the poor. The ECC also constituted a committee comprising Adviser to Prime Minister on Industries and Production, Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Benazir Income Support Programme Chairperson and representatives from NADRA and PPRA to advise and assist the USC to firm up their proposals and present them to ECC.

 
November 27, 2019 (PR No. 215)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved amendments to a host of rules governing the regulation of upstream petroleum sector to foster ease of doing business and encourage investment in the sector.

The approval to amend nearly 18 rules dealing with approvals, extensions, renewals, revocations and other ancillary matters covered under the Pakistan Onshore Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Rules, 2013, and their subsequent incorporation in relevant Rules governing the regulation of the upstream petroleum sector, was granted at a meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet which met at the Cabinet Block today with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

Earlier the ECC was told by the Ministry of Energy that a careful review of the Pakistan Onshore Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Rules, 2013, undertaken in consultation with petroleum industry, consultants engaged for the purpose and under the guidance of the Energy Task Force, had revealed that the Rules were unduly stringent and had never been objectively updated to capture the latest regulatory and best business practices with a progressive approach to regulate the energy sector and encourage investment in this sector. Under the exercise, it was decided to amend the rules to incorporate clear concept of deemed approval, putting timelines for some proposals and elimination of some approvals as well as revision of monthly reporting requirements to quarterly ones and flexibility in conditions for extensions/renewals to accommodate various types of circumstances which are not covered under the existing rules.

The ECC considered and approved the proposals. Under the ECC decision, the amendments would be notified after formal vetting of the Law Division and would become applicable to the new as well as existing licences and leases and the holders of such leases would be allowed to opt to adopt the changes through the signing of supplemental agreements to the PCA or any other instrument to be finalized in consultation with the Law & Justice Division. The ECC also approved incorporation of similar amendments in Pakistan Petroleum (Production) Rules 1949, Pakistan petroleum (Exploration and Production) Rules 1986, Pakistan Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Rules 2001 and Pakistan Onshore Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Rules, 2009 which would be notified after formal vetting by the Law & Justice Division. After the said Rules have been repealed, a legally tenable way forward would also be worked out in consultation with the Law & Justice Division.

The ECC also took up a proposal by FBR and approved a technical supplementary grant to the tune of Rs 30 billion for the redemption of bonds issued by the “FBR Refund Settlement Company Limited” to the tune of Rs 30 billion, and payment of sales tax refunds by FBR in the form of cheques in accordance with the prescribed rules.

The ECC also considered another proposal from the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication for extension of Government Sovereign guarantee in respect of Telephone Industry of Pakistan, for a further period of two years from 16th September 2019 to 15th September 2021 and payment of loan amounting to Rs 2.150 million, inclusive of mark-up of Rs 1.030 billion, for smooth process of revival plan of the TIP. The ECC discussed the proposal in detail and constituted a seven-member high-level committee headed by Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production Abdul Razak Dawood to review the proposal and submit its recommendations to ECC within two weeks.

On another proposal by the Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunication for exemption of 8 % minimum Income Tax for National Telecommunication Corporation, the ECC constituted a body comprising Minister for Economic Affairs Division Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister for Information Technology & Telecommunication Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Chairman Board of Investment and a representative from FBR to review the proposal and present suitable recommendations to ECC. 

The ECC also approved a proposal by the Commerce Division for declaration of the erstwhile zero-rated sectors, namely Textiles (including jute), carpets, leather, sports and surgical goods as “Export Oriented Sectors, which includes Textiles, Carpets, Leather, Sports and Surgical Goods”.

The ECC also considered and approved for execution of amendment to the implementation agreements in relation to Thal Nova Power Thar Private Limited and Thar Energy Limited after the ECC in its meeting held on 8th November 2019 had approved a proposal by the Power Division for amending the implementation agreements in relation to both the firms by increasing the time period from 400 to 490 days for the exercise of Government of Pakistan’s right to terminate both the projects as the amendment did not involve any financial impact either on the Government of Pakistan or the consumers.

 
November 26, 2019 (PR No. 214)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue briefed Queen Maxima on economy, financial inclusion

Her Majesty Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), visited the Finance Division today for a meeting with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and his economic team.

During the meeting, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh gave the Queen a detailed overview of the economic situation in Pakistan with a focus on various policy steps and initiatives undertaken by the government to restore macroeconomic stability and the progress achieved in recent months in different sectors, particularly 40 % decrease in current account deficit, over 15 per cent growth in revenue collection, grant of incentives and loan facility to exporters, tax exemption on exports, investment of over US $1 billion foreign investment in local bond market, doubling of budget allocations for social safety net, disbursement of direct financial support and stipends to women, youth and students, and nearly 240 per cent growth in foreign direct investment during the last four months as compared to corresponding period last year.

The adviser also spoke on the issue of inflation and enhancing local productivity through various policy means and measures. He further briefed the Queen on the nature of public finance and mechanism for resource distribution between the centre and provinces and allocation of funds and resources for protection of the poor and marginalised sections of the population.

The Queen thanked the Adviser for a comprehensive presentation of various aspects of the economy and shared her view on a range of economic issues, including the need for enhanced financial inclusion, better coordination among different tiers of the government, digitalisation in government departments, role of innovations and information technology in enhancing transparency and efficiency in government and support to start-ups and new businesses.

 
November 25, 2019 (PR No. 213)

Macroeconomic stability restored - Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, on Monday said the government had restored macroeconomic stability in the country and a current account and primary balance surplus for the first time in many years as well as country’s booming stock market, stabilised exchange rate and a renewed interest from international community in Pakistani market were clear signs of the recovery the economy had staged in recent months.

Addressing the inaugural session of ‘Pakistan Innovative Finance Forum’, arranged by the Asian Development Bank with local partners at a local hotel, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh told the participants that the government had to do over the last few months a lot of things to try and restore macroeconomic stability due to a very difficult economic situation it inherited. He said tough decisions had to be taken and after a series of steps including partnering with international bilateral and multilateral institutions, cutting down government expenditure, restoring fiscal discipline, incentivising exporters and narrowing the historically high current account deficit, the government was now in a situation where in the last four months of the ongoing fiscal year, the restoration of macroeconomic stability was becoming visible.

The Adviser pointed out that it was for the first time in many years that the country had a current account surplus as well as a surplus primary balance on the fiscal side. He also referred to Pakistan’s stock market being rated amongst the best performing in the world and the stabilised exchange rate which was allowed to be determined by market forces through a bold decision by the government, was allowing the people to take longer-term decisions needed for development. “We have a renewed interest from international community in the Pakistan market and in the last four months, investment in the Pakistani bonds from outside investors has touched US $ 1 billion while foreign direct investment in the same period has also increased by more than 200 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year,” he added.

Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said that he was not trying to paint a rosy picture as there were still challenges to tackle particularly in terms of bringing down prices and coming up to people’s expectations for generating more jobs for them and achieving high growth rate. “But the good news is that the growth rate agreed with the IMF is going to be surpassed by a vast margin and  similarly, the IMF review of the first quarter concluded recently shows that that all the agreed targets have been surpassed with comfortable margins,” he said.

The adviser said that the government was committed to fiscal discipline, the role of private sector, transparency in governance, tracking down on corruption, reaching out to international community both the multilateral agencies as well as international and domestic private sector. “We have now created a platform on which to build and correct some of the deficiencies of our past and transform our economy,” he said.

He agreed that bringing foreign investment to Pakistan and promotion of our exports were two key areas which had been neglected in the past but the current government was attaching priority to both these sectors by financing businesses through additional Rs 300 billion loans as well as subsidy on electricity and gas and not taxing exports and these measures were resulting in enhanced exports as seen during the last four months. He said the government was also encouraging the private sector and a full-fledged privatisation programme.

The Adviser also cited the 16 per cent growth in revenue collection which had been 20 per cent if the import compression factor had been accounted for, in the last four months as another area where the government had done well. He said the non-tax revenue realised in the last four months had also doubled as compared to the same period last year.

He underscored the building and strengthening of institutions as a priority area for the government and the power and institutional autonomy granted to institutions such as the State Bank of Pakistan and FBR in their day-to-day decision making was an evidence of the government approach to let these institutions work with independence and through top professionals brought from the private sector. “We have done the same to other institutions such as SECP, PTA, NEPRA and OGRA as we do not want to encourage conflict of interest in the way the government and these regulatory institutions work together,” he said.
 
Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh also referred to the government’s efforts to improve the performance of businesses by facilitating them and improving the business procedures and processes and the recent recognition by the World Bank of these efforts was an indication of the sincerity and approach of the government towards boosting business climate in the country. He said the government had also done away with the need for bringing projects of up to Rs 10 billion value to ECNEC and the same could now be processed and approached at the level of ministries and other forums.  

He said there were other areas such as financial inclusion and debt management to work and progress was being made in those areas as well. He said the government needed more funds to invest in the infrastructure development as per the ADB estimates which recommended at least 8 per cent of GDP for the next 10 years on infrastructure development in Pakistan. “We are blessed to have people in Pakistan and in the private sector who are resource-rich, determined, eager and curious to find solutions and together we can work to achieve the development goals as we moved ahead,” he added. 

 
November 21, 2019 (PR No. 212)

Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue called for an early resolution of all outstanding issues regarding the PTCL privatisation

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has called for an early resolution of all outstanding issues regarding the PTCL privatisation with Etisalat and asked the stakeholders to finalise proposals on the subject within the next couple of weeks.

He made this statement while chairing an Inter-Ministerial Committee constituted by the Prime Minister to discuss and resolve the issues related to the PTCL Privatisation. Minister for Privatisation Muhammad Mian Soomro, Minister for Information Technology Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Secretary Finance, Secretary Privatisation, Secretary Information Technology & Telecommunication and other senior officials were also present.

During the meeting, the Adviser was given a detailed briefing on the issues concerning the transfer of properties to Etisalat and the pending payments still to be made by Etisalat. The Adviser called for greater efforts to resolve the outstanding issues in a smooth and amicable manner and asked the government team to contact the senior management of Etisalat to listen to their viewpoint and decide the unresolved issues at the earliest as any further delay was not in the interest of both the parties.

 
November 18, 2019 (PR No. 211)

Circular Debt to be eliminated by December 2020 -- Advisor to PM on Finance & Revenue

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Hafeez Shaikh met with leading anchorpersons of electronic media and briefed them about the economic performance of the government in the first quarter of the current Fiscal Year-2019-20.

The Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue informed them about the precarious economic situation left by the previous government and the challenges the present government had to take more than a year ago. He highlighted that bilateral agreements with the friendly countries and the assistance provided by IMF helped to ease pressure on the economy.

The Advisor to the PM on Finance and Revenue Dr. Hafeez Shaikh added that the IMF team in its first review has given a very satisfactory report on the economic performance of the government in the first quarter of the current Fiscal Year 2019-20. The media persons were informed that the government will utilize all its energies to increase the revenue and decrease the expenditures in the remaining quarters of the current fiscal year.

The Advisor to PM on Finance and Revenue reiterated the steps taken in the budget 2019-20 to curtail expenditures and allocation of increased budget for PSDP and poverty alleviation programs. The government granted exemption of tax on exports and decided to provide subsidy on electricity and gas to the export industry in the budget.

The media persons were further informed that the present government is strengthening the economic institutions of the country to get durable economic results. The gathering was told that institutions’ like State Bank, FBR, SECP have been given more autonomy to carry out its official business independently. He stated that due to prudent policies of the present government the current account deficit has come down with 63.1% in the first quarter of the current fiscal year whereas the volume of exports has increased by 3.8%. The trade deficit has decreased by 33.5% in the first three months of the current fiscal year.

The government is also trying to generate above target non tax revenue in the ongoing fiscal year. The Advisor to PM on Finance and Revenue reiterated the resolve of the government to eliminate circular debt by December 2020. He informed that coming months will further strengthen the economy and soon the country will achieve economic prosperity. After the Advisor’s discourage the senior anchors asked questions related to fiscal, monitory and external accounts. Inflation, exports, investment portfolios, State Bank autonomy, Agriculture and taxation system were also discussed.

 
November 15, 2019 (PR No. 210)

CCOP gives go-ahead to SME Bank Privatisation; Rejects delisting pleas from others

The Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) in its meeting held with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Friday, did not agree to the proposal from EERA for delisting of its 17 properties from the 32 assets being processed for sale by Privatisation Commission, and also directed expediting the pace of work on privatisation of SME Bank Limited as well as the PIA Investment Limited.

The CCoP also took up privatisation of SME Bank Limited as decided by an earlier CCoP meeting in October last year, and approved a transaction structure submitted by Privatisation Commission for the privatisation of the bank. Earlier, the CCoP was told that the transaction structure had been reviewed and recommended by a transaction committee constituted by the Privatisation Commission and comprising PC Board Members, Finance Division, State Bank of Pakistan and SME Bank which met four times before coming up with a comprehensive transaction structure put to CCoP for consideration and approval. The Privatisation Commission also shared with the CCoP the pre-qualification criteria reviewed and approved by the PC Board for the prospective bidders.

The CCoP also discussed privatisation of PIA-Investment Limited and approved a proposal for the constitution of a task force to examine and process all necessary formalities for an early disposal of the PIA properties, including the Roosevelt Hotel in New York and Hotel Scribe in Paris. Under the decision, the task force would be headed by Privatisation Commission Minister Muhammad Mian Soomro and include Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis & HRD Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Secretary Privatisation Commission and Additional Secretary Ministry of Finance as well as legal and financial consultants on the Roosevelt Hotel Corp and any other official deemed necessary to be co-opted by the Task Force.

The CCoP also instructed the PIA Management to present to the CCoP in its next meeting the findings of the feasibility study conducted by it in pursuance of a CCoP decision earlier this year to carry out an appraisal of various management and financial options for gaining optimal returns from the Roosevelt Hotel. The CCoP also directed the PIA management to update the Committee on monthly basis regarding the progress of the work and also advised the airline management to carry out its plan in coordination with Aviation Division.

The CCoP took up a proposal from Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (EERA) for the delisting of 17 properties until June 2020 when the EERA would be subsumed into the National Disaster Management Commission (NDMC) as per a government decision already taken to transform National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) into a vibrant and self-sufficient entity. The EERA was of the view that deferring the privatisation of its assets till June 2020 would allow sufficient time for a possible legislation for incorporating these properties into the National Disaster Management Fund (NDMF).

The Privatisation Commission told the CCoP that the 17 properties belonging to EERA had been picked up for privatisation in pursuance of a federal cabinet decision of 7th March 2019 and subsequent identification by an Inter-Ministerial Committee constituted by the Prime Minister of 32 properties belonging to nine ministries, divisions and organisations which themselves had proposed these properties for sale and also forwarded relevant authority letters to the Privatisation Commission for further processing. The PC also submitted that it had already hired a financial adviser for the sale of the 32 properties and withdrawal of properties as being proposed by the EERA would adversely affect the whole privatisation process besides sending negative signals to potential buyers and investors. The CCoP discussed the issue in detail and after input from members did not agree to the proposal from EERA for delisting of its properties and advised the Authority to complete all codal formalities still pending at its end to let the privatisation process move ahead.

To another proposal by the Commerce Division for delisting from privatisation of a 15-acre plot situated in an industrial area in Multan on the grounds that the same plot could be utilised more efficiently for some other purpose rather than being sold at a possibly low price, the CCoP decided that the privatisation of the asset in question would go ahead as already decided by the government. However, a committee headed by Mr. Abdul Razak Dawood. Adviser for Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and Investment would closely scrutinise the reference price at the bidding stage to see if it matched the value of the plot and in view of it not being in tune with the worth of the property, the Commerce Ministry would come up with an elaborate alternative plan detailing various aspects of the opportunity cost to use the plot, lying idle since 2011, quickly and efficiently. 

 
November 14, 2019 (PR No. 209)

People, partnerships, private sector key to development, prosperity - Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has described development of human skills, working in partnerships and allowing the private sector to work at its full potential as the three key drivers of development and prosperity for any country or nation.

“The big lesson of development history is the model presented by countries like Japan, Singapore and Scandinavia which focused on skill enhancement, technical capability and work ethics of their people,” he said while delivering a keynote address to a well-attended session on ‘Prospects of Economic Integration in SAMECA: Exploring New Vistas of Cooperation’, arranged by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI). The seminar was part of two-day ‘Margalla Dialogue: Peace and Development in South Asia, Middle East, Central Asia (SAMECA) held at a local hotel.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said that it was essential for countries and the governments to keep their people and the development of their skill-sets and capability as the focus of their efforts. He also pointed out that no country achieved development and prosperity alone and the only way to bring prosperity to our people was to find a way to sell our products to others and to ensure that others partnered with us. “This is the focal lesson of development as no country in the history has brought prosperity to its people alone, especially without its neighbours,” he said, citing the example of Chinese leadership which understood this lesson and brought 700 million of its people out of poverty.

The Adviser underlined the role of private sector as being the key driver in prosperity by saying that the only way to bring prosperity was to allow the private sector to perform unregulated as job of bureaucrats and government ministers was to formulate policies and act like facilitators while real action was performed by private sector people who could drive and accelerate the pace of development and progress.

He said that the region was marred by many problems including poor connectivity, low trade, no rail links, difficult border crossings, excessive visa restrictions, poor infrastructure links, un-harmonised customs, poor access to insurance and finance, archaic foreign exchange rules and restrictive visa regimes. The solution, he said, lay in finding a way out through greater access and more interaction between peoples to establish real human contacts.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh also spoke on the role of money in bringing prosperity and development by saying that there was so much money chasing so few projects. He said the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank alone had USD 100 billion while the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank share capital was also impressive but they were insignificant when compared to hundreds of billions of dollars possessed by the private sector. “All this money is waiting for good purchase but countries make bad policies which don’t attract those hundreds of billions of dollars, and create lots of obstacles in the way of that money to come to our countries,” he said, adding that misleading the private sector was impossible and the private sector would only bring its money to a country where everyone else also brought his or her money.

He said that it was necessary to bring in a policy regime that was not obstructive and restrictive in nature and the best thing the governments could do was to get out of the way of businesses and value the people who were legitimately making money. “Until and unless we value people who are legitimately making money, we will not be able to have a situation in which people can flourish and generate jobs. You cannot hire millions and millions of people in government departments as the business of government is not to create jobs in the government departments but it is to create jobs in the rest of the economy and that can happen only if you provide the right sets of incentives.”

Talking about Pakistan, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said the country was trying to make the neighbourhood not as difficult as it was. “We live in a tough neighbourhood, but we want to get it better. We want the Afghanistan situation to get normalised so that the region as a whole can thrive. We do not want problems between Iran and Saudia. There is no point getting tricked into a conflict as the stake are high, innocent people die and region suffers and ultimately not much is gained,” he said, adding that “we have to try and remain focused on peace-building and cooperation”.

About the situation on the economic front, the Adviser on Finance and Revenue said the government had inherited a difficult economic situation but it was taking tough decisions which had helped bring down current account deficit by over 40 per cent, have a positive primary balance for the first time and also having a fiscal deficit which is significantly reduced in the first four months of this year compared to last year.

He said the World Bank had also acknowledged Pakistan as one of the top ten reformers in the ease of doing business. “This year our portfolio investment from the rest of the world is rising ... We have achieved energy self-sufficiency. We are having a very open visa policy and anyone from the countries being represented here would get visa on arrival. We have the Torkham border working 24/4 hours. We have a currency swap with countries like China. We are trying to have the CASA-1000 with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. We are having the US$7.5 billion TAPI Pipeline Project. We have a very liberal foreign investment regime without restrictions. You can participate with as much equity as you want, you can have as much shares as you want in any industry you want and you do not have the requirement of having a local partner. We are also giving many incentives to our exporters. We are subsidizing their gas, their electricity, their loans and we have no taxes on exports. If you want to come here and generate exports for other countries, you are most welcome.”

Addressing the participants of the forum, he said that balance, wisdom and the desire to see the world as a whole as a place of shared humanity were critical and as for as Pakistan was concerned, CPEC was an opportunity that Pakistan must not miss. However, he said the promise of CPEC could only be fulfilled if it was not confined to China and Pakistan. “The CPEC can either be transaction or it can be a transformation. For it to be a transformation it must be China Plus and the other countries have to be welcomed and participate in this great transition. If we stay wise and recognise the strength of our relationship with China but also allow other countries to participate in CPEC, its promise would be fulfilled.”

Towards the end, he suggested that fora like the Margalla Dialogue must set timelines and objective targets on the lines he had highlighted, to ensure continuity and positive results for future.

 
November 13, 2019 (PR No. 208)

ECC hikes minimum support price for wheat to Rs 1350 per 40kg

Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has increased the minimum support price of wheat from the current Rs 1300 per 40 kg to Rs 1350 per 40 kg to safeguard the interests of the growers and ensure food security for the masses.

The decision to raise the wheat price by Rs 50 per 40 kg was taken at a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet held at the Cabinet Block with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

The ECC was told that the minimum support price of Rs 1300 per 40 kg for wheat had not been enhanced for the last five years. However, in view of factors such as the world wheat situation, cost of production, export-import parity prices and domestic producer prices, an appropriate support price for the next wheat crop was necessary to meet the cost of production which had risen in 2019-20 to Rs 1349.57 per 40 kg in Punjab and Rs 1315.72 per 40 kg in Sindh as per findings of the Agriculture Policy Institute.

The ECC discussed the issue in detail and in view of the world wheat price hovering around Rs 1575 per 40 kg with and Rs 1440 per 40 kg without duties and customs duties, decided to enhance the minimum support price for the next crop of wheat from the current Rs 1300 per 40 kg to Rs 1350 per 40 kg. The ECC also asked the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to approach the provinces well in time to make adequate wheat procurement in the coming season failing which any request from provinces for releases from Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) would entail 100 per cent payment of incidental charges. The ECC also asked for Chief Secretaries or their representatives from the provinces to be invited to attend the next ECC meeting, and directed the Ministry of Finance to present to the ECC a detailed presentation on the rising circular debt on the commodity operation which had already crossed Rs 450 billion.

The ECC also considered a set of proposals by the petroleum Division regarding provision of utilities, particularly the installation of gas connections, in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and after a detailed discussion on the various proposals presented by the Petroleum Division to provide necessary provisions of gas, electricity and other facilities at the SEZs, constituted a committee headed by Prime Minister's Advisor on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood and including representatives from the Petroleum Division and the Board of Investment to resolve certain minor issues as pointed out during the discussion, and bring up the proposal in the next ECC meeting for a decision.

The ECC also took up a proposal by Power Division for grant of ECC approval for execution of amendment to the implementation agreement governing Thal Nova Power Thar Private Limited and Thar Energy Limited by increasing the time period for exercise of Government of Pakistan’s right to terminate the both projects from 400 days to 490 days. The ECC was told that there was no financial implication involved in the proposal. The proposal was discussed in detail and in view of the scope of the agreement in question being global in nature, the ECC approved the proposal with a proviso that the Cabinet Division would take further input from the Planning Division and bring the matter back to ECC if there were substantive and fundamental issues requiring further discussion and any change in the ECC approval.

The ECC also considered and approved a proposal by the Ministry of Interior for release of funds through a technical supplementary grant to the tune of Rs 670.553 million to HQ Frontier Corps KP (North) Peshawar for the completion of laid down codal, financial, procedural and legal formalities for various Project Implementation Letters (PILs), including the upgradation of FC KP (North) training centre at Warsak Peshawar and construction of FATA Levies Training Centre at Shakas and 10 X FATA Levies check posts.

The ECC also took up a proposal by the Ministry of industries and Production for grant of technical supplementary grant of Rs 6 billion to the Utility Stores Corporation for subsidy and provision of essential commodities such as flour, sugar, ghee, rice and pulses at a fair price to the under-privileged sections of the society, in line with the package announced by the Prime Minister on 8th November 2019. The ECC discussed the proposal entailing transfer of Rs 4 billion funds from the BISP and arrangement of another Rs 2 billion by the Finance Division, in detail and in order to ensure that this targeted subsidy reached the people it was meant for, constituted a committee under Abdul Razak Dawood, Advisor to PM on Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and Investment and comprising Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid, Privatisation Minister Muhammad Mian Soomro, Governor State Bank of Pakistan Reza Baqir, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation and Chairperson BISP Dr. Sania Nishtar, Secretary Finance, Secretary Industries and MD Utility Stores Corporation to come up within the next few days with a realistic and foolproof method involving use of information technology to ensure the objective of the subsidy as announced by the Prime Minister was fully met and the poorest of the poor benefited from this scheme by purchasing essential items from the 3600 utility stores spread across Pakistan.

The ECC also considered a proposal by the Ministry of National Food Security & Research for release of 200,000 tonnes of wheat @ Rs 1375 per 40 kg from the PASSCO stocks to the Utility Stores Corporation to compensate vulnerable segments of the society and to discourage hoarding and profiteering, with the proviso that the financial implication of Rs 1.314 billion on account of price differential and incidental charges of Rs 6573.98 per tonne to be picked up by the Finance Division, would be settled in the third or fourth quarter by the Finance Division finding suitable sources of funding.

Towards the end, the ECC also took up and approved a detailed proposal based on a comprehensive four-year Circular Debt Capping Plan presented by the Power Division to address the flow of the circular debt through effective efficiency improvement measures and ensure an effective implementation of the National Electricity Policy 2019. Under the plan that mainly addresses sector inefficiencies, discrepancies in tariff regime, fiscal allocations and government policy measures, planning and debt servicing of Power Holding Private Limited Loans, measures would be taken to improve power distribution collection, 100 % collection by five distribution companies, reduction in line losses, rationalisation of subsidy allocations, reduction of running and permanent defaulters and reducing power sector flows to less than Rs 75 billion per annum from the current level of Rs 465 billion per annum.

 
November 08, 2019 (PR No. 207)

ECC has given go-ahead to the PC to fast-track the privatisation of NPPMCL

Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has given go-ahead to the Privatisation Commission to fast-track the privatisation of National Power Parks Management Company (NPPMCL) while the issues related to review and adjustment of risk allocation under the Power Purchase Agreement would be considered again in the next ECC meeting for a final decision.

The instructions were passed during a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet held at the Q Block with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

In the meeting, the ECC noted that change in the percentage of gas supply to these plants managed by the National Power Parks Management Company would not affect the privatisation of the company as the capacity payments of both the plants were ensured under the PPA. Therefore, the ECC decided that Privatisation Commission should go ahead with its transaction.

The ECC further observed that the reallocation of gas to other sectors could be considered in the next meeting wherein a detailed proposal in this regard would be presented by the Privatisation Commission.

 
November 07, 2019 (PR No. 206)

Finance Division takes un-precedented initiative to Facilitate Development Projects

As per Prime Minister’s vision to speed up process of development projects and schemes, Finance Division has shortened budget release process for Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). The step is aimed at easing funds flow and to remove bottlenecks, to boost economic development. The steps include increased availability of funds, friendly processes and incentives for early and proper utilization of funds.  Following are the new measures:-


(i)    Half of the budgetary allocations for approved PSDP projects have been made instantly available to Ministry of Planning & Development by revising Finance Division’s release strategy. Now 50% funds are available for the first two quarters, without any complication. The quarter wise release will be 20:30:30:20.

(ii)  There shall be incentive of advance releases to the executing agencies which will utilize funds appropriately within required time period.

(iii) There shall be no ways and means clearance”” of Finance Division for the approved PSDP projects for the first 03 (three) quarters of the financial year.

(iv) The practice of endorsement by officers of Finance Division on the PSDP funds releases sanctioned by the PAOs is also being withdrawn forthwith.

(v)  The whole process of authorization, releases and sanctioning of PSDP allocated funds shall be dealt between Ministry of Planning, Development & Reforms and Ministries / Divisions and PAOs concerned.

An updated Revised Release strategy for approved PSDP projects, to formalize the above steps has been issued by Finance Division. The Ministry of Planning, Development & Reforms and other line Ministries / Division have been amply enabled to speed up utilization of PSDP funds in accordance with the revised release strategy and Public Finance Management Act, 2019. These steps will ensure adequate money supply, less tier control and ease of operation in the development programme.

 
November 06, 2019 (PR No. 205)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

A meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet was held at the Cabinet Block on Wednesday with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

During the meeting, the ECC approved a proposal put forth by the Ministry of Energy to raise finance facilities of Rs 136.454 billion and Rs 30 billion for adjustment of existing finance facilities of Power Holding Limited worked out between the latter and a consortium of local commercial banks in pursuance of separate ECC decisions taken in November 2016 and February 2017 for the purpose of funding repayment liabilities of DISCOs on terms and conditions as approved by the Finance Division. Earlier, the ECC was told that terms and conditions of the PHL finance facilities had a five-year tenure, inclusive of two-year grace period which had been completed, and the instalment payments on account of principal portion had become payable. Under the latest arrangement approved by the ECC, the principal instalment payments would be deferred for further two years from the date of execution of fresh facilities and this would be a cash neutral transaction as the disbursement of fresh facilities would be used for adjustment of outstanding principal portion of existing PHL finance facilities of Rs 136.454 billion and Rs 30 billion.

On a proposal by the Commerce Division, the ECC took up the import of used vehicles under personal baggage, transfer of residence and gift schemes which require the payment of duties and taxes to be paid out of foreign exchange arranged by Pakistani nationals themselves or local recipients producing proof of conversion of foreign remittance to local currency, and allowed the importers to meet any shortfall in arrangement of required foreign remittance for payment of duties and taxes through local sources in case of a scenario where the Pak rupee depreciates or government increases the import duties and/or taxes after the receipt of remittance and before the filing of the good declaration, which results in shortfall of remitted amount vis-a-vis payable duties and taxes. The ECC decision would help clear up a total of 1017 vehicles currently stuck at Karachi port because either no foreign remittance had been received or the remitted amount had been rendered insufficient due to depreciation of PKR before the filing or goods declaration or increase in the rate of duty in the Finance Act 2019.

On another proposal by the Commerce Division, the ECC accorded ex-post approval to an SRO issued by Commerce Division on 21st August 2019 for extending till 31st August 2019 the implementation of quality standards on the import of solar PV equipment into Pakistan under an SRO issued by the Commerce Division on 28th May 2019. The Commerce Division had issued the SRO in late August following instructions from the Prime Minister to resolve the issue of several containers stuck up at ports due to lack of clarity amongst stakeholders, pre-shipment companies and border agencies regarding documents required for observance and implementation of the quality standards introduced on 28th May 2019 as per a decision of the federal cabinet.

The ECC also approved a proposal authorising the Ministry of Communication/National Highway Authority to proceed for Procurement of Consultancy Services for Section-III Kalkatak-Chitral (48 km) under the Chakdara-Chitral Road Project (N-45) being funded by EXIM Bank of Korea and loan assistance from Economic Development Cooperation Fund (ECDF), as the proposal was in accordance with the Public Procurement Rule-5 which allows for obligation or commitment of the federal government arising out of an international treaty or an agreement with a state or states, or any international financial institution, to override public procurement rules as contained in Public Procurement Regulations 2011. 

The ECC also approved a proposal by the Finance Division for acquisition of 8.5 per cent additional shares of EPCL South Africa by Packages Pakistan through AHL Mauritius by enhancing Standby Letter of Credit (SBLC) by USD 2.7 million which would bring the aggregate investment of Packages Limited to USD 17.7 million, with the stipulation that due to the current foreign exchange constraints, Packages Ltd might arrange the required foreign exchange from abroad.

The ECC also considered and approved two separate proposals by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination for one technical supplementary grant of Rs 784 million to pay for increase in the allowances of doctors and another technical supplementary grant of Rs 228.547 million to pay for the increase in allowances and stipends of regular and student nurses and of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Federal Government Polyclinic (FGPC), National Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (NIRM) and Federal General Hospital (FGH). The increase in allowances and stipends of doctors and nurses had been approved by the Prime Minister to overcome scarcity of nurses and to bring salaries of doctors and nurses working in federal institutions at a par with their fellow colleagues in provinces. 

The ECC also considered and approved a proposal by the National History & Literary Heritage Division for a technical supplementary grant of Rs 255.315 million after an equal amount of funds was surrendered by the Information & Broadcasting Division in pursuance of a Cabinet Division memorandum issued on 15th July 2019 transferring the administrative control of Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) and Lok Virsa from the Information & Broadcasting Division to National History & Literary Heritage Division. The ECC also approved another technical supplementary grant of Rs 75.616 million to National History & Literary Heritage Division for establishment of development works at PNCA and Lok Virsa after the surrender of equal amount of funds by Information & Broadcasting Division.

The ECC also approved a proposal by the Ministry of Narcotics Control for a technical supplementary grant of Rs 14.906 million as operational cost of Anti-Narcotics Force after a similar amount was transferred by International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Affairs (INI-P), US Embassy, Islamabad to the Finance Division under assistance package to help Anti Narcotics Force/Special Investigation Cell to implement ongoing counter narcotics operations as per a mutual agreement.

The ECC also took up separate proposals of Defence Division for one technical supplementary grant of Rs 6.210 billion to pay for recurring cost of the Special Security Division (North) and another technical supplementary grant of Rs 4.966 billion to pay for Internal Security Duty Allowance to the Army troops deployed at the western border. The ECC discussed the matter and asked the Defence Division to bring up the matter in the next ECC meeting after having discussed and finalised with the Finance Division the mode of arranging funds for the subject supplementary grants. 

The ECC also approved a proposal by the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) for revising margins of Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and Dealers on motor spirit (MS) and high speed diesel (HSD) on the basis of annual average of the Consumer Price Index (General). The ECC decided that in future the margins of OMCs and dealers would be worked out on the basis of annual average inflation of fiscal year, and also tasked relevant stakeholders, including Petroleum Division, Finance Division, Planning Division, Industry and Production Division, Bureau of Statistics and OGRA to finalise recommendations within two months and resubmit the case to ECC. Earlier, the ECC was told that the revision in margins on MS/HSD for OMCs and Dealers was carried out annually in accordance with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the respective period. The fresh revision had been necessitated by a substantial increase in the cost of doing business due to rise in inflation and devaluation of rupee since the last revision done on 1st July 2018.

 
November 06, 2019 (PR No. 204)

Pakistan values its ties with Qatar - Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said Pakistan values its relationship with Qatar and the government is keen to facilitate the Qatari businessmen and investors who have shown interest in recent months to invest in Pakistan and participate in the economic development of the country.

He made this statement while talking to Ambassador of Qatar to Pakistan Mr. Saqr bin Mubarak Al Mansouri who called on the Adviser here today. The Adviser briefed the Qatari ambassador on the overall state of the economy and the areas and sectors for potential investment by foreign investors, particularly investors from Qatar. 

Mr. Saqr bin Mubarak Al Mansouri said the relationship between Pakistan and Qatar had many manifestations and both the countries had come close to each to forge business partnerships and economic collaborations particularly in the wake of last June visit of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to Pakistan and his meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi.

The Ambassador also handed over an invitation letter from the Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar to the Adviser to attend the Doha Forum scheduled to be held next month. The Adviser thanked the Ambassador for the invitation and hoped that close economic relationship between the two countries would grow further in the years to come.

 
November 06, 2019 (PR No. 203)

World Bank Vice President called on Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said that Pakistan values the financial and technical support provided by the World Bank for the institutional reforms and economic development of the country.

He made this statement while talking Vice President of World Bank, Ms Ceyla Pazarbasioglu who called on the Adviser on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh. Ms Ceyla Pazarbasioglu is the Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions (EFI) at the World Bank Group (WBG). She oversees a portfolio of nearly $30 billion of operational and policy work. She was accompanied in the meeting by Mr Illango Patchamuthu, Country Director WB.

During the meeting, the Adviser appreciated the support being provided by the World Bank to Pakistan and highlighted the government’s focus on expediting speedy rollout of the World Bank pipeline of projects and actions being taken in this regard.

Ms Ceyla Pazarbasioglu appreciated the economic reforms program initiated by the Government to stabilize the Pakistani economy and accelerate broad-based growth. The World Bank team also congratulated the Adviser on the improvement on the ranking of the Ease of Doing Business (EODB).

The World Bank team discussed with the Adviser the Resilient Institutions Strengthening Program (RISE). This includes an integrated Debt Management office in the Finance Division. The meeting also focused on areas of harmonization of tax regime, circular debt strategy and National Tariff policy matters.

The World Bank team apprised the Adviser on World Bank assistance being provided to harmonize the sales tax across Pakistan to further improve the business environment and enhance revenue collection. In this regard the Adviser was also updated on the progress under the US$ 400 million Pakistan Raises Revenue Project which aims to strengthen the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) and create a sustainable increase in Pakistan’s domestic tax revenue. The project will target raising the tax-to-GDP ratio to 17 percent by financial year 2023-2024 and widening the tax net from the current 1.2 million to at least 3.5 million active taxpayers.

The project will assist in simplifying the tax regime and strengthening tax and customs administration. It will also support the FBR with technology and digital infrastructure and technical skills. The Government has set improving tax revenue with low compliance costs as a high priority.

 
November 01, 2019 (PR No. 202)

Centre-Province Dialogue on Taxation, Fiscal Management a continuous process: Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said the federal and the provincial governments are in a continuous dialogue to improve coordination and create harmony on issues related to fiscal and budget management, multiplicity of tax rates and reconciliation of input adjustment.

He made this observation while chairing a meeting at the Finance Division to review the implementation of fiscal policies in the provinces under the IMF Programme. Visiting IMF Mission Chief Mr. Ramirez Rigo Ernesto, Punjab Finance Minister Makhdum Hashim Jawan Bakht, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance Minister Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra, Balochistan Finance Minister Zahoor Ahmed Buledi, Federal Secretary Finance Naveed Kamran Baloch, Special Secretary Finance, Government of Sindh, Baqir Abbas Naqvi and other senior officials from the Finance Division and local IMF officials were also present.

Dr Hafeez Shaikh pointed out that harmonisation of taxation and other fiscal issues within the constitutional framework was a challenging process but a continuous dialogue and coordination between the centre and the provinces and between the provinces themselves had resulted in better budget and expenditure management while definitional issues related to what constituted a service and what rate of tax applied to it in different regions were also being resolved in a spirit of mutual understanding and accommodation.

The provincial ministers from Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan as well as officials from Sindh also shared their experiences and briefed the IMF Mission Chief about various measures and strategies put in place in their respective provinces to achieve better fiscal and budget management.  
IMF Mission Chief Mr. Ramirez Rigo Ernesto said he was impressed by what he described as good financial and fiscal management and maintenance of expenditure within the budget. However, he stressed upon a full use of the development budget to achieve the development goals. He also emphasised upon harmonisation in the tax system and creation of a single tax base as it directly impacted on the ease of doing business and went a long way in creating an enabling business environment and boosting confidence of the investors and businessmen.

Mr. Ernesto added that Pakistan had a continental size economy, much like the Western Europe where everybody had the same definition of the tax rate and services, and the same could be achieved in Pakistan through uniform tax rates and a single tax administration instead of two or three tax authorities in each province. He appreciated the current level of understanding between the centre and provinces and hoped such efforts would continue to build consensus and bring about greater harmony through a harmonised mechanism.

 
October 31, 2019 (PR No. 201)

Prices of Kerosene, Light Diesel Oil decreased in POL prices for November 2019

The Government has decreased the prices of Kerosene and Light Diesel oil and slightly readjusted the prices of other petroleum products for the month of November 2019 as per recommendations of the Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA, says a statement by the Ministry of Finance. 

The new POL prices are as follows:

(Rs. / liter)

Product

Existing Prices w.e.f.
01-10-2019

New Prices w.e.f.
01-11-2019

Increase/
Decrease

Light Diesel Oil

91.89

85.33

- 6.56

Kerosene (SKO)

99.57

97.18

- 2.39

High Speed Diesel

127.14

127.41

+ 0.27

MS (Petrol)

113.24

114.24

+ 1.00

 
October 30, 2019 (PR No. 200)

ECC directs release of 650,000 tonnes wheat to KP, Sindh and Balochistan

Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has given a go-ahead for release of 650,000 tonnes of wheat from PASSCO stocks to the provincial governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Sindh and Balochistan to ease out the demand and supply equilibrium in the local market.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the ECC held on Wednesday at the Cabinet Block with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair. The ECC took up the wheat situation in the country, particularly the rising trend in wheat prices, and approved a proposal by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for release of 300,000 tonnes each to governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh and 50,000 tonnes to the government of Balochistan. The ECC also approved an amount of Rs 2.745 billion to be paid as PASSCO incidental charges at the ratio of 50:50 to be equally shared by the federal and respective provincial governments.

The latest release follows an earlier release of 250,000 tonnes of wheat to the governments of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments (100,000 tonnes for Sindh and 150,000 tonnes to KP) from PASSCO stocks on an ECC decision taken in its meeting on 2nd October 2019. The PASSCO incidental charges for the previous release had also been shared at the ratio of 50:50 equally by the federal and respective provincial governments.

In its meeting held today, the ECC was informed by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research that the PASSCO and Provincial Food Departments had reported their stocks at the level of 6.444 million tonnes as compared to 10.093 million tonnes of the corresponding period of the last year. However, despite the fact that the total availability of wheat was estimated at the level of 28.256 million tonnes, including the leftover stock of 3.777 million tons as compared to the national requirement of 26.91 million tons of the country, the prices of wheat and flour still showed upward trend in the local market, the ECC was told.

Taking up other agenda items, the ECC also considered two separate proposals submitted by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs for payment of different outstanding amounts by WAPDA and Pakistan State Oil to the Port Qasim Authority and constituted a committee under Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Muhammad Hammad Azhar to resolve the issue of outstanding payments to Port Qasim Authority. Earlier, the ECC was told that WAPDA owed an amount of Rs 1.076 billion to Karachi Port Trust after 52 consignments imported by WAPDA were cleared by the KPT Board on WAPDA’s request on deferred payment and following approval of the federal government. The ECC was told that the WAPDA had only paid a sum of Rs 334 million as against Rs 1.41 billion while the remaining Rs 1.076 was still pending. The other payment was related to the Petroleum Division who owed an amount of Rs 1.696 billion to the Port Qasim Authority for wharfage charges against the LNG imported by the Pakistan State Oil. The Ministry of Maritime Affairs requested the ECC to direct WAPDA and the Petroleum Division to make their respective payments to the PQA. The ECC discussed the issue and in the light of input on the issue, formed a committee headed by Minister for Economic Affairs to examine the matter and suggest a solution within two weeks for resolution of the issue.

The ECC also approved a proposal for grant of Technical Supplementary Grant amounting to Rs 706.050 million, including Rs 650.426 million current and Rs 55.624 million development expenditure, to the Ministry of Human Rights in pursuance of a Federal Cabinet decision to transfer the functions, subjects and organisations, including administrative and financial matters, of the Special Education & Social Welfare along with their allied institutions from Federal Education and Professional Training Division to the Human Right Division. Subsequently, the Federal Education and Professional Training Division surrendered the funds amounting to Rs 706.050 million related to the Special Education & Social Welfare.

The ECC also approved a proposal by the Ministry of Interior for grant of a Technical Supplementary Grant amounting to Rs 100 million, inclusive of Rs 43 million for employee related expenses and Rs 57 million for operating expenditures, for revamping of different departments of the Islamabad Administration following approval of summary by the Prime Minister on 10th June 2019 to establish departments like Forest, Food Authority, Reclamation & Probation and a proper Cooperative Society  in Islamabad with their administrative expenditure and expenses to be funded through improved collection of revenues by ICTA. The ECC was told that the ICT Administration has already implemented the part of the approved summary by the PM dealing with the collection of taxes on increased rates and is way ahead of its revenue collection targets while 125 new posts have also been agreed for creation between the Finance, Establishment and the Interior Division for revamping the departments as per the approved summary.

The ECC also took up an issue regarding the supply of gas to Habibullah Coastal Power Company (HCPC) and approved a proposal by the Petroleum Division for supply of indigenous gas for the interim period of 3 to 6 months, purely on ‘as and when available basis’ with no Liquidated Damages attached, to HCPC, during which period the supply of RLNG could be evaluated together with commercial terms, if CPPA agreed to switch the plant on RLNG and extend the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) accordingly.

Earlier, the Ministry of Energy told the ECC that the issue of supply of gas and RLNG had been deliberated at length with stakeholders and accordingly, Petroleum division was of the view that no long term firm commitment of supply of indigenous gas to HCPC could be offered in view of the depletion of indigenous gas and the widening gap between demand and supply. However, considering the plant location of Quetta and voltage issues, the abrupt suspension of gas supply upon expiry of GSA might not allow CPPA to make alternate arrangement to stabilize the grid which is neither in the interest of Balochistan nor the country.

The ECC also approved another proposal submitted by the Ministry of Energy for allocation of up to 8 MMCFD gas from Chabbaro and up to 10 MMSCFD gas from Gundanwari to the M/s SSGCL with the price of gas as per the applicable Petroleum Policy. Earlier, the ECC was briefed that the OGDCL had requested to allocate the gas from the both the gas fields, located in the Khairpur district, under commercial production to the government appointed buyer Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL).

On another proposal by the Ministry of Energy, the ECC also approved a proposal based on uniform seasonal pricing structure of “Use more electricity-pay less” to be applicable during the four winter months from November 2019 to February 2020, at the rate of Rs 11.9 per unit on all units consumed over and above the units consumed in the corresponding months last year by the consumers using Domestic Consumers (5kW and above), ToU meters, commercial consumers 95kW and above), ToU meters, and all except temporary industrial consumers. The ECC was told that the proposal was aimed at utilising the massive surplus electricity during the winter months when the demand plunges to 8000-9000 MW from an installed capacity of 35,000 MW. The Ministry of Energy said the proposal was based on similar models adopted in various countries, including Chile, and it was expected to lead to utilisation of additional electricity to the tune of Rs 24 billion in four months.

On yet another proposal by the Ministry of Energy, the ECC extended the timeline by another one and a half year for the commencement of Competitive Market Operations / commercial operation date of the Competitive Trading Bilateral Contracts Market (CTBCM) to allow completion of CTBCM Plan within 18 months after approval of CTBCM Plan by NEPRA. The ECC was told that the CTBCM model and plan prepared by the Central Power Purchasing Agency Limited following an ECC decision for transition of the power market to a Competitive Trading Bilateral Contract Market, had been submitted to NEPRA for review and regulatory approval and the approval was anticipated by December 2019. In view of the above, the ECC also approved the proposal for NEPRA to be allowed to amend the timelines of market transition towards a Competitive Market Operations/CTBCM operations mentioned in Schedule-I of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Market Operator Registration, Standards and Procedure) Rules, 2015.

 
October 29, 2019 (PR No. 199)

Government is focused on implementation of the IMF programme - Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue

Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue, has said the government is focused on implementation of the IMF programme.

“The containment of current and fiscal deficits and stabilisation of exchange rate are indicative of the success of government efforts to put the economy on the long-term growth track,” he said while talking to the IMF Mission team led by Mr. Ramirez Rigo Ernesto who called on the Adviser and his team at the Finance Division Tuesday.

Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, Mr. Reza Baqir, Secretary Finance Mr. Naveed Kamran Baloch, Chairman FBR Mr. Shabbar Zaidi, Special Secretary Finance Omar Hamid Khan and other senior officials of the Finance Division and the local IMF officials were also present.

Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh told the visiting Mission delegation that Pakistan enjoyed a very cordial relationship with the IMF and it had been further strengthened during his recent visit to Washington where productive meetings culminating in fruitful discussions were held with the senior IMF management. He said Pakistan valued the IMF support and financial assistance and the Prime Minister was personally overseeing and monitoring the progress achieved in various sectors of the economy.
 
Mr. Ramirez Rigo Ernesto appreciated the positive results being produced by the policies and strategies put in place by the government to remove imbalances in the economy. He said the volatility in the exchange rate had been reduced while successes have also been achieved in other areas, especially on the fiscal front, which indicated the government was moving in the right direction.

He said the IMF Mission was looking forward to have a meaningful and productive review by aiming at a forward-looking approach with focus on the adjustments required till March, especially in the power sector and fundings from various bilateral and multilateral sources for boosting Pakistan foreign exchange.

 
October 21, 2019 (PR No. 198)

IMF, World Bank assured continued support to Pak economy in meetings with Advisor to PM on Finance & Revenue

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh held back to back meeting with the managing directors of the World Bank (WB) and the International Monitory Fund (IMF) to apprise them of the institutional reforms and steps undertaken during the last year to put the economy on the path to progress and stability.

In the first meeting, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and the Pakistan delegation held a meeting with Mr Axel Van Trotsenburg, Managing Director of the World Bank, and senior officials. The Adviser congratulated the new MD on his appointment and appreciated the support being provided by the World Bank to Pakistan. He highlighted the government’s focus on expediting speedy rollout of the World Bank pipeline of projects and actions being taken in this regard.

Mr Trotsenburg mentioned that Pakistan was among the World Bank’s largest partners and beneficiaries of IDA. He said that Pakistan should make optimal use of available World Bank resources and assured the Bank’s continued support to Pakistan’s development effort.

In a separate meeting, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and the Pakistan delegation had an extensive session with the IMF Managing Director Ms Krsitalina Georgieva and other senior Fund officials.

Dr Shaikh congratulated the new MD on her appointment and gave an overview of the implementation of the IMF program in Pakistan. He stated that the first quarter results indicated that Pakistan’s economy was on its path to stabilization. The reforms initiated under the IMF program were demonstrating positive outcomes.

Ms Georgieva stated that the IMF recognized that tough decisions were being made and implemented to stabilize Pakistan’s economy. She appreciated the commitment of the government and assured continued support of the IMF for the reform process.

 
October 20, 2019 (PR No. 197)

Economy on the right path, Dr. Hafeez Shaikh tells US investors

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said that Pakistan’s economy is on the right path to stabilization and the US businesses should benefit from investment opportunities available in the country.

He made this statement while attending a roundtable discussion with senior executives of the US-Pakistan Business Council which hosted a luncheon in honour of Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and members of Pakistan delegation at the US Chamber of Commerce. The Pakistani delegation led by Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh is currently visiting the US to attend the IMF/WB annual meetings-2019.

While talking to the members of US-Pakistan Business Council on the luncheon roundtable, the Adviser highlighted the government’s focus on improving the ease-of-doing-business and encouraged the US companies to expand their footprint in Pakistan. The roundtable was attended by senior executives of the USPBC member companies including S & P Global, PepsiCo, Motorola Solutions Inc, Citi, Google, ExxonMobil and others.

Later, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh along with members of his delegation met with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) President Mr Jin Liqun. They discussed the AIIB portfolio in Pakistan and potential areas of project financing by the Bank. President AIIB reiterated support for Pakistan’s development agenda and stated that AIIB was ready to increase funding for Pakistan’s priority development sectors. He said that investment in infrastructure projects had a long term positive impact on growth. The Adviser invited the AIIB President to visit Pakistan which the latter accepted.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and his team also met with Islamic Development Bank (IDB) President Dr Bandar M H Hajjar and briefed him on the current economic situation in the country. The Adviser thanked the President for IDB’s technical and financial support to Pakistan. President IDB informed that Pakistan had been identified as one of the first countries which will be supported by the Bank for strengthening market competitiveness in its core sectors. An IDB mission would soon visit the country for this purpose.

Meanwhile, Advisor to the PM on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh also held a meeting with Ms. Nena Stoiljkovic, Vice President of the IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group as well as the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries. Ms. Stoiljkovic and her team briefed the Adviser Dr. Shaikh about IFC’s pipeline of projects in Pakistan, particularly in the wind and solar sectors and also expressed interest in providing advisory services for structuring public private partnership transactions.

The Pakistan delegation also attended the Annual Plenary of the IMF and World Bank Group which was addressed by Mr. David Malpass, WB President and Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, MD IMF.
 
October 19, 2019 (PR No. 196)

Advisor to PM on Finance & Revenue briefed global financial, investment partners on economy, seeks further collaborations

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and his delegation currently visiting Washington DC to attend the annual meetings of IMF/WB-2019 held a series of meetings with heads of various global financial institutions and business leaders to apprise them of the overall state of economy in Pakistan with focus on government’s measures to curtail the twin deficits and revive various sectors of the economy through institutional reforms and collaborations with regional and international investment partners.

The Pakistan delegation which also includes President State Bank of Pakistan Dr. Reza Baqir and Secretary Finance Naveed Kamran Baloch held an extensive meeting with President, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Mr. Takehiko Nakao to exchange views on the ongoing projects sponsored by ADB in Pakistan as well as planned portfolio. Adviser to the Prime Minister apprised President ADB about the steps taken by the government for curtailing the current and capital account deficits effectively. In his remarks, President ADB Mr. Nakao said that ADB is an important financial partner of Pakistan and acknowledged the current structural reforms undertaken towards economic stabilization in Pakistan.

Adviser Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh also met with Mr. Hartwig Schafer, Vice President South Asian Region (SAR), World Bank and his team. The meeting reviewed World Bank’s portfolio in Pakistan and exchanged views on further steps to strengthen cooperation between Pakistan and the Bank.

Later, Adviser Dr. Shaikh and Pakistan delegation met with Mr. Jihad Azour, Director Middle East and Central Asia Department (MCD) at the International Monetary Fund. They discussed the implementation of the ongoing IMF program. The IMF Director appreciated the progress made towards economic stabilization as well as government commitment to the reform process.

The members of the delegation also participated in the G-24 Ministers and Governors Meeting on the sidelines of the annual meetings of IMF/WB-2019.

Advisor Dr. Shaikh also attended informal meeting of the SAARC Finance Ministers that focused on trade facilitation within the SAARC region.

Adviser Dr. Hafeez Shaikh and Pakistan delegation also participated in the Standard Chartered Global Investors Forum. Dr. Shaikh gave an overview of the economic situation in Pakistan and progress made with the implementation of the IMF program. He urged the participants to invest in Pakistan.

 
October 18, 2019 (PR No. 195)

Pakistan reaffirms commitment to implement FATF Action Plan

The FATF Plenary meeting was held in Paris from 13-18 October 2019. The Pakistan delegation was led by Mr. Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs Division.
The FATF meeting considered Pakistan’s progress report on the FATF Action Plan and Pakistan’s APG Mutual Evaluation report (MER). Pakistan’s delegation reaffirmed its political commitment to fully implement the Action Plan. The Plenary meeting decided to maintain status quo on the FATF Action Plan and allow the usual 12 months observation period for the APG MER.

The delegation also held sideline meetings with various delegations and briefed them about the progress made by Pakistan on the FATF Action Plan and steps taken for strengthening its AML/CFT framework.

A session on technical assistance and training needs of Pakistan was also organized in collaboration with UNODC and APG Secretariat which was attended by a number of interested countries and multilateral agencies including China, USA, UK, Canada, Japan, EU, World Bank, IMF, ADB, and UNODC.

 
October 18, 2019 (PR No. 194)

Workshop on 1st Quarter Budget Review

Finance Division held a workshop on 1st Quarter Budget Review and for forthcoming quarter. During the workshop Mr. Muhammad Tanvir Butt, Additional Finance Secretary (Budget) explained to about 400 participants on the new reporting mechanism/requirements in the light of Public Finance Management Act, 2019. The detailed methodology for filling the Proformas previously circulated by Finance Division was elucidated. Additional Finance Secretary (Budget) replied to the queries raised by the participants to their satisfaction and appreciated their participation at such a short notice.

 
October 12, 2019 (PR No. 193)

Advisor to PM on Finance & Revenue chaired a meeting on reforms initiatives to facilitate development portfolio

The government economic team has entrusted technical teams from Economic Affairs Division, Planning Commission and the World Bank to chalk out a road-map for simplifying the structure of existing approval process of the development portfolio while identifying the specific areas of interventions and decisions and report back to the forum in a month.

The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and attended by Minister for Economic Affairs Mr. Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister for Planning, Development & Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr. Ishrat Hussain and senior officials of State Bank of Pakistan, the Controller General of Accounts, Finance Division, PD&R and EAD. 

The meeting was given a joint presentation by the Economic Affairs Division and the World Bank on different options to simplify the structure of existing approval processes of the development portfolio in order to shorten the project conception timeframe while also ensuring presence of required funds, availability of project staff and timely procurements. 

The initiative aims to bring implementation preparedness to a new level besides incorporating capacity at implementation level to conceive and prepare project pipeline in line with the annual and medium term government frameworks, upfront preparation of safeguards and procurement documents and appointment of relevant staff so that implementation can start immediately upon approvals and signing of loan agreements.

The government intends to digitize the whole planning process to speed-up decision making leading towards timely implementation of projects.  It was decided that technical teams of the World Bank, Planning Commission and Economic Affairs Division would chalk out a road map while identifying the specific areas of interventions and decisions and report back to the forum in three to four weeks time.

 
October 09, 2019 (PR No. 192)

World Bank Country Director called on Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has underscored the importance of technical and financial assistance from the World Bank to further strengthen its growth-oriented objective and developmental goals in different sectors of the Pakistan economy.

He said this while talking to Mr. Patchamuthu Illangovan, Country Director for the World Bank in Pakistan, who along with his team met the Adviser to apprise him of various ongoing and upcoming projects of the World Bank for the socio-economic development of Pakistan.

Mr. Patchamuthu Illangovan told the Adviser that the World Bank was committed to helping Pakistan in furthering the pace of institutional reforms already being undertaken by the government of Pakistan in different sectors of the economy.

 
October 07, 2019 (PR No. 191)

APG has adopted Pakistan's Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) in its 22nd Annual Meeting

The Asia-Pacific Group of Money Laundering (APG), has adopted Pakistan’s Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) in its 22nd Annual Meeting held in Canberra, Australia from 18-23 August 2019, which has now been uploaded on APG’s website as per procedure. Pakistan’s senior level delegation headed by the Governor State Bank of Pakistan attended the APG Annual Meeting in Canberra.

Pakistan’s Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) provides a summary of the AML/CFT measures in place in Pakistan till October 2018. Since then, Pakistan has made considerable progress to address the deficiencies identified in the MER including updation of National Risk Assessment on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions (implementation of UNSCR 1267 and UNSCR-1373), AML/CFT supervisory measures by SBP and SECP, efforts to establish AML/CFT supervisory framework for CDNS and Pakistan Post, efforts for bringing DNFBPs in AML/CFT domain, Counter-Terrorism Departments of Provincial Police have been designated as investigating and prosecuting agency under the AML Act, 2010, TF risk assessment of NPO Sector, enhancement of capacity building for stakeholders, actions taken by LEAs on ML/TF cases, effectiveness of international cooperation, amendments in some laws relating to AML/CFT to make them more compatible with international standards, FMU’s Egmont Group Membership, improvement in FMU’s analytical functions, fully functional goAML analytical tool, FMU’s MoUs with foreign countries, effective international cooperation on ML & TF.

At the same time, an internal action plan has also been developed for phase-wise implementation of the recommended actions on the basis of MER recommended actions.

As per APG’s procedures, Pakistan would be required to share quarterly progress reports to APG on the implementation of APG recommended actions and would also claim upgradation in the ratings of recommendations in which substantial progress has been made as per APG procedures. Till now the APG members whose recommendations were upgraded include Bangladesh (6), Bhutan (14), Cambodia (3), Fiji (20), Myanmar (2), Samoa (4), Sri Lanka (15), Thailand (2) and Vanuatu (29).

 
October 05, 2019 (PR No. 190)

Prime Minister and his Economic Team met with Global Financial Leaders during the visit to United States

During the recent visit to the USA, Prime Minister Imran Khan and his delegation, including Advisor on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Advisor to PM on Commerce Mr. Razak Dawood and Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr. Reza Baqir met with global financial leaders, bankers and investors to share with them the economic vision and reforms undertaken by the government.

The PM and Advisor to PM discussed the business incentives and future proposals for investment in Pakistan. Particular sectors that were highlighted related to Telecom, investment, Equity Market, Banking, IT Industry, Banking, Energy and Tourism etc. The PM also invited the delegates to visit Pakistan for a Global Business Leaders conference that is being planned later this year.

Some of the global financial leaders that met with the Pakistani visiting delegation included Jamie Dimon, the Chairman and CEO of JP Morgan, the largest investment Bank in US. He was included in Time Magazine’s 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011 lists of the world’s 100 most influential people.

The Prime Minister also met Laurence Douglas Fink, the Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, and American Multinational Investment Management Corporation. BlackRock is the largest money-management firm in the world with more than $6.5 trillion in assets under management. The PM also met Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group, a leading global private equity firm in the world. He was Chairman of President Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum.

During the visit, Prime Minister Imran Khan also held a meeting with Brian Moynihan, Chairman and CEO of Bank of America which is one of the largest banking institutions in the United States. The PM also met Robert Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration, and a former Co-Chairman of Goldman Sachs. Mr. Rubin is founder of the Hamilton Project that advises the government. He is also the co-chairman emeritus of the US Council on Foreign Relations.

PM Imran Kahan and Advisor to the PM on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh also met with senior executives of Exxon Mobil, Telenor, Uber, Citigroup, and others during their visit to the US.

 
October 02, 2019 (PR No. 189)

ECNEC has approved multi-billion highways and infrastructure projects in power sector

Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved separate projects, including construction of 21-km long dedicated Yellow Bus Rapid Transit-BRT Corridor linking Landhi to Numaish, 47.55km Peshawar-Torkham Motorway Project and interlinking of 220 kV Daharki, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur and Chishtian Grid Stations for improvement of power supply system in southern areas.

The decisions were taken in a meeting of the ECNEC convened here at the Cabinet Block with Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue in the chair.

The ECNEC approved the construction of Karachi Urban Mobility Project (Yellow Bus Rapid Transit-BRT Corridor) to be executed by the Government of Sindh at a cost of Rs 61.439 billion. The project to be funded mainly by the World Bank would cover a distance of 21 kms (17.6 km at grade and 3.4 km) and start from Korangi Industrial Road Dawood Chowrangi Landhi, Jam Sadiq Bridge and passing through KPT Interchange FTC Interchange, Shahrah-e-Faisal, Shahrah-e-Quaideen to Kashmir Road intersection where it would integrate with Red BRT Corridor. The project would have 28 stations having facility of 268 buses and some 300,000 passengers would benefit from the corridor every day.
The ECNEC also approved with a proviso for formation of a coordination committee between the federal government and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for overview and fiscal discipline, the construction of Peshawar-Torkham Motorway Project as component-1 of Khyber Pass Economic Corridor (KPEC) at a rationalised cost of Rs 36.705 billion (US$231.10 million) with World Bank share of Rs 34.503 billion (US$217.24 million) based on preliminary design while the firmed-up cost of the project would be available after the receipt of bids on Design-Build-Operate/EPC basis for which the Planning Commission would develop guidelines/standard operating procedures as well as other innovative mechanism. The meeting also approved component-II “Economic Development & Upift of Areas Adjoining the Motorway” for which the Framework Agreement to facilitate preparation and feasibilities through World Bank had been agreed at a total cost of Rs 8.357 billion. The Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would submit PC-1 envisaged under the component-II after the feasibility and detailed design.

The ECNEC further approved a project for Interlinking of 220 kV Daharki, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur and Chishtian Grid Stations for improvement of power supply system in southern areas at an updated cost of Rs 15.795 billion, including Foreign Exchange Component of Rs 9.800 billion to provide reliable and uninterrupted power to consumers. The project would improve the reliability and uninterrupted power supply to HESCO and MEPCO areas while the interlinking of R.Y. Khan Grid Station to Daharki through 220kV transmission line would provide backup link between Multan, Guddu and Shikarpur while the proposed line from R.Y. Khan to Bahawalpur and in/out of Vehari-Chishtian 220 kV single circuit transmission line would provide additional source of supply to 220 kV Bahawalpur and Chishtian grid stations.

Among the other projects, the ECNEC approved construction of a four-lane 18.98 km long (with embankment for 6 lanes) Expressway on East Bay of Gwadar Port at a cost of Rs 17.369 billion with foreign exchange component of Rs 16.435 billion to link Gwadar Port with the Makran Coastal Highway as well as with Gwadar Free Zone and future container terminals. The project would also have one interchange and four bridges, four pedestrian overhead bridges along with cross-drainage structures and allied works.

ECNEC also accorded approval to Dasu Hydropower Project (Stage-1); Revision of Cost for Land Acquisition and Built-up Property at a total cost of Rs 510.980 billion, including Rs 36.914 billion for land cost, and directed the Planning, Development & Reform Division to issue authorisation of the revised cost of land acquisition and built up property of Dasu Hydropower Project (Stage-1) as recommended by CDWP and subsequently by ECNEC.

The ECNEC also approved Lahore Water and Wastewater Management Project-Construction of Surface Water Treatment Plant at BRDB Canal Lahore at a cost of Rs 21.045 billion with Rs foreign exchange component of Rs 19.684 billion to provide adequate quantity of safe drinking water to the target areas of Shadipura, Baghbanpura, Fatehgarh and Mustafabad in Lahore through a unified water supply network. The project would also help maximise the efficiency of the water supply for creating self-sustaining water zones and distribution management areas.

In similar decisions, the ECNEC also granted ex-post facto approval to the development of Phase-1 of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on EPE/Turnkey mode as well as a proposal by the Planning Commission for simplification of development funds release process, including the release of project-wise funds (Rupee component) allocated in PSDP to the ongoing approved projects of Ministries/Divisions during the first week of each quarter as per criteria of the Finance Division (20% in 1st & 2nd Quarter and 30% in 3rd and 4th Quarter) without originating demand by the PAO.

Later in the day, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue also chaired a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet and approved a proposal submitted by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for release of 150,000 tonnes to the provincial governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as release of 100,000 tonnes to Sindh subject to release of same quantity of wheat by the latter from its own stocks.

The ECC further approved a set of proposals submitted by the Ministry of Energy for the resolution of issues pertaining to 1124 MW Kohala Hydropower Project, including the minimum ecological water flow of 42 cumecs by maintaining the e-flow of 30 cumecs and releasing additional flow of 12 cumecs from the spillway, construction of sewage treatment plants and water bodies whose cost would be included in the NEPRA tariff.

The ECC also discussed the issue regarding the Cabinet Committee on Energy’s “Approval of the Settlement of the Settlement of Liquidated Damages” as referred to it by the Cabinet and constituted a Committee comprising Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity and Special Secretary Finance Omar Hamid Khan to examine the matter and firm submit its recommendations to ECC.

To another proposal by the Ministry of Energy, the ECC amended its decision of 28th August 2019 to allow proposed subsidy by the Sindh Government in favour of the destitute residents of Islamkot for reflection in the electricity bills of 4514 consumers of the area while the Sindh government would make budgetary provision/allocation for the amount of the proposed subsidy on annual basis for the life of the proposed facility failing which the facility would be discontinued.

The ECC also approved a proposal of the Ministry of Energy to allow Central Power Purchasing Agency to approach NEPRA for approval of extension of tariff as agreed between Pakistan and Iran on 15th March 2019 for supply of power to Makran Division from the Power Generation & Transmission Management Company (TAVANIR).

To another proposal by the Ministry of Energy for tariff rationalisation for power sector-quarterly and annual indexation/adjustments of distribution margin, the ECC approved a proposal to notify the NEPRA approved adjustments for Q-3&4 of FY 2018-19 and annual adjustment/indexation after incorporating the target quarterly subsidy and additional charge to maintain uniform tariff. The ECC further directed for the adjustment to be shown separately in the consumer bill and applicable for next 12 months effective from October 01, 2019. Similarly, the ECC in order to fully protect the lifeline and domestic consumer consuming upto 300 units, approved the additional charge of Rs. 0.30 per unit so that the impact of instant adjustments was not passed on to lifeline and domestic consumers upto 300 units and at the same time the consolidated revenue requirement approved and determined by NEPRA on 27-9-2019 was maintained.

The ECC also approved a technical supplementary grant of Rs 419.154 million to pay court fee and fee to foreign counsels in case of Dr. Hilal Hussain At-Tuwairiqi and Al-Ittifaq Steel Products Company Limited vs Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

 
September 30, 2019 (PR No. 188)

Petroleum Prices to remain unchanged

The government has decided to maintain the prices of petroleum products at the current level to offset expected increase in the prices for the month of November 2019, says a press release issued by the Ministry of Finance.

The decision to retain the September prices of petroleum products for the upcoming month of October has been taken in view of the petroleum prices in the international market showing increasing trend from mid-September 2019 and the expectation that the prices might remain on the higher side in the month of November 2019.

 
September 27, 2019 (PR No. 187)

Special Finance Secretary chaired the meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC)

The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) meeting was held on 27th September, 2019 under the Chairmanship of Special Finance Secretary to deliberate upon the prices of essential food and non food items and stock of supply of the essential items. The meeting was attended by the representatives from the Provincial governments, Islamabad Capital Territory, Cabinet Division, Ministries of Industries, Commerce, National Food Security and Research, Planning Development and Reform, Federal Board of Revenue, Inter Provincial Coordination, Competition Commission of Pakistan , Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and Utility Stores Corporation.

The meeting discussed the trend of Consumer Price Index, which is a headline measure of inflation, the urban and rural inflation index were also reviewed by the NPMC. It was also informed that the Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) monitors the prices of 51 essential items on weekly basis recorded an increase of 1.01 percent on the week ended on 19.09.2019. The Committee also discussed the price movements of these items among the provinces and ICT and observed variations in price level.

The NPMC reviewed the progress on the decisions taken in the last meeting. Punjab government apprised that in pursuance of NPMC decision they have shared their online market complaints App titled “Qeemat Punjab” which is meant to get hands-on picture of price escalation and overpricing matter etc. with other provinces to review the possibility of its replication with their existing system. ICT administration informed that a new sasta bazar has been established in Chak Shehzad with 170 stalls functioning 3 days a week. ICT administration also informed that they are establishing seven additional sasta bazars in Union Councils to provide essential items at affordable prices. A sasta bazaar near Metro Cash and Carry with more than 900 stalls will be fully operationalzed shortly. Further, they are developing a free home delivery online App to provide essential items to the customers at their door steps at affordable prices. Sindh government informed that they have developed a TAB for their Chief Secretary under “Sindh Performance Management System” for price control functions. All the district officers are required to update the actions taken by them to control the prices in their areas. KPK government has passed the directions to all the Deputy Commissioners and Food Department field formations to establish sasta bazars at District and Tehsil level.

In compliance of directions of NPMC, Ministry of National Food Security and Research informed that a Committee had been constituted to execute the recommendations of Competition Commission of Pakistan to check cartelization, undue profiteering and monopolistic practices in order to control the price hike. Progress will be shared in due course. The Chair instructed the constituted committee to take strict actions to check cartelisation, undue profiteering and monopolistic practises in the country. On the directions of the ECC, the wheat/wheat flour stocks position in the country was also assessed. Ministry of Food Security and Research informed NPMC that the stocks of wheat/wheat flour are sufficient to meet the domestic demand and the prices of wheat bag and Roti/Nan shall remain stable in the country. However, the Chair noted that the subsidy of Rs.1.5 billion provided to ‘Roti Tandoors’ has not been translated into provision of cheap Roti to common man and directed provincial governments to take immediate and strict measures to ensure the fair price of Roti for general public.

The NPMC noted that profit margin between wholesaler and retailer is huge; therefore the provincial governments should take concrete steps to check undue profit margins for benefit of common man. It was emphasized that the prices control committees should be made more proactive to check the general price level at the wholesale and retail level and undue profiteering in the provinces. The need was felt to ensure provision of quality items at Sasta/Itwar bazaars to benefit the common man.

Utility Stores Corporation was directed to explore the possibility of establishing its outlets in ‘Sasta Bazars’ to ensure provision of non-perishable items to far flung areas of the country. ICT administration was advised to present a concrete plan of price monitoring mechanism and steps to remove disparity in prices in the Capital area. NPMC directed FBR to take immediate steps to control smuggling in the country, which are creating distortions in the supply and prices of the commodities.
 
September 27, 2019 (PR No. 186)

Macro adjustment policies resulting in stronger growth in multiple sectors -- Ministry of Finance

The Ministry of Finance has said that macro adjustment policies such as monetary tightening, exchange rate adjustments and cuts in development spending have started paying the desired results with stability and growing strength visible in many sectors of the economy.

In a detailed statement, the Ministry has pointed out that the current account deficit declined significantly by 32.1 percent to US$ 13.508 billion (4.8 percent of GDP) during FY2019 as compared US$ 19.897 billion (6.3 percent of GDP), which widened by 57.6 percent in last year. This trend is continued, during July-August FY2020, current account deficit reduced by 54.7 percent to US$ 1.292 billion as compared US$ 2.85 billion during same period last year.

Exports

Pakistan’s exports during FY2019 stood at US$ 22.979 billion compared with US$ 23.212 billion during FY2018. During the period under review, strong negative price effect dominates the positive quantity effect, hence exports declined by 1 percent. During July-August FY2020, exports increased by 2.79 percent to US$ 3.753 billion against US$ 3.651 billion in last year.

According to merchandise trade on disaggregated level, textile exports increased by 2.3 percent in value over the last year. This sector constitutes more than 60 percent share of total exports. Value added exports of textile items like knitwear which comprises 14.4 percent of total exports increased both in quantity and value by10.7and 12.8percent, respectively. Readymade garments constituting share of 12.5 percent in exports increased both in quantity and value by 34.6 and 7.5 percent, respectively. Value-added exports increased due to growing demand and improvement in export competitiveness after exchange rate adjustment. Bedwear with a share of 10.7 percent in exports, increased both in quantity and in value by 20.4percent and 1.2percent, respectively.

Food group, which has17.3 percent share in exports, increased in value by 17.3 percent of which rice with considerable share of 8.9percent in exports increased in both quantity and value by 47.6and 48.6 percent, respectively. Basmati rice registered a growth in both quantity and value by 49.8 and 32.8percent, respectively. Others rice also increased both in quantity and value by 61.9 and 47.9 percent, respectively.

Imports

Pakistan’s imports during FY2019 stood at US$ 54.799 billion compared with US$ 60.795 billion in FY2018. The impact of stabilization efforts brings a decline of 9.86 percent in imports in FY2019. During July-August FY2020, imports decreased by 21.41 percent to US$ 7.677 billion against US$ 9.769 billion in the same period last year.

The present government imposed up to 60 percent regulatory duties on 570 luxury and non- essential imported goods to curtail the rising imports.

The analysis of merchandise import data suggests that the import of Machinery group having share of 22.4 percent in total imports, increased by 8.2 percent. This signifies an impressive picture ahead in terms of dwindling situation of LSM. Textile machinery, Telecom machinery and Electrical Machinery imports increased by 17.3, 11.1 and 20.3 percent, respectively. Other machinery increased by 20.1 percent.

Food group constitute 9.1 percent of total imports, registered a decline of 26.8 percent during Jul-Aug FY2020. Minor and major crops of domestic agriculture have been improved during the current fiscal year which has lessened the dependency on imported food. Among the food group, the tea imports decreased in both quantity and value by 26.8 percent and 35.4 percent, respectively. The palm oil decreased in both quantity and value by 14.1 percent and 29.8 percent, respectively.

Remittances

On the back of initiatives taken by the government, workers’ remittances surpass the target of US$ 21.2 billion in FY2019 which increased by 9.7 percent to US$ 21.846 billion during FY2019. Although remittances during first two months of FY2020 declined. However, ongoing scenario of overseas employment will be helpful in achieving remittances target this year.

According to overseas employment statistics, 373 thousands number of people have been gone abroad during the first eight months of 2019. Whereas total 380 thousand persons were registered as overseas employed in the whole year 2018.  This will positively impact foreign exchange inflows in terms of remittances.

Further, Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI) has intensified its efforts by launching campaigns in local and destination specific foreign media to encourage overseas Pakistanis to remit through legal means. Moreover, PRI facilitated local exchange companies to increase their tie-ups with the international money transfer operators. This may be supporting the higher remittances inflows in the ongoing fiscal year.
 
September 18, 2019 (PR No. 185)

Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue chaired the meetings of ECC & CCoP

Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved separate proposals for payment of over Rs 1.5 billion subsidy charges to the executing agencies of the Prime Minister’s Youth Business Loan Scheme as well as transfer of Rs 2 billion funds from the Cabinet Division to the Planning, Development and Reform Division as a technical supplementary grant.

The approvals were granted at a meeting of the of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet which met here at the Cabinet Block with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

The ECC considered a proposal by the Finance Division and approved a technical supplementary grant amounting to Rs 1.516 billion in Cost Centre KA-3012-Prime Minister’s Youth Business Loan Scheme from development expenditure of Finance Division in favour of development expenditure outside the Public Sector Development Programme during the current financial year.

The ECC also approved a proposal by the Planning, Development and Reform Division for surrender of funds amounting to Rs 2 billion from its demand related to SDGs Achievement Programme (SAP) in favour of the Planning, Development and Reform Division for the year 2019-20 as a Technical Supplementary Grant to meet the requirements of important projects without affecting the overall PSDP allocation of the federal government.

The ECC also thoroughly discussed the wheat situation in the country and in the light of a briefing by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research decided to continue ban on export of wheat and wheat flour and further decided to propose to provincial governments to undertake a fresh stock-taking of wheat in godowns to ensure adequate supplies were available in the winter months. It further instructed the Ministry of Finance to call an early meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee to assess the wheat and flour supply situation in different parts of the country, including the federal capital in view of recent reports of rising prices of some core food items, including flour.

Meanwhile, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh also chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) to discuss five agenda items related to the ongoing privatisation programme of the government.

The meeting approved inclusion of State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC) as well as Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) and part of Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) in Active List of Privatisation Programme. The meeting further considered a proposal for delisting of Telephone Industries of Pakistan (TIP) from the Privatisation Programme and approved it in view of the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication’s plan to revive the TIP through a joint venture which had already been undertaken in consultation with the TIP employees and Privatisation Commission.

The CCOP also approved a proposal by the Ministry of Privatisation for following a hybrid option for the privatisation of National Power Parks Management Company Limited (NPPMCL) comprising two RLNG based power plants namely 1223 MW Balloki Power Plant and 1230 MW Haveli Bahadur Power Plant and instructed the Privatisation Commission to complete the bidding process by end December. Under the approved plan, if the highest bidder for both plants remains the same, the bidder would be offered to buy the combined entity and in case the highest bidder for both plants is different, the demerger would become a Condition Precedent (CP) to Transaction Closing (SPA). There would a divestment of 100 % equity of stake of NPPMCL or both power plants.

Towards the end, the Privatisation Commission briefed the CCOP on the 10 public sector entities (PSEs) approved for inclusion in the Active Privatisation List as per CCoP decision on 08.08.2019 and the subsequent process and placement of advertisements for hiring of financial advisers for the same PSEs which include 1) Guddu Power Plant (747 MW) – Central Power Generation Company Ltd-CGPL (GENCO-II), 2) Nandipur Power Plant (425 MW)- Northern Power Generation Company Ltd –NPGCL (GENCO-III), 3) House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC), 4) Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL), 5) Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL), 6) First Women Bank Limited (FWBL), 7) Heavy Electrical Complex (HEC), 8) Pakistan Engineering Company (PECO), 9) Sindh Engineering Limited (SEL) and  10) Pakistan Re-Insurance Co Ltd. (PakRe).

 
September 13, 2019 (PR No. 184)

President Citibank called on Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

A delegation comprising senior management of Citibank led by its President and Country Corporate Officer, Mr. Nadeem Lodhi called on Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, here today.

During the meeting opportunities and incentives available for investment in the country’s capital market were discussed. The visiting bankers expressed their trust and confidence in economic and fiscal policies of the government and assured continued participation by their bank in further strengthening the capital market in particular and overall economic development in general.

 
September 12, 2019 (PR No. 183)

Better Governance, active supervision key to reviving SOEs: Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has underscored efforts to contain losses in a number of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) through better governance and active supervision.

He made this observation while chairing a meeting on improving governance structure of SOEs and role of Sarmaya Pakistan Limited (SPL) established earlier this year by the Cabinet to bring in professional expertise to improve the governance of the SOEs’ and making these organisations profitable ones. Noted economists and financial experts, including Mr. Shaukat Tareen and Mr. Zubyr Soomro, and senior officers of Finance Division were also present.

During the meeting, the current state of affairs of SOEs was discussed in detail and it was decided that a proposal to reconstitute the Board of Sarmaya along with names and details of proposed organisations which could benefit from active supervision and guidance of the SPL’s professional management, would be submitted to the Prime Minister through Cabinet Committee of State Owned Enterprise in the coming weeks.

The Adviser emphasised that immediate attention is required to contain the losses in a number of SOEs which are a cause of losses to the economy. Better governance and active supervision is expected to bring in considerable improvements.

 
September 11, 2019 (PR No. 182)

Mr. Hammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs Division attended FATF's Asia-Pacific Joint Group meeting

A senior level Pakistan delegation led by Mr. Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Minister for Economic Affairs Division attended two days Face-to-Face meetings with FATF’s Asia-Pacific Joint Group (AP-Joint Group), to discuss Pakistan’s progress on FATF Action Plan.

The Pakistan delegation effectively presented Pakistan’s progress on each of the FATF Action Plan items and provided additional information/clarification to the AP-Joint Group. The Minister conveyed government’s strong commitment to implement the international AML/CFT standards and reaffirmed Pakistan’s unequivocal commitment to work with international community in the fight against money laundering, terrorism financing and other financial crimes.

As per FATF’s procedures, the AP-Joint Group will present its report in the FATF Plenary and Working Group Meetings scheduled from October 13-18, 2019 in Paris, France.

 
September 06, 2019 (PR No. 181)

National Price Monitoring Committee mulls prices, stocks of food items

The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) meeting was held on 06th September, 2019 under the Chairmanship of Special Finance Secretary to discuss prices of essential food and non food items and stock of supply of the essential items. The meeting was attended by the representatives from the Provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhthunkhwa, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries of Industries, Law and Justice, Commerce, National Food Security and Research, Planning Development and Reform, Inter Provincial Coordination, Competition Commission of Pakistan , Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Utility Stores Corporation and Federal Board of Revenue.

 The meeting was informed that the National CPI with new base for the month of August, 2019 increased by 10.49 percent over August, 2018.The urban CPI recorded at 10.64 percent while rural CPI recorded at 10.27 percent. It was also informed that the Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) monitors the prices of 53 essential items on weekly basis recorded a decrease of 0.18 percent on the week ended on 29th August 2019. Prices of 16 items increased, 12 items decreased and 25 items remains unchanged.

The NPMC discussed in detail the increase in prices of daily food items and non-food items including  Wheat, Rice, Chicken, Onion, Mash Pulse, Gram Pulse, Masoor Pulse, Meat, Milk Powder,  Cooking oil, Vegetable ghee, Sugar,  Gas charges, Motor fuel, Transport services, Motor fuel, Footwear, Construction wage rates,  Doctor clinic fee etc.  The Committee observed main reasons of increase in prices of these items and dilated on the possibilities to check the anti-competitive practices, undue price hike and price disparity in the country. It was also noticed that inflationary pressures are affecting the purchasing power of lower and middle income class of the society. Therefore, vigilant monitoring of prices of food and non-food items at district level and better co-ordination among the provinces are essential to ensure provision of essential food items at affordable prices.

The meeting also took note of the profit margin at the level of wholesalers and retailers and accordingly provincial governments were advised to take proactive measures to rationalize the undue profit margins. Competition Commission of Pakistan was also advised to take proactive measures to check the undue profiteering and eliminate the cartelization practices and control the monopolistic practices so that the small enterprises may be encouraged to enhance their productivity. The meeting also stressed the effective utilization of statistical data for planning and decision making to mitigate the inflationary pressures and to remove price disparity in ICT and among provinces. ICT administration was also directed to take strict measures to ensure the applicability of price list across the Federal area and also advised to ensure the quality of essential items in the market.

The meeting also reviewed the prices of essential items in Sasta bazaars and open markets and noted that the prices are significantly lower in Sasta bazaars as compared to open markets. However, the need was felt to expand the Sasta/Itwar bazaars across the country.  The Chair suggested that provincial governments and ICT to expand the network of such Sasta bazaars. The Chair also advised to ensure the quality of essential items in such bazaars to benefit the common man.

The Chair emphasized that while discussing the price controls, supply side factors should also be taken into consideration, as unless the availability of sufficient commodities is not addressed, prices may continue to fluctuate in the markets.

NPMC directed Ministry of National Food Security & Research to constitute a committee comprising representation from all provinces and relevant stakeholders to review the framework of recommendations prepared by Competition Commission of Pakistan regarding price control and supply of essential food items and implement the recommendations contained therein at the earliest. Punjab government was also directed to share their online market complaints App and its redressal mechanism with ICT and provinces. The Chair assured that the Finance Division is committed to take effective fiscal measures to control inflationary pressures and to provide relief to the general public at large.
 
September 06, 2019 (PR No. 180)

Reform agenda fully on track, no need to renegotiate IMF programme -- MoF

The reforms agenda being pursued by the government with the support of IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF) is aimed at putting the economy on a sustainable growth trajectory and the progress on nearly all the performance and structural benchmarks during Q1 FY20 is so far very encouraging with strong indication that all the targets will be met.

“The Finance ministry is fully committed along with the IMF towards the ongoing reforms program. The reforms program has 7 performance criteria, 5 indicative targets and 13 structural benchmarks and the progress on all of them is very encouraging,” says a statement issued here today.

The Ministry has also dispelled the impression created in a section of the media claiming that the government will face a gap of up to Rs 1 trillion in the FY20 fiscal framework which is not based on facts.

The Ministry of Finance has maintained that the FY19 Fiscal outcomes were due to concerns over slowdown in growth and there were three key factors including Monetary & Exchange rate corrections, need for protection of citizens from rising oil prices and expanding social safety nets and escalation on border with India which contributed to the fiscal deficit rising to 8.9% of GDP, against target of 7.2%.

The SBP has taken a policy direction in FY19 to correct the large trade deficit and shore up FX reserves. These measures have helped to reduce the Current Account deficit (CAD) to US$ 13.5bn in FY19, down from US$ 19.9bn in FY18. However, the rise in interest rates and a weaker Rupee have led to a significant jump in the government’s debt servicing costs. These contributed Rs 104bn to the overall slippage. On the other hand, the devaluation of the currency eroded profits of the SBP for FY19, with a shortfall of Rs 135bn in non-tax revenue of the government.

Non-tax revenue shortfall was exacerbated by the litigation by the telecom operators on renewal of the 3G/4G licenses, and revenue of Rs 80bn did not materialize in FY19. This matter is now partially resolved with telecom operators depositing Rs 70bn as first instalment in September 2019. Federal government also faced a shortfall of Rs 85bn from interest receipts from PSEs (NHA, WAPDA etc)
FBR tax revenues shortfall of Rs 321bn in FY19 was the single biggest reason for the increase in the fiscal deficit and it was driven by a fall in imports (which account for 45% of total FBR tax collection in customs duty, GST and excise). However, other key factors also contributed. Most notably, the decision of the government to shield domestic consumers from rising oil prices resulted in over Rs 100bn shortfall in GST collection.

Against a revised target of 7.2% of GDP (published in April 2019), at the outset of the program - the fiscal year FY19 closed at 8.9% of GDP indicating a slippage of Rs 686bn.

While revenue shortfalls contributed significantly to the rise in deficit, the expenditure overruns were also necessitated by the need to expand social safety nets and higher investment spending (PSDP). If the government had decided to curtail these expenditures further, it would have led to further slowdown in GDP growth and caused a hard landing for the economy already undergoing major monetary and exchange rate adjustments.

The attack on Pakistan by Indian forces and the standoff at the border has also resulted in significant escalation in the FY19 expenditures, all of which are necessary to ensure safety of citizens.

The Ministry of Finance has maintained that while targets under IMF program are ambitious, there is no need to renegotiate. Similarly, while the fiscal deficit overrun in FY19 was due to macro adjustments in the economy and the need to protect citizens from rising oil prices, it is believed that it will have a material impact on the Budget outcomes for FY20.

The payments from telecom operators and privatization of the two RLNG plants are likely to materialize in the current fiscal year and will help the government to reduce the fiscal deficit in FY20 to 7.3% of GDP. The results of the first two months are encouraging with FBR revenues posting increase of 28% y/y.

The reforms agenda pursed by the Government of Pakistan and supported by the IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF) are target oriented but necessary to put the economy on a sustainable growth trajectory. The reforms program has 7 performance criteria, 5 indicative targets and 13 structural benchmarks.

The progress on nearly all the performance and structural benchmarks during Q1 FY20 is encouraging and targets will be met. Finance ministry is fully committed along with the IMF towards the ongoing reforms program.

Next week MoF will welcome Mr Jihad Azour, Director of the IMF Middle East and Central Asia Department and apprise him on the results achieved so far. However, this is not an IMF review mission as certain segments of the media have suggested in their publications.

IMF technical levels talks are expected be held at a later stage after completion of Q1 FY20 and will provide both teams the opportunity to review progress made to date.

 
September 06, 2019 (PR No. 179)

Chinese Ambassador called on Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said that CPEC is one of central focus of the government as it is a special manifestation of our close economic relations with our great neighbour China.

He said this while talking to Mr. Yao Jing, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, who called on the Adviser at his office in the Ministry of Finance today.  

Dr. Hafeez Shaikh told the Chinese envoy that CPEC projects were bringing a transformation in the economy of Pakistan and all its projects were receiving top priority in their implementation. “We value the Chinese assistance and support in building infrastructure, road networks and energy projects and we look forward to exploring more avenues for further enhancing our bilateral cooperation for regional connectivity and stability,” he said.

The Adviser said that Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet of Pakistan had recently approved several proposals and measures to fast-track rollout of various projects as part of the Gwadar Port and Gwadar Free Zone and relevant authorities had been instructed to implement the ECC decisions.

He thanked the Chinese government in providing technical assistance in the implementation of FATF recommendations and highlighted the steps and measures, particularly increased coordination between various government agencies acting under a multi-agency coordination body headed by the Minister of Economic Affairs, taken by Pakistan to demonstrate our seriousness in complying with FATF regime.

The Chinese envoy conveyed the desire and commitment of his country to extend any support and assistance for further boosting the bilateral relations, particularly further increasing the Chinese investment in Pakistan. He also informed of the keen interest of Chinese government and entrepreneurs for extending cooperation with regard to joint ventures in various fields between the two countries.

 
September 05, 2019 (PR No. 178)

Economy put on right track -- Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said that the government has overcome immediate challenges to the economy by taking right decision and focus has now shifted to accelerating the pace of growth by creating an enabling atmosphere for businesses and boosting growth in key sectors such as agriculture.

“We are expecting an over 3 per cent growth in the agriculture sector which has remained stagnant for the past five years and we are further injecting about Rs 250 billion in this sector to enhance crop productivity and improve water management,” he said while talking to a group of foreign investors representing international banks and financial institutions looking to invest in capital market of Pakistan.
The Adviser gave the visiting investors an overview of various policy measures adopted by the government in recent months to tide over the economic slowdown, and spoke about the positive outcomes as reflected in surging exports, improved revenue collection, increase in number of tax filers, enhanced non-tax revenues and various other measures to facilitate businesses, including immediate sales tax refunds to the tune of Rs 22 billion to exporters and payment of all Income Tax refunds to the limit of Rs 100,000.

Dr. Hafeez Shaikh also briefed the delegation on various steps for improving ease of doing business scenario which will pave way for investment and growth of businesses.

The delegation appreciated the intention and practical steps taken by the government to facilitate businesses and improve the environment for encouraging foreign investment in Pakistan’s capital market.

 
September 05, 2019 (PR No. 177)

Agriculture main engine of economic growth -- Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said that he has seen an unprecedented focus on the growth of agriculture sector by the current government which not merely sees agriculture as providing the main pivot to the growth of economy but also allocating vast sums for its further growth.

“Only last week the government approved projects worth Rs 250 billion for the uplift of agriculture sector with focus on enhancing crop productivity and improving the means and resources for better farming,” he said while talking to various stakeholders, including office-holders of APTMA, PCGA, Kissan Itehad and others who met the Adviser at the Ministry of Finance on Thursday to discuss ways for ensuring competitive prices for the cotton farmers for their produce in the coming season. Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and Investment, Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan, Minister for National Food Security& Research, Mr. Shabbar Zaidi, Chairman FBR, and senior officials of Finance Division were also present.

Dr. Hafeez Shaikh said that the government was fully aware of the difficulties being faced by cotton growers in getting better prices which not only offset their cost of production but also provide them with incentives to use more inputs and increase the crop area for enhanced productivity. “The government is actively considering various options and hopefully we have an arrangement which addresses the concerns of cotton growers and helps them fetch good prices for their produce,” he said.

He also asked the APTMA, PCGA and stakeholders to hold meetings with the officials of FBR and the Commerce Ministry to discuss their issues and finalise realistic proposals within the next few days to help the government take a decision that could address the concerns of all stakeholders, particularly the cotton growers in getting better prices in the upcoming season.

 
September 04, 2019 (PR No. 176)

Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue chaired a meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)

Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved separate proposals for simplification of tax regime for non-resident companies investing in the local debt market, revision of cess rate on tobacco for the year 2019-20 and payment of outstanding amount of Rs 5.85 billion as gas subsidy to the fertilizer industry.

The approvals were given at a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet which met here at the Cabinet Block with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

The ECC was also briefed on the wheat situation in the country and it was pointed out that while prices were stable in most parts of the country, there were certain areas and places such as Karachi where the wheat and flour prices had escalated. The ECC directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to sit down with all stakeholders and ensure that the situation does not get out of hands and supply of wheat and flour at regular prices is ensured.

The ECC also considered a proposal by the Ministry of Energy for application of quarterly adjustment notified on 1st July 2019 to the zero rated industrial consumers and for it to be charged over and above the notified tariff for zero rated industrial consumers at 7.5 cents as well as a proposal to the effect that Financial Cost Surcharge, Neelum Jhelum Surcharge, taxes and positive fuel adjustments would not be part of billing to zero rated sector industrial consumers and would be part of subsidy claims to be picked by the Government of Pakistan. The Committee discussed the pros and cons of the proposal in view of its financial implications and asked the Finance Division to hold a meeting with the stakeholders, including the Power Division, Commerce Division and Industries & Production Division and resubmit the case to ECC with solid proposals.

The ECC also approved proposals submitted by the Ministry of Finance for simplification of tax regime for non-resident companies investing in the local debt market with a view to deepening the country’s capital markets, reducing the cost of debt for the government and increasing foreign exchange inflows and reserves. The new tax regime as approved by the ECC would apply to the non-resident companies having no permanent presence in Pakistan.

The ECC also took up a proposal for extension and rehabilitation of gas network in the oil and gas producing districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and referred the matter to the Development Working Party headed by the Secretary Petroleum for an appropriate decision.

 
September 03, 2019 (PR No. 175)

Government has received licence renewal fee from two telecos

The Government of Pakistan has received payment amounting to US$ 224.6 million and Rs 35.262 billion (equivalent of US$ 224.6 million) from two cellular companies respectively as their licence renewal fee, says a press statement issued by the Ministry of Finance today.

According to the statement, the license renewal fee of telecom companies collected by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is a significant source of non-tax revenue for the federal government. Due to stay orders given by the apex court, the collection of this renewal fee from two telecom companies which was budgeted in previous fiscal year had been delayed. However, with the efforts of the Adviser to Prime Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, his team led by Secretary Finance and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, due payment from the two companies has now been received by the government.

 
September 03, 2019 (PR No. 174)

Govt borrowed Rs 3.44 trillion to finance budget deficit in FY 2018-19

The government has borrowed only Rs 3.44 trillion to finance its budget deficit during FY 2018-19 while the figure of Rs 11 trillion being reported in a section of the media as increase in Total Debt and Liabilities requires certain clarifications, says a press release issued by the Ministry of Finance.

The MoF has maintained that Total Debt and Liabilities actually increased by Rs 10.33 trillion (from Rs 29.88 trillion to Rs 40.21 trillion) during FY 2018-19. It is useful to analyze the growth in each of the five distinct components of the overall debt and liabilities figure.

First, Total Public Debt increased by Rs 7.75 trillion during FY 2018-19, out of which (a) Rs 3.44 trillion (44%) was borrowed for meeting the budget deficit; (b) Rs 3.03 trillion (39%) was due to currency depreciation; (c) Rs 1.02 trillion (13%) is offset by higher cash balances necessary for effective cash management as the government is committed to zero borrowing from State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in future; and (d) Rs 0.26 trillion (3%) is difference between face value (which is used for recording of debt) and the realized value (which is recorded as budgetary receipt) of Pakistan Investment Bonds (PIB) issued during the year.

Second, Foreign Exchange Liabilities of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) increased by Rs 1.09 trillion. These liabilities arise due to foreign currency deposits placed by different countries and institutions with SBP. The increase was largely (Rs 0.73 trillion or 67%) due to increase in foreign currency deposits, a positive development, and partly (Rs 0.36 trillion or 33%) due to currency depreciation.

Third, Public Sector Entities’ (PSE) Debt increased by Rs 0.65 trillion. PSEs borrow in-line with their business plans. The increase was largely (Rs 0.50 trillion or 77%) due to additional borrowings and partly (Rs 0.15 trillion or 23%) due to currency depreciation.

Fourth, Debt for Commodity Operations decreased by Rs 0.06 trillion which is also positive.

Finally, Private Sector’s External Debt increased by Rs 0.9 trillion. This is not the government’s liability and is included in Total Debt and Liabilities because of its implications for foreign exchange reserves. The increase was largely (Rs 0.75 trillion or 83%) due to currency depreciation and partly (Rs 0.15 trillion or 17%) due to additional borrowings.

In view of the above, out of the total increase of Rs 10.33 trillion in Total Debt and Liabilities, only Rs 3.44 trillion (33%) has been spent on financing of fiscal deficit and Rs 0.5 trillion (5%) has been borrowed by PSEs for spending on their financing needs. Retirement of Rs 0.06 trillion (-1%) is a welcome development, whereas increase of Rs 0.26 trillion (3%) is due to accounting policy relating to long-term bonds.

Increase of Rs 4.27 trillion (41%) is due to currency depreciation which is a consequence of the wrong exchange rate, industrial, and trade policies of the previous government that led to large and unsustainable current account deficits and ultimately to sharp exchange rate adjustment.

Increases to the extent of Rs 1.02 trillion (10%) in government’s cash balances and Rs 0.73 trillion (7%) in SBP’s foreign exchange liabilities should not be interpreted as Debt because these are offset by cash balances of government and liquid assets of SBP.

Additional borrowing of Rs 0.15 trillion (2%) by private sector from external sources is a healthy sign indicating private sector’s capacity to borrow from abroad for local investments. 

 
August 30, 2019 (PR No. 173)

Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue urged PIA to pursue independent, sustainable business plan

Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Revenue & Finance, has told the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) management that the government wants the national flag career to effectively utilise its assets, improve revenue streams and ensure efficiency and financial discipline.
He was talking to President & CEO PIA Air Marshal Arshad Malik and his team which met the Adviser to the PM at his office to brief him about various activities and initiatives undertaken by the PIA to reduce its operational cost, efficiently utilise its assets and enhance revenues through better management and effective utilisation of available financial and human resources.

Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh stressed the importance of a viable and independently made corporate plan to help the PIA overcome its difficulties and achieve sustainability in its business processes and flight operations. He said the government was fully behind the PIA management and expected it to work diligently to turn the national flag career into an economically stable, viable and dependable airline for the local and international travellers.

PIA President & CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik thanked the Adviser for his guidance and support and briefed him about various initiatives undertaken in recent months, including an effective and optimal utilisation of PIA assets and a significant reduction in the operational cost of the airline. He said the PIA management had been able to lay off nearly 1000 redundant staff to save costs. He termed the ongoing haj operation a success with almost 90 per cent efficiency achieved in the pre-haj flight operation and they expected similar results in the post-haj operation for which all-out efforts were made to bring back the pilgrims as per schedule.

The Adviser instructed his team in the Ministry of Finance to work closely with the PIA management and extend them all possible financial help, keeping in view the availability of fiscal space.

 
August 29, 2019 (PR No. 172)

ECNEC approved development projects worth Rs 579 billion

The government’s agenda for enhancing agriculture productivity, improving water management, making Pakistan green, giving Karachi a facelift and introducing decentralised decision-making dominated the proceedings of Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) which met here at the Cabinet Block to mull and approve various development projects worth about Rs 579 billion today.

The ECNEC meeting chaired by Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Revenue & Finance, also approved National Programme for Improvement of Watercourse in Pakistan Phase-II to be undertaken in all federating units at a cost of Rs 154.542 billion for capacity building of 76,359 Water User Associations for partipatory irrigation management, improvement of 59,427 watercourses across the country and construction of 16,932 water storage tanks and ponds at the farm level with the larger goal of curbing water losses, social mobilisation through capacity building of Water Users Associations, minimisation of conveyance and field application losses, reduction in water-logging and salinity, equity in water distribution, reduction in water disputes, thefts & litigations, poverty reduction through employment generation and increase in crop yields and sufficiency in food.

The ECNEC further approved eight major projects related to the agriculture sector at a cost of about Rs 95 billion, including Productivity Enhancement of Wheat at Rs 30.455 billion, Productivity Enhancement of Rice at Rs 15.789 billion, Productivity Enhancement of Sugarcane at Rs 4.935 billion, National Oilseeds Enhancement Programme (NOEP) at Rs 10.963 billion, Cage Culture Cluster Development Programme at Rs 9.081 billion, Pilot Shrimp Farming Cluster Development Project at Rs 6.160 billion, Water Conservation in Barani Areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at Rs 14.178 billion and Prime Minister’s Initiative for Save the Calf at Rs 3.401 billion.  

The ECNEC approved Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme Phase-1, Up-scaling of Green Pakistan Programme at a cost of Rs 125.184 billion for plantation of 3.30 billion spalings, including 10 % fruit trees, across Pakistan to promote eco-tourism, conserve and develop forests, increase income of local people from the sale of forest products, increase rangelands & pastures, enhance protective functions of watersheds for regulating their water regime, promote local flora and fauna and manage national wildlife parks, sanctuaries and national biosphere reserves.

The ECNEC also approved Construction of BRT Red Line Project Karachi at a cost of Rs 78.384 billion to develop a dedicated corridor of 24.2 km from Numaish to Malir Halt Depot and a common corridor of 2.4 km from Municipal Park to Merewether Tower along MA Jinnah Road with a view to enhancing the quality of public transport, shift motor vehicle users to public transport and reduce traffic congestion in the city. Out of the total 26.6 km length of corridor, 22.45 km would be at grade section, 1.72 km elevated and 2.43 km underground section. The project also includes construction of 29 bus stations, 8 off-corridor routes, including direct and feeder services, procurement of 199 buses using bio-methane gas from cattle waste as fuel and comprising three types 9m, 12m and 18m, provision of ITS equipment and security systems and allied equipments.

The ECNEC also approved 500 KV HVDC Transmission System between Tajikistan and Pakistan for Central Asia-South Asia Transmission Interconnection (CASA-1000) project at a cost of Rs 46.804 billion to provide reliable and uninterrupted power supply to consumer and to export any surplus power to other countries.

The ECNEC also approved Sehat Sahulat Programme covering 2.7 million families all over Pakistan at a cost of Rs 31.935 billion to improve the health status of the population by providing it quality healthcare and enhancing coverage and access t secondary & priority indoor treatment of the poor and vulnerable population.

In order to improve water resources and quality of sewerage system in Karachi, the ECNEC also approved Karachi Water & Sewerage Services Improvement Project (KWSSIP) Phase-I at a cost of US$ 105.21 million (Rs 16.708 billion). The project will facilitate and improve the capacity of Karachi Water & Sewerage Board in the provision of improved water and sanitation services to the residents of Karachi and to carry out routine functions o operation & management of infrastructure and facilities. 

The ECNEC also approved the Sindh Secondary Education Improvement Program (SSEIP) to be implemented all over Sindh at a cost of Rs 13.103 billion for the construction of new secondary schools in 160 existing primary schools, to impart training to 2630 teachers in five major subjects and 485 BISE staff and to provide lab equipment to 660 schools.

The ECNEC also granted approval to a project for Interconnection of Isolated Gwadar/Makran Area with national Grid System of Pakistan at a cost of Rs 17.421 billion to provide adequate facilities for reliable and stable supply of power to the Gwadar area.

The ECNEC also approved a proposal for revision of sanctioning powers of ECNEC for considering projects costing over Rs 10 billion, CDWP for projects from Rs 3 billion to Rs 10 billion and federal level DDWP for projects from Rs 60 million to Rs 2 billion, and further allowed submission of the summary to the Prime Minister for implementation till a formal approval of the proposal by NEC.

 
August 28, 2019 (PR No. 171)

Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue chaired a meetings of ECC, CCoE

Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved proposals submitted by the Ministry of Industries & Production for payment of salaries to the employees of Pakistan Machine Tool Factory (PMTF) and Pakistan Steel Mill (PSM) as well as a proposal of the Power Division for payment of electricity charges by the Government of Sindh as Thar subsidy for 4514 domestic consumers of Taluka Islamkot.

The decisions were taken at a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet held at the Cabinet Block today with Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue, in the chair.

The ECC directed the Finance Division to release one month’s salary amounting to Rs 355 million for the month of June to the PSM employees and further authorise it to arrange for payment of projected net salary of Rs 4097 million to the PSM employees for the Financial Year 2019-20 to be disbursed every month to PSM. 

Similarly, the ECC approved a proposal for payment of Rs 128 million for the salaries for the month of February to May 2019 to the employees of the Pakistan Machine Tool Factory and directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to hold a meeting with the Strategic Plan Division, Commerce Division, Sindh Building Control & Sindh Revenue Control to finalise a plan to hand over the PMTF to the SPD after clearance of all liabilities.  

On another summary submitted by the Power Division, the ECC approved the proposal for reflection in electricity bills of a subsidy by the Government of Sindh for 4514 consumers of Taluka Islamkot in terms of payment of all charges of consumers using 100 or lesser units of electricity on actual charges as well as a flat subsidy of Rs 800 to be given to domestic consumers using more than 100 units. The meeting decided that in case the Government of Sindh failed to pay the subsidy in any future situation for a period of three months, the same amount be deducted at source by the federal government.

The ECC, on a summary submitted by the Ministry of Energy, also approved a proposal for budgetary allocation on annual basis for payment to Asia Petroleum Limited (APL) through Pakistan State Oil under a technical supplementary grant from the current financial year and onwards against accumulating shortfall in guaranteed throughput due to reduced demand in refined furnace oil by HUBCO, and asked the Ministry of Energy to take quick remedial measures for offsetting the accumulating shortfall by engaging local refineries for using APL’s network as reverse pipeline until the contractual obligation ending in 2027. 

The ECC, on a summary submitted by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, also approved a proposal regarding necessary amendments & exemptions in Income Tax Ordinance, Sales Tax Act and Custom Act for the Gwadar Port and Gwadar Free Zone and asked the Law Division to suggest a way forward for their implementation and bring it up in the next Cabinet meeting in consultation with the Commerce Division, Planning Division, Maritime Division, Federal Board of Revenue and Board of Investment.

The ECC was also briefed by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research on the wheat situation in the country with the prices of wheat showing a slight drop in recent days. The ECC was told that the wheat stocks in the country were 7.516 million tons as on 16-08-2019 as compared to 10.950 million tons of the corresponding period of last year. Similarly, around 0.369 million tons of wheat and 0.198 million tons of wheat flour had been exported through sea and land route from the period 01-07-2018 to 16-08-2019.

 Later, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh also chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE). The meeting discussed a proposal submitted by the Power Division and approved settlement of liquidated damages with Rousch Power (Pakistan) Limited on the principles that the period during which the operation of the power plant remained suspended due to non-availability of fuel would be declared as ‘Other Force Majeure Event (OMFE)’ and the term of the PPA would be extended correspondingly to OMFE period; the capacity payments paid during the period shall be recovered through adjustment against the late payment interest invoices of the Company along with the late payment interest at the rate of 50% of the total interest worked out up to the date of settlement agreement in lieu of waiving off right of the Company to claim interest; and the period during which the IPP was unable to make available the capacity and net electrical output on account of non-supply of gas/ shall be treated as an ‘Other Force Majeure Event (OFME)’ under the PPA. Accordingly, the Company would not be entitled to Capacity Payments during such period and the power purchaser would not be entitled to impose LDs on the Company.

On a summary submitted by the Ministry of Water Resources, the CCoE approved a report of the Ministry of Water Resources for mitigating adverse effects on the river water quality because of less flows and reduction in water supply for Muzaffarabad city due to Neelum Jhehlum Hydropower Project.

The CCoE further approved amendments to decisions of the Cabinet Committee on Energy held on 27th February 2019. 

 
August 28, 2019 (PR No. 170)

Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue chaired a meeting of Monetary and Fiscal Policies Co-ordination Board

Meeting of the Monetary and Fiscal Policies Coordination Board was held here today under the chairmanship of the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh. The meeting was attended by the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and Investment, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Finance Secretary, Governor State Bank of Pakistan and two eminent economists Dr. Asad Zaman, Ex-VC PIDE and Dr. Farrukh Iqbal, Director IBA Karachi.

The meeting reviewed the impact of Fiscal and Monetary Policies on economic growth, inflation, investment and external sector of the economy. While reviewing the Fiscal Policy, the Board observed that there is a need to narrow the fundamental revenue-expenditure gap and the export-import gap by ensuring prudent expenditure management and efficient resource mobilization strategy.

The key economic indicators and impact of stabilization policies were presented to the Board. The meeting also reviewed the fundamentals of economy and the performance of the government decisions like upward adjustment in gas and electricity prices, market based exchange rate adjustments, increase in interest rate etc. The Board also discussed the options to enhance the economic activities in potential areas of the economy with targeted policy interventions. The possible options were also deliberated to control price hike in the country.

It was informed that the pressure on the external sector has also been relieved with the first tranche of IMF Extended Fund Facility, activation of the Saudi oil facility and increase in exports. This has not only supported the balance of Payment but also strengthen the market confidence. Furthermore, additional financial support from other development and bilateral partners will support the stability and inclusive growth. The current account balance has shown a sign of improvement due to decline in trade deficit and increase in inflows of workers’ remittances. However, slower inflows of Foreign Direct Investment are a challenge. It was also highlighted that government is making best efforts to operationalized the Special Economic Zones and the Export Processing Zones to attract FDI at the earliest.

It was emphasized that Policy rate may be regulated in a way to confine external sector vulnerability by focusing and prioritizing the export oriented sectors to generate more exportable surplus and become more competitive. It was agreed that SMEs sector should be uplifted by providing access to finance that will contribute to generate export surplus and to create jobs. The unnecessary imports is required to be restricted that has eroded the competitive edge of domestic industry. This will enhance the inclusive economic activities and improve socio-economic condition of common man at large in the country.

Keeping in view, the increased debt serving, lesser resources for public services and tight monetary policy the need for consistent and deep-rooted structural reforms was emphasized. It was also agreed that appropriate policy measures will be adopted to curtail fiscal deficit during the current fiscal year.

 
August 22, 2019 (PR No. 169)

World Bank Country Director called on Adviser to PM on Finance & Revenue

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said Pakistan is pursuing a growth-oriented programme for institutional reforms and economic revival and the technical and financial assistance from the World Bank is vital for achieving various development goals in different sectors of the Pakistan economy.

He made this statement while talking to Mr. Patchamuthu Illangovan, Country Director for the World Bank in Pakistan, who along with his team met the Adviser to apprise him of the upcoming visit of World Bank President David Malpass to Pakistan in the first week of November, and convey a strong desire from the World Bank management to work with Pakistan to drive institutional reforms and support the growth agenda of the government through any technical or financial assistance required from the Bank.

Mr. Patchamuthu Illangovan told the Adviser that the World Bank could work on any financial arrangement looking at the objective need and assessment of the policy matrix as the Bank was very supportive of the institutional reforms being undertaken by the government of Pakistan in different sectors of the economy.

He also briefed the Adviser on ongoing discussions with the Ministry of Finance on two policy-based lending operations to provide budgetary support to Pakistan which would be finalized by December, 2019. Besides, issues related to World Bank’s ongoing portfolio of US$9.00 billion as well as firming up of Pakistan’s delegation to attend the annual meetings of IMF/WBG during October, 2019, also came under discussion.

Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh welcomed World Bank President’s upcoming visit to Pakistan and hoped the visit would lead to opening of greater avenues for more productive engagement between the World Bank and Pakistan.

 
August 21, 2019 (PR No. 168)

Meeting of the Economic Team of the Prime Minister was held under the Chairmanship of the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue

A meeting of the Economic Team of the Prime Minister was held under the Chairmanship of the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue which was attended by the Minister for Planning Development and Reform, Minister for Economic Affairs Division, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Industry & Production and Investment, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Secretary Finance, Secretary Food Security & Research Division and Secretary Planning Development & Reforms.

The Minister for Planning Development & Reform briefed the economic team about the progress on the mega projects of the public sector development programme of the Federal Government during the current fiscal year. He also presented the complete road map to execute the major projects on fast track. He also informed that proper monitoring will be conducted during the current fiscal year so that all development initiatives may be completed as per planned physical and financial phasing.  It was also briefed that latest technologies will be utilized to monitor and complete these projects.

Minister for Economic Affairs Division briefed in the meeting that sufficient funding is available from development partners for projects of social and infrastructure sectors of the Federal and Provincial Governments. During the discussion, it was also highlighted that government will simplify the procedures for release and utilization of development funds.

During the discussion Agriculture Emergency Programme of the government was also discussed in details, it was highlighted that this programme will be executed effectively with the coordination of provincial governments. During the discussions, it was also informed that the Prime Minister will himself monitor the progress of agricultural projects, so that socio economic condition of the rural areas and common man may be uplifted.

The economic team also discussed the possible measures to improve Ease of Doing Business at the earliest so that investor’s confidence may be improved to boost business activities in the country. During the discussion, it was also decided that the Special Economic Zones and Export Processing Zones will be made operationalzed in coordination with the provincial governments at the earliest to enhance the foreign direct investment.

The Economic Team also discussed in details the progress on various components of the Ehsaas Programme to uplift the pro-poor segment of the society so that they can get maximum relief. The chair emphasized that all Ministries should pro-actively execute development projects and reforms process should be continued on fast track to improve service delivery at large in the country.

 
August 21, 2019 (PR No. 167)

22nd Annual Meeting of the Asia Pacific Group

The Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), held its22nd Annual Meeting in Canberra, Australia from 18-23 August 2019. A senior level delegation from Pakistan headed by Dr. Reza Baqir, Governor State Bank of Pakistan, attended the meeting. The meeting adopted Pakistan’s third Mutual Evaluation Report (MER).

The MER covers the period February to October 2018 and identifies a number of areas where further actions are required to strengthen the AML/CFT framework.The report does not cover the areas in which Government of Pakistan has made substantial progress since October 2018.

In the discussions, the Pakistan delegation welcomed engagement with the international community in its efforts to countering terrorism and money laundering. The delegation briefed APG members on the steps taken in recent times for improving its AML/CFT framework as well as the actions for ensuring effective implementation of the FATF Action Plan. The Pakistan delegation also held a number of bilateral meetings with key delegations to brief them on recent progress by Pakistan in implementing the FATF Action Plan.

As background Pakistan is a member of the APG since 2000. APG is a regional body of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and requires its members to undergo mutual evaluation on the compliance of its anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework with FATF recommendations.

During the meetings, Pakistan’s Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) also signed an MoU with the China Anti Money Laundering Monitoring and Analysis Center (CAMLAC) on exchange of financial intelligence.

 
August 20, 2019 (PR No. 166)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue planted a sapling in the lawn of Ministry of Finance

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh planted a sapling in the lawn of Ministry of Finance as part of 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation campaign here today.

The plantation drive by the Finance Division has been launched as part of the Clean and Green Pakistan Index project through participation of the federal, provincial and local governments for upgrading the cities and the surrounding areas in respect of provision and drainage of water, solid waste management, cleanliness, and ratio of trees.

Besides Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance, Special Secretary Finance Mr. Omar Hamid Khan, Additional Secretary CF/HRM Dr. Ahmad Mujtaba Memon and Joint Secretary HRM Khalil Ahmad Chaudhry also planted separate saplings in the compound of the Ministry.

 
August 08, 2019 (PR No. 165)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meetings of CCoP and ECC

The Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) has directed the Ministry of Privatisation to expedite the process of privatization of public sector enterprises approved for privatization and further advised the Ministry of Privatisation to hire financial advisors for at least 10 PSEs before the next CCoP meeting.
The CCoP in its meeting held with Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair today, also empowered the Ministry of Privatisation to select any 10 units and start forthwith the hiring of financial advisors, collectively or separately as per requirement, for the selected units.

Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said the government was committed to pursuing the privatisation programme and assured the Ministry of Privatisation full institutional backing and requisite resources to fast-track the privatisation process. The Cabinet in its meeting held on 3rd June 2019 had already approved initiation of the process of hiring of Financial Advisors of the selected 32 properties.

The Ministry of Privatization gave a detailed presentation on the “Status of Overall Privatization” by telling the Committee that the privatisation process started in January 1991 and a total of 172 transactions had been completed having fetched a total of Rs 649.3 billion for the national exchequer. The committee was also briefed on the progress and pace of privatisation of eight units being on the active list, including National Power Parks Management Co. Ltd (1223 MW Balloki Power Plant and 1230 MW haveli Bahadur Power Plant; Mari Petroleum Limited; SME Bank Limited; First Women Bank Limited; Services International Hotel Lahore; Jinnah Convention Centre Islamabad; Lakhra Coal Mines (now Lakhra Coal Development Company) and Pakistan Steel Mills (revival of entity).

On the request of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs CCoP also approved the delisting of Pakistan National Shipping Corportaion, Port Qasim Authority and Karachi Port Trust from the Privatization Program due to the strategic importance and profitability of these entities.

Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh also chaired a meeting of the Economic Committee of the Cabinet (ECC). The Committee, on a summary presented by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research seeking minimum support price for cotton to protect the local farmers and encourage cotton cultivation in the country, decided to constitute a Price Review Committee under the chair of Advisor Ministry of Commerce & Textile to review and suggest the indicative price and other measures to be taken in case of abnormal fluctuations in the prices of cotton.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research also briefed the ECC on the wheat situation in the country by saying that PASSCO and provincial food departments had reported wheat stocks at the level of 7.519 million tones as on 2nd August 2019 as compared to 11.183 million tones of the corresponding period last year. Similarly, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics on 25th July 2019 had reported the local price of wheat and wheat flour at the level of Rs 362.6 and Rs 422.2/-10 kg respectively, showing a decrease of 0.03 per cent for wheat and 0.69% for wheat flour, as compared to the price level of 2nd week of July 2019.

The Committee instructed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to regularly monitor the wheat prices, availability of wheat stocks in the country and ensure release of wheat stocks to the local market throughout the year and to check tendency of increase in wheat price particularly in the winter season.

On another summary submitted by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research requesting for supplementary grant of Rs 530 million for locust control, the ECC directed the Ministry of Finance to look into the matter in consultation with the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.

The Ministry of Energy also submitted a summary to the ECC for extension of gas network and rehabilitation of existing network in oil & gas producing districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at a cost of Rs 9.039 billion out of which SNGP was to bear the cost equal to Rs 4.668 million while the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was to chip in with Rs 4.371 million of which Rs 694.5 million had already been released as the first tranche by the provincial government. The ECC discussed the proposal and in the light of input from the members and directed the Ministry of Energy to resubmit the proposal after taking input from the Planning and Finance Divisions.

On another summary regarding gas/RLNG supply to industrial sector, including exporters of five zero-rated sectors in the light of ECC decision dated 16th October 2018 of supplying system gas/RLNG to export oriented sector (formerly zero-rated sector) including its process units as well as captive power plants, the ECC approved the subsidy claims for the month of March (based on 100% RLNG supply), April, May and June 2019 amounting to Rs 5,173,701,600/- based on actual verified bills/claims of M/s SNGPL for release out of the budgeted allocation of current financial year for any shortfall in the budgeted allocation at subsequent stage through supplementary grant.

In order to further simplify the subsidy disbursement process, the ECC also approved a proposal for allowing M/s SNGPL to raise verified subsidy bill/claim of preceding month by 8th day of every month and Finance Division to release the subsidy within seven (7) days of receipt of claim from Petroleum Division. Upon receipt of subsidy amount, M/s SNGPL shall promptly issue adjusted invoices to export-oriented sector in the next bill cycle.

The ECC also approved the proposal for the export-oriented sector to pay the invoices at ECC approved tariff of US$ 6.5 per MMBTU along with applicable taxes. It further approved that waiver of interest/Late Payment Surcharge (LPS) charged by SNGPL on the amounts over and above the tariff of $6.5 per MMBTU during the FY-2018-19 which was due to delayed subsidy release by the Government. For FY 2019-20, LPS shall only be charged on the delayed payment of US $ 6.5 per MMBTU and it will not be applicable on the subsidy amounts to be released by Government to SNGPL.

The ECC further directed the Ministries of Energy, Finance and Commerce and FBR to convene a meeting on the subject and resolve the issue regarding clarification of nomenclature of export-oriented sector so that benefits of concessional tariff be limited to exporters under previous notified zero-rated regime and to ensure that any exporter that was previously not beneficiary of concessional tariff would need certification of falling under the clarified regime from FBR.

Towards the end, Special Assistant to PM for Petroleum Division Mr. Nadeem Babar also briefed the ECC on the movement of diesel by Pakistan Railways by saying that 16148 tonnes of diesel had already been moved inland through the Pakistan Railways in the month of July and the same was expected to increase to 35,000 tonnes in the current month of August after assessment of decanting facilities available with Shell, Parco and Hesco.

 
August 06, 2019 (PR No. 164)

US delegation called on the Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

A US delegation led by Ambassador Alice G. Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, along with the US Treasury officials comprising Mr. Scott Rembrandt, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Mr. Grant Vickers, Mr. David Galbraith and others held a meeting with Mr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue today at Finance Division, Islamabad. The Adviser briefed the visiting delegation on measures pertaining to economic reforms being undertaken by the Government of Pakistan to ensure economic discipline, efforts being made towards implementation of FATF Action Plan and the key challenges being faced. He emphasized the importance of bilateral engagement with the US and the need to encourage entrepreneurs from private sector of both the countries which will lead to enhanced trade.

The Adviser informed that over the past three months, the Government has taken significant steps to bring financial discipline that include reduction in Current Account deficit, focus on increasing revenue generation, measures to reduce fiscal expenditures, reduce fiscal borrowings, efforts to enhance foreign exchange reserves through bilateral and multilateral support, arrangement of petroleum credit facility with KSA and IDB and IMF Program. Further, as part of its institutional development initiative, SBP and FBR are being resourced and empowered. At the same time to support economic growth and facilitate the people below the poverty line, various Programs to support our export oriented industries and health insurance schemes have been introduced for the poor.

Regarding, implementation of FATF Action Plan, the Adviser briefed that the government is putting in all-out efforts to complete the Action Plan, involving all relevant authorities at the federal and provincial levels, supported by capacity building through international partners. The Adviser expressed Government of Pakistan’s commitment to enhance the effectiveness of its AML/CFT Framework being undertaken by the government of Pakistan, with the objective to ensure that all the actions that are being taken to curb Terror Financing are irreversible and sustainable. The Adviser urged for continued support of the international community for strengthening of the AML/CFT Framework over a longer period of time.

Ms. Alice G. Wells appreciated the briefings and expressed that the US would continue to remain engaged with Pakistan in its economic reforms efforts and help build an environment that facilitates business development between the two countries.

 
August 06, 2019 (PR No. 163)

Japanese Ambassador called on the Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan, Mr. Kuninori Matsuda called on the Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, here today.

The Adviser welcomed the Ambassador and called the relations between the two countries having immense importance for both sides. He expressed his desire to expand the trade relations existing between the two countries on mutually beneficial and supportive terms. The Ambassador congratulated the Adviser on assuming his responsibilities as the leader of the financial team of the government and briefed the Adviser on the existing level of cooperation between the two countries.  He told the Adviser that currently the government of Japan and JICA are cooperating with the government of Pakistan on social development programmes, technical assistance in counter terrorism activities and health and hygiene sector. Moreover, the Japanese investors are planning to invest in pharmaceutical and food & agriculture sectors. The Ambassador briefed that they are planning to invite high level Pakistani business delegations to Japan to explore the possibilities of finding new trade ventures.

The Adviser welcomed the interest taken by the Japanese side in improving the economic relations with Pakistan and said that he would continue to support the further strengthening this relationship. The Adviser also shared with the Ambassador the details of his recent visit along with the Prime Minister to the United States. Progress made on FATF was also shared. He said that the relationship with the United States under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan is on a more stable footing than the previous tenures and on the FATF programme, the government is making all possible efforts to come out of the grey list; the US authorities have acknowledged the hard work and seriousness of the Pakistani government on controlling terror financing and money laundering.

The Ambassador briefed the Adviser that JICA is also planning the next level of economic partnership with the government of Pakistan. He said, Pakistan could prove an important gateway for expanding the regional trade between Japan and Central Asian States.

         
 
August 05, 2019 (PR No. 162)

Finance Division has appointed Mr. Omar Hamid Khan. Special Secretary as the official spokesperson of Finance Division

Finance Division has appointed Mr. Omar Hamid Khan as the official spokesperson of Finance Division with immediate effect as per an official notification issued here today. Mr. Omar Hamid Khan is a senior civil servant and is already serving as Special Secretary in the Finance Division. He can be reached at 051-9201023.

 
July 26, 2019 (PR No. 161)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue and Governor State Bank had an interactive session with the Executive Directors of the IMF from G-7 countries

Adviser to the Prime Minister for Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, Mr. Reza Baqir had an interactive session with the Executive Directors of the IMF from G-7 countries (i.e. United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Italy, Japan and Germany), China, Russia and Switzerland, in their recent visit to Washington. They apprised the ED’s of the on-going reform process under the IMF Program in Pakistan and the Government’s strong commitment to its successful implementation. The IMF Board Members shared their thoughts and appreciated the Government’s resolve to stabilize and revive the economy. They also appreciated the Government’s focus on social safety programs for the vulnerable segments and measures taken for curtailing expenditure and broadening of the tax base in the recent budget.

 
July 25, 2019 (PR No. 161)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue and Governor State Bank met with IMF MD, WB officials

Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue and Dr. Reza Baqir, Governor State Bank of Pakistan spent a busy day in Washington, DC meeting with the IMF Managing Director Mr. David Lipton and senior officials of the World Bank and IFC. They spoke at length with the members of World Bank-IMF Pakistan Staff Association and heard their suggestions for reforming the economy. They also spoke at an event “Pakistan: This Time it’s Different” hosted by Mr. Masood Ahmed, President Centre for Global Development which was attended by a cross section of individuals from the think-tanks, government, academia and Pakistani diaspora.

 
July 17, 2019 (PR No. 160)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of ECC

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet, here today. A report on the wheat situation in the country was presented in the ECC by Ministry of National Food Security and Research. It was briefed during the meeting that adequate stocks of wheat are available in the country to cater for the needs of the population. It was also highlighted that the procured quantity of wheat during this year is 33% less than the procured quantities of wheat during the corresponding periods of last year. The recent hike in prices of wheat and wheat flour is also a point of concern.  The ECC decided to impose a ban on export of wheat/wheat flour and also asked that a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee may be convened to suggest measures to control the price hike trend of ‘Roti’ and other wheat products in the local market with the cooperation of the provincial governments.

The ECC also approved National Fertilizer Marketing Limited  (NFML) to fix the Dealer Transfer Price (DTP) of 50 kg imported Urea Bag at Rs.1800 which is Rs.166 less than the prevailing average market price of Sona Urea i.e. Rs.1966 per 50 kg bag. The difference in Urea import price and approved dealer transfer price for NFML dealers has been estimated at Rs.937.92 million; NFML has also been directed to ensure enforcement of this price through coordination with provincial governments.

The ECC allowed PIA Corporation Limited to make a re-appropriation in its already approved budget of Rs.24 billion for the upgradation of in-flight entertainment (IFE) system of its fleet for 8 Boeing-777 aircrafts. The project will cost Rs.700 million. It was also briefed during the meeting that the measures will improve the occupancy of the airline to 80 per cent from the current level of 70 per cent.

          The ECC endorsed the decision of the Governing Council of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to change the base of price statistics from 2007-08 to 2015-16. The new base 2015-16 of price statistics has the following features:

  • Inclusion of rural market.
  • Introduction of population weight based on recent Population Censes 2017.
  • Computation of indices based on Weighted Geometric Mean.
  • Introduction of consumption quintiles instead of income quintiles.
  • Introduction of consumer weighted approach to compute gas prices for combined income group.
  • Introduction of GST, other taxes Fuel Price Adjustment to compute electricity tariffs using consumer weighted approach.

It was also decided that for the purpose of comparative analysis, the old series of 2007-08 will continue to be published for another year along with the new series of 2015-16.

On the summary moved by Ministry of Commerce and Textile, it was decided that the scrap slag, ash and residues containing metals, arsenic or their compounds (containing mainly Aluminum under PCT 2620.4000) may be moved from Appendix-A (Banned Items) to Appendix-B (Restricted Items) of the Import Policy Order, 2016. However, in order to forestall the chances of import of hazardous waste, the import may be subject to the following conditions:

(i)           Importable only by industrial consumer having recycling facilities, subject to NOC from Ministry of Climate Change and duly certified by provincial Environmental Protection Agency (Federal EPA, in case of Islamabad Capital Territory).
(ii)          Provision of a pre-shipment Inspection Certificate and consent of Focal Point of Basel Convention from the country of export to the effect that the waste/scrap is non-hazardous as defined in the Basel Convention.
(iii)        The imported consignments of the registered recycling plants shall be cleared from seaport only.

The ECC also considered and approved the notification of Minimum Indicative Prices (MIP) of tobacco for year 2019-20. As per section 8 of the Pakistan Tobacco Board Ordinance 1968, the MIP for different grades of various types of tobacco are to be notified by the Federal Government.  The following prices were suggested for notification:


S.No.

TYPES OF TOBACCO

MINIMUM INDICATIVE PRICE PER KG FOR 2019-20 CROP

1.     

FCV Tobacco (Plain)

Rs.190.63

2.     

FCV Tobacco (Sub-Mountainous)

Rs.218.77

3.     

WP Tobacco

Rs.82.85

4.     

Burley Tobacco

Rs.150.54

5.     

DAC Tobacco

Rs.94.76

The ECC also allowed that new PCT codes, as created in the Pakistan Customs Tariff through the Finance Act, 2019, may also be incorporated in SRO 693(I)/2006 dated 01.07.2006 so that levy of additional customs duty collected on those parts of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) of engine capacities 1001cc to 1500cc and 1501cc to 1800cc which have been localized, may be appropriately accounted for under separate PCT codes.

The report on National Poverty Graduation Programme of US $ 82.60 million was also submitted for compliance of the ECC by the Secretary, Economic Affairs Division.

Among others, the meeting was attended by Minister for National Food Security & Research, Sahibzada Muhammad Mehboob Sultan; Minister for Planning, Development & Reform, Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar, Minister for Privatization, Muhammadmian Soomro, Minister for Railways, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Adviser to PM on Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood; Adviser on Institutional Reforms and Austerity, Dr. Ishrat Hussain; SAPM on Petroleum, Nadeem Babar; Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Reza Baqir and Chairman, Board of Investment, Zubair Gilani.

 
July 15, 2019 (PR No. 159)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting of Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC)

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh presided over the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), here today. The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for planning Development and Reforms, Minister for Finance KP, Chairperson P&D Board Sindh and adviser to PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity and  other senior officials of Federal and provincial governments.

ECNEC considered and approved “Dasu hydropower project (stage 1) Revision of cost for land acquisition and built up of property”, subject to opinion of the Law Ministry on the revision of cost of land and built up property after imposition of section 4 of Land acquisition Act of 1894.  The chair also directed that the Ministry of Law may be requested to give its opinion in a week’s time to save the project from further delay. The project is financed by World Bank and WAPDA and is designed to provide 4,320 MW of electricity in two stages.

ECNEC also approved the project for the evacuation of Power from 2,160 MW Dasu HPP stage 1, Dasu to Islamabad via Mansehra at a revised cost of 90831.69 million with FEC of Rs. 79,584.20 million. The changes in the cost of the project occurred due to changes in the exchange rate, it was briefed to the meeting. The Chair, observing that cost revision due to exchange rate fluctuation has become a regular exercise at ECNEC, directed Ministry of Planning to devise a mechanism to incorporate the exchange rate fluctuations in the cost of the project.

ECNEC also considered and approved the “Engineering Procurement and Construction of Balakot Hydropower project, Manshera Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at the updated cost of 85,912.926 million with the FEC of Rs.35,049.714 million. The Project will be sponsored and executed by Energy and Power Department, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Financing for the project shall be from Asian Development Bank (80%) and (20%) from annual development Program of government of KP. The Chair also directed to form a committee to look into the matter of filing a petition to NEPRA for reference tariff for Public Sector power projects at EPC as well as COD stage. Minister for Planning, members from NEPRA, Secretary Power Division, and Secretary Planning KP shall be members of this committee.

While reviewing the “500 kV HVDC Transmission System between Tajikistan and Pakistan for Central Asia- South Asia transmission interconnection (CASA1000) Modified” the chair directed that the project may be brought back to the next meeting of the ECNEC by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms after another round of consultation with the Project stakeholders after detailed discussion on export of energy as well to ensure its viability.

ECNEC also approved two Power projects on the same observations; “the 1,223 MW(Gross) combined cycle Power Plant Balloki, District Kasur” and “1230MW (Gross)Combined Cycle power plant at Haveli Bahadur Shah, District Jhang( 2nd revised PC1)”. ECNEC had the following observations for both the projects:

  • Construction of Housing complex and allied facilities may be allowed at a rate of Rs.5000/sq ft already permitted by NEPRA as an ex-post facto case.
  • Sponsors should justify land acquisition for Housing Complex without prior approval of ECNEC and award design work to Consultants
  • This approval would in no way constitute endorsement of the fiduciary/ management decisions of NPPMCL board regarding internal cost adjustments/ re-appropriation within the approved PC 1, as these are not in the ambit of CDWP/ ECNEC and are the responsibility of the board / PAO

ECNEC also approved the 220kV Head Faqirian Grid Station Along with 220 kV double Circuit Transmission line from Head Faqirian to Ludewala at an updated cost of Rs.5812.08 million including FEC of Rs.2991.42 million. The chair also directed that the Planning Commission to undertake an exercise of Project evaluation before bringing the projects to ECNEC,  Dr.Ishart Hussain shall lead the exercise for the evaluation of the projects.

ECNEC also approved Extension of Intensive Care Department of Mother-Child Health Centre and children hospital at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) at an updated cost of Rs.4,270.588 million with FEC of 3,874.138 million (FEC: Japanese Yen: 3620.296 million as foreign aid from the government of Japan through JICA).

ECNEC approved Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Integrated Tourism Development Project at the cost of 17,000 million rupees. (World Bank Loan Rs.14,000 million and government of KP contribution 3,000 million). The project aims at development of tourism at KP for economic growth, employment and revenue generation, progress of local communities, construction of roads and creating enabling environment for private sector operations. The project will be completed by the end of financial year 2022-2023; the World Bank loan will be repaid by government of KP.

For the “Establishment and Operation of Basic Education, Community Schools in the country”, ECNEC approved a revised cost of Rs.4,629.742 million subject to the condition that honoraria to remaining BECS teachers with pending verifications may be made as per the ECNEC decision of January 9, 2019. The ECNEC also gave prior approval for paying off major cost of this project till December 2019 with the instructions to devise a mechanism for facilitating the process of transition of this project to the provincial governments. The Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination, Secretary Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training, Secretaries of Provincial educational departments, Secretary Finance and Secretary Planning and Development with Adviser to Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms, Dr. Ishrat Hussain shall devise a plan for the smooth transition of this programme from the federal government to the provincial governments, as education is a devolved subject to be looked after by the provinces.

ECNEC approved the establishment of Pakistan Space Centre at Chakkri, Rawalpindi District at an updated cost of Rs.29,506.233 million including FEC of Rs.22,095.67 million.

The Dualization of Kuchlak-Zhob section of N-50 (305 km) was also approved by ECNEC at a rationalized cost of 63,601.56 million without FEC. The road section is located in province of Balochistan.

The Competitive and Livable City of Karachi Project (CLICK) with the sponsorship of government of Sindh and World Bank/IPF-IBRD was also approved at a total cost of Rs. 33,600 million including World Bank loan of 32,200 million. It is estimated that the project will be completed by June 2024.

 
July 09, 2019 (PR No. 158)

Five Member Delegation from Emirates NBD Bank called on the Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

A five member delegation from Emirates NBD Bank called on the Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Dr. Abdul Hafiz Sheikh, here this morning. The delegation was led by Mr. Fahad Al Qasim, CEO Emirates NBD Capital Limited.

The Adviser welcomed the delegation and expressed confidence that mutually beneficial relationship with the bank will further strengthen in future.

After thanking the Adviser for an opportunity to meet the finance team, the CEO of NBD (National Bank of Dubai) gave a brief introduction of his bank and the financial services they offer. He informed that Emirates NBD, is the largest banking group in the region by assets. The Group has operations in the UAE, Egypt, India, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and representative offices in China and Indonesia, briefed the CEO.

The Adviser thanked the delegation for its visit and said that they are welcome to bid for ventures that the government is planning under various programs.

The meeting was also participated by Secretary Finance, Additional Secretary EF, SA to Finance Minister, DG IERU, DG Debt Management and other senior officials of the Ministry of Finance.
 
July 08, 2019 (PR No. 157)

Adviser to PM on Finance chaired a meeting on Financial Models for Naya Pakistan Economic Zone

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Dr. Abdul Hafiz Sheikh chaired a meeting at the Finance Division. The meeting was called to analyze the different Financial Models for “Naya Pakistan Economic Zone alongside Islamabad Expressway”.

Chairman Naya Pakistan Housing Association, Lt. Gen ® Ameer Ali Haider briefed the meeting on the overall details of the project. The chairman briefed the meeting that the project will be completed in 3-4 phases starting from Faizabad and ending near Rawat. FWO is working with NPHA on the feasibility of the project and the idea is to complete the first phase in a year’s time under the public private partnership mode. Different financial models were looked into for the completion of the project in consultation with State Bank of Pakistan and FBR.

The Adviser said that the government supports the development of the housing sector as it has the potential of providing employment opportunities to the youth, he also assured of providing all possible assistance for any financial plan that is prepared keeping in view the requirements of all the relevant laws of the country. He emphasized on the need to incentivize the real estate sector as it can attract investment from Pakistani Diaspora. The Adviser further directed to hold another meeting with all the relevant stakeholders in the current week for analyzing any financial plans prepared by NPHA for this project.

 
July 03, 2019 (PR No. 156)

Adviser to PM on Finance chaired a meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired a meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet, here today. Petroleum Division briefed the Committee about the utilization of Railways services for transportation of petroleum products to upward country. In order to enhance supply of PSO products to Pakistan railways, the Committee directed the Petroleum Division to divert the surplus business to Pakistan Railways that offers lowest freight charges as compared to other modes of transportations.

Giving presentation to ECC, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs emphasized about the urgency of establishment of third terminal at Port Qasim Authority (PQA) so as to meet the gas shortage in the country in the years ahead. In order to expedite the process of establishing of 3rd LNG terminal, the Committee approved the resolutions of the PQA’s Board by exempting the Authority from public tendering for appointment of legal consultant through negotiated tendering. The Committee also approved the resolution of the Board to allow amendment in PQA master plan to accommodate the prospective 3rd LNG Terminal. It may be recalled that the ECC in its decision, in February 2019, had directed Ministry of Maritime Affairs to expeditiously work on setting up of an additional LNG terminal. Ministry of National Food Security and Research updated the Committee about wheat stock position in the country.

 
June 30, 2019 (PR No. 155)

No increase in POL prices for July 2019

To provide relief to the consumers, the government has decided not to increase in the prices of petroleum products for the month of July 2019 and the existing price of June 2019 will remain unchanged for the next month.

 
June 26, 2019 (PR No. 154)

Adviser to PM on Finance chaired a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC)

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet, to review the demands of various Ministries/Divisions, here today. In order to promote Maritime Sector and strengthen the shipping industry in the country, the Committee approved the proposal of Ministry of Maritime Affairs to extend the existing tax incentives to the shipping sector from 2020-2030, subject to vetting by Law Division.

The Power Division briefed the Committee about the cash and non-cash settlement for power sector. The ECC decided that Industrial Support Package (ISP) and AJK power sector subsidy would be adjusted against the outstanding loan of government of Pakistan from power sector entity. It also approved the proposal of Power Division to provide additional power supply for three hours to the tube-wells, domestic and commercial consumers of Baluchistan province for initial period of three months. In this regard, an amount of 9 billion was approved for three months which is to be provided in three tranches. The Committee would review the performance of QESCO on monthly basis whether the recovery drive against the power sector defaulters is producing the desired results.  The ECC decided to give a deadline of three months to Power Division to resolve the issue of recovery from around thirty thousand eight tube-wells of Baluchistan. The Committee directed Law Division to accelerate the recovery campaign against the defaulters and submit a report to ECC on monthly basis.

The Committee acceded to the proposal of Petroleum Division to allow import of Petroleum products by PSO under Saudi Fund for Development. It also reviewed various slabs of gas tariff.

The ECC approved Supplementary and Technical Supplementary Grants of various Ministries/Divisions.

 
June 26, 2019 (PR No. 153)

Adviser to PM on Finance chaired a meeting to discuss the framework to facilitate the Farmers

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired a meeting here today to discuss the framework to facilitate the farmers through Warehouse Receipt Financing (WHRF).

The Adviser was briefed about the importance of storage infrastructure for agriculture commodities which could save billion of rupees and make agriculture sector more competitive. In order to address the issue of post-harvest losses and enhance farmers’ access to agriculture credit, the meeting emphasized to introduce a formal commodity management and Warehouse Receipt Financing System. The meeting discussed the key challenges facing the implementation of WHRF in Pakistan, including lack of regulatory framework for Collateral Management Companies (CMCs) and lack of capacity of Banks and other stake holders to facilitate farmers in provision of WHRF.

The meeting discussed a draft law for Collateral Management Company. The proposed law will create linkages between Warehousing, collateralization, issuance of electronic warehousing receipt (eWHR) and eWHR Financing. The Adviser appreciated the efforts made by SECP and SBP in establishing the Warehouse Receipt Financing Facility in Pakistan. He said that the WHRF would help reducing post-harvest losses in agriculture sector. It was also decided to hold another meeting in the next month to review the progress about the subject. The Adviser directed the concerned quarters that the final draft of proposed law should be submitted in 4 to 5 weeks’ time after consultation from all the relevant stakeholders.

The meeting was participated by Chairman SECP, Governor SBP, Acting President ZTBL, Secretary Agriculture Punjab and Chairman PAC along with Mr. Jahangir Khan Tareen.

 
June 21, 2019 (PR No. 152)

Press Release - FATF Plenary Meeting

The Plenary Meeting of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) took place at Orlando, USA, from June 16-21, 2019. The meeting reviewed the compliance of a number of countries, including Pakistan with the international standards on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML-CFT).

Pakistan was placed by FATF in its Compliance Document in view of an Action Plan agreed with Pakistan in June 2018 to strengthen its AML/CFT Regime. FATF reviewed progress made by Pakistan towards the implementation of the Action Plan. It acknowledged the steps taken by Pakistan to improve its AML/CFT regime and highlighted the need for further actions for implementing the Action Plan.

FATF will undertake the next review of Pakistan’s Progress in October 2019.

The Government of Pakistan reiterates its commitment to take all necessary measures to ensure completion of the Action Plan in a timely manner.

 
June 20, 2019 (PR No. 151)

FPCCI & APTMA delegations called on Adviser to PM on Finance

A delegation of Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), led by its President Engr. Daroo Khan Achakzai, and All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, held separate meetings with the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, here today. Welcoming the delegations, the Adviser briefed the participants about the economic priorities of the government. He informed that the government had taken austerity measures by reducing its expenditure upto Rs.50 billion as well as making 10% decrease in the salary of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet members. Spelling out the priorities of the government, the Adviser stated that initiatives had been taken to curb external deficit and fiscal deficit by reducing the expenditure and enhancing the revenue of the country. He urged the business community to support the government in its endeavours to boost the economy.

The delegations apprised the adviser of their problems and proposed a range of suggestions. The Adviser assured them that their suggestions would be accommodated. The meeting approved the demand of business community to develop criteria in which a person is not repeatedly selected for audit without any definite information about tax evasion. In order to facilitate the business community, Chairman FBR assured that a new system of refund would be introduced to issue refund to the exporters at the time of export. The meeting agreed to streamline DTRE system for the importers so as to discourage misuse, if any. The meeting agreed that no action would be taken against the taxpayers on the basis of any wrong information with respect to CNIC. However, the condition of CNIC, for invoice, will be continued with an object to document the economy. Regarding the commercial imports, the meeting approved the proposal of the business community to do away with presumptive tax on commercial imports.

The members of FPCCI and APTMA thanked the Adviser for accommodating their proposals.

Among others, the meeting was also attended by the Adviser to PM on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production and Investment, Mr. Abdul Razak Dawood, Secretary Finance, Naveed Kamran Baloch, Chairman, FBR, Shabbar Zaidi and other senior officials of Finance Ministry.
 
June 20, 2019 (PR No. 150)

Finance Division has allowed the investors of Rs. 40,000 Prize Bonds (Bearer) to register their bonds

Finance Division, Government of Pakistan has allowed the investors of Rs. 40,000 Prize Bonds (Bearer) to register their bonds Up to 31st March, 2020.

Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has decided that holders of bearer Prize Bonds of Rs. 40,000 denomination can opt for any of the following opportunities to convert their bonds:-
Conversion of Rs. 40, 0000 Bearer Bond to Premium Prize Bonds (Registered):

Rs. 40,000 Bearer Prize Bonds can be converted to Premium Prize Bonds (Registered) through 16 field offices of SBP Banking Services Corporation, and authorized branches of six commercial banks i.e. National Bank of Pakistan, United Bank Limited , MCB Bank Limited,  Allied Bank Limited, Habib Bank Limited and Bank Alfalah Limited.

Conversion of Rs. 40,000 Bearer Bond to Special Savings Certificates (SSC) / Defence Savings Certificates

Rs. 40,000 Bearer Prize Bonds holder can avail the opportunity to replace the bonds with SSC / DSC through the 16 field offices of SBP Banking Services Corporation, authorized commercial banks and National Savings Centers. Rate of return on DSC and SSC are very attractive. Currently, annual rate of return on DSC is 12.47% whereas annual (average) rate of return on SSC is 11.57%.

Cash Payment against encashment of Rs. 40,000 Bearer Bonds in bond holder’s bank account:

In case the bond holder desires to encash the bond, the encashment proceeds would be credited to the specified bank account of the holder. In this context, SBP as well as all the banks would extend their maximum support to make sure the transfer of payments to respective account of the holder.

Furthermore, it is reiterated the Rs. 40,000 Prize Bonds (Bearer) need to be registered Up to 31st March, 2020 and any of the aforementioned opportunities can be availed for the purpose. It is clarified that the investment of the bond holder is safe in any case.

ECC has further decided that no further prize bond draw of Rs. 40,000 shall be held. However, all the prize money claims on the already held draws shall be claimable within the period of six years from the date of respective draw, as per National Prize Bonds Rules, 1999.

Finance Division further informs that Rs. 40,000 Premium Prize Bond (Registered) has already been launched w.e.f.  March 10, 2017. Registered Prize Bonds offer not only attractive prizes through quarterly draws but also pay reasonable profit through biannual coupon payments. All the payments are made to investor’s bank account through an automated system. Further, Prizes on Rs. 40,000 Premium Prize Bonds (Registered) are more attractive compared to bearer bonds. The registered bonds are secure and not prone to forgery and theft. Finance Division has already discontinued the fresh issuance of Rs. 40,000 bearer bonds w.e.f. February 14, 2019.

It is further clarified that issuance, encashment and Prize Bond draws etc. in respect of all other denominations of bearer prize bonds shall continue as per exiting procedure, according to National Prize Bonds Rules, 1999.
 
June 17, 2019 (PR No. 149)

Adviser to PM on Finance chaired a meeting of Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP)

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP), here today. While presenting the report of the task force on energy reform, the Ministry of Energy briefed the Committee about the challenges being faced by the DISCOs. Various measures recommended by the task force for improving the performance of energy sector with a focus on reduction of losses and enhancing the efficiency of DISCOs were discussed during the meeting. The Committee directed the Ministry of Energy to submit proposals aimed at accelerating closure of those GENCOs that have outlived their recommended life and are running into losses.

Privatization of Pakistan Steel Mills was also discussed. The Committee directed Ministry of Industries and Production and Privatization Commission to submit their proposals in the next CCoP. Issue of delisting of House Building Finance Corporation Ltd (HBFC) from the privatization list was also recommended to be presented in the next meeting.

The Meeting was attended by the Federal Minister for Privatization, Muhammad Mian Soomro, Adviser on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood, various Federal Secretaries and senior officials of the government of Pakistan.
 
May 31, 2019 (PR No. 148)

Revised Petroleum Prices for June 2019

The government has decided to revise prices of petroleum products for the month of June 2019. The revised prices per liter are as follows:-

Product

Existing Prices w.e.f.
01-05-2019

Proposed
Increase

Approved
Increase

New Prices w.e.f.
01-06-2019

MS (Petrol)

108.42

8.53

4.26

112.68

High Speed Diesel

122.32

8.99

4.50

126.82

Kerosene (SKO)

96.77

1.69

1.69

98.46

Light Diesel Oil (LDO)

86.94

1.68

1.68

88.62

The new prices shall be applicable from 1st to 30th June 2019.

 
May 31, 2019 (PR No. 147)

Ceremony for Issuance of Sales Tax Refund Bonds

In order to facilitate businesses, particularly exporters, and resolve the problem of long outstanding refunds, it was decided by the Government to issue sales tax refund bonds to the claimants. FBR made necessary arrangements for issuance of bonds through Central Depository Company (CDC). Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh transmitted the advice for issuance of bonds to CDC system in a simple ceremony held at the Ministry of Finance, here today.

The bonds amounting to Rs. 7 billion are being issued in the first tranche. This issuance shall benefit 90 claimants. The bonds have been issued to claimants who had opened their account with CDC. The Advisor informed that FBR is planning another issuance in the month of June, 2019. He advised the claimants to exercise their option for issuance of bonds and provide their CDC accounts to FBR so that they can be accommodated in the next issuance.

The ceremony was attended by Minister of State for Revenue, Mr.Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Secretary Finance, Naveed Kamran Baloch, Chairman, FBR, Mr. Shabbar Zaidi and senior officials of FBR.

 
May 30, 2019 (PR No. 146)

Delegation of MCC International Incorporation Limited called on Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance

A Chinese delegation of MCC International Incorporation Limited, led by its Vice President, Mr. Wang Zhou, called on Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, here today. The Adviser briefed the delegation about the scope of investment opportunities in Pakistan. He informed that the government had taken a number of steps for improving the ease of business in the country. The delegation showed interest to invest in the steel industry of Pakistan. It offered support for revival, operationalisation and improving the capacity of Pakistan Steel Mills on public-private partnership basis.

 
May 30, 2019 (PR No. 145)

Delegation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry held a meeting with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance

The Presidents and representatives of Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Karachi and Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry held a meeting with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, here today. The representatives of various Chambers briefed the Adviser about various problems and challenges being confronted by the economy of the country. They gave various suggestions aimed at improving the economy and industrial sector of Pakistan. The delegation proposed ways and means to enhance the export of the country. The delegation also give proposals for the Budget 2019-20.

In order to facilitate the business community and attract foreign investment, the Adviser informed that the government was focusing on improving the ease of doing business. He stated that the role of private sector was highly important in improving the economy of the country and urged the members of business community to play their role to increase the volume of exports.  He assured that the proposals of the Chambers would be considered and a business-friendly budget would be presented.

Apart from the representatives of the Chambers, the meeting was attended by Adviser to PM on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production and Investment, Mr. Abdul Razak Dawood, Minister of State for Revenue, Mr.Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Secretary Finance, Naveed Kamran Baloch, Chairman, FBR, Mr. Shabbar Zaidi and Adviser, Ministry of Finance, Dr. Khaqan Najeeb.

 
May 30, 2019 (PR No. 144)

Adviser to PM on Finance chaired a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC)

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet, here today. In order to stabilize the stock market of the country, the ECC approved the proposal of Finance Division authorizing Government of Pakistan to issue sovereign guarantee amounting to Rs.20 billion for investment in National Investment Trust (NIT)-State Enterprise Fund.

Secretary, Ministry of National Food Security and Research updated the Committee about the wheat situation in the country. He informed that the country was in comfortable position with having 7.257 million tons of wheat available in the stock.  Ministry of Maritime Affairs suggested various proposals on the revival and development of shipping industry in Pakistan. The Committee noted the proposals and advised Ministries of Petroleum and Maritime Affairs to jointly come up with a comprehensive proposal, in next ECC meeting, for introducing a dynamic shipping policy focusing on expansion and development of local shipping industry. The ECC acceded to the proposal of Ministry of States & Frontier Regions to grant Rs.781,591,000/- for arranging 20,000 Metric  Tons of wheat for Temporarily Displaced Persons of erstwhile FATA.

The ECC also approved Supplementary and Technical Supplementary Grants for various Ministries/Divisions.

 
May 28, 2019 (PR No. 143)

Delegation of Foreign Exchange Dealers called on Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance

A delegation of Foreign Exchange Dealers, led by the President of Forex Association of Pakistan, Malik Bostan, called on Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, here today. The delegation suggested various measures aiming at improving foreign exchange of the country.

The representatives of the Association mentioned that smuggling of dollar to Afghanistan and Iran is a serious issue and the government agencies should take strict action against such elements who are involved in foreign currency smuggling. The delegation informed that people, who are travelling abroad, are carrying six million dollar per day. In order to reduce the outflow of dollar, the delegation proposed that the foreign currency limit for people, who are travelling abroad, should be revised. The delegation expressed concern over under invoicing by some importers and suggested that the custom authorities should take over the goods, by auctioning them, of the importers who are involved in under invoicing causing losses to national exchequer. The delegation also offered its support to improve foreign exchange of the country.

The Adviser assured the delegation that their proposals would be considered positively. The meeting was attended by Secretary Finance, Naveed Kamran Baloch, Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Dr. Reza Baqir, senior officials of Ministry of Finance and representatives of foreign exchange dealers.

 
May 27, 2019 (PR No. 142)

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance chaired a meeting to review the social and economic needs of the merged districts of erstwhile FATA

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting to review the social and economic needs of the merged districts of erstwhile Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA), here today. While giving presentation, Finance Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra, briefed the meeting about the financial requirements of the merged district of the province. He highlighted that the FATA Development Funds would be utilized for the development of the social sector particularly, health and education of the former tribal agencies, besides improving road and electricity infrastructure in the area.

The Adviser informed the meeting that the federal government would extend all possible assistance to erstwhile FATA to fulfill its needs and support the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in its endeavors to work for the social and economic development of the merged districts of FATA. He assured the meeting that Ministry of Finance would timely process releasing of funds for the merged districts.  The meeting was informed that the Federal Government had disbursed sufficient funds on the rehabilitation of temporarily displaced persons (TDPs) of the former tribal agencies.

The meeting was attended by Adviser on Establishment, Mr. Mohammad Shehzad Arbab, Finance Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra, Secretary Finance, Naveed Kamran Baloch and other senior officials of Finance Ministry.

 
May 26, 2019 (PR No. 141)

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance chaired a meeting to review Budget proposals

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired a meeting to review Budget proposals, here today. Chairman FBR, Shabbar Zaidi gave a presentation about the budget proposals for the 2019-2020. He proposed various steps to expand the tax base as well as increase revenue of the country. The Adviser directed FBR to make tax collection process further easier and initiate measures to broadening the tax base.

The meeting was also attended by the Adviser to PM on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production and Investment, Mr. Abdul Razak Dawood, Minister of State for Revenue, Mr.Muhammad Hammad Azhar and other senior officials of Finance Ministry and FBR.

 
May 24, 2019 (PR No. 140)

U.S. Ambassador called on Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance

U.S. Ambassador Paul W. Jones, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. called on Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, here today. The meeting discussed bilateral ties and underlined the need to further expand the scope of cooperation for the mutual benefits of the two countries.

The Adviser briefed the envoy about the steps being taken by the government for macroeconomic stabilization and putting the economy on a sound footing. He also apprised the Ambassador about the measures being taken by the government with reference to its international commitment on FATF. The meeting emphasized to restructure bilateral ties and focus more on promoting private sector and investment relationship. The Adviser mentioned that Pakistan had a long history of relationship with the United States of America and both sides were required to further promote linkages between the people of the two countries. He said that Pakistan offered friendly environment for investment and US businessmen should benefit of investment opportunities in Pakistan.

The Ambassador congratulated the Adviser on assumption of charge. He reiterated that economic and commercial relations between the two countries needed to be further strengthened.

 
May 23, 2019 (PR No. 139)

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance chaired a meeting to review the budget framework for the year 2019-20

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting to review the budget framework for the year 2019-20. He gave direction to concerned Wings of Finance Ministry to timely complete the budget process which will be presented in the National Assembly on June 11, 2019.

 
May 15, 2019 (PR No. 138)

British High Commissioner to Pakistan called on the Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance

The British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Thomas Drew, called on the Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and discussed matters of bilateral interest, here today. Both sides underscored the need for enhanced cooperation in the areas of trade and economy. The Adviser informed that Pakistan had long historic ties with United Kingdom and relations between the two countries needed to be further expended for the mutual benefits of the two sides. He briefed the envoy about the vision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, saying his policies will lead to the social and economic development of the country.

The High Commissioner felicitated the Adviser on the assumption of charge as Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance. He said that both countries enjoyed excellent relations and they needed to further promote their economic relations. He informed that the British Airways would be coming to Pakistan in June this year.

Later, the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Country Director for Pakistan, Ms. Xiaohong Yang, also called on the Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs. They discussed new financing for various programmes and development projects.

 
May 15, 2019 (PR No. 137)

Adviser to PM on Finance chaired a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC)

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet to deliberate upon various proposals and recommendations submitted the Divisions. The ECC approved a proposal of Power Division to allow additional supply of 150 MW of power through National Grid to K-Electric so as to address power shortage in Karachi. In order to provide additional power supply to the seven tribal agencies of ex-FATA, the Committee approved additional subsidy amounting to Rs.1.8 billion to Tribal Electric Supply Company (TESCO) for the month of Ramazan. The Power Division informed that the government had been paying the electricity bills of the domestic consumers of former tribal agencies through subsidy of Rs.1.3 billion per month.

The ECC also acceded to the proposal of Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority by granting tax exemption to the projects being constructed under Saudi Fund for Development Grant. Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research gave a presentation to the Committee updating it about the availability of wheat stock in the country. He informed that the wheat procurement process was being conducted smoothly by the provincial government (Punjab) and PASSCO. The Committee approved the proposed procurement target of wheat crop for the year 2018-19 to the tune of 5.15 million tons with financial limit of Rs.158.5 billion. On the proposal of Ministry of Maritime Affairs, the ECC waived off demurrage (KPT storage charges) on the consignments of rice to be distributed among the needy people by a non-profit welfare organizations working for the poor and the needy people of the country.

The Committee also approved Technical Supplementary and Supplementary Grants for different Ministries/Divisions.

 
May 14, 2019 (PR No. 136)

UAE Ambassador called on the Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance

The Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al-Zaabi, called on the Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, here today. Both sides discussed bilateral ties and emphasized the need to further promote economic and trade relations between the two countries. The Adviser informed that Pakistan highly valued its ties with UAE which had always extended support to Pakistan in difficult times. He said both countries needed to realize the full potential of their ties by encouraging the private sector to come and invest in Pakistan. He briefed the Ambassador about the vision of Prime Minister of Pakistan, adding the Prime Minister sincerely wanted to do something for the development of the country and, in this regard, he has developed good partnership with international community. He also thanked the UAE government for providing financial support to Pakistan under the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.

The Ambassador said both Pakistan and UAE needed to work together to further upgrade their ties aiming at developing strategic partnership. He informed that he was optimistic that the current high level of exchanges between the two countries would open the door of investment in Pakistan. He said that there were many companies in UAE which were keen to invest in Gwadar and they recently visited Pakistan for the purpose. He reiterated his country commitment to stand by Pakistan.
 
May 06, 2019 (PR No. 135)

Adviser to PM on Finance reviewed progress on FATF Action Plan

A meeting to review progress on FATF Action Plan was held under the chairmanship of Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, here today. The Secretary Finance updated all the key stakeholders on the critical nature of the meeting, serious challenges at hand and top priority that is being assigned by the Government.

The Chair was updated by all the key stakeholders regarding progress made by Pakistan on FATF Action Plan. The stakeholders demonstrated coordination and commitment to achieve this national objective. The Chair advised all stakeholders to work round the clock and give highest priority, efforts as well as extra time for achieving and surpassing to FATF action plan.

The meeting was attended by Secretary Finance, Secretary Interior, Chairman FBR, Chairman SECP, Deputy Governor SBP, Director General FMU, Director General CT Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Director General CT NACTA and representatives of Law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

 
May 04, 2019 (PR No. 134)

Adviser to PM on Finance, Provincial Ministers hold talks with IMF mission

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue & Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, alongwith the Chief Minister Sindh and Provincial Finance Ministers of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, held a joint meeting with the IMF Mission led by Mr. Ernesto Ramirez Rigo, here today.  The participants exchanged views on the existing fiscal situation of the country in the context of the Fund program which is currently under discussions.

The Mission was apprised that the Federal and Provincial Governments were constantly engaged on fiscal matters and the National Finance Commission (NFC) and the Fiscal Coordination Committee (FCC) forums were being used for ensuring maximum cooperation and coordination among the Federal and Provincial fiscal authorities. The Provincial Finance Ministers apprised the Mission of various initiatives taken in their respective provinces for resource mobilization at the sub national level to cater for the increasing developmental and social spending needs. They expressed that the revenues from taxation had witnessed marked improvement recently. The provinces also emphasized that they were managing their expenditures prudently for better fiscal outcomes. They assured the Mission that the Provincial governments would support and complement the efforts of the Federal government to adhere to the fiscal framework being discussed with the Fund.  

The IMF Mission was encouraged by the shared thinking at the Federal and Provincial levels. The Mission leader appreciated the updates provided by the provincial governments. He highlighted the importance of a harmonized system of taxation that would contribute towards increasing economic activities and business growth in the country. 

The meeting was also attended by the senior officials of Finance Division as well as Provincial Finance Departments.
 
May 03, 2019 (PR No. 133)

Adviser to PM on Finance chaired a meeting of Fiscal Coordination Committee

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired the meeting of Fiscal Coordination Committee (FCC), here today.

The meeting considered the recommendations of the FCC Sub-Committee on Public Finance Management Reforms on incentive grant system to provinces under Performance for Results Program. The Committee approved the incentive grant for provinces as proposed by the Sub-Committee with the direction that further refinement, if required, may be made in the procedures/process in consultation with the provinces. Federal Government will provide grants to provinces, through the incentive grant system, subject to fulfillment of certain baselines in the public finance management and social sector developments, especially in Health and Education sectors.

The meeting also reviewed the bi-annual implementation of the NFC Award for the period January-June, 2018 and approved the report for presentation to the Parliament and Provincial Assemblies.

Chief Minister of Sindh, Finance Ministers of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Finance Departments of the provinces and the AJ&K attended the meeting.

The Fiscal Coordination Committee, it may be mentioned, is a forum constituted by the Council of Common Interests for the purpose of ensuring cooperation and coordination among the federating units on fiscal matters.

 
May 03, 2019 (PR No. 132)

Adviser to PM on Finance chaired a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC)

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) to consider various proposals submitted by Ministries/Division. The Committee partially approved adjustments in PoL products as proposed by Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA). However, it was decided to reduce the GST on petrol by 5% to provide relief to the consumers. The reduction will entail a revenue loss of around Rs.5 billion to the government.
 
Industries & Production Division gave presentation to Committee on the findings and recommendations of the Expert Group constituted to work out an operationalisation plan for the revival of Pakistan Steel Mills. The ECC approved the recommendations of the Ministry and directed that the due process be completed for listing of PSM for privatization with a view to implement the revival plan based on private sector inputs and collaboration.

The ECC approved the proposal of Petroleum Division to allocate gas from Thal East, Bhambhra and Thal West Fields to M/s SSGCL.

Industries Division updated the ECC on Ramazan Relief Package and informed that Utility Stores across the country were being stocked to cater for the Ramazan shopping.

The Committee also approved Supplementary Grants and Technical Supplementary Grants for different Ministries/Divisions. It also approved payment of salaries to Khassadars of South Waziristan.

 
May 02, 2019 (PR No. 131)

Islamic Development Bank delegation called on Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance

An Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) delegation, led by President Dr. Bandar M. H. Hajjar, called on Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, here today. The meeting was preceded by signing of grant agreements for “Operationalisation of EXIM Bank of Pakistan (EXIMBP)” and “Support Enhancing Agricultural Production using Efficient Irrigation System in Baluchistan, Pakistan” Projects. During last week an oil credit facility of US $ 551 Million has already been signed.

The Advisor informed the President IsDB of the concrete policy measures introduced by the government for improving the economic and fiscal situation in the country in general and the current account situation in particular. He emphasized that the Government has finalized its strategy to deliver on Medium Term Economic Frameworks Targets to be agreed with IMF team already in Pakistan for technical discussions for a three year program.

He appreciated the role played by the Islamic Development Bank as a leader in Islamic Finance and promoting global development that is supported by Sharia complaint long term sustainable and ethical financing structures.  The Advisor lauded the financing facility by International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation for import of oil and LNG signed recently and discussed that the teams at EAD and IsDB should press on to realize the full disbursement of the facility.

The President IsDB resolved to further strengthen cooperation with Pakistan in the areas of project financing and assured of early financing of Jamshoro Coal Fired Power Plant. He also said that IsDB would extend all possible cooperation for economic development of Pakistan. The high level delegation of IsDB is on a three day visit to Pakistan to explore possible financing in health, energy, water and infrastructure. During the visit, the delegation would call on the Prime Minister and the President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and hold meeting with relevant line Ministries and Departments.

 
April 30, 2019 (PR No. 130)

APM on Finance chaired the 2nd meeting of Steering Committee to review the implementation of the trade related NSW in Pakistan

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired the 2nd  meeting of Steering Committee on National Single Window (NSW) to review the implementation of the trade related  NSW in Pakistan, here today. Member Custom (Operations) gave a presentation to the Committee highlighting the concepts and benefits of NSW system. He informed that the implementation of NSW would help promote cross border trade as well as improving the ease of doing business in the country. He apprised that the establishment of NSW system was a basic requirement, under WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, as Pakistan is signatory to the said Agreement. He said that FBR was actively working on early implementation of NSW system which would play instrumental role in promoting cross border trade.

The Adviser directed FBR to simplify the existing laws and regulations to help promoting trade with neighbouring countries. He asked FBR to carry out further consultation on the business plan for the establishment of NSW, with a view to have a broad based consensus, before its formal approval.

It may be recalled that the Prime Minister has designated Pakistan Customs as a Lead Agency, since October 2017, to implement NSW. Pakistan is required, under WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, to establish NSW by 2022.
 
April 29, 2019 (PR No. 129)

US Principal Dy. Assistant Secretary of State called on APM on Finance

A US delegation, led by US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Ambassador Alice Wells, called on Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, here today. Matters pertaining to promotion of economic and business relations between the two countries were discussed. The meeting underlined the need to deepen the engagements between the two countries in the area of trade, economy and energy.

The Adviser informed the delegation that Pakistan valued its ties with US and both countries needed to work to create an environment to move forward for the mutual benefits of the two sides. He referred to the sacrifices rendered by the people and Armed Forces of Pakistan while fighting the war on terror and said that both countries had shared concern about militancy and extremism. He said that Pakistan had borne the brunt of the war on terror by sacrificing thousands of security forces and civilians. Pakistan’s role in promotion of peace and stability also came under discussion during the meeting. The Ambassador Wells lauded Pakistan’s efforts for promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan. She said that both countries needed to work together for the expansion of economic relations. Ambassador Wells appreciated the vision of Prime Minister of Pakistan for the economic stability to the country.  She said that the US would support policies aimed at bringing economic stability in Pakistan.

 
April 26, 2019 (PR No. 128)

Prime Minister lmran Khan had a meeting with Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of IMF

Prime Minister lmran Khan had a meeting with Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of International Monetary fund (IMF) on the sidelines of the belt and Road Forum, says a press release received here today from Beijing, China. The Prime Minister was assisted by Foreign Minister, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Adviser on Finance, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Adviser on Commerce, Mr. Abdul Razzaq Dawood.

The meeting reviewed the relationship between Pakistan and the Fund. The Prime Minister identified the areas of reform and initiatives being undertaken by the government to stabilize the economy, control inflation and achieve fiscal balance.

The two leaders agreed on the importance of the Fund programme and to work towards an agreement for which an IMF delegation is coming to Islamabad.

The two sides agreed on the need for a social safety net for the vulnerable groups of the society.

 
April 26, 2019 (PR No. 127)

Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting with Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank

The Prime Minister met Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank on the sidelines of the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF), says a press release received here today from Beijing, China. He was accompanied by the Foreign Minister and Adviser on Finance and Adviser on Commerce.

The Prime Minister informed CEO, World Bank of the recent steps taken by the government for improving the economic and fiscal situation in the country. He appreciated the role played by the World Bank in regional connectivity, poverty alleviation, financial management, provisional projects, DASU and other infrastructure projects and ease of doing business.

The Prime Minister also informed the CEO about the socio-economic uplift measures taken up by the government and creation of “Ehsaas” social welfare programme.

The CEO of the World Bank pledged to further strengthen cooperation with Pakistan in the areas of disbursements programme lending and guarantees provision for raising external funds.

 
April 23, 2019 (PR No. 126)

Adviser to PM on Finance chaired a meeting to review the Asset Declaration Scheme

The Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, chaired a meeting here today, to review the Asset Declaration Scheme. The meeting deliberated upon various aspects of the scheme and emphasized the need to make it more simple and implementable. The participants gave their inputs and suggested that since the focus of proposed scheme is on documentation of economy, it should be designed to clearly reflect that objective.

The Adviser directed FBR to modify and refine the scheme by making it more attractive and persuasive so as maximum people, who are currently outside the formal economy, are able to become a part of it. He gave directions to FBR to devise a successful communication strategy enabling the people to easily comprehend the contours of the scheme.

It may be recalled that the Federal Cabinet had directed FBR to carry out consultations with experts of various sectors to make the scheme more inclusive and to reduce its complications.

The meeting was also attended by Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser on Institutional Reforms and Austerity, Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Minister of State for Revenue, Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Chairman, FBR and experts of business, accounting and banking sectors.

 
April 22, 2019 (PR No. 125)

Chinese Ambassador called on Adviser to PM on Finance

Mr. Yao Jing, Ambassador of People’s Republic of China, called on Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, here today. Both sides discussed matters of bilateral interest and underscored the need for enhanced collaboration between the two countries in the areas of mutual benefit.

The Adviser informed the Ambassador that Pakistan highly values its ties with China, which is a sincere friend and has always supported Pakistan in difficult times. He said that environment in Pakistan for foreign investment was conducive and Chinese businessmen should benefit from it to make investment in various sectors. He conveyed that the government would facilitate Chinese investors by providing them all possible support to invest in Pakistan. Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh deeply appreciated China’s role in the social and economic development of Pakistan.

Appreciating the steps taken by government of Pakistan for revival of economy, the Ambassador said that the Chinese investors wanted to invest in Pakistan and their confidence over the policies and leadership of Pakistan is getting increased. He reiterated his government’s resolve to continue its support for early execution of various projects under CPEC. The Ambassador also congratulated Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on assuming the portfolio of Adviser.

The meeting discussed the forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to China and expressed the hope that the visit would further strengthen the existing multifaceted relations between the two neighbours.

 
April 22, 2019 (PR No. 124)

World Bank Country Director called on Advisor to PM on Finance

The World Bank Country Director Mr. Patchamuthu Illangovan called on the Advisor to PM on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here today. They discussed the ongoing projects being supported by the World Bank.

The Advisor emphasized the need to expedite the finalization of the new financing in the pipeline before the end of FY 2019. He assured the Country Director that all approvals will be expedited to ensure timely disbursement. It was also agreed that Chief Executive Officer, World Bank, Kristalina Georgieva, would meet the Prime Minister of Pakistan in China during his visit later this month there.

 
April 20, 2019 (PR No. 123)

Advisor to PM on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs reviewed the proposed Assets Declaration Scheme - 2019

Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to PM on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs reviewed the proposed Assets Declaration Scheme – 2019 in detail with FBR officials today. Discussion focused on the scope and the features of the scheme. The Adviser instructed FBR to fine tune the scheme to make it simple to understand and easy to implement. He also emphasized that the objective of the scheme should be to make the economy  more tax compliant and documented.

 
April 20, 2019 (PR No. 122)

Advisor to PM on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs held a phone discussion with Ernesto Ramirez-Rigo, IMF Mission Chief to Pakistan

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs held a phone discussion with Ernesto Ramirez-Rigo, IMF Mission Chief to Pakistan, after talking with Jihad Azour, IMF Director, earlier today. They discussed the progress of negotiations for an IMF-supported program for Pakistan. Both sides expressed their commitment for moving the discussions forward. It was agreed that an IMF mission will visit Pakistan by the end of April 2019.

 
April 18, 2019 (PR No. 121)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCOE)

A meeting of Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCOE) was held here today with Finance Minister, Asad Umar, in the chair. The Committee decided that there would be no load shedding during Sehri and Iftar in Ramazan and directed the Power Division to ensure uninterrupted supply of power in this regard. CCOE expressed concern over complaints of longer duration of load shedding in rural areas and asked the Power Division to adopt uniformed policy for load management in urban and rural areas and no discrimination should be made in this regard.

The Power Division presented its Internal Audit Report on quarterly Indexation by NEPRA. The report found that NEPRA had used high exchange rates during determination of quarterly indexation.

The committee asked the Power Division to ascertain from the Regulator whether it has judicially applied its mind while determining the exchange rates. The Regulator should also be asked to indicate the remedial measures for rectifying the mistake, for the future and to determine how the losses incurred, if any, could be made good.

Power Division briefed the Committee about its successful recovery campaign being carried out against the defaulters. It informed that the recovery campaign had successfully achieved its objectives by collecting Rs.318,264 million from November 2018 to February 2019 and arresting 4,225 defaulters. The Finance Minister appreciated the performance of Power Division in this regard.  CCOE was also updated on Renewable Energy Policy, 2019 and  was informed that the draft policy had been circulated among relevant quarters and would be submitted to the Cabinet in the first half of May 2019.

While giving presentation to the Committee, Petroleum Division informed that it needed 350,000 metric tons Furnace oil   so as to meet energy requirements of the country for the months of   May-June 2019. The Committee decided to place the matter for approval before Federal Cabinet to allow one time import of furnace oil.
 
April 17, 2019 (PR No. 120)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)

The meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet was held here today with Finance Minister, Asad Umar, in the chair. The Committee reviewed proposals of various Ministries/Divisions. The Committee also considered and approved various demands of Division Ministries for Supplementary and Technical Supplementary grants.

Industries and Production Division gave a presentation to update the Committee about status of Ramzan Package.  The Committee directed Utility Stores Corporation (USC) to expedite the procurement of essential consumer items so as to provide timely relief to the people in Holy Month of Ramazan. ECC constituted a four-member Committee to be headed by Railways Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, to oversee the implementation of Ramazan Package.

The Ministry of Petroleum briefed the ECC on the implementation of the Committee’s decision regarding utilization of services of Pakistan Railways for transportation of petroleum products across the country. The Ministry of Railways informed the Committee that it had the capacity to carry higher volumes and would work with the Ministry of Petroleum to explore further possibilities.

The ECC approved, in principle, the proposal of Ministry of Information & Broadcasting for media campaign aiming to disseminate information relating to initiatives on Poverty Alleviation, Sehat Insaaf Scheme, PM’s Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme etc.

The Committee also directed the Ministry of Finance and National Bank of Pakistan to extend maximum facilitation to the USC in this regard. The Finance Minister said that the budgetary needs of many organizations had not been properly assessed at the time of preparation of budget estimate last year which was leading to a large number of demands for Supplementary Grants.  He emphasized the need for proper budgeting of the financial needs of various departments, which would obviate the need for Supplementary Grants during the currency of the fiscal year.  He stated that the government is determined to phase out the supplementary grants in the future budgets.

 
April 16, 2019 (PR No. 119)

Chinese Ambassador called on Finance Minister

The Ambassador of People’s Republic of China, Mr. Yao Jing, called on Finance Minister, Asad Umar, here today. Both sides exchanged views on matters of bilateral importance and emphasized the need for further enhancing and expanding bilateral cooperation.

Welcoming the Ambassador, the Minister said that China was a reliable friend and her support was essential for the social and economic development of Pakistan. He briefed the envoy about the measures taken by the government for creating enabling environment for foreign investment. He said that the Chinese businessmen and investors would also benefit from the current environment by making investment in various sectors, particularly agriculture, housing, health, education and energy.

The meeting discussed the ongoing projects being built under the umbrella of CPEC. Mr. Yao Jing reiterated his country’s commitment to timely complete the projects. He expressed the hope that CPEC would bring social and economic prosperity to both countries. Appreciating the vision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Ambassador said that the Chinese businessmen’s confidence has enhanced due to the economic policies of Pakistan. The forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China also came under discussion. Both the sides expressed the hope that the visit would further boost strategic, economic and industrial relations between the two neighbours.
 
April 12, 2019 (PR No. 118)

Finance Minister's meetings at Washington DC

Pakistan’s delegation led by Mr Asad Umar, Finance Minister had a second day of meetings during the IMF/WB spring meetings on Thursday at Washington, says a press release received here today from Embassy of Pakistan, Washington DC. The delegation also held a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines.

The Finance Minister and the delegation met with the President of the Asian Development Bank Mr. Takehiko Nakao and apprised him of the current macroeconomic situation in the country. The Finance Minister and Mr. Nakao discussed continuation of Pakistan’s ongoing engagement with the Asian Development Bank. Mr. Nakao appreciated the reform process in the country and assured continued support of the Asian Development Bank.

Earlier, the Finance Minister reviewed the World Bank’s Pakistan portfolio in a meeting with the World Bank team led by Mr. Hartwig Schafer, Vice President for South Asia. They discussed the pipeline of projects as well as the sectors where World Bank could further scale up its interventions in Pakistan.
The Finance Minister also held a meeting with a team of World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) led by its Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Vijay Iyer, and shared views about the privatization policy of the government and the expansion of public private partnership framework in the country. MIGA team apprised the Finance Minister of its current engagements in Pakistan. They informed that MIGA is now looking to expand its portfolio in the country.

On the sidelines, the Finance Minister also met with the US Treasury. He apprised them about the macroeconomic situation in the country, the reform efforts as well as measures being taken to strengthen the anti-money laundering legal and enforcement framework.

The Finance Minister also held a meeting with his Saudi counterpart, Mr. Mohammed Al-jadaan.  Mr Al-jadaan apprised the Finance Minister of increasing growth momentum of Saudi economy and potential employment opportunities for Pakistani construction workers in Saudi Arabia.
 
April 11, 2019 (PR No. 118)

Finance Minister participated in the IMF/WB spring meetings 2019

Pakistan’s delegation led by Mr. Asad Umar, Finance Minister participated in the IMF/WB spring meetings 2019 and attended a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines, says a press release received here today from Washington DC. The Finance Minister met with the new World Bank President Mr. David Malpass and apprised him of the macroeconomic situation in the country and discussed continuation of Pakistan’s ongoing engagement with the Bank. Mr. Malpass appreciated the reform process in the country and assured continued World Bank support. The Finance Minister also met with the First Deputy Managing Director IMF Mr. David Lipton and talked about the ongoing negotiations with IMF. The Finance Minister had a business roundtable with members of the US Pakistan Business Council. The companies present included Pepsi Co, Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble, Uber and Facebook. The companies expressed their strong interest in Pakistan’s market and shared their future plans as well as issues where they needed support from the government. The Finance Minister mentioned that the government was completely focused on improving the ease of doing business in Pakistan. He further said that the Prime Minister Imran Khan was personally monitoring the reform process in this regard.

 
April 04, 2019 (PR No. 117)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee

National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) met here today to take stock of supply and prices of food and pharmaceutical items. The meeting was chaired by Finance Minister Mr. Asad Umar and attended by relevant federal ministries and provincial departments. The meeting reviewed prices of perishable and non-perishable food items, particularly 28 essential kitchen items. The committee was informed that volatility in the prices of perishable items specifically tomatoes, onions, grams and pulses was primarily due to seasonal variations which has now subsided. The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI), which monitors mostly kitchen items for last two consecutive weeks in March 2019, is showing a sharp declining trend which suggests that the prices of these items in the market are on a downward trajectory.

The meeting decided that a strong forecasting mechanism will be put in place to ensure availability of essential food items for the coming 3 – 6 months in consultation with the provincial governments. A monthly meeting of NPMC will be held regularly to review supply and prices of all commodities and timely measures will be put in place to avoid any shortage in the country. Finance Minister directed that market committees may be made more proactive to play a vigilant role in effectively monitoring prices and check any hoarding across the country. It was also agreed to reduce price disparity among the provinces through an integrated market mechanism.

NPMC decided that laws would be reviewed to ensure that price control mechanism proactively focuses on cartelization, hoarding and undue profiteering. The meeting reviewed the availability of commodities with particular reference to Ramzan. The Utility Store Corporation assured NPMC that Government’s Ramzan Package will be implemented to ensure sufficient availability of commodities at affordable prices. The meeting agreed that Susta bazaars, Itwar bazaars and fair price shops will be increased throughout the country to ensure sufficient availability of commodities for common man at affordable prices.

The Prime Minister will chair a meeting to further review the supply and prices of food and pharmaceuticals in the country on Monday 8th April 2019. The concerned ministries will submit short and medium term policy recommendations as well as structural measures needed to ensure smooth supply and stability in the prices to the Prime Minister.
 
April 04, 2019 (PR No. 116)

Ministry of Finance has proposed to amend the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act (FERA) 1947

In order to prevent illegal foreign exchange transactions, Ministry of Finance has proposed to amend the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act (FERA) 1947 by introducing a bill “FER (Amendment) Act 2019”, in the National Assembly to empower the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to regulate foreign exchange regime in the country more effectively. The proposed amendment has been approved by the Federal Cabinet and transmitted to Parliament for enactment. The amendments would substantially strengthen the SBP’s powers to issue necessary regulations/instructions relating to inland movement of foreign currency and enable it to monitor such movement. The measure is a part of government of Pakistan’s efforts to enhance the transparency of financial transactions.

 
April 03, 2019 (PR No. 115)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) here today. The Industries & Production Division briefed the Committee about the availability of urea in the country. In order to facilitate the farmers and meet their urea’s demand, the Committee approved immediate import of 100,000 tons of urea.  Besides, it decided to allow additional import of Urea in the event of any demand-supply gap. The ECC directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to review the price mechanism of fertilizer industry for ensuring provision of urea to farmers at cheaper rates. The Committee directed the relevant institution to check market manipulation activities in the fertilizer sector and use all the powers available under the law to penalize such behavior.

The Committee was apprised by the Industries Division about the status of NAB cases against seven persons involved in corruption in Pakistan Steel Mills. Interior Division informed the meeting that the name of seven persons had been recommended for placement on Exit Control List (ECL).

Giving presentation to the Committee, Utility Stores Corporation informed about preparations for the Ramazan Package. ECC directed the Industries Division to ensure that in Ramazan package is implemented effectively and the intended relief is passed on to consumers.

Statistics Division gave a presentation to the Committee about inflation and price situation of various items in the country. It was decided to constitute a sub-Committee, under the chairmanship of Minister for National Food Security & Research, to review the supply and demand situation of essential food items to ensure stable prices in the country.

The Committee accorded approval to a proposal of Ministry of Petroleum regarding Fuel Supply Agreement between Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR).

The Committee also considered and approved various proposals for Supplementary and Technical Supplement Grants.
 
April 01, 2019 (PR No. 114)

Finance Minister received the visiting Qatari delegation

Finance Minister, Asad Umar, received the visiting Qatari delegation led by Head of Regional Portfolios, Department of Qatar Investment Authority, Sheikh Faisal Bin Thani Al-Thani for a meeting here today. The Minister briefed the delegation about the steps taken by the present government for ease of doing business and facilitating the foreign investors with various incentives including rationalization of tax regime. He said more such steps were envisaged in the upcoming budget 2019-20.

The Qatari delegation has evinced keen interest for investment in different sectors of Pakistan with the focus on investment opportunities in power, infrastructure, tourism and agriculture.

 
March 29, 2019 (PR No. 113)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of 9th National Finance Commission (NFC)

The 5th meeting of the 9th National Finance Commission (NFC) was held today at Lahore with Federal Finance Minister, Asad Umar, in the chair.

The six sub-groups, formulated during the first meeting in February, gave presentation on various aspects of resources distribution as per the terms of reference assigned to the groups. The main focus of all sub-groups’ deliberations was transparency, harmonization and sharing of data. The members of the Commission appreciated the work done by the six sub-groups in their first meetings. It was agreed that the sub-groups would continue their deliberations and present their reports in the subsequent meetings. The Chairman suggested that deliberations should also include incentives for poverty alleviation and social sector spending.

The representative of Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa proposed a framework for NFC deliberations aiming at equalizing fiscal resources across federating units, equal access to public services for all citizens of Pakistan and expenditure efficiency at all levels of the federation. All members agreed on the framework and lauded the efforts of the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in this regard.

The Chairman emphasized the importance of a well deliberated and consensus based National Finance Commission Award and said that all federating units shared a huge responsibility in that regard. The meeting agreed to make efforts to finalize the NFC Award by December 31, 2019. It was also agreed to hold the next meeting, before end of April, 2019, which would focus on FATA and the taxation aspects of ease of doing business.

The Chairman reiterated that provincial governments will be engaged in the fiscal related discussion with the IMF. He also suggested that each federating unit should nominate a focal person for data sharing to facilitate the working sub-groups. He also stressed for strengthening NFC Secretariat and said that necessary measures would be taken in that regard. Technical members from Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa volunteered to submit a proposal in this regard.
 
March 28, 2019 (PR No. 112)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC)

A meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) was held, under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Asad Umar and approved projects in communications and power sectors, here today. The Planning Division gave a presentation about the dualization of Western Alignment of CPEC - Kuchlak-Zhob section N-50 (305-KMs). The Committee was briefed about the importance of the western corridor which would significantly benefit the people of Zhob, Kuchlak, Muslim Bagh, Pashin as well as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It approved land acquisition cost of the project that would be met from the savings of PSDP, and no new allocation would be required in this regard.

In order to quickly and timely respond to accidents and mishaps on the Corridor, the Committee approved a proposal of Ministry of Communications to setup an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). The ECNEC also approved a proposal to build service areas along the western corridor on Built up Property basis.

The Committee accorded approval to the proposal of Power Division to interconnect isolated areas of Gawadar and Makran with the national grid system of Pakistan. The Committee directed Planning and Power Divisions to review the proposed financial structure of the project.
 
March 27, 2019 (PR No. 111)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) here today. On a summary of the Petroleum Division, the ECC approved gas supply to Tall and adjacent areas of district Hangu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The ECC approved a proposal of Federal Board of Revenue to waive the accumulated penal surcharges of Rs.700 million off against overstayed consignments at ports. The decision will enable importers to clear their overstayed cargoes and would also help reducing congestion at ports and bonded warehouses. The Commerce Division gave a presentation about the significance of establishment of an Independent Insurance Regulator. The ECC directed the Commerce Division to expedite the findings of the Commission, already formed on the subject, for making informed decision. On a proposal of Petroleum Division regarding arrangements of additional 200 MMCFD of LNG from Qatar, the Committee directed Petroleum Division to carry out a comprehensive demand/supply analysis of LNG in the country, in consultation with stakeholders, including Law and Justice Division, and submit a summary to the Cabinet in this regard.

Maritime Affairs Division briefed ECC about the progress on new LNG Terminal. The Finance Minister directed Maritime Division to expedite the process for establishment of new LNG terminal in view of the increasing demand for gas in the country. On the issue of the submission of Pakistan Steels’ revival business plan, ECC directed the Ministry of Industries to submit its proposals within the next fortnight. The Committee also accorded approval to the proposal of National Counter Terrorism Authority by granting it Technical Supplementary Grant of Rs.133.156 million.

Later, the Finance Minister also presided over a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) and reviewed various proposals about gas losses and power recovery plan presented by Petroleum and Power Divisions separately. The Committee directed the Petroleum Division to take corrective measures to reduce gas losses. It asked the Division to submit monthly report on Unaccounted for Gas (UfG) on the pattern of the report on electricity losses presented by the Power Division. The Committee also directed both gas supply companies (SNGPL & SSGPL) to prepare a joint presentation, and present the same to Task Force on Energy before submission to CCoE in its next meeting. In order to make recovery from the defaulters, CCoE directed Power Division to implement the Electricity Act in letter and spirit by disconnecting the connections of defaulters. The Committee was briefed by the Power Division about the status on Efficiency Tests Report for Independent Power Producers (IPPs). It was informed that the mandatory test had been carried out for all the seven units. The data analysis had been completed for five units while the same with regard to the remaining two units was presently underway.
 
March 26, 2019 (PR No. 110)

Finance Minister met the mission chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Ernesto Ramirez Rigo

Finance Minister of Pakistan Asad Umar, met the IMF Mission Chief Ernesto Ramirez Rigo in Islamabad, on Tuesday. The Minister and the Mission Chief discussed all issues including fiscal, monetary, structural reforms and energy sector. The Minister briefed Mr. Ramirez Rigo about the steps taken by the government for improving the economy of the country. The Minister informed that the structural reforms and other economic initiatives introduced by the government were yielding desired results. The Minister said that the government would continue to address the macroeconomic imbalances and would take necessary corrective measures in this regard.

 
March 25, 2019 (PR No. 109)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Steering Committee of Economic Pillar of Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council (SPSCC)

Meeting of the Steering Committee of Economic Pillar of Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council (SPSCC), chaired by Finance Minister, Asad Umar, was held here today to review and discuss the progress on implementation of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), signed during the visit of Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman to Pakistan on February 18-19, 2019, on oil, alternate energy and minerals and mines. The meeting took various decisions in order to implement the MoUs on fast track basis. The concerned Ministries were directed to appoint dedicated focal person for enhanced coordination among Ministries and Provincial Governments so that the agreed measures could be implemented in a more efficient and swift manner.

The meeting was attended by Adviser to PM on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production and Investment, Ministers for Petroleum & Natural Resources, Communication, Inter Provincial Coordination, Maritime Affairs, Power, National Food Security and Research, Information Technology and Telecommunications and Secretaries of the concerned ministries.

The Secretaries of Petroleum & Power apprised the meeting of the progress made on the MoUs signed with the Saudi side during the high level visit.

The Chair directed the Board of Investment and Ministry of Petroleum to expedite consultation with the Government of Baluchistan for the development of mining sector in collaboration with foreign investors. The Ministry of Petroleum would provide all possible assistance to the provincial government in this regard.

The meeting decided that the economic pillar of SPSCC would be hosted by Board of Investment (BoI) and the Board would help in expediting the implementation process of the MoUs. The Board would review the implementation status of MoUs in the first week of each month. The Committee will meet after two weeks to discuss and review the proposals to be submitted by the respective ministries.
 
March 21, 2019 (PR No. 108)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review the financial requirements of the tribal districts

Minister for Finance Asad Umar chaired a meeting to  review the financial requirements of the tribal districts  (erstwhile Federally Administrated Tribal Areas).The Meeting was attended by Federal  Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s  Governor, Shah Farman; Chief Minister, Mahmood Khan, Finance Minister KP,  Taimur Saleem Jhagra, and Adviser to Prime Minister on Establishment, Mohammad Shehzad Arbab.

Finance Minister, Asad Umar assured the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for bringing the merged districts at par with the rest of the Province. He said that the Prime Minister accorded the highest priority to the uplift of these areas and the federal as well as provincial governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were committed to provide 3% of their share for the uplift of merged districts, until the time appropriate allocations are allocated through the NFC process.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance Minister gave a detailed presentation to the meeting, highlighting the financial needs of the merged tribal districts. He briefed the meeting on the detailed plans for the socio-economic development of the merged districts and emphasized the importance of regular and timely financial allocation.

The Governor and the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa emphasized that the provincial government was fully geared to undertake the required developmental activities to completely transform the merged districts.

It was decided that the Federal & Provincial authorities would continue their coordinated efforts for preparation and processing of detailed development plan along with timeline for implementation of various activities.

 
March 20, 2019 (PR No. 107)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) here today. The Committee was briefed by the Water Resource Division on the proposed arrangement for settling the electricity tariff and water usage charges issues with AJK. Secretary Water Resource Division stated that a detailed arrangement covering all aspects of the issue had been worked out in consultation with the government of AJK, under the new arrangement AJK would be given a dispensation similar to the Provinces. The Committee noted that the proposed arrangement, where AJK would set up its own DISCO and would receive Water Usage Charges at the enhanced rate of Rs.1.10/kwh was based on the principle of equality and endorsed the same.

The Committee approved Supplementary Grant amounting to Rs.1795 million, for Temporarily Dislocated Persons from North Waziristan in the wake of Operation Zarb-e-Azb. In order to meet the expenses of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD), the Committee approved Technical Supplementary Grant of Rs.202.637 million for CADD and Rs.12.409 million for Pakistan Chairs Abroad. Similarly, it approved Supplementary Grant of Rs.156.327 million for Ministry of Health Services, Regulation and Coordination and Rs.41.671 million for Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development. It also approved the demand of Cabinet Division to release Technical Supplementary Grant of Rs.14,844,256/- million.

The Committee was briefed by Ministry of Science & Technology on the status of operationalisation of Pakistan Hilal Authority. The Committee directed that the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Institutional Reforms and Austerity, Dr. Ishrat Hussain, should review the matter of placement of the Authority under the most relevant Ministry. Ministry of National Food Security & Research briefed the Committee on the implementation status of decision taken by the Committee last month for improvement of cotton crop in the country. The Committee also accorded approval to the proposal of Ministry of National Food Security and Research to extend the export period of surplus Wheat from PASSCO’s stock. The Committee also approved the proposal of Ministry of Industries and Production to allocate 66 MMFCD Additional Mari Deep Gas to PPIB for power generation purposes.

 
March 15, 2019 (PR No. 106)

High-Level ADB Delegation from Manila met with Finance Minister

Finance Minister Asad Umar received a high-level delegation of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) comprising of Mr. Shahid Mahmood, Executive Director, Mr. Werner E. Liepach, Director General (CWRD), Mr. Michael Barrow Director General (Private Sector Operations) and Ms. Xiaohong Yang, Country Director for a meeting here on Friday.

Finance Minister acknowledged the ADB’s support for development of Pakistan and discussed the priorities areas and new avenues for future interventions.  Finance Minister on the occasion said that the Government is keen to devise innovative financing model, develop capital markets and mobilize private sector investment in infrastructure & social sector. These initiatives will not only provide fiscal space to the government but will also be helpful to boost economic activities in the country. He also appreciated the proactive approach of Pakistan Resident Mission and suggested to further enhance the role and capacity of PRM.

Mr. Shahid Mahmood, Executive Director thanked the Finance Minister and reiterated ADB’s commitment to further strengthen and expand its partnership with Pakistan. Mr. Werner E. Liepach, Director General (CWRD) affirmed ADB’s readiness to scale up its lending to Pakistan including development policy credit and project financing. He said that ADB supports the Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) initiatives in Pakistan which play an important role in bridging the huge infrastructure investment gap. In this regard, ADB may provide transaction advisory services associated with the development and implementation of PPP projects, he added.

Mr. Michael Barrow, Director General (Private Sector Operations) highlighted that Pakistan has a lot of potential for private investment. ADB is further committed to enhance its private sector operations in Pakistan through development of capital market and local currency financing, he added.
 
March 15, 2019 (PR No. 105)

MD Iranian Foreign Investment Company called on Finance Minister

Pakistan and Iran have reiterated their desire to enhance bilateral trade which would greatly benefit the two neighboring countries. This was discussed at a meeting between the visiting Managing Director of (IFIC), Mr. Hassan Abghari, and Finance Minister Asad Umar, here today.

The Minister informed the MD, IFIC, that Pakistan wanted great economic engagement with Iran and assured him of Pakistan’s support to facilitate bilateral trade. He said there was tremendous potential of improving economic cooperation and both countries were required to capitalize on the existing opportunities in the area of bilateral trade. The Minister also apprised Mr. Abghari about the initiatives being taken by Pakistan for the benefit of the border community. He said that the government has directed the relevant quarters to take measures for facilitation of the border trade which will be beneficial for both sides. The meeting agreed to address the obstacles being faced by the two countries in the area of trade.
 
March 13, 2019 (PR No. 104)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCOE)

The meeting of Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCOE) was held, chaired by Finance Minister Asad Umar, here today.

The Committee considered various proposals to make recovery on fast track basis from defaulters of the power sectors. It stressed the need to continue campaign against the defaulters.

The Committee decided that Power Division and Ministry of Finance would jointly work out a notification based policy for the facilitation of consumers. Such policy will help curbing irregularities in the power sector.

The Committee reviewed Slabs of Gas Billing for Domestic Consumers. The Finance Minister directed the Ministry of Petroleum to review the inflated bills so as to reduce burden on consumers. He said that the Prime Minister Imran Khan has already ordered to refund the amount charged from natural gas consumers through inflated bills. He asked the Petroleum Division to adjust the inflated bills in future billing.

Petroleum Division informed the Committee about the revenue shortfall being faced by the gas companies.  The Committee agreed to deliberate upon the issue of revenue shortfall in the ECC meeting.
 
March 13, 2019 (PR No. 103)

First meeting of the Board of Directors of Sarmaya-e-Pakistan Limited (SPL) was held

The first meeting of the Board of Directors of Sarmaya-e-Pakistan Limited (SPL) was held here today. The Board unanimously elected Mr. Ehsan Malik as its Chairman.

The Board constituted statutory committees as per requirement of Corporate Governance Rules, 2013.
 The Board considered the prime objective of SPL, initiation of a reform process of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) to improve their efficiency, service delivery and financial viability. In this regard, the Board was of the opinion that all options for reform and reinvigorating the SOEs must be kept in mind.

Prior to the Board meeting, Finance Minister Asad Umar met the Board Members and congratulated them on their appointment on the SPL Board.

The Board deliberated upon the objectives of the company and agreed considered as their primary objective to initiate a reform process that will result in efficient and better service delivery of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).  

The meeting was attended by Mr. Arif Ahmed Khan, Mr. Irfan Ali, Mr. Azher Ali Choudhry, Mr. Babar Badat, Mr. Zubyr Soomro, Mr. Nadeem Babar, Mr. Ehsan Malik, Mr. Waqar A. Malik, Mr. Atif Aslam Bajwa and Mr. Kamran Y. Mirza.
 
March 12, 2019 (PR No. 102)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)

A meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC), chaired by Finance Minister Asad Umar, was held here today. The Committee approved Rs.2 (Two) billion Ramazan Relief Package-2019 so as to provide relief to the low income groups in the Holy Month of Ramazan by providing them essential items at a lower price.

The Committee also approved supplementary grant, amounting to Rs.16.976 million, for Textile Division. It approved Supplementary Grant of Rs.7415.486 million for Finance Division, in favour of Financial Inclusion & Infrastructure Projects (FIIP), and Technical Supplementary Grant amounting to Rs.562.00 million and Supplementary Grant amounting to Rs.742.531 million for SAP Software License Payment.

Similarly, the Committee also approved Supplementary Grant of Rs.1 (One) billion for Federal Board of Revenue to boost its revenue collection capacity.

In order to pay the outstanding dues to the legal heirs of deceased employees of Pakistan Steel Mills on account of Provident Fund, Gratuity and Payroll, the Committee approved Grant for the purpose which will help address the problems of the legal heirs of deceased employees.

Secretary Water Resources and Chairman WAPDA gave separate presentations on different water projects including major dams namely, Mohmand Dam, Diamir-Bhasha and Dhasu dam.

Secretary Commerce made a presentation on export prospects in the short term. The Committee directed to prepare an export enhancement plan for next year before 31st March 2019.
 
March 12, 2019 (PR No. 101)

A delegation from Turkmenistan received by Finance Minister

Minister for Finance Asad Umar today received Turkmenistan delegation led by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr.Rashid Meredov. Mr. Asad Umar briefed the delegation about the economic priorities of the present government which are geared toward people centric economic growth and provision of social services to all citizens across the country.

The Minister informed the delegation that Pakistan strongly believed in promoting regional economic integration. He said it was the vision of Prime Minister of Pakistan to develop regional economic integration which was highly essential for the social and economic prosperity of the region. The Minister highlighted the benefits of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), saying that Pakistan would become the hub of economic activities once the project is completed. Pakistan also offered training facilities for the Banks from Turkmenistan. The meeting also underscored the need for strengthening financial linkages between the two countries as well as enhancing cooperation against money laundering activities. It was also agreed to take steps for the practical implementation of TAPI project.
 
March 11, 2019 (PR No. 100)

Finance Division awarded ISO 9001:2015 Certification

Finance Division has been awarded ISO 9001:2015 Certification which replaces the earlier ISO 9001-2008 with the latest  standards of ISO 2001-2015.

Syed Inkesar Hussain, Lead Assessor of Lloyd’s Regular Quality Assurance (LRQA) Ltd  presented the Certificate to the Special Secretary Finance, Omar Hamid Khan at a ceremony held here on Monday.

Addressing on the occasion, Mr. Omar Hamid Khan said that Finance Division successfully met the mandatory requirements for smooth transition to the new Quality Management standards. Accordingly the Certification Body recommended Finance Division for the new Certification which is indeed a great honour and a recognition of the headway that Finance Division has made in quality management standards.

Senior officials of the LRQA Ltd and Ministry of Finance attended the ceremony.

 
March 07, 2019 (PR No. 99)

Pakistan, Turkey to boost trade & investment cooperation

The Turkish government has presented its proposals on the Strategic Economic Framework(SEF) to the government of Pakistan. The decision to enter into an SEF was taken during the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Turkey. The Turkish Vice President, Fuat Oktay has written to Finance Minister acknowledging the receipt of proposals from Pakistan side and presenting additional proposals from the Turkish side. The proposals by the two countries cover trade, tourism, healthcare, hospitality industry, education, housing, agriculture, aviation, and banking.         

Following the successful visit of PM Imran Khan to Turkey in January 2019, major progress is taking place in operationalizing the Strategic Economic Framework (SEF) between Pakistan and Turkey.

The purpose of SEF is to enhance volume of bilateral trade five times (currently US$ 900 mn). Towards this goal, the two governments are negotiating a FTA to be signed in 2019. Trade facilitation is to be enhanced through improving connectivity through rail, air, road and sea. Cooperation between Pakistan Railways and TUDEMSAS (Turkish Railway Car Company) and TULOMSAS (Turkish Locomotive and Engine Company) for rail vehicles production maintenance, repair and operation is also envisioned.

Turkey has expressed interest in developing legal framework for tourism infrastructure planning, allocation of public properties to the investors, determination and classification of qualities of hospitality facilities based on international standards.Turkey intends to provide technical support in order to enhance promotion, marketing of tourism, advertising image of the country and production of promotional material. Seminars will be organized reciprocally.

Pakistan has recommended signing of an MoU on cooperation in the field of investment focusing on auto industry, special economic zones, food processing, mining and minerals besides construction sector and tourism. Pakistan looks up to Turkish cooperation in development of tourist resorts.

Similarly, both sides have expressed interest in strengthening cooperation in the field of educational services, inter-university exchange programs and establishment of research centers.

The Pak-Turkey SEF will serve as the overarching strategic policy framework for investment and trade relations. A high level Strategic Cooperation Council will provide overall guidance and vision. There shall be a strategic Economic Group co-chaired by Vice President of Turkey and Finance Minister of Pakistan. There shall be seven Joint Working Groups which will provide sector specific inputs.
 
March 06, 2019 (PR No. 98)

Finance Minister's Speech for Amendment Notice to Speaker on Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019

Mr. Speaker!

In order to boost investment in the country, measures were introduced through the Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019. In furthering the policy of encouraging investment, various measures were intensively discussed with stakeholders after presentation of the Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 in the House. The Senate of Pakistan completed its reading of the Bill and also gave recommendations. Various chambers of commerce and industry and other associations also came up with their critique of the Bill and gave proposals. All the valuable proposals and recommendations were examined and in light of these, I would like to propose the following amendments to make the Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 more comprehensive and investment friendly:
Amendments in Customs Act, 1969

2.         In order to provide an additional incentive, import of plant and machinery by green field industrial undertaking has been proposed to be exempt from customs duty.

3.         In order to provide further incentive to the industrial undertakings set up in the Special Economic Zones, exemptions from customs duty and advance income tax on import of firefighting equipment have also been proposed.
Amendments in the Sales Tax Act, 1990

Mr. Speaker

4.         It was proposed in the Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 that in order to facilitate the exporters and other businesses, the outstanding sales tax refunds shall be liquidated through issuance of Promissory Notes or bonds by FBR. It has now been decided that the proposed bonds shall be issued by FBR Refund Settlement Company (Pvt) Limited, a fully owned company of FBR.

Amendments in the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001

Mr. Speaker

5.         In order to address the concerns of local manufacturers of motor vehicles, it has been proposed to allow non-filers to purchase locally manufactured vehicles irrespective of engine capacity.
 
6.        As an additional tax incentive to encourage investment in the green field projects, it has been proposed to exempt business income of the green field industrial undertaking for a period of five years. Further it has been proposed to exempt such industrial underlings from minimum tax on their turnover.

7.         As an additional measure, it has been proposed to exempt advance tax on profit paid on Pakistan Banao Certificate, SARMAYA-E-PAKISTAN LIMITED and Duty Drawback Bonds.

8.         Incentives were proposed through Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 for Banks on advancing loans for agriculture, low cost housing and micro, small and medium enterprises. It has been proposed to further streamline these incentives.

9.         Through Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 reduction in tax liability for inter-corporate dividend was proposed. It is proposed to exempt such dividend derived by a company if the company avails group relief according to the proportion of shareholding of the company.
Amendments in the Federal Excise Act, 2005
Mr. Speaker

10.       In the Finance Supplementary (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 10% federal excise duty was proposed for locally manufactured motor vehicles of engine capacity of 1800 cc and above. However in order to address the concerns of local manufacturers of motor vehicles, the proposed engine capacity is proposed to be revised to 1700cc.
 
March 05, 2019 (PR No. 97)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)

Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) in its meeting chaired by Finance Minister Asad Umar here on Tuesday considered proposals from different ministries/ Divisions.

Ministry of Maritime Affairs briefed the ECC on matters relating to  establishment of new LNG terminals at Port Qasim. The Committee was informed that the Port Qasim Authority was looking at various choices with a view to find the most viable option. The Committee gave instructions to expedite the matter and directed for completion of all formalities for setting up the new terminal expeditiously keeping in view the growing energy needs of the country.

ECC approved proposal of Ministry of Energy based on request by Pakistan Petroleum Ltd for allocation of up to 9 mmcfd gas from Fazl X-1 field in distt Matiari  to M/S SSGCL.

The Committee also considered and approved various proposals relating to Supplementary grants . It may be recalled that such grants were previously approved by the Ministry of Finance, however in order to make the process more transparent, these are now considered and approved at the ECC/ Cabinet level.
 
March 05, 2019 (PR No. 96)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of NFIS Council

Government is fully committed to improve the livelihoods of Pakistanis through job creation, promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing access to formal financial services in an efficient and affordable manner, said Finance Minister Asad Umar at the 6th meeting of National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) Council here on Tuesday.

Chairing the meeting the Finance Minister said that the Government prioritized NFIS as part of its agenda for achieving inclusive economic growth through digitalization of Government payments, enhanced access to finance & deposit base, promotion of small & medium enterprises, easy & affordable access to finance to farmers, facilitation in low cost housing finance and provision of Shariah compliant banking solutions. He said that NFIS targets have been set for these areas for the next 5 years, which will help to create at least 3 million new jobs and additional exports of US$ 5.5 billion by 2023.

The Minister added that under the new targets, the NFIS aims to enhance usage of Digital Payments to 65 million active digital transaction accounts, with gender segregation of 20 million accounts by women. It also aims to enhance deposit to GDP ratio to 55% and promote SME Finance to 700,000 Small and Medium Enterprises; increase Agricultural Finance disbursements to Rs.1.8 trillion, and serve 6 million farmers through digitalized solutions and enhance share of Islamic Banking to 25 percent of the banking industry.

Welcoming the Finance Minister to the meeting, Tariq Bajwa, Governor SBP assured that under his leadership and guidance, NFIS will achieve its objectives of inclusive economic growth, economic stability and financial empowerment to unserved segments of the population. He also gave a detailed background of the achievements made under NFIS so far.

The Council had an overview of the progress of key strategic initiatives approved under NFIS 2023. Further, the Council also approved the revised NFIS Governance structure to ensure smooth implementation of the strategy. This includes transformation of NFIS Council into NFIS Policy & Implementation Council which will be chaired by the Finance Minister and co-chaired by the Governor, SBP. The lead implementation agencies,including federal & provincial ministries, Govt. departments, regulators and private sector, that will be fully empowered and responsible to implement actions in coordination with concerned stakeholders as per the timelines and KPIs mentioned in NFIS 2023, while SBP will continue serving as the NFIS Secretariat.

Finance Minister informed the meeting that an NFIS Transformation Office will be created to facilitate digitalization of Government payments and receipts, and act as a trouble-shooter to resolve issues of Implementing Agencies.

The Meeting was attended by NFIS Council members, which include Secretary Finance, Secretary Economic Affairs Division, Chairman SECP, Chairman FBR, Chairman NADRA, and representatives from Provincial Finance Departments, PTA, and ICT. Senior representatives from MoF and SBP also attended the meeting.
 
February 28, 2019 (PR No. 94)

Petroleum Prices for the month of March 2019

The government has decided to change prices of petroleum products for the month of March 2019 as follows:

Product

Existing Price
per litre (Rs)

 Price per litre (Rs)
w.e.f 1st of March 2019

Change in
price per litre (Rs)

Ms 92 RON Petrol

90.38

92.88

2.50

HSD

106.68

111.43

4.75

Kerosene Oil (SKO)

82.31

86.31

4.00

LDO

75.03

77.53

2.50

It may be added that based on international oil prices, increase of Rs. 4.71, Rs 9.44, Rs 8.06 and Rs 5.12 per litre in the price of MS (Petrol), HSD, Kerosene Oil and LDO respectively was worked out but the Government decided not to pass on the full impact of price increase to the consumers and approved a reduced level of increase as indicated in the table above.

The new prices shall be applicable from 1st to 31st March 2019.

 
February 28, 2019 (PR No. 93)

Singapore business delegation met with Finance Minister

Finance Minister Asad Umar received the visiting Singapore business delegation for a meeting here on Thursday. Secretary Board of Investment  was also present on the occasion.

Finance Minister said the present government had taken steps for ease of doing business and facilitating both domestic and foreign investors with various incentives including rationalization of tax regime. He said more such steps were envisaged in the budget 2019-20. He said Pakistan held Singapore in high esteem and welcomed its businessmen to invest in different sectors. He assured them of all out support and facilitation.

Leader of the delegation, Shamsher Zaman, Chairman, Middle East Business Group, said Singapore businessmen were encouraged to invest in Pakistan seeing the resolve and eagerness of the present Government to facilitate foreign investors. He said Singapore currently had an overall 800 billion trade volume in which share of Pakistan was not very significant. He desired for efforts to promote trade and business linkages between the two countries. The delegation expressed keen interest to invest in infrastructure, ICT, healthcare, airports / ports management and other sectors.

The delegation was also apprised of investment opportunities in different special economic zones across the country and the key features of the liberal investment regime offered by the Government of Pakistan.

The delegation is undertaking week long visit to Pakistan to explore business and investment opportunities in different sectors. It includes senior representatives from top level companies including Cargill International Trading Pte Ltd; Global Radiance Ship Management Pte Ltd; Hirsk Group Pte Ltd; Imaging the World Pte Ltd; IPL Group Pte Ltd; Kwee Gee Pte Ltd; Lea Tat Chemicals Pte Ltd; Linkers (Far East) Pte Ltd; Mystic Pte Ltd; Pacific Delta shipping (Pvt) Ltd; Prime Structures Engineering Pte Ltd; U & P Pte Ltd and Unicell Paper Pte Ltd.

 
February 27, 2019 (PR No. 92)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE)

The Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) in its meeting chaired by Finance Minister Asad Umar on Wednesday, approved proposals from Power Division providing for all future Renewable Energy investments to be treated in line with the RE Policy 2019 that envisages a framework consistent with the current international market norms and greater consumer benefits.     

The Power Division informed that draft RE Policy 2019 was currently in circulation for comments by stakeholders and would be presented to the CCoE as soon as such comments were finalized. All those projects which have been granted LoS by AEDB, shall be permitted to proceed towards the achievement of their requisite milestones as per the RE Policy 2006. However in those cases where more than a year has elapsed since determination of tariff by NEPRA, their tariff would have to be reviewed by NEPRA as per policy.

The Power Division also gave the meeting performance update on efficiency improvement and control of theft. The meeting was informed that total collection from November 2017 to January 2018 stood at Rs 203,953 million which rose to Rs. 243,642 million in the same period in FY 2018-19, showing net increase of Rs 39,689 million. Improved recovery from consumers and decrease in losses significantly contributed to the enhanced collection, the meeting was informed. Regarding control of theft, CCoE was apprised that during the period from October 13, 2018 to February 22, 2019 as many as 20,712 FIRs were registered and 1909 arrests were made. Detection bills charged amounted to Rs. 1,278.305 million while the amount of detection recovered was Rs 537.120 million. The CCoE appreciated the Power Division’s effective drive for recoveries and theft control.

The meeting also noted the progress shared by the Power Division on proposed plan/measures to bring down power sector losses.

Petroleum Division apprised the CCoE about findings of the committee probing into the matter of inflated gas bills. It was also  informed that report of audit being conducted in this matter will also be shared with the CCoE.
 
February 26, 2019 (PR No. 91)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) here on Tuesday.

ECC approved supplementary grant of Rs 4,64,00,000/-(forty six million and four hundred thousand only) for payment to families of deceased employees of Petroleum Division(Policy Wing) under the Prime Minister’s Assistance Package. It may be added that legal heirs of the officers/officials of Petroleum Division (Policy Wing) who died, while in service, between 15.6.13 to 09-02-15, requested that they may be granted all the benefits as per the Prime Minister’s Assistance Package issued on 20th October 2014. So the decision has accordingly been taken.

ECC in consideration of request by Finance Division allowed submission of proposal to the federal cabinet for approval of Rs. 200.075 million supplementary grant to Govt. of Baluchistan under the "Pur aman Baluchistan Policy". Launched in August 2015, the Policy stipulated provision of funds on equal basis by the Federal and Provincial Governments for encouraging misled individuals (Ferraries) to give up militancy and play active role for development and prosperity of the Baluchistan Province.
ECC approved  supplementary grant amounting to Rs. 20.00 million to Ministry of National Food Security & Research (MNFS&R) for operationalisation of its Plant Breeders' Rights Registry. ECC also directed that the process for creation of 71 posts in the Registry may be expedited.

ECC approved proposal of Commerce Division based on request by Philip Morris Pakistan Ltd. for export and analysis of tobacco seed at M/S Eurofins Dr. Specht Lab, Germany. The analysis report would help in production of good quality tobacco in future for domestic use and export purposes.

ECC approved supplementary grant of Rs. 11.441 million to Ministry of Privatization to meet expenses pertaining to relocation of its offices to the new premises, Kohsar Block.

ECC considered the proposal of Power Division regarding approval of SNGPL as Gas Supplier for 1263.2 MW RLNG based Public Sector Power Generation Project near Trimmu Barrage, District Jhang, by Punjab Thermal Power (Pvt) Limited and in modification of its earlier decision of May 11, 2018, allowed signing of the PPA and RA with SNGPL instead of PLL. ECC further directed that in case of provision of  RLNG to the Power Plant at Trimmu, and other plants to be operated/run on Furnace Oil (FO), the differential in the cost of FO and RLNG will be borne by the Government of Punjab.
 
February 25, 2019 (PR No. 90)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting to discuss matters pertaining to operationalization of PIB and PPPA

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired high level meeting here on Monday to discuss matters pertaining to operationalization of Pakistan Infrastructure Bank (PIB) and Public – Private Partnership Authority (PPPA).

Both these institutions aim to play a vital role in enhancing Investment to GDP ratio and spur overall economic growth.

The Pakistan Infrastructure Bank is expected to be operational sometime this year. It will provide facility for long term investment to commercially viable projects. It will also provide support to social sector projects besides helping create a long term debt market. IFC is partnering with the Government of Pakistan for establishment of the bank.

The meeting directed for early finalization of rules and procedures for operationalization of PPPA. The authority has already been established.

 Asia Development Bank is providing technical and professional support for operationalizing PPPA which aims to forge Government- private sector cooperation for long term development projects.

The meeting also gave nod of approval to initiate procedures for hiring top level officials  for both the institutions.
 
February 19, 2019 (PR No. 88)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) on Tuesday. The meeting considered and approved proposals presented by different ministries.

Ministry of Industries and Production presented to the ECC an update on the current status of NAB cases regarding Pakistan Steel Mills. ECC expressed concern on the slow progress of the cases and directed  that the cases be actively pursued. ECC further directed that a case be initiated for placement of names of personnel under investigation in different cases on ECL.

ECC considered and approved proposal of Commerce Division for amendments in the Import Policy Order 2016, further beefing up existing labeling requirements for import of edible, specially halal products. The step would ensure clarity on ingredients of the imported products in Urdu language for benefit of the consumers.

Ministry of National Food Security and Research apprised ECC about demand and supply situation of Urea and DAP fertilizers in the country. ECC directed for continued operation of the two urea plants beyond the month of February till October to ensure sufficient supply/stock of the fertilizer; Ministry of Industry would accordingly submit proposal to the ECC on operation of the plants. A review of the fertilizer stocks in the country would be taken in August for necessary course correction, if needed.      
FBR shared with the ECC a report, highlighting the current position of auction of abandoned containers / lots and also elaborating the procedures for clearance / disposal of consignments at ports along with the challenges faced in the process. ECC while laying emphasis on simplification of procedures and promotion of e-clearance, directed formation of a Committee headed by Minister for Maritime Affairs to prepare proposals for prompt and efficient cargo clearance (both containers and vehicles) at the ports to reduce the port congestion and improving ease of doing business. The Committee would share its proposals with ECC in two weeks.

The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (OP&HRD) briefed the ECC about the current position of manpower export to different countries and efforts for seeking employment opportunities in international labour market including the gulf countries. The Ministry of Federal Education & Professional training informed the ECC that it had a data bank of over 600,000 skilled manpower, who have graduated from the NAVTCC platform. ECC directed for constitution of an Inter-ministerial Task Force with OP&HRD as lead Ministry, for formulating concrete proposals with clear targets on development and export of manpower. The meeting laid emphasis on skill development, standardization and accreditation of technical training, information sharing, connectivity between websites of NAVTCC and OP&HRD, particularly on opportunities abroad for benefit of employment seekers.

 
February 19, 2019 (PR No. 87)

Chambers of Commerce & Industries delegation called on Finance Minister

A delegation comprising Presidents of fourteen chambers of commerce and industries from all over the country called on the Finance Minister Asad Umar here on Tuesday. The delegation was led by Almas Haider, President LCCI.

The delegation had discussion with the Minister on overall business environment in the country, measures for  facilitation to business community and shared with him proposals in this regard.

Finance Minister said the present government would extend all possible facilitation to the business and traders  community as they had a major contribution and key role  to play in strengthening of the economy. He said steps were also afoot for rationalization of tax regime.

 
February 13, 2019 (PR No. 86)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP)

Finance Minister Asad Umar here on Wednesday chaired meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCoP). Minister for Privatization Muhammad Mian Soomro was also present on the occasion.

Secretary Privatization Division shared with the meeting progress on the Active Privatization List which includes National Power Parks Management Company, (NPPMCL), SME Bank, divestment of Govt’s residual shares in Mari Petroleum Company, Services International Hotel, Lakhra Coal Development Company, Jinnah Convention Centre, Islamabad and the First Women Bank Ltd.  

The Committee was informed that progress of various degrees had been achieved on the PSEs included in this list.

The CCoP was also briefed on follow up action on decisions taken in the meeting held on 31st October 2018. 

The CCoP was informed that in pursuance of the decision 15 PSEs including PIA have already been delisted from the Privatization Programme. 

Senior officials of PIA apprised the Committee regarding the current status and future prospects of Roosevelt Hotel, New York. The Committee directed that formal proposal in this regard may be finalized by June 2019. 

The Commerce Division was also directed to fast track study / evaluation regarding Insurance and Reinsurance sector,(SLIC, NICL & Pak Re-Insurance Company)  along with the need for Regulatory Framework improvements, which should precede process of privatization.  Commerce Division would present its report in this regard to the CCoP by 31st of March. 

The Petroleum Division was directed to expedite the work on regulatory framework for creation of competitive market place for gas sector.

 
February 13, 2019 (PR No. 85)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of FBR Policy Board

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired the first meeting of the “FBR Policy Board” created under the FBR Act 2007 here Wednesday.

Finance Minister shall be the chairman of the Policy Board and the Ministers for Commerce, Textile, Industries and Privatization shall be the ex-officio members of the Board along with Chairmen standing committees on Finance and Revenue – senate and National Assembly. Chairman FBR shall be the Secretary of the Board. Among the nominated members  (in advisory capacity) were Mr. Abdul Razak Dawood, Mr. Hammad Azhar, Senator Kauda Babar, Syed Javed (IT Professional ) , Mr Usman Yousaf  Mubeen (Chairman NADRA) and Mr. Abdullah Yousaf ( former chairman FBR). 

Chairman FBR gave a detailed briefing on the working of the Federal Board of Revenue and specially mentioned the actions recently taken by FBR to improve its performance. Separation of Tax Policy and Administration, Draft of FBR Transformation Plan, Swiss Avoidance of double taxation treaty ratified, identification of 152,201 Pakistani nationals with undeclared assets abroad, Retailers Electronically linked with FBR, 6451 high net-worth non-filers issued notices;( revenue recovered PKR 245 million),4961  potentially undeclared properties abroad identified, objective criteria performance management, integrity Management Unit created were the highlights of the chairman’s briefing.

All the ex-officio and nominated  members congratulated the Finance Minister on the formation of the policy Board after such a long time and welcomed the stance of the PTI government to consult with non-governmental members for improvement of the Tax system of the country. After the detailed briefing by Chairman FBR and view sharing by the members, it was decided that the senate standing committee on law and justice shall be asked to review FBR laws where criminal investigation agencies have an overlapping jurisdiction with FBR so that the authority of FBR may be ascertained. Chairman NADRA was directed by the Chair to start working on proposals for broadening of the Tax Base through the use of data already available at the NADRA data base, the suggestions will be reviewed by the Policy Board in detail for further action.

Mr. Abdullah Yousaf stressed on the need for “Systemization through Automation” so that the elements of harassment and use of discretionary powers may be minimized. He was also directed by the chair to make detailed presentation on the Audit and inspection system of FBR and suggest improvements in the system. The presentation will be first shared with MoS Revenue and later be brought to the policy Board for further action.

Minister of State for Revenue said that it is his earnest desire that the FBR Policy Board may design ToRs for bridging the gap between policy and administration.  

It was also decided that the Policy Board shall hold its regular meetings on quarterly basis and the next meeting will be held in mid of March.
 
February 12, 2019 (PR No. 84)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)

The ECC of the Cabinet in its meeting chaired by the Finance Minister Asad Umar here on Tuesday approved measures for uplift of the cotton crop in the country.

Secretary Ministry of National food Security & Research gave the meeting a detailed presentation on issues and challenges in the cotton sector. Experts in the field of cotton growing who were specially invited to the meeting also gave their input for developing the cotton crop.

ECC decided that Ministry of NFS&R will present, within 30 days, a plan for strengthening research and development services for different crops with particular focus on cotton. The Ministry will also submit plan for revitalization of federal institutions tasked with the responsibility of developing the cotton sector. ECC also directed Ministry of NFS&R to expedite efforts for implementing PB Ropes technology to counter the pink bollworm which impedes cotton growth. The meeting directed that Ministry of Industries and Production would take measures for recovery of cotton cess from textile mills so as to give impetus to cotton promotion activities, which are to be funded through the cess. 

ECC accorded approval for additional guarantees to PIACL of Rs 5.6 billion for repair and maintenance of engines and acquisition of related spare parts for operationalizing grounded planes. The step would strengthen PIACL’s route rationalization initiatives and add to revenue generation of the national flag carrier.

The Ministry of Maritime Affairs briefed the meeting about various concessions granted to the Gwadar Port and Gwadar Free Zone. ECC directed that BoI, Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Law Division and FBR to review the proposals and revert to the Committee.

ECC in consideration of proposal submitted by Petroleum Division gave its consent for the Frontier Oil Company to undertake/implement the Machike -Tarujabba Oil Pipeline project. The project, consisting of three sections i.e. Machike-Chak Pirana, Chak Pirana-rawat and Rwat-Tarujabba, aims at transportation of High Speed Diesel and Motor Spirit.

The Ministry of Maritime Affairs briefed the meeting with regard to the location of any new LNG terminals in the country as well as the assessment of requirement for relocation of the existing terminals. The Committee took note of the presentation and directed the relevant Ministries to work out the medium to long term requirement of LNG in the country  and present the same to the Committee.
 
February 12, 2019 (PR No. 83)

Saudi media delegation called on Finance Minister

The visiting Saudi media delegation called on Finance Minister Asad Umar here on Tuesday.

Finance Minister welcomed the guests and shared with them the present government’s ongoing drive for macroeconomic stabilization and strengthening of  economy.

The Minister said Pakistan offered multiple opportunities for foreign investors and welcomed Saudi companies to invest in various sectors in Pakistan including petro-chemicals and mining sector. He made special mention of the oil refinery project envisaged by the Saudi side in Pakistan and said it will have a lasting impact on Pakistan’s economy both in terms of investment and growth.

The Minister said that both countries are now focused on providing opportunities to the youth to enable them play a key role in socio-economic development. He also welcomed Saudi participation in CPEC projects.

The Saudi media delegation shared with the Minister their impressions about the visit to Pakistan and said they were eager to see the economic cooperation between the two countries develop to grater heights.
 
February 12, 2019 (PR No. 82)

Proposals for Pak-Turkey Economic Framework Reviewed

Finance Minister Asad Umar here on Tuesday chaired  meeting of the Committee on Pak-Turkey Strategic Economic Framework. The meeting reviewed the progress on formation of the proposed framework.

Minister for Energy, Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce & Textile, Minister for IPC and Minister for Privatization attended the meeting.

Secretary Economic Affairs Division gave a detailed presentation and shared with the meeting proposals from various ministries and divisions. Important among them include proposal from the Ministry of Commerce for enhancing trade through FTAs and easing of customs procedures by both sides. Ministry of Textile proposed that the two countries should consider setting up textile and garment cities. The participants felt that Pakistan should benefit from the best practices adopted by Turkey for development of tourism industry.

The Finance Minister observed that there is great scope for the development of auto sector in Pakistan with the help of Turkey. He also said that banks from both sides should be encouraged to establish branches in each other’s country to promote business linkages and facilitate financial transactions. He also viewed that collaboration between PIA and Turkish Airlines may be promoted to improve communication facilities for Pakistan citizens travelling to various destinations.

The Finance Minister appreciated the proposal for establishment of a credit Guarantee Fund for trade enhancement. The Minister was informed that all provincial chief secretaries have been asked to send their proposals for the Economic Framework and their responses are being compiled.

Secretary EAD said that through this framework, it is expected that there would be a threefold expansion in the areas of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Finance Minister directed that all the proposals being sent by different ministries and divisions may be consolidated on priority so that these can be shared with the Turkish side for consideration and concurrence.

It may be added that establishment of the economic framework was discussed and agreed with the Turkish side during the recent visit of Prime Minister to Turkey. It aims to enhance bilateral economic cooperation with particular focus on trade.
 
February 10, 2019 (PR No. 81)

Prime Minister of Pakistan had a meeting with Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF in Dubai

Prime Minister Imran Khan had a meeting with Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday 10th February 2019. 

The Prime Minister appreciated IMF’s support to Pakistan and shared his vision for nation-building. He reiterated the government’s commitment for undertaking structural & governance reforms and strengthening social protection in the country. 

The IMF Managing Director acknowledged the steps taken so far by the Pakistan Government for stabilizing the economy. She said the IMF will remain engaged in supporting Pakistan in sustaining its economic recovery.  

The two sides agreed to work together on policy priorities and reforms aimed at reducing imbalances and laying the foundations of a job creating growth path in Pakistan. In this regard, deliberations between Pakistani authorities and IMF staff will continue to finalize an agreement on the contours of a program.
 
February 06, 2019 (PR No. 80)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of National Finance Commission (NFC)

The inaugural meeting of the reconstituted 9th National Finance Commission (NFC) was held here on Wednesday. Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired the meeting.

Finance Minister Asad Umar welcomed all the participants to the meeting and said NFC has been tasked under the Constitution with amicable distribution of financial resources among the federation and the provinces, and as such its effective role had an important bearing on overall national cohesion. He said that apart from distribution, the NFC should also address critical issues related to developing a sustainable fiscal structure for center as well as the federating units. It should also address the social development and poverty alleviation challenges and facilitate the private sector with a view to foster economic development opportunities for the general public.

Federal Secretary Finance briefly recounted the history of NFC awards and shared with the participants details on fiscal position of the federal government. He apprised the meeting about federal fiscal operations and net revenues of federal and provincial governments.

Provincial Ministers/Secretaries Finance gave the meeting update on their fiscal position and also in the process dilated on issues faced by them in different spheres due to resource constraints. The ever rising burden of pension payments, allocation for FATA and need for improved coordination on data sharing were highlighted. They also shared with the meeting proposals on transfer of funds as well as possible future models of revenue generation. Representative from Baluchistan highlighted the fiscal challenges and the progress being made by the Province through interprovincial cooperation and support. He also emphasized better and increased use of automation for revenue generation.

KP raised the issue of net hydel profit and difficulties being faced on account of funding required for retirement benefits of employees. Secretary Finance Punjab called for improved coordination between federal and provincial authorities for timely data sharing. Member Sindh pointed out less transfers made under the heads "Straight Transfers" and proposed that data on this account may be shared with Provinces.  The participants laid emphasis on smooth vertical and horizontal transfer of funds. The participants also emphasized on the need to end regional disparities.

Chairman FBR on the occasion briefed the meeting on revenue generation/tax collection in the current financial year.

The participants of the meeting were of the opinion that both the federal government as well as the provinces were under-resourced and that additional revenue was needed to meet expenses in different realms including socio-economic development activities. The need was also felt for more clarity on revenue projections by FBR so that the provincial governments could plan adjustments in expenditure accordingly.

The meeting decided to form six sub-groups to make proposals/ recommendations on (1) Macroeconomic framework and benchmarking, to be coordinated by Punjab, (2) Vertical Distribution of the divisible pool taxes between federation and provinces including needs of AJ&K and GB to be coordinated by Federal Government (3) Horizontal Distribution of divisible pool taxes amongst provinces to be coordinated by Baluchistan (4) Straight Transfers to be coordinated by Baluchistan (5) Measures required to be taken to simplify tax procedures and payment systems to facilitate businesses to be coordinated by Sindh and (6) Integration/ merger of FATA in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to be coordinated by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

It was decided that the next NFC meeting will be convened after six weeks at Lahore. NFC Sectt. at the Ministry of Finance will be further strengthened for better coordination amongst the sub groups.

The meeting expressed agreement to Finance Minister Asad Umar’s suggestion for including the provinces in the process of dialogue with IMF with regard to the fiscal targets over the medium term.

Finance Minister called upon all the members to contribute their best towards formulating a new NFC award in future.

Chief Minister Sindh, Murad Ali Shah, Finance Minister Punjab, Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, Finance Minister KP, Taimur Saleem Khan Jhagra, Federal Secretary Finance, Provincial members, Provincial Secretaries Finance and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance attended the meeting.

 
February 06, 2019 (PR No. 79)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Cabinet Committee on Energy

Finance Minister, Asad Umar, Chaired meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) here on Wednesday. The meeting was especially called on the instructions of the Prime Minister to look into the matter of inflated gas billings to the consumers.

The Committee decided to conduct an independent audit of the billing for December 2018 through external auditors in addition to the inquiry regarding excessive billing already  conducted by the Petroleum Division. The reports of both the inquiry and the independent audit would be submitted to CCoE.

Prior to that Secretary Petroleum Division gave a detailed presentation to the Committee on the recent billing exercise of the Gas sector. Chairman OGRA and MD SNGPL also gave their input in this regard. The meeting was informed that the consumers are billed according to the slabs in which they fall, in accordance with their consumption. The Secretary Petroleum Division said that following the complaints of a large number of consumers an inquiry has already been launched to look into the matter. The inquiry would look at the issue comprehensively from all the different angles.

The Secretary also briefed the Committee that there has been an overall increase of 8% in the consumption pattern of the consumers falling in the lowest consumption slab.  He also said that out of the total 6400,000 gas consumers only 92,000 that fall in the 6th and 7th(highest consumption slabs), have been affected by high gas bills. It was also pointed out by chairman OGRA that during the month of December the domestic consumption of gas doubles which has changed the pricing slabs for many consumers. However, she also suggested that the data for the last two months may be looked into to find any anomaly.

The meeting also discussed the issue of Gas theft,action taken against illegal practices and the determination of the unaccounted for Gas (UFG) loss benchmark and  directed M/o Energy to address the issue.

 
February 04, 2019 (PR No. 78)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)

The meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) was held here on Monday. Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired the meeting.

Chairman Board of Investment(BoI) gave a detailed presentation to the ECC on development of SEZs in the country and related issues.

ECC decided that BOI will reduce the time frame for approval of SEZ applications from 90 days to 45 days. Further, it will propose certain changes in SEZ Act to make it more investor friendly. It was also decided that SEZs of Islamabad and Bostan will be included in the list of priority SEZs under CPEC. ECC also asked BoI to revisit the requirements for setting up of tourism, IT and health related entities within SEZs.

ECC directed Petroleum and Power Divisions to devise a road map, within 30 days, for provision of electricity/gas to all industrial estates.

ECC, in consideration of a proposal submitted by the Ministry of Industries and Production, (MOIP) accorded approval for provision of funds to the tune of Rs. 833 million to Pakistan Machine Tool Factory (PMTF) for payment of employees’ salaries and retirement benefits.
 
January 31, 2019 (PR No. 77)

Petroleum Prices Reduced

The government has decided to reduce the prices of petroleum products barring HSD, for the month of February 2019.

While price of HSD is being maintained at the current level, price of petrol has been reduced by Rs 0.59, kerosene by Rs 0.73 and that of LDO by Rs 0.25 per litre.

Accordingly, prices of petroleum products for the month of February 2019 shall be as under:

Product

Existing Price per litre (Rs)

New Price per litre (Rs)

Reduction of price per litre (Rs)

Ms 92 RON Petrol

90.97

90.38

0.59

HSD

106.68

106.68

0.00

Kerosene Oil

82.98

82.25

0.73

LDO

75.28

75.03

0.25

These prices shall be applicable from 1st of February till 28th February 2019.

 
January 30, 2019 (PR No. 76)

DFID chief economist called on Finance Minister

Chief Economist, Department for International Development (DFID), UK,  Rachel Glennerster called on Finance Minister Asad Umer here on Wednesday. Ms Glennerster appreciated the measures taken by the government to stabilize the macroeconomic imbalances and informed the Finance Minister of the support being provided by DFID towards  economic and social development of Pakistan.

The Chief Economist also had exchange of views with the Finance Minister on government's plans to reform the energy sector and promote renewable energy solutions. She informed the Minister that DFID is ready to assist the Government of Pakistan to tap climate finance funds to support the drive for renewable energy.

The Finance Minister appreciated the work being done by DFID in Pakistan.

 
January 29, 2019 (PR No. 75)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Monetary and Fiscal Policies Coordination Board

The meeting of Monetary and Fiscal Policies Coordination Board was held here on Tuesday.

The meeting was chaired by Finance Minister, Mr. Asad Umar. The meeting reviewed the fiscal and monetary policies besides having discussion on the external sector. The on-going adjustment plan for fiscal consolidation was presented to the Board. While reviewing the fiscal policy, the Board observed that there is further scope for tightening of the fiscal stance.

The corrective measures taken by the government, both on the fiscal and quasi fiscal deficit were discussed. The meeting observed that fiscal consolidation is a key element of the adjustment plan, and necessary for ensuing macroeconomic stability. The Board emphasized ensuring that revenue targets both on tax and non-tax side are met and expenditure controls continue to remain well in place. The key economic variables for the first half of FY 19 were deliberated in detail. The direction of external trade data is encouraging and points to the fact that fiscal and monetary tightening are having an impact on correcting the imbalances.

The growth in remittances is also encouraging. The meeting appreciated the fact that there was substantial participation in the last auction of PIBs. The meeting observed that real interest rates are positive and would help manage aggregate demand and reduce the output gap. On the monetary front, SBP reported that M2 in FY 19 is growing at higher pace while NFA has contracted. Turning to private sector credit, its growth momentum continued and is explained by increased input prices, the continuation of the investment cycle and ample liquidity with banks. Moreover, analysis shows that subsidized and non-subsidized credit to export-orientated sector has increased.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Planning, Development & Reforms, Dr. Furrukh Iqbal, Director IBA, officials from Ministry of Finance and State Bank of Pakistan.

 
January 29, 2019 (PR No. 74)

Finance Minister chaired meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC)

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here on Tuesday.

ECC approved Ministry of National Food Security’s proposal for allowing the export of 0.5 million tons of surplus wheat/ wheat products by PASSCO for which it had received tenders. The decision was made keeping in view the rising prices of wheat in the international markets, sufficient available stocks (1.7 million tons) and the predictions of a good crop in the current crop season.

The Ministry of Energy, Power Division gave a detailed presentation on the current situation of Circular Debt and the components that have contributed to its build up. ECC after detailed discussion, allowed the Ministry to proceed with the raising of syndicated Islamic Term Finance Facility of Rs. 200 billion for which term sheet had already been received from a Consortium of Islamic Banks.

The Ministry of ITT (Information Technology and Telecommunications) briefed the meeting on the annual budget of NTC. The Committee after discussion directed the Ministry of ITT to address the management issues of the NTC on priority, in view of the unsatisfactory responses to the queries raised by members of the ECC.
 
January 25, 2019 (PR No. 73)

Finance Minister chaired meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC)

Finance Minister Asad Umar here on Friday chaired meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) here on Friday.

ECNEC considered and approved revised Emergency Plan for Polio Eradication at a cost of USD 986.29 million. The plan envisages to end polio cases through Supplemental Immunization Activities (SIAs) across the country and undertaking environmental surveillance to completely curb polio virus transmission. Polio was declared as a national public health emergency in 2011 and yearly National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) for Polio Eradication is accordingly being implemented under direct guidance and oversight of the National Task Force (NTF) for Polio Eradication.

ECNEC discussed and approved Project regarding Feasibility Study and Dualisation of Mardan-Swabi Road (42 KM) at a total cost of Rs. 9,550 million. The project envisages dualization / improvement of existing 42 km long Mardan-Swabi Road to a dual carriageway road, each carriageway having 7.3 m width. The scope of work includes construction of 14 new bridges, improvement of 8 existing bridges, underpass, 75 new culverts besides having other features.

ECNEC also discussed the Nai Gaj Dam Project at length. The Committee after detailed deliberations decided to seek additional technical inputs on the project from the Government of Sindh so that an informed decision could be taken at the next meeting.

 
January 15, 2019 (PR No. 72)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC)

Meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet was held here on Tuesday. Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired the meeting

ECC discussed and approved proposal of Ministry of Commerce & Textile  relating to payment of duty and taxes on all imported vehicles in new/used condition under personal baggage or gift scheme, through foreign exchange arranged by Pakistan Nationals themselves or local recipient supported by bank encashment certificate showing conversion of foreign remittance to local currency.

ECC approved regulatory amendments in the Export Policy Order 2016 and Import Policy Order 2016 as proposed by Commerce Division. These will be submitted for consideration of the Federal Cabinet. The amendments are aimed at enhancing ease of doing business in the country.

ECC in consideration of the proposal submitted by the Ministry of Commerce & Textile, accorded approval for withdrawal of customs duty, additional customs duty and sales tax on import of cotton effective 1st of February 2019 to 30thJune 2019. The step is aimed at ensuring sufficient supply of cotton for the textile industry, especially its export segment.

ECC discussed and approved another proposal from Ministry of Commerce and Textile to clear outstanding claims of drawback of local taxes and levies (DLTL) under the exports incentive scheme announced by the Government in Finance Act 2014-15. The ECC decided that cases which were submitted in time but have been pending due to want of funds, will be entertained by the government.

 
January 10, 2019 (PR No. 71)

Trade deficit shrinks as imports decline and exports go up

Government’s policy measures have resulted in shrinking of trade deficit, decline in imports and increase in exports which augurs well for overall balance of payment of the country.

The trade deficit that stood at US$ 17.7 Billion in July- December 2017 has shrunk by 5% to US$16.8 Billion in the corresponding period in 2018.

The overall imports from July-December 2018 have shrunk by over 2% from US$ 28.7 Billion in July – December 2017 to US$ 28 Billion in July – December 2018. This trend is even more pronounced in respect of imports under RD regime, where the import value has declined from US$ 5.2 Billion in July – December 2017 to US$ 4.4 Billion in July – December 2018, showing a contraction of 16% (effective on 1994 tariff lines).

The trade balance in December 2018 compared to December 2017 shrunk by 19% from US$ 2.9 Billion to US$ 2.3 Billion.

In December 2018, the imports in US $ term declined to US$ 4.3 billion compared to US$ 4.9 billion in December 2017 which reflects an import compression of over 12%.
This trend is even more pronounced in December 2018 in respect of imports under RD regime (effective on 1994 tariff lines) wherein the imports declined from US$ 896 million in December 2017 to US$ 691 million in December 2018 (-23%).

Data indicates that the import compression measures taken in the supplementary Finance Act, 2018 have firmly taken hold and are now effectively curtailing imports as per policy regime of the government. The data on import of containerized cargo also has shrunk by (9%).

There is a growth in exports of 5.5% in December 2018 compared to December 2017. In the first six months from July-December 2018 exports have shown a growth of over 2% compared to the same period last year.

 
January 09, 2019 (PR No. 70)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC)

The meeting of Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) was held here on Wednesday. Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired the meeting.

ECNEC had detailed discussion on matters pertaining to the project regarding Operation of Basic Education Community Schools (BECS) in the country. The Committee accorded approval for revised project with a total cost of Rs. 4058.158 million, clearing the previous liabilities and six months expenses of the current financial year up to December 2018. This will be subject to verification of personnel and facilities by NADRA/Distt. Administration concerned. 

The Basic Education Community Schools project is based on non-formal basic education system where the community provides for the premises while expenses on teachers’ honorarium, utility bills, text books etc are met by the Federal Government.

 
January 08, 2019 (PR No. 69)

ECC discussed matters regarding cotton import duty, PSM revival plan

The meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) was held here on Tuesday. Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired the meeting.

ECC had a detailed discussion on the proposal of Textile Division regarding withdrawal of custom duty, additional custom duty and sales tax on import of cotton. The proposal was aimed at facilitating the import of cotton to bridge the demand and supply gap in the country, thereby helping out the textile industry, especially the export segment. The Committee noted that detailed trade and revenue related data was required, which was not made part of the proposal. The relevant ministries were  directed to fill the data gaps so that an informed decision could be taken in the matter.

The Ministry of Industries & Production shared with the meeting progress on the plan of action currently being formulated by a specially constituted experts group, suggesting viable options to revitalize the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). The committee directed that the plan of action should be prepared in a cohesive manner, taking on board the PSM Board of Directors/Management and submitted for  final approval as per the given timelines.

 
January 01, 2019 (PR No. 68)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC)

The meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) was held here on Tuesday. Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired the meeting.

ECC reviewed the demand and supply situation of urea in the country. The Committee directed Ministry of Industries and Production to chalk out a plan for continuous and smooth operation of urea plants in the country throughout the year. The exercise, ECC observed would help ensure availability of sufficient stocks of the fertilizer to meet demand of the farmers’ community. 

The ECC while considering the proposal regarding provision of funds for personnel related dues in the Pakistan Machine Tool Factory (PMTF), directed Ministry of Industries & Production to share with the Committee,  a strategy to revitalize the PMTF. ECC observed that the institution had done great service for the engineering sector and had the potential to effectively carry on this role, for which it needed to be strengthened. 

The ECC approved proposal of Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) for supply of up to 25 MMCFD additional gas from Adhi Gas Field to Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd. (SNGPL) to meet the existing gas demand on the system. 

ECC also discussed proposal of Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) for fuel supply agreement between Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and State Oil Company of Republic of Azerbaijan. The Committee advised Ministry of Energy to carry out further consultations with stakeholders including Ministry of Commerce and Public Procurement Regulatory Authority before a final decision in the matter. 

The Ministry of National Food Security & Research on the occasion submitted an update to the Committee on export of public sector’s surplus wheat/wheat products.
 
December 31, 2018 (PR No. 67)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review the progress of work on different economic zones in the country

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired a meeting here on Monday to review the progress of work on different economic zones in the country. Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar was also present on the occasion.

The meeting during the progress review extended special consideration to economic zones in the province of Baluchistan including Hub.

The meeting decided that Ministry of Planning Development & Reform will ensure necessary infrastructure arrangements for the zones which aim to promote economic activities throughout the country. As for requirement of electricity, the Power Division will look after all necessary matters. 

Senior officials from Ministries concerned attended the meeting.
 
December 31, 2018 (PR No. 66)

Petroleum Prices

The government has decided to reduce the prices of petroleum products for the month of January 2019.

Price of Petrol and diesel has been reduced by Rs 4.86 and Rs 4.26 per litre respectively. The price of Kerosene oil has been reduced by Rs 0.52 and that of LDO by Rs 2.16 per litre. 

Accordingly, prices of petroleum products for the month of January 2019 shall be as under:

Product

Existing Price per litre (Rs)

New Price per litre (Rs)

Ms 92 RON

95.83

90.97

HSD

110.94

106.68

Kerosene Oil

83.50

82.98

LDO

77.44

75.28

These prices shall be applicable from 1st – 31st January 2019.

 
December 28, 2018 (PR No. 65)

Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan discussed development schemes with Finance Minister

Finance Minister Asad Umar received the Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan, Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman for a meeting here on Friday.

Chief Minister GB apprised the Finance Minister about the different development schemes in Gilgit-Baltistan and also shared with him the financial requirements in different areas.

During the meeting they both expressed agreement that there was great potential for development in the spheres of hydro energy and tourism.

The Chief Minister said that steps were being taken to develop the tourism sector in GB and added that road connectivity within GB as well as with KP, would facilitate achieving this objective.  

Finance Minister assured the Chief Minister GB full support for various schemes particularly in the spheres of hydro energy and tourism sector development.
 
December 26, 2018 (PR No. 64)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCOP)

The meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCOP) was held here on Wednesday. Finance Minister Asad Umar Chaired the meeting.

Secretary Privatization Division gave the meeting an update on privatization process of public sector entities on the active privatization list including RLNG Power Plants (Balloki and Haveli Bahadurshah) under National Power Parks Management Company (NPPMCL), Lakhra Coal Mines and Services International Hotel. Matters relating to divestment of Govt’s residual shares in Mari Petroleum Company also came under discussion.

With a view to facilitating simultaneous and smooth privatization of both RLNG plants, the CCOP gave its nod of approval for privatization of the NPPMCL. CCOP also accorded go ahead to divest residual govt. shares of 18.39 % in Mari Petroleum Company Ltd. 

In case of Lakhra Coal Mines, the CCOP directed that since the matter is subjudice its privatization process may be pursued only after decision by the Supreme Court.

The CCOP also noted the updated position on KE as shared by the Secretary Privatization.
 
December 20, 2018 (PR No. 63)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting with different Islamic Banks on matters pertaining to launch of Islamic Sukuk

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired meeting of senior representatives of different Islamic Banks on matters pertaining to launch of Islamic Sukuk by the Government (PHPL)here on Thursday.

A consortium of Islamic Banks, it may be added has been assigned the task to coordinate with the Government and facilitate it for the launch.

During the meeting representatives of the Islamic banks apprised the meeting about the progress for the subject launch. They also informed that most of spade work had already been completed and there were minor irritants left to be removed.

Finance Minister appreciated the increasing role of Islamic Banks in the overall banking sector and their potential for providing strength to economy. He assured the delegation of all out support from the Government for the planned launch of Islamic sukook which aims to generate sufficient finances to ease out liquidity of the power sector.

The meeting was also attended by Omar Ayub Khan Federal Minister for Power.
 
December 19, 2018 (PR No. 62)

Expeditious Refund System to be improved for early processing of exporters' claims

Finance Minister Asad Umar held a meeting with a delegation of Pakistan Business Council (PBC) here Wednesday.

The PBC delegation discussed with the Minister the overall business environment in the country and made recommendations for necessary policy interventions to enhance business & commercial activity in the economy. The recommendations included measures related to tax as well as ease of doing business in general.

Finance Minister said the government believed in facilitating all sectors of the economy and was taking serious measures to create an enabling business environment. Having a quality tax regime which could help achieve this end was among government’s top priorities. The Minister particularly expressed government’s commitment to resolve the sales tax refund issue on a sustainable basis. He informed the delegation that FBR had been directed to review and improve the Expeditious Refund System (ERS) parameters to ensure early processing of exporters' claims. He said that the procedure for processing of DLTL claims was also being revised to ensure that the delays are eliminated.

The delegation also raised the issue of GIDC. The Minister said that the prolonged litigation was neither in the interest of the business community nor the government. He sought recommendations of the business community to resolve this long standing issue.

The Minister said that the government was working on enhancing productivity of various sectors and promoting value addition with a view to achieving export enhancement and job creation. He invited the business community to make suggestions for achieving these objectives. 

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Industries, Abdul Razak Dawood, Minister of State for Revenue, Mohammad Hammad Azhar  were also present in the meeting.

 
December 19, 2018 (PR No. 61)

Pakistan achieves more than 1 billion USD disbursement from ADB during FY2018

Finance Minister Asad Umar received Mr. Tomoyuki Kimura, Director General Strategy, Policy & Review Deptt, Asian Development Bank (ADB) for a meeting here on Wednesday.

Finance Minister on the occasion said that ADB’s continued support and pro-active approach has further strengthened its relationship and partnership with Pakistan, which is now at a historic high level. Pakistan achieved more than 1 billion USD disbursement from ADB during FY2018 which is the highest disbursement amongst all multilateral development partners. Minister Asad said the present government is taking various measures and reforms that will help the country steer out of current economic situation on both fronts i.e. external economic challenges including trade deficit, low FDI and forex reserves. As regards domestic challenges, we are focusing on fiscal consolidation, monetary policy and financial inclusion. He appreciated ADB's recently approved Country Operations Business Plan (COBP) 2019-2021 for Pakistan with an indicative assistance of 7.5 billion USD.

DG ADB apprised the Finance Minister about salient features of the ADB 2030 strategy. He dilated on different new lending products including special policy based lending. Discussion also focused on private sector lending. He said ADB will also provide programme lending facility to Pakistan to the tune of $ 2.3 billion in the next three years, starting 2019, in the spheres of future energy sector development, trade and competitiveness and capital market development. This lending facility, it may be added, is part of the COBP.

Finance Minister thanked Mr. Tomoyuki Kimura for the provision of technical assistance in capacity building of personnel in Finance and Economic Affairs Divisions. He also appreciated the pro-active role of the ADB’s Pakistan Resident Mission under the leadership of Ms. Xiaohong Yang  for promoting Pak-ADB economic partnership.

 
December 18, 2018 (PR No. 60)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC)

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) on Tuesday to review the progress on FATF Action Plan.

National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) made a detailed presentation on the Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment, prepared jointly by NACTA and FIA in consultation with a number of relevant authorities. 

After detailed deliberations on various aspects of the assessment report, the NEC approved the same subject to addressing certain observations in respect of key policy and legislative areas. NACTA will finalize the report accordingly. The NEC also approved the Risk Assessment Report on cash smuggling prepared by FBR-Customs.

Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) presented the analysis on suspicious transaction reports filed by the financial sector in the last three years and the law enforcement actions taken against money laundering and terrorism financing on the basis of such reports.

The NEC advised the authorities concerned to enhance enforcement actions and adopt a result oriented approach.The Chairman NEC advised all the departmental heads to regularly monitor timely implementation of the FATF Action Plan. The need for a coordinated effort with the provinces was also highlighted.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Law & Justice, Minister of State for Interior, Governor-SBP, Chairman-SECP, Director General-FIA, Director General-NACTA, Director General-FBR Customs, Director General-FMU & other senior officials of the Federal and Provincial Governments.
 
December 17, 2018 (PR No. 59)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC)

The ECC in consideration of proposal from the Ministry of Industries and Production approved the price of imported urea at Rs. 1712/- per 50 kg bag for National Fertilizer Marketing Limited dealers.

It may be mentioned that ECC had directed the Trading Corporation of Pakistan on 10th September 2018 to import 100,000 MT Urea to ensure availability of sufficient stocks in the country to meet the requirements in the Rabi season.

ECC discussed and approved proposal of the Ministry of Commerce to amend the Export Policy Order (EPO) 2016, to the effect that the export of ethanol and other products manufactured from cane molasses shall be subject to the condition that cane molasses used in production of ethanol and other products manufactured from cane molasses being exported is either produced in-house by the exporter or purchased directly from a sugar mill. Proper recording of production and sale of molasses, can be used as an indicator to gauge the production of sugar thus assist in collection of due taxes. The ECC was informed that due consultation had been carried out with FBR as well as the Sugar manufacturers, on the proposal.

Ministry of National Food Security and Research shared with the ECC report on export of public sector’s surplus wheat/wheat products.
 
December 12, 2018 (PR No. 58)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC)

Meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet was held here on Wednesday. Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired the meeting.

ECC cleared proposal of Ministry of IT regarding approval of budget estimates of National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) by the federal cabinet. ECC however, observed that NTC being an autonomous and self earning body should be empowered like other public sector corporations to formulate and approve its own budget. The Committee directed that necessary authorization may be granted so that in future the budget is considered and approved by the NTC Board.

Ministry of Industries briefed the meeting about fertilizer situation in the country. It was informed that imported shipments of urea have reached Karachi and arrangements are in place for supplies across the country. The ECC directed that the process should be sped up to ensure that sufficient stocks are available in the market.
 
December 07, 2018 (PR No. 57)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Monetary and Fiscal Policies Coordination Board

Monetary and Fiscal Policies Coordination Board met here Friday to review the current state of Pakistan’s economy. Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired the meeting.

The following areas were reviewed:(i) the fiscal policy;(ii) the external sector and (iii) the recent steps in monetary policy.

While reviewing fiscal policy, the Board noted that fiscal deficit for the first quarter of FY19 turned out to be 1.4 percent of GDP. The Board appreciated the authorities adjustment plan for fiscal consolidation. The impact of fiscal consolidation measures implemented in the recent months would be visible from the second quarter of the current financial year. This consolidation is an important element of the homegrown adjustment plan and will play an integral part for ensuring economic stability. The need for continued effort to ensure revenue generation and expenditure controls was emphasized in the meeting. As far as the financing of the fiscal deficit is concerned, the Board discussed the inflationary and monetary impact of reliance on SBP financing during the current financial year.  The fiscal authorities explained that the financing mix is expected to record a substantial improvement as most of the external financing would be realized from January, 2019 onwards, which will result in lesser reliance on banking sector borrowing.

Turning to the external sector the Coordination Board was apprised that current account is visibly responding to the measures taken since Jan 2018.  In the first four months, of current financial year, non-oil imports witnessed a decline of 4% compared to high growth of 25% over the same period last year.  Remittances have recorded a substantial growth in FY19, while exports have shown growth of 4%. On the exchange rate front, the Board discussed the recent volatility in the PKR parity. The Board is of the view that the present developments are mainly explained by market demand-supply gap of dollar liquidity on the one hand and more underlying structural impediments on the other. In principal the parity should be at their competitive-enhancing levels. Accordingly, after the latest adjustments, it is now more reflective of economy’s medium-term needs and market conditions. The Board also anticipates that the short-term conditions on the exchange rate front are likely to normalize. Particularly, availability of deferred oil facilities and the recent decline in the international oil prices is expected to reduce pressures in the Pakistan foreign exchange market in the near-term. Moreover, the bilateral flows would close the financing gap for FY19. These positive developments will build FX reserves in the coming months.

On recent changes in monetary policy, the Board was of the view that the stance is appropriate at current levels given the projections for inflation in FY19 and FY20. The real interest rates are significantly positive and would help manage aggregate demand and reduce output gap closer to sustainable levels. Going forward, the Board expects that the Monetary Policy Committee would continue to make data-driven decisions based on macroeconomic fundamentals.

The Coordination Board appreciated the authorities’ proposed adjustment plan to bring the current account to its norms soon, while adjusting fiscal deficit gradually to a sustainable level.  The authorities explained that they are focused on a growth model based on export promotion, productivity gains and structured institutional governance. The Board advised authorities to be more forthcoming with the stakeholders to explain the homegrown adjustment plan, which seems to be effectively working for the stabilization of the economy.
 
December 06, 2018 (PR No. 56)

Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) launching ceremony held

Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) launching ceremony was held here. PEFA, it may be added is a tool for assessing the status of public financial management. 

Mr. Kamran Ali Afzal, Additional Secretary, External Finance on the occasion warmly welcomed the World Bank (WB) and DFID team who graced the occasion. He said that Government recognizes the importance of sound financial management including budgets and expenditure and enjoys an enhanced level of responsibility for accountability. Therefore, PEFA assessment is very much in line with the reform agenda of government, and that the findings and recommendations coming out PEFA assessment will be received well. Ministry of Finance will consider recommendations for improvement of public financial management. Other Government functionaries that are assessed by PEFA will also be pleased being assessed by professionals on a worldwide accepted framework. Mr Afzal added that Mr. Javed Iqbal Khan, Joint Secretary Budget Implementation has been nominated as Lead Focal Person by Finance Ministry for coordination.

Mr. Shabih Ali Mohib, Program Leader World Bank, reciprocated the welcoming gesture which was followed by a detailed presentation by Mr. John Ogallo, senior financial management specialist. Mr. Ogallo provided an overview of the PEFA methodology and identified the period, Fiscal Years 2015/16 – 2017/18, which the report will cover. The PEFA is being led by the World Bank with support from the EU and DFID.  This will be the first PEFA conducted at the Federal level and in the Provinces of Punjab and Sindh since 2012 the report is scheduled to be completed during 2019. The assessment identifies strengths and weaknesses within PFM systems allowing for reform efforts to be better targeted.

 
December 05, 2018 (PR No. 55)

Finance Minister chaired the meetings with SECP and SBP

Finance Minister Asad Umar here on Wednesday chaired focused meetings with SECP and SBP to review progress made by the regulators on FATF Action Plan.
 
The meeting was attended by Executive Directors from SBP and SECP, DG-FMU, Legal Adviser-FMU and other senior officials.

During the meeting, SBP and SECP gave a detailed presentation on the progress on actions taken by them towards implementation of FATF Action Plan. The Finance Minister desired ensure that the internal action plans with specific timelines on implementation of FATF Action Plan should be put in place immediately and shared with FMU so that all FATF Action Plan items are completed within the agreed time lines. 

The Finance Minister also asked them to not only complete actions due in January 2019 but also focus on actions due in May and September 2019 as they would be required to update FATF on work being done to meet those timelines.

The Finance Minister over the last three days held series of meetings with different stakeholders including provincial governments institutions concerned, LEAs, SECP, SBP, NACTA, FIA, FBR, FMU, and other institutions reviewing progress in regard to work undertaken by them on FATF action plan. The meetings concluded today.
 
December 04, 2018 (PR No. 54)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC)

The meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet was held here Tuesday. Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired the meeting. 

On a proposal of Ministry of Commerce, relating to export of sugar, the ECC approved waiving off of the condition related to start of crushing on 15th of November. The Committee observed that the matter relating to freight support etc for exports fall in the domain of the respective provincial governments. With regard to the outstanding claims for the previous years, the committee directed Finance Division to release the budgeted amounts.  

ECC allowed allocation of up to 30 MMCFD gas from Zafir field, distt Sanghar, to M/s Sui Southern Gas Company Ltd (SSGCL).

ECC also considered proposal from Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) for allocation of 66 MMCFD Mari Deep Gas to MPCL and approved the same. The Committee sought further proposals on the utilization of the gas for power generation or production of fertilizer.  
               
ECC recommended to the Cabinet a case for supplementary grant of Rs. 1.80 billion for agriculture tube well subsidy as proposed by Ministry of Energy (Power Division).

The ECC discussed a report submitted by Ministry of Industries & Production on measures to ensure availability of Urea fertilizer in the country and the possible impact on the price of urea owing to use of RLNG due to shortage of system gas in winter.

The Committee in the end expressed its deep appreciation for the Power Division for having initiated a  successful drive for reduction of losses  and improvement of recoveries.

 
December 04, 2018 (PR No. 53)

KCCI delegation met with Finance Minister

Finance Minister, Asad Umar had a meeting with the delegation of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) here on Tuesday. Federal Minister for Petroleum, Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Minister of state for Revenue, Hammad Azhar were also present on the occasion.

The delegation shared with the Minister their concern that supply of gas to different industries in the metropolis might suffer interruption as they had been served notices regarding gas load management for next three months. They also had discussion with the Finance Minister on their tax related issues.
Minister for Petroleum assured that the delegation’s concern on disruption of gas will be duly addressed. 

Finance Minister Asad Umar said the Government has a deep resolve to facilitate the business community and simplification of tax procedures was one of them. He said the tax related matters as highlighted by the KCCI delegation would be accorded due consideration by FBR in the light of relevant rules and resolved to the extent possible.
 
November 30, 2018 (PR No. 52)

Petroleum Prices for the month of December 2018

The government has decided to reduce the prices of petroleum products by Rs.2 per litre, each for Petrol and Diesel. The prices of Kerosene and LDO will be reduced by Rs. 3 & Rs.5 per litre respectively. Prices for the month of December shall therefore be as under:

Product

New Price per litre (Rs)

Ms 92 RON

95.83

HSD

110.94

Kerosene Oil

83.50

LDO

77.44


These prices shall be applicable from 1st of December 2018 to 31st December 2018.

It may be added that OGRA works out the petroleum prices for a month on the basis of the prices of cargoes purchased for that particular month. The prices for December 2018 are accordingly based on the purchases made during the period from 10 October to 12 November, 2018. The average price of these cargoes remained $76.68/BBL for Petrol and $86.61 for HSD.
 
The government has substantially reduced the taxes/levies on petroleum products during the period September- November, 2018. During the month of November sales tax on MS Petrol and HS Diesel was 4.5% and 12% respectively, compared to 15% and 27.5% in May 2018, which means a reduction of 10.5% and 15.5% respectively. Similarly petroleum levy on MS Petrol and HS Diesel which was Rs.10 and Rs.8 per liter in May has been reduced to Rs.6.15 and Rs.6.51 respectively.  

The international prices of crude oil are on a declining trajectory. The government intends to provide relief to the consumers in the determination of final consumer prices, while keeping in view the revenue requirements.
 
November 30, 2018 (PR No. 51)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC)

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) here Friday.

ECC approved the proposal of Ministry of National Food Security and Research for provision of 40,000 metric tons of wheat to Afghanistan as a gift. 

ECC also considered and approved a proposal from the Finance Division for provision of funds amounting to US$ 82.6 million as grant to Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPA) for disbursement to 320,000 BISP beneficiaries, helping them graduate out of poverty. It may be added that Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) had devised the “National Poverty Graduation Programme” (NPGP). The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) agreed to provide a loan amounting to US $82.6 million to Government of Pakistan for NPGP on concessional rates.  A Project Financing Agreement with IFAD in this regard was also signed. As per agreement, Government shall make the loan proceeds available as grant of PPAF for poverty graduation of BISP beneficiaries.

ECC was also given a detailed briefing on various matters pertaining to the sugar industry.
 
November 29, 2018 (PR No. 50)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Monetary & Fiscal Policies Co-ordination Board

Finance Minister Asad Umar has said the Government is committed to improving the fundamentals of economy and achieving sustainable and balanced economic growth.

The Minister stated this while chairing meeting of the Monetary and Fiscal Policies Co-ordination Board here on Thursday.

Secretary Finance gave a detailed presentation to the meeting on the economic and fiscal situation. The meeting was informed that external balance has improved in the first four months of current fiscal year as current account contracted by 4.6 percent due to significant increase in worker’s remittances, containment in imports and increase in export growth. Fiscal consolidation remained a challenge during the first quarter as fiscal deficit increased to 1.4 percent as compared to 1.2 percent of the comparable period last year. FBR revenue continued to increase by 6.4 percent and if gains traction it may bridge up the fiscal deficit going forward. Headline inflation is increasing on the back of non food inflation above 8 percent, whereas, food inflation is rising moderately by 2.7 percent on account of smooth supply of commodities in the market and better price monitoring system.

The Secretary also briefed the meeting about the economic reforms which the Economic Advisory Council has approved. The meeting also discussed the export credit facility offered by Saudi Arabia envisaging the purchase of crude oil and or other petroleum product (s) of up to USD 3.24 billion per annum on a 12 month deferred payment basis.

Governor State Bank discussed monetary aggregates along with views on the economy. Broad money (M2) witnessed a rise of Rs.35 billion from July 2018 to 16th November 2018 as compared to decrease of Rs.67 billion in the same period last year which is entirely contributed by Net Domestic Assets (NDA) of the banking system as Net Foreign Assets (NFA) continued to contract. Despite rising interest rate overall private sector credit remained higher than last year. The government borrowed Rs.2,859 billion from SBP but on the other hand retired Rs.2,619 billion to scheduled banks. While, net government borrowing from the banking system reached Rs.186.5 billion compared to Rs.383.5 billion over the previous year. The private sector credit increased to Rs.304 billion during the period as compared to Rs.69 billion last year. Expansion is seen largely in working capital followed by fixed investments.

Giving his concluding remarks, Finance Minister said that the decline in LSM sector needed to be studied by disaggregating the data so that appropriate measures could be taken to address the same. He also directed Finance Division to earnestly complete integrated policy paper focusing on economic strategy over the medium term.

The meeting was also attended by the Minister for Planning Development and Reforms, Governor SBP, Finance Secretary, Secretary Commerce, and Vice Chancellor PIDE.
 
November 27, 2018 (PR No. 49)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC)

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) here on Tuesday.

ECC was given a presentation by Secretary Petroleum Division on Winter Gas Load Management Plan. ECC decided that there will be no gas load shedding this winter. ECC allowed SNGPL to utilize RLNG in the system for consumption by domestic and commercial consumers, to manage the load. The gas utilities will be allowed volumetric adjustment and financial impact on cost neutral basis in accordance with the ECC’s decision of 11th May 2018. The ECC also decided that the recent increase in gas prices will not be applicable for Roti Tandoors, and they will continue to pay their gas bills on the previously applicable rates. The decision has been taken in view of the concerns that the increase in gas prices was leading to increase in the prices of tandoori roti and naan. 

ECC also approved government guarantee to National Power Parks Management Company (Pvt) Ltd (NPPMCL) to raise loan of Rs. 38.00 billion from financial institutions to meet remaining cost of its two power plants.

ECC gave approval in principal to Ministry of Energy (Power Division) to raise Islamic financing for the power sector through Power Holding (Pvt) Limited.
 
November 22, 2018 (PR No. 48)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC)

The meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) was held here Thursday. Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired the meeting.

ECC in consideration of the proposal from Ministry of Industries and Production approved a grant of Rs. 1,066.078 million for payment of outstanding dues (provident fund, gratuity and payroll dues) to families of deceased employees of Pakistan Steel Mills.

ECC discussed the proposal submitted by Ministry of Commerce & Textile to allow import of cotton from Afghanistan/Central Asian states via the land route through the Torkham Border. The Committee accorded approval for the import with the condition that all sanitary and phytosanitary regulations shall be abided. ECC also directed the relevant ministries to engage with the industry for establishment of a permanent quarantine facility for cotton imported through land route. 

Secretary Ministry of National Food Security shared with the meeting a report on value chain of sugar. The ECC took note of the issue of pending payments to sugarcane growers as well as difficulties faced by the millers in view of surplus stocks, possibility of their export and redressal of liquidity issues. The Committee directed Minister of National Food Security and Adviser Industries to hold meeting with the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA), and resolve these issues.

ECC accorded approval for sale of 200,000 tons of wheat from the surplus stocks available with PASSCO to Poultry Association of Pakistan (PPA).

ECC also had deliberations on the proposed plan of Ministry of Energy for gas load management during winter season and decided to have further discussions in the matter at the next meeting to finalize the plan.

 
November 20, 2018 (PR No. 47)

Finance Minister chaired the concluding session with IMF Mission

An IMF mission, led by Mr. Harald Finger, visited Pakistan from 7thto 20th November 2018.

During this period, extensive talks were held between key ministries of the Government of Pakistan, including the Ministries of Finance, Planning, Development & Reform, and Energy, the State Bank of Pakistan, and the IMF Mission. These discussions covered all sectors of the economy. Members of Parliament and provincial finance ministries also exchanged views with the Mission.

The Federal Minister for Finance, Mr. Asad Umar, chaired the concluding session with Mission today.
Substantive progress has been made by the Government of Pakistan and the IMF Mission towards developing a common understanding on the policy and structural reforms framework for the prospective IMF programme, including fiscal and monetary measures, corrective interventions for balance of payments sustainability, pro-poor spending, governance and development of a business-friendly environment.

The positive engagement with the IMF will continue over the coming weeks to finalise the programme with the Fund.

The Government of Pakistan acknowledges and appreciates the support that the Fund is providing in achieving the Government’s broad-based development agenda aimed at enhancing the social and economic wellbeing of the people of Pakistan.
 
November 20, 2018 (PR No. 46)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)

The meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) was held here on Tuesday. Finance Minister Asad Umar Chaired the meeting.

ECC discussed the proposal submitted by the Ministry of National Food Security & Research regarding export of surplus wheat/products as requested by   Provincial Governments of Punjab and Sindh and PASSCO.

The Committee granted approval for export of 0.5 million tons of wheat by PASSCO and both provincial governments. It was decided that any financial support for freight etc. requested for the purpose will be provided by the respective provincial governments. Federal Government will pick up such costs in the case of PASSCO only.

Further, a committee comprising senior officials from Commerce, Finance and Food Security will review the situation in two week’s time and make recommendation for further exports, if required.

 
November 17, 2018 (PR No. 45)

Finance Minister urged EAC sub-groups to expedite recommendations

Finance Minister, Mr. Asad Umar, chaired a meeting on Economic Advisory Council’s (EAC) Sub-Groups on “National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS)” and “Fiscal Sector” here at the Ministry of Finance. Meeting was attended by all major stakeholders/ members of the sub-group from Ministry of Finance, State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue and Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Mr. Tariq Bajwa, presented National Financial Inclusion Strategy to improve quality and increase access to financial services in Pakistan. He outlined targets and necessitating policy actions to be taken at various levels in coming years to achieve the targets. Discussion revolved around fast-tracking the digitization of financial services to reach out larger number of consumers, small and medium business and newly emerging entrepreneurs throughout country. Finance Minister appreciated the Financial Inclusion Strategy and emphasized on diligently time-lining the goals, targets and actions to be taken, and cautioned against delaying the implementation process of the strategy.

In the Fiscal policy sub-group meeting, FBR representatives made a presentation on the problems currently ailing tax administration system in Pakistan, and ad-hoc-ism of tax policy; it was noted that these issues consequently lead to lowtax collection contributing to massive fiscal imbalances. The Sub-groups also considered solutions to fix crippling tax system of Pakistan by recommending policy measures targeting two major areas, tax administration and tax policy. It was noted that Information Technology held greater promise in getting more and more people into tax net, and spotting tax-avoiders. Also coherent and continuous coordination among provinces and between federal government and provincial governments is of paramount importance in avoiding incidence of double-taxation. Finance Minister appreciated the work done by the groups which was assisted by the Senior FBR officers and directed for setting timelines to various administrative and policy reforms suggested so that the huge fiscal burden facing our economy is reduced to minimal possible level and the government gets much needed fiscal space. Meanwhile during the meeting Chairman FBR informed the Minister that to uphold the spirit of transparency and easing the relations between the tax payers and FBR, the Board is starting an awareness campaign to let the people know how their tax money is being utilized.
 
November 16, 2018 (PR No. 44)

Finance Minister met with the delegation of Pakistan Britain, Scotland Business Councils

Finance Minister, Asad Umar received a delegation of Pakistan Britain Business Council (PBBC) and its sister organization, Pakistan Scotland Business Council (PSBC) led by Mr. Julian Hamilton Barns and Mr. Rashid Iqbal here Friday.

The delegation briefed the Minister about the Councils’ plans for investment and financing different projects in Pakistan including health, financial sector and other areas. The delegation especially shared with the Minister the proposal regarding establishment of a network of hospitals across Pakistan aimed at providing quality healthcare to the people. The Council could muster financial support from Pakistani diaspora, international financiers, philanthropists and other financing institutions towards this end, the delegation said. The delegation also apprised the Minister about the Councils' interaction with the Pakistan diaspora in UK and in other countries and said they were especially keen to invest in Pakistan.

Finance Minister welcomed the initiative by the Councils and assured of all possible support from the government. He asked the delegation for a formal proposal in this regard which could serve as the basis for developing future cooperation. He said the present government highly appreciated such initiatives and had a resolve to facilitate international investors in every possible manner.

Meanwhile the Finance Minister also met a delegation of the FPCCI, KP led by Mr. Ghazanfar Bilour.

The delegation discussed with the Minister the overall business environment in KP and matters relating to enhancing of exports to Afghanistan.
 
November 14, 2018 (PR No. 43)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC)

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) here on Wednesday.

The meeting approved development projects in various areas of the country.

ECNEC discussed and accorded approval of the project for evacuation of power from hydro power projects of Suki Kinari, distt Mansehra in KP, Kohala distt. Muzaffarabad and Mahal, distt. Bagh in AJK at a cost of Rs.79,929.73 million. The main objective of the project is construction of 500 kV transmission network to provide interconnection facilities for evacuation of electricity from the above mentioned projects being constructed under CPEC. 

ECNEC discussed and approved Sind Solar Energy Project (SSEP) at a cost of Rs. 12,848.11 million. The project aims to support the scale up of solar power in Sindh province and increase access to electricity. The project will also improve energy security and fulfill Pakistan’s international commitments on climate change.

ECNEC also directed the Power Division to come up with a report covering all facets relating to power production, its effective evacuation/transmission and distribution. The report ECNEC observed would help set a direction for undertaking power projects in future.

The meeting approved rehabilitation project of Dargai hydroelectric power station, Malakand, KP at a cost Rs. 4,050.364 million. Completion of the project will help enhance the capacity of the power station to 22 MW.

The meeting considered proposal from the Ministry of Water Resources to include Tangir Hydropower in the Diamer Basha Dam project and approved the revised cost of the project at Rs. 479.686 billion.

The meeting discussed and approved Baluchistan Water Resource Development Project (Zhob and Mula river basins) at a cost of Rs. 16,453.40 million. The project will benefit districts of Muslim Bagh, Qila Saifullah, Zhob, Khuzdar, Jhal Magsi and part of Kalat in the Baluchistan province.

ECNEC was updated on the Peshawar Sustainable Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Project. The Committee was informed about the expansion in scope of work and other issues necessitating revision in project cost.Taking into account the facts, ECNEC approved the revised cost of the project at Rs. 66.437 billion with June 2019 as stipulated date of completion of project. The Provincial Govt. informed that a soft opening of the project will be held in March 2019. The project envisages construction of 27.373 km long dedicated signal free BRT corridor, out of which 11.85 km will be at grade, 12.266 km elevated and 3.254 km through underpasses.  In addition to the main BRT corridor, additional elevated structures having total length of 2.18 km will also be constructed.
 
November 13, 2018 (PR No. 42)

Finance Minister held a meeting with the visiting IMF mission

The Finance Minister Asad Umar held a meeting with the visiting IMF mission led by Mr. Harald Finger here Tuesday. 

The Mission leader shared his initial assessment with the Finance Minister on various sectors of the economy, following the delegation's interaction with officials of relevant ministries and entities.
 
The Finance Minister shared with the delegation, PTI government’s vision on economy. He referred to the corrective measures being taken to remove imbalances in the economy and said that the new government had come to power with an agenda of wide ranging reforms. He said that the Government has a strong resolve for implementing deep structural and institutional reforms. It is committed to safeguarding the poor and vulnerable segments of the society and shall  invest more in social protection, human development and creating employment opportunities, The Minister added. Along-with structural and governance reforms, revival of domestic industry and export sector are high priorities of the Government. He said Pakistan looked forward to receiving IMF support for government’s efforts aimed at achieving an economic turnaround.

The Mission will continue its discussions with the relevant authorities during the next several days.

 
November 12, 2018 (PR No. 41)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECC

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet here Monday.

 The Secretary Petroleum Division briefed the ECC about the gas supply situation on SSGCL network. The ECC was informed that the supply of gas to zero rated industry (process + captive)under SSGCL system, covering Sindh and Baluchistan provinces would continue during the winter season, in accordance with recently approved gas supply priority for this sector. The ECC directed the SSGCL management to withdraw the gas load management notices issued to these industries. Likewise there would be no gas load management for domestic consumers.      

On another proposal of the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division), the ECC approved provision of 12 MMCFD gas to SNGPL from Dhok Hussain gas field and also accorded approval for provision of 10 MMCFD gas to SSGCL from Bitrism gas field. 

The ECC considered and approved the proposal of the Ministry of Energy (Power Division), for raising fresh financing of Rs. 35.806 billion through a syndicate of banks for PHPL. 

Chairman PIAC briefed the meeting about current operational and financial position of the organisation. The ECC directed the management to improve the business model of the company and to devise a strategic plan for solution to its financial and administrative problems on long term basis. The Committee approved the proposal for issuance of government guarantees of raising Rs. 17.022 billion for the immediate requirements of PIAC. 

Secretary Ministry of Maritime Affairs briefed the meeting regarding the working of the LNG terminals at Port Qasim and the associated administrative and financial issues. The ECC directed that the Ministries of Maritime Affairs and Petroleum should work closely to assess the requirements for setting up of new gas terminals and other necessary details in this regard.
 
November 07, 2018 (PR No. 40)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECC

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) here Wednesday.

The ECC considered the proposals of Ministry of National Food Security & Research regarding the support /procurement price of wheat for the crop 2018-19 and decided to maintain the wheat support price at the current level of Rs.1300/- per 40 KG. It was noted that the wheat prices in the international market were considerably lower and the government of Pakistan was incurring a huge expenditure in the wheat procurement process, to protect the interests of the farmers.   

The ECC approved the proposal of the Privatization Division for disbursement of Rs. 367 million as one month’s salary (September 2018) to the employees of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). The ECC also directed the Ministry of Industries to take immediate action for disbursement of outstanding dues to widows of PSM's deceased employees which have been pending for the last almost four years.  ECC also directed that since PSM had been excluded from the privatization list, the Ministry of Industries and Production should on priority, submit a detailed proposal to the ECC for PSM's operationalization. 

On another proposal from the Ministry of National Food Security, the ECC allowed import of 50,000 tons of urea fertilizer to meet requirements of farmers in Rabi season 2018-19. The Committee also authrorized the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce & Industries to allow import of an additional quantity of 50,000 tons, if required. Further, the ECC also directed that fertilizer plants may be kept fully operational for whole of Rabi season for adequate production of urea and prevent its shortage. The ECC maintained that no undue increase in prices of urea will be tolerated on the pretext of increase in gas prices.

ECC also approved proposal of the Ministry of Food Security, for enhancing Pakistan’s share of wheat for the SAARC Food Bank Reserve from 40,000 tons to 80,000 tons, adjusting it in the existing quantum of one million metric tons of national strategic reserves assigned to PASSCO. 
         
 The Chairman FBR briefed the meeting on  tax collection from the sugar industry. He suggested that a revised mechanism be put in place to ensure that the full amount of due taxes are recovered from the industry. The ECC directed FBR to place the matter before the Cabinet after consulting the stakeholders within one week.

The ECC directed the Power Division to actively engage with companies / entities concerned to facilitate clearance of PSO’s outstanding receivables (over Rs. 300 billion) as early as possible to guard against any risk of disruption in supply chain of petroleum products and energy supply.

 
November 06, 2018 (PR No. 39)

Pakistan Prime Minister's visit to China from 2nd to 5th November, 2018

Pakistan Prime Minister’s visit to China from 2nd to 5th November, 2018 has moved the overall economic relationship between the two friendly countries to the next level. During the visit several avenues of mutually beneficial collaboration were identified and a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) were signed between the two sides in the sphere of economic cooperation. These included agreements in the area of socio-economic development, poverty alleviation, agriculture, economic and technical cooperation, forestry, earth sciences, higher education and technology.

The two sides noted with satisfaction that CPEC’s first stage, which comprised of infrastructure and energy sector improvements, has almost been completed. It was decided that the next stage of CPEC will focus on industrial expansion, agricultural revitalization and trade integration of the two economies. This phase will help the Government of Pakistan in achieving its objectives of job creation and export growth.

The two sides also held discussions on immediate market access for Pakistan’s exports as well as balance of payments support. The top Chinese leadership expressed their strong support and a Task Force was established by both sides to discuss the matters further. In this connection, a senior level delegation comprising of Federal Secretaries of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Planning & Development and Commerce along with the Governor, State Bank of Pakistan will undertake a visit to China during the current week to work out the modalities with the Chinese authorities in their respective areas.

 
October 31, 2018 (PR No. 38)

Petroleum Prices for the month of November 2018

The Government has decided to absorb the substantial impact of increase in the prices of petroleum products and only partially pass on the increase to the consumers for the month of November. The decision has been taken to minimize the burden on the public at large.
         
Based on the international prices, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), had worked out an increase of Rs. 9.02 per litre in the price of MS (Petrol). However, an increase of Rs. 5.0 only has been allowed by the Government. Likewise as against the recommended increase of Rs. 13.22 per liter in the price of High Speed Diesel (HSD), an increase of Rs. 6.37 has been approved.  For Kerosene Oil (SKO) the recommended increase was Rs 6.47 per litre but the Government allowed an increase of Rs.3.0 per litre only. As for Light Diesel Oil (LDO), the recommended increase of Rs.6.48 has been approved as the tax/levy on this product is already quite negligible.

          The prices for the month of November 2018 are as under:
         
         

Product

New Prices  w.e.f.
1-11-2018

MS (Petrol)

97.83

High Speed Diesel

112.94

Kerosene (SKO)

86.50

Light Diesel Oil

82.44


The prices shall be applicable from 1st of November to 30th November 2018.
 
October 31, 2018 (PR No. 37)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Fiscal Coordination Committee (FCC)

Finance Minister Asad Umar chaired the meeting of Fiscal Coordination Committee (FCC) here Wednesday.

Chief Minister of Sindh and Finance Ministers/senior officials of Punjab, KP and Baluchistan attended the meeting.

The meeting reviewed the bi-annual implementation of the NFC Award for the period July-December, 2016, January-June, 2017 and July-December, 2017. The reports were approved for presentation to the Parliament and Provincial Assemblies.

The meeting was briefed by the Ministry of