Press Releases/Media
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August 09, 2017 (PR No. 2207)

Ambassador of Afghanistan called on Finance Minister

Ambassador of Afghanistan Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal called on Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday.
They discussed various issues of mutual interest, including current state of Pak-Afghan bilateral relations specially in the context of economic cooperation. 

Finance Minister said that enhanced economic cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan would not only benefit the two countries, but  also boost regional cooperation and trade. He said Pakistan wanted to see peace and economic progress in Afghanistan which would  open many other avenues of mutual cooperation. 

The Afghan Ambassador stated that the next session of Pak-Afghan Joint Economic Commission (JEC) was due and proposed that the the same may be held in Kabul in September. 

Finance Minister welcomed the proposal and stated that mutually convenient dates be decided to hold the session during the next month.  He added that the JEC meeting would provide an opportunity to discuss  measures for furthering the cause of economic cooperation between the two countries. He said that the Economic Affairs Division would liaise with the Embassy of Afghanistan to work out details in this regard.

 
August 09, 2017 (PR No. 2206)

Air Chief Marshal called on Finance Minister

Chief of the Air Staff,  Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman called on Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday.

The Air Chief briefed the Minister about ongoing and future development projects of Pakistan Air Force and other related financial matters.

Finance Minister on the occasion appreciated the different development schemes being undertaken by the PAF to enhance its operational capability. He made particular mention of PAF’s important role in the Operation Zarb e Azb, to eliminate the menace of terrorism.

The minister assured the Air Chief that fulfilling defence requirements is the top priority of the PML-N Government. He said the government acknowledges the services rendered by the Air Force for the country and would continue to make sure that all their financial requirements are catered for.
The meeting was also attended Secretary Finance and other sernior officials. 

 
August 08, 2017 (PR No. 2205)

Finance Minister chaired Sales Tax refund ceremony at FBR

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Tuesday presided over a ceremony of payment of sales tax refunds at FBR. The ceremony was also attended by Mr. Zubair Tufail, President, FPCCI and other representatives of chambers and trade bodies. FBR Chairman, Members of FBR and other tax officers were also present.

It was announced by the Finance Minister in the budget speech for the year 2017-18 that taxpayers’ long outstanding demand for payment of refunds will be addressed soon and the sales tax refunds against refund payment orders (RPOs) issued up to 30th April, 2017, shall be paid in two stages. Firstly, payments against RPOs involving amount up to Rs. 1 million were to be paid by 15th July, 2017; and in the second stage refund against RPOs of amount more than Rs. 1 million were to be paid by 14th August, 2017.

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar said that the PML (N) government has been sensitive to the issues faced by the business community arising from stuck up refunds.

The Minister said that refund payments up to Rs 1 million were paid on 15th July, 2017 whereas payments against RPOs exceeding  Rs. 1 million are being issued today,  well before the date earlier announced.  He added that total refund including refund issued in the first phase come out to Rs 26.43 billion covering 10,439 RPOs.

Minister Dar said that these refund payments would not only cover exporters but all other claimants in all sectors of economy. This would resolve liquidity problems that the taxpayers are facing. He said that to fulfill the commitment FBR is forwarding electronic payment advice to State Bank of Pakistan.

It may be added that first time refund payments were made through direct electronic transfer to claimants’ bank accounts through State Bank in November 2016. Since Nov, 2016, sales tax refund has been credited directly into the account of the taxpayers within 24 hours.  State Bank of Pakistan has again been directed to make arrangements in this regard so that the amount of refund should be credited directly into the account of the taxpayers within 24 hours.

 The Finance Minister emphasized cordiality in FBR-Business Community  relationship saying it was vital for good revenue generation, which in turn is essential for economic growth as envisaged by the present government. The Minister also  urged the business community to play their vital role by investing in new areas, setting up industry and paying taxes to enhancing the pace of development in the country.

 The Minister along with Chairman FBR and other invitees pressed the button on the computer keypad marking electronic transfer of refund payments.

 
August 08, 2017 (PR No. 2204)

Finance Minister takes notice of spike in sugar price

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has directed federal secretaries concerned to take up the matter regarding spike in sugar price with provincial governments immediately.

The Finance Minister who is also Chairman of National Price Monitoring Committee, taking serious notice of the media reports regarding sugar price hike said that there are standing instructions from ECC of the Cabinet that stability in price of sugar in domestic market is to be ensured for benefit of the general consumers.

In line with Finance Minister’s instructions, Secretary Ministry of Industries Tuesday evening sent letters to Chief Secretaries of Sindh, Punjab and KP provinces expressing concern of the Federal Government over escalation in price of sugar. The senior officials have been asked to look into the matter on urgent basis and take appropriate corrective measures for ensuring stability in retail price of sugar.

 
August 05, 2017 (PR No. 2203)

Finance Minister announced petroleum prices

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Saturday announced petroleum prices to be effective from 06.08.2017 to 31.08.2017.

The Finance Minister said it has been decided with the approval of the Prime Minister that the price of  Petrol will be decreased by Rs.1.80/ litre and Price of  Diesel will be decreased by Rs. 2.50/ litre. The new prices will be Rs. 69.50/litre for petrol and Rs. 77.40/ liter for diesel (HSD). 

The Finance Minister said that rates of Kerosene Oil and LDO will not be increased even though substantial increase has been recommended in their prices. He said considering the low income consumers using these products it has been decided to maintain their prices at the current level (i.e. Rs. 44 per liter).

The Minister added that the decision to revise the prices for the month of August could not be taken on 31.07.2017 as there was no Federal Cabinet on that date. The prices during the first five days of August, therefore continued at the level prevalent in July 2017.

 
August 05, 2017 (PR No. 2202)

Finance Minister chaired Chief Commissioners Conference at FBR

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a session of Chief Commissioners Conference at Federal Board of Revenue on Saturday to review revenue collection performance of July, 2017. The Minister was briefed that Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has surpassed the budget target assigned for the month of July, 2017.

The Minister commended the performance of FBR on achieving the revenue target of July, 2017, and hoped that the same trend would continue in the coming months and FBR would keep up this performance in the same spirit during the current fiscal year.

The Minister appreciated the decision of assigning monthly, quarterly and annual targets beforehand. He said that this would help better planning by the field formations for achieving revenue targets and would also be the basis for reward and recognition for those who perform.

The Minister emphasized the need for increasing dependence on direct taxes and broadening of tax base. Facilitation of taxpayers should be given top priority to improve tax culture and enhance the confidence and trust of taxpayers, he said.

Minister Dar wished success to the new team and hoped  this visible change and trend would continue in the coming months.

 
July 31, 2017 (PR No. 2201)

Petroleum Products Prices

The spokesman of the Finance Division has said that considering special circumstances, the rates of Petroleum Products would be maintained at the existing level till a decision by the competent authority.

 
July 27, 2017 (PR No. 2200)

Finance Minister's Speech at the Inauguration of the National Workshop on Open Government Partnership (OGP)

Click here to Download Speech

 
July 26, 2017 (PR No. 2199)

Delegation of Open Government Partnership initiative called on Finance Minister

A delegation of the Open Government Partnership initiative led by Mr. Florencio Butch Abad, the Founding Minister of OGP, called on the Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday.

Finance Minister welcomed the guests and said that their visit to the country is an affirmation of the progress being made in Pakistan towards transparency, accountability, participation and technological innovation. He said that Pakistan has come a long way in improving governmental processes since the present government assumed responsibilities four years ago. Since 2013, “We have joined OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters in September last year and it is my sincerest effort that we also join the OECD convention on anti-bribery soon", the Minister said.

Mr. Abad said that Pakistan's economic and financial achievements are being internationally acknowledged. He said that the delegation’s current visit to Pakistan will help in the co-creation of a National Action Plan with civil society. He also said that during the current visit they have realized that Pakistan has made considerable progress in the fiscal openness initiative which is also one of the objectives of the Open Government Partnership. He said that reforms being introduced in financial and administrative matters in Pakistan was praiseworthy and the partnership of government of Pakistan with OGP will prove a historic event in South Asia. 

The Minister informed Mr. Abad that continuing on the tradition of the last three years, the government will launch the next Tax Directory in the current week. The members of the delegation appreciated the bold step taken by the Finance Minister in this regard and hoped that the good tradition set by the present government will continue in future also.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance attended the meeting.

 
July 26, 2017 (PR No. 2198)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECNEC

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) in its meeting chaired by Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar at the Prime Minister’s office on Wednesday approved seven development projects for various areas in the country.

ECNEC considered and approved the Punjab Tourism for Economic Growth Project. The project aims at promotion of religious and domestic tourism by providing infrastructure facilities like wide access roads, tourism facilitation, provision of rest areas and other public convenience facilities along with providing training to tourism related persons in various cities of Punjab. These include, Lahore, Gujranwala, Taxila, Nankana, Sheikhupura, Narowal, Bahawalpur, Chakwal, Mithan Kot etc. The total cost of the Project is Rs.5775 million. 

The CAREC Corridor Development Investment Program was discussed and approved by ECNEC at a cost of Rs. 21,041.00 million. The project aims at dualization and rehabilitation of 208 KMs of three road sections on the N-55 in the provinces of Sindh(Petaro to Sehwan & Ratodero to Shikarpur-dualization work) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Darra Adam Khel to Peshawar-Rehabilitation Work).

The Dualization and Improvement of Sohawa-Chakwal Road project also received ECNEC’s nod of approval. The project which will cost Rs. 7980.475 million envisages improvement of 66.405 Km long existing road to a width of 7.3 Meters (2-lanes carriage way) and construction of additional 7.3 Meters wide road (2-lanes carriageway) to make it dual carriageway besides provision of allied facilities and structures.

After consideration, ECNEC approved the Construction of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Bridge over River Indus (Distts of  Rahim Yar Khan & Rajanpur) with guide banks linking N-5 with N-55 including approach road at a cost of Rs. 9304.160 million.

The  project regarding Extension of Right Bank Outfall Drain from Sehwan to Sea, (RBOD-II), Distts Jamshoro and Thatta, Sindh was also approved by ECNEC at a cost of Rs. 61.985 billion.

ECNEC discussed and approved the Lower Indus Right Bank Irrigation and Drainage Project at a cost of Rs. 17,505.018 million. RBOD-I project is part of master plan with aim to disposing off effluents from the right bank of Sukkhur and Guddu Barrage commands in Sindh.

ECNEC also approved the project of Balochistan Effluent Disposal into RBOD-III (Location: Nasirabad, Jaffarabad, Baluchistan and Jacobabad, Kambir, Shahdad Kot, Sindh) at a cost of Rs.10,804.540 million. The project aims at providing disposal facilities for waterlogged areas in Sindh and Balochistan to increase agricultural production.

 
July 25, 2017 (PR No. 2197)

Finance Minister and US National Security Advisor had a telephonic conversation

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, and US National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond McMaster, had a telephonic conversation Tuesday evening.

The two leaders discussed matters of bilateral interest. Both leaders recalled their meeting in Washington D.C. on 25th April 2017 in which they had held a detailed discussion on working together to take the bilateral relationship further.

General McMaster expressed his condolences to the people and government of Pakistan on the deaths of victims in the suicide blast in Lahore yesterday. He said that the US recognizes the sacrifices of the people and armed forces of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism and extremism.

The Finance Minister said that, under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, fully supported by the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa and all the armed forces, Pakistan is strongly committed to defeating the menace of terrorism. He said that it is Pakistan’s national resolve. He stressed that the civil and military leadership is committed to not allowing Pakistan’s soil to be used against any other country.

In this regard, the Finance Minister also referred to the meeting of General Bajwa with US Commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, on Monday, and said that it was very useful and productive.

 
July 25, 2017 (PR No. 2196)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECC

A meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet was held at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday. The meeting was chaired by the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar.

During the meeting, the ECC considered and approved four proposals of the Ministry of Water and Power for the issuance of new sovereign guarantees by Ministry of Finance in respect of Fresh Syndicated Term Finance Facilities for Power Holding (Private) Limited in order to set off / adjust existing facilities. Ministry of Finance will provide government guarantee for the repayment of loan as well as interest for the fresh facilities. In all four cases, the principal installment payments shall be deferred for a further period of 2 years from the date of execution of the fresh facilities.

The ECC also approved a proposal of the Ministry of Water and Power, regarding an existing Term Finance Facility for Power Holding (Private) Limited, to restructure the facility by extending the tenor of the facility from 7 years to 10 years, including extension in grace period from 3 years to 6 years.

The ECC, after considering and deliberating upon another proposal of the Ministry of Water and Power, approved the Standard Implementation Agreement (IA) for transmission line projects under Policy Framework for Private Sector Transmission Line Projects, 2015. As per the same proposal, the ECC also approved the TSA for HVDC Transmission Project (*660 kV
Matiari-Lahore).

 
July 24, 2017 (PR No. 2195)

Appointment of Mr. Bajwa as Governor SBP - no violation of SBP Act

With reference to the resolution reportedly tabled today in the Senate of Pakistan regarding the appointment of Mr. Tariq Bajwa as Governor State Bank of Pakistan, it is clarified that his appointment is in no way in violation of the SBP Act 1956.  Mr. Bajwa reached his superannuation and retired from civil service on 18th June 2017.  He was appointed as Governor SBP by the President of Pakistan and he took charge of his office on 7th July 2017.   

It would be pertinent to mention here that in addition to economists, bankers, chartered accountants etc. several civil servants after retirement from service have also been appointed as Governor SBP in the past. 

 
July 24, 2017 (PR No. 2194)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on matters related to FBR

Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting on matters related to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), on Monday at FBR Headquarters.

Chairman FBR briefed the Finance Minister on the implementation of budget measures for FY 2017-18. He also apprised the Minister regarding measures being undertaken to further broaden the tax base.

The Finance Minister emphasized the importance of effective budget implementation, in order to ensure that the general public can avail the intended benefits of the budget. He said that further broadening of the tax base will contribute to strong tax revenue collections, which in turn will play an important role in achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

It was decided during the meeting that, in line with the tradition of the last three years, the government will publish the Taxpayers’ Directory of Parliamentarians this year as well. The Finance Minister directed FBR to prepare and submit a Summary for the approval of the Federal Cabinet in this regard, and make arrangements to publish the directory expeditiously after completion of all codal and legal formalities. He highlighted that Pakistan is only the fourth country in the world to publish such a directory, which is proof of the government’s commitment to transparency and good governance.

The Finance Minister remarked that Pakistan’s economy is ready for take-off but, sadly, vested interests, that do not want Pakistan to succeed, are conspiring to halt our nation’s progress. He said that the government and people of Pakistan will continue to strive together for the nation’s progress.
The meeting was also attended by senior officials of FBR and the Ministry of Finance.

 
July 18, 2017 (PR No. 2193)

Secretary General, World Customs Organization (WCO), Kunio Mikuriya called on Finance Minister

Secretary General, World Customs Organization (WCO), Kunio Mikuriya called  on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar at Ministry of Finance on Tuesday.

Welcoming the visiting dignitary, Minister Dar stated that Pakistan had a long standing relationship with the WCO and we would continue to play an active role in further strengthening it. He apprised the Secretary General about the measures being taken to improve and upgrade customs procedures in Pakistan in line with international standards. He also shared with him steps being taken for facilitation of border / regional trade and said that regional integration was a priority of the government. He said Pakistan fully supported all measures for enhancing regional connectivity and cooperation and, promotion of  regional trade was a major area in this regard. Referring to CASA 1000, TAPI and the Integrated Transit and Trade Management System Projects, he said that these initiatives would further integrate the Pakistan economy with the region. 

Minister Dar shared with the visiting diginitary an overview of Pakistan's economy and said that having achieved macroeconomic stability, the government was now fully focused on higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. He also shared with the Secretary General government's efforts for improving the ease of doing business through trade and investment facilitation.

Secrtery General WCO, Kunio Mikuriya stated that Pakistan's active participation in the WCO was highly appreciated. He suggested that Pakistan should post permanent representative at the WCO headquarter to further augument this participation.

The Secretary General said that the improvement in system of Customs in Pakistan in the recent years was very visible and impressive . He said his organization would like to enhance cooperation with Pakistan especially in the areas of capacity building and further improvement of the systems in line with WCO guidelines.

Both sides expressed agreement on having greater Pak-World Customs Organization cooperation and linkages in the future.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, Haroon Akhtar Khan, Chairman FBR, Tariq Mahmood Pasha,   senior officials of Ministry of Finance attended the meeting.

 
July 18, 2017 (PR No. 2192)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECC

The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet, in its meeting chaired by the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday, approved the export of 0.3 million tons of sugar, in addition to the export quantity already approved. The decision has been taken keeping in view the recommendations of the Inter Ministerial Committee, constituted by the Prime Minister, and the Sugar Advisory Board. The export quota would be approved and monitored by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on first come first serve basis.

The ECC also approved a proposal of the Ministry of Industries and Production to grant exemption from value added tax as required under a provision of a proposed agreement between the Government of Pakistan and the Government of Belarus on Industrial, Scientific and Technical Cooperation. Once the agreement is signed, both governments will mutually exempt value added tax when importing goods supplied on cooperation base, as well as goods supplied under grant-in-aid.

 
July 17, 2017 (PR No. 2191)

EU Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain called on Finance Minister

EU Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain called on Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar at the Ministry of Finance on Monday.

EU Ambassador and Minister Dar had exchange of views on Pak-EU economic cooperation, especially in the context of important agreements currently under discussion between the two sides. The Ambassador informed the Minister of the EU's intention of supporting nutrition in Sindh and apprised him of the discussions held with federal and provincial governments in this regard. He also stated that EU was willing to support the Election Commission of Pakistan in implementing electoral reforms.

The Minister appreciated the offer of cooperation and said that the Ministry of Finance would extend all possible cooperation in this regard. He informed the Ambassador that the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms had carried out extensive work with the aim of improving and consolidating various election related laws into a single law. The Committee was represented by all the Parliamentary parties and had been able to develop consensus on most of the issues. He said that the work of the Committee was in final stages and once approved the new legislation would mark a major improvement in the election process in the country. The new reforms will make the election process much more transparent.  

Finance Minister deeply appreciated the continued support that EU has extended to Pakistan in various areas. He assured all out support to Mr. Jean-Cautain in his endeavours for enhancing Pak-EU economic partnership.

The EU ambassador thanked the Minister for supporting the initiatives of the EU mission in Pakistan for enhancing the mutual relationship.

 
July 15, 2017 (PR No. 2190)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of Monetary and Fiscal Policies Coordination Board

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired meeting of the Monetary and Fiscal Policies Coordination Board at the Ministry of Finance on Saturday. 

In his opening remarks, the Minister stated that the macroeconomic indicators are showing a positive trend. GDP has grown this year by 5.3% which is a 10-year high. Foreign exchange reserves are at a comfortable level, tax revenues have increased by 74% over the last four years, credit to private sector has increased by over five times, gas availability has improved, and load-shedding for industry has been eliminated and substantially reduced for commercial and domestic sector.

For the first time the size of the economy has surpassed $300 billion. On average, income of each Pakistani has increased by 22% since fiscal year 2012-13. Per capita income today stands at $1,629 as compared to $1,334 four years ago. Inflation was on average 12% between 2008-13.  The inflation has been contained at 4.16% much below the target of 6%. Policy rate of SBP has come down from 9.5% in June 2013 to the current 45 year low of 5.75%.

As per the party manifesto of PML (N), Pakistan has successfully completed its reform programme. During this period difficult key structural reforms in the country have been implemented. Completion of the programme has strengthened confidence of the international community in government’s economic agenda. The government has put the country on the path of sustainable growth which is being internationally recognized and reflected in the improved ratings by all major rating agencies including Moody’s, S&P and Fitch.

Recently, researchers at the Center of International Development (CID) at the Harvard University have predicted that Pakistan's annual growth rate over the next 10 years would be nearly 6 percent. This is a one point GDP growth rate increase compared to their earlier projections whereby Pakistan GDP growth rate was set to grow at 5 percent by 2025.

The Minister also remarked that sharp deterioration of PKR – US exchange rate in the interbank market led to speculation and anxiety in the foreign exchange market. However, due to prompt action by the SBP resulted in stabilization and averted the high risk of speculation.

Finance Secretary briefed the meeting on economic situation. The GDP growth of the outgoing fiscal year 2017 recorded at 5.3 percent is the highest in ten years. The impressive growth was on account of growth in services and agriculture sector. The turnaround in agriculture growth was due to government's supportive policies and high credit disbursements. The growth momentum in LSM continued, mainly supported by better energy supplies; lower commodity prices; and accommodative economic policies. The sector recorded an impressive growth of 9.7 percent in April 2017 as compared to (-2.9 percent) last year. During July-April 2017 it recorded a growth of 5.58 percent compared to 3.85 percent. The industry specific data shows that a number of sectors performed well during  the period, such as Iron & Steel products 20.26%, Automobile grew by 11.41%, pharmaceuticals 9.01%, Food Beverages 11.60%, Fertilizers 0.21%, Rubber products 0.36%, Non-Metallic Mineral products 6.54%, Textile 0.73%, Electronics 15.10%, Engineering products 4.29%, and Coke & Petroleum 0.97%. The outlook of Large Scale Manufacturing is encouraging on account of supportive economic policies, low interest rate and higher PSDP spending. The inflation has been contained at 4.16 percent much below the target of 6%.The foreign exchange reserves are at comfortable level, while the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) saw an increase of 8.6% during July-May FY 2017.

The meeting noted that external public debt to GDP has reduced from 21.4 percent in FY 2013 to 20.8 percent while net domestic debt increased from 38.8 percent in FY 2013 to 40.5 percent in FY 2016. As of July-March 2017, the net public debt stood at 59.3 percent below the threshold of 60 percent as prescribed in FRDL Act.

The Minister informed that Government is adhering to the Medium Term Debt Management Strategy to make public debt portfolio more sustainable. The government is focusing on extending the average time to maturity of domestic debt. The debt sustainability indicators of domestic and external debt have improved compared to FY 2013.

The meeting was informed that the current account deficit widened to $10.64 billion due to fall in exports and remittances during July-May 2017. The decline in exports is more due to exogenous factors as the decline in exports was also witnessed in other regional countries. The meeting noted that negative effects of exports are bottoming out as during the outgoing fiscal year six months have witnessed positive YOY growth with highest in June 2017 at 16 percent.

The Minister expressed the need for necessary measure to address the widening current account deficit. He said, the government has already initiated a number of measures for exports enhancement. There is no load shedding for the industrial sector. The tariffs have been slashed. He stressed to look into the competitiveness aspect and stressed upon a multi-pronged approach at federal, provincial and local level.

The Governor SBP informed that monetary expansion during FY 2017 remained aligned with the overall improvements in macroeconomic indicators with substantial contribution stemming from pick-up in private sector credit. In fact, the private sector credit flows posted their highest level since 1999. The credit to private sector recorded strong growth of 18.7 percent (Rs.633.2 billion) during July-23 June FY 2017, compared to 9.5% in the comparable period of FY 2016. Prudent monetary policy and lower budgetary borrowing from commercial banks have helped the private sector credit boom. Overall, there has been a broad-based increase in credit demand, especially from fixed investment, during FY 2017 with impetus coming from: textile, manufacturing, commerce & trade, electricity, gas & water supply, food and beverages, coke and refined petroleum, chemicals, cement, construction. Reserve money growth decelerated to 22.5 percent during 01 Jul-23 June FY 2017 as against a growth of 27.1 percent in corresponding period of last year. During 01 Jul-23 June FY 2017, CIC stood at Rs.576.26 billion compared with an increase of Rs.703.65 billion in the corresponding period of FY2016. Total deposits with banks have improved by 12%.  However, the current account deficit increased to over 3% of GDP and policy interventions need to be taken to address this challenge. The Minister for Finance decided to establish an inter-ministerial committee comprising members from Ministry of Finance, Commerce, SBP and PIDE on tariff rationalization so that tariff policy be aligned with trade policy leading to improvement in balance of trade.  The Committee will submit its recommendations within four weeks time.

The Ministry of Commerce informed that trade deficit widened to 32.3 percent compared to last year. Exports have continued to decline at a subdued rate of 1.63 percent and while imports increased by 18.7 percent. Pakistan’s exports have increased to EU countries where it is enjoying GSP plus unilateral concessions. The negative effects of the exports are bottoming out, and it is expected that exports will improve in coming months. In this regard the Minister for Finance stated that to help export proceeds, duty-drawback claims would be honored and assured that claims will be cleared alongwith sales tax refunds, at the earliest.

The Minister thanked the members and suggested that the next meeting be called in August 2017 to review the inter- ministerial committee report on tariff rationalization.

 
July 15, 2017 (PR No. 2189)

Sales Tax Refund Payment Ceremony at FBR

The Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar visited FBR on Saturday and presided over a ceremony regarding payment of sales tax refunds.

It may be mentioned that Finance Minister in the budget speech for the year 2017-18 had announced that taxpayers’ long outstanding demand for payment of refunds would be addressed soon and the sales tax refunds against refund payment orders (RPOs) issued up to 30th April, 2017, would be paid in two stages. Firstly, payments against RPOs involving amount up to Rs. 1 million were to be paid by 15th July, 2017; and in the second stage refund against RPOs of amount more than Rs. 1 million would be paid by 14th August, 2017.

In his opening remarks, the Finance Minister welcomed the new Chairman FBR Mr. Tariq Mahmood Pasha and expressed hope that the new Chairman and his team will strive to overcome the challenges and make all efforts to achieve the target for the new financial year and simultaneously accord due priority to facilitation of taxpayers.

The Finance Minister stated that the government was conscious of the problems being faced by the taxpayers and is taking a number of steps to resolve these problems. He stated that the ceremony was part of such measures and through this, first part of the commitment made in the budget speech is being fulfilled. The payment is being made against 6853 RPOs issued by 30th April 2017, of amount up to Rs. 1 million. The next part of commitment shall also be fulfilled by making payment against RPOs with amount more than Rs. 1 million by 14th August 2017.

The Finance Minister informed that for the first time refund payments were made by direct electronic transfer to claimants’ bank accounts through state Bank in November 2016. The payments made in the ceremony will also be transferred in the same manner to the claimants’ accounts in the next two working days. This measure, he said, is aimed at enhancing transparency and facilitation and reducing contact between tax collectors and the taxpayers.

In the concluding part of the ceremony, the Finance Minister pressed the button of FBR’s Computerized System to remit the bank advice to the State Bank for transfer of the amount involved. 

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and FBR attended the ceremony.

 
July 15, 2017 (PR No. 2188)

Outgoing Governor, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), paid a farewell called on Finance Minister

Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, outgoing Governor, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP),  paid a farewell call on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Saturday. 

Minister Dar lauded the services of Ashraf Wathra that he rendered as Governor SBP and congratulated him on the successful completion of his tenure. The Minister said that Mr. Ashraf Wathra remained committed to his work throughout his tenure and contributed significantly to smooth implementation of monetary policy and regulation of the money market. He praised the outgoing Governor's professionalism and commitment.

Mr. Asraf Wathra thanked the Minister for the support extended to him in undertaking and fulfilling his official obligations. 

Finance Minister on the occasion also welcomed the newly appointed Governor SBP, Mr. Tariq Bajwa and wished him well for his new assignment. 

Secretaries of Ministries of Finance and Commerce and other senior officials were also present on the occasion.

 
July 14, 2017 (PR No. 2187)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on matters related to financial requirements of PAF

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting at the Ministry of Finance on Friday to review matters related to financial requirements of Pakistan Air Force. 

Vice Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Asad Lodhi briefed the Finance Minister on the financial aspects of PAF's on-going and future projects. He also apprised the Minister of the implementation schedule of these projects. 

Minister Dar said that the Government attached high priority and consideration to provision of resources to the armed forces including the PAF to fulfill their obligations towards defence and security of the country and the nation.

Finance Minister praised PAF’s instrumental role in the ongoing operations Zarb-e-Azb and Raddul Fasad. He said the operations had made significant gains and the Government and the whole nation fully supported the armed forces in the fight against terrorism. He said the improved security situation in the country had attracted a number of international companies and investors to explore business opportunities in Pakistan which augurs well for economic well being of the country.
         
Secretary Finance and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and PAF participated in the meeting.

 
July 13, 2017 (PR No. 2186)

Moody's reaffirms Pakistan's B3 rating, maintains stable outlook

Moody’s Investors Service on 12th July, 2017 reaffirmed Pakistan’s sovereign rating at B3 with Stable outlook. Pakistan’s medium-term growth outlook has been categorized as strong in the backdrop of China Pakistan Economic Corridor addressing infrastructure and energy constraints and the continuing macrostability enhancing reforms initiated by the present Government.

The rating is supported by Pakistan’s strong growth performance and its continued commitment towards reform implementation to reinforce fiscal and monetary discipline achieved over the last four years. Moody’s expects real GDP growth to rise towards 6% over the next few years as the country improves its competitiveness and continues its progress towards alleviating supply side bottlenecks. Elimination of energy deficit, improved business productivity and resultant boost to exports is expected to provide impetus for a high growth trajectory. 

The outlook for growth is strong with stable macroeconomic indicators, discipline in fiscal and inflation management and maintenance of adequate foreign exchange reserves. Moody’s report acknowledges Pakistan’s improved economic fundamentals and financial strength. While maintaining Pakistan’s rating, Moody’s highlights that Pakistan’s debt profile and institutional strength has not witnessed any material change.

While underscoring the resilience of Pakistan’s economy, Moody’s indicates stalling of the Government’s reform agenda including revenue reforms, any widening of fiscal deficit and weakening of external payments position as future risks to the economy.

 
July 12, 2017 (PR No. 2185)

Meeting reviewed operationalization of Kohsar Block

The Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting at the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday to review the progress of operationalization of Kohsar Block (New Pak. Secretariat).

Secretary, Housing and Works, and DG PWD briefed the Finance Minister on the progress of the project and informed that  majority of the construction work had been completed. The Minister was informed that the remaining works for operationalization of the Block will be completed before the end of July 2017. The meeting was also briefed on various aspects of interior design and partitioning of space for allocation to different ministries and departments. Secretary, Housing and Works, informed the Minister that partitioning of space will be finalized after allocation of offices, in order to ensure that the partitioning is in accordance with the requirements of each ministry / department.

The Finance Minister urged Ministry of Housing and Works and PWD to complete all remaining works by the end of the current month. He said that operationalization of Kohsar Block will enable accommodation of various government ministries and departments under one roof, which will improve facilitation of the general public. He said space allocation of the Block should be done soon in order to decide on various requests for allotment of offices from different ministries and departments. He said priority in space allocation would be accorded to ministries and departments, which are paying high amounts as rent, so that maximum saving of exchequer could be made. The Minister also urged officials of Finance Division and Planning, Development & Reform Division to extend maximum facilitation for completion of all necessary works.

Senior officials of Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Housing and Works, Ministry of Planning, Development & Reform and PWD also attended the meeting.

 
July 10, 2017 (PR No. 2184)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC)

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) met at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday, and approved various federal and provincial development projects. Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq
Dar, chaired the meeting.

ECNEC considered the proposal regarding Koto Hydropower Project, and approved the project at a revised cost of Rs. 13,998.89 million. Under the project, construction of 40.8 MW Koto Hydropower station would be undertaken on Panjkora River.

ECNEC also approved the Peshawar Sustainable Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Project at a cost of Rs. 49,346 million. The project envisages construction of a 25.8 km long 2-lane dedicated signal free Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) main Corridor, including 32 stations.

ECNEC also considered and approved the Enhancing Public Private Partnerships in Pakistan (Provincial Support) Project for Sindh at a cost of Rs. 19,289.01 million. The project is aimed at enhancing capacity of the Government of Sindh to select and develop Public Private Partnership projects.

ECNEC discussed and approved the project for Integration of Health Services Delivery with Special Focus on MNCH, LHW, and Nutrition Programme in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at a revised cost of Rs. 13,926.63 million. The project is being partly financed through grant aid from DFID and Aus-Aid. The project will cover all 25 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

ECNEC also approved the project for Establishment of Children Hospital at Bahawalpur (Phase-1) with total cost of Rs. 5,008.376 million. Phase-1 of the project envisages construction of a 235-bedded hospital. Total bed capacity would increase to 495 beds after completion of Phase-2.

ECNEC considered and approved the project for Prime Minister’s Youth Skill Development Program (Phase-IV) 2017-18 at a total cost of Rs. 6,196.50 million. Under the project, around 100,000 young aspirants will be trained in demand-driven market-oriented trades / courses of 3-6 months.

ECNEC also approved the project for Construction of Rathoa Haryam Bridge and Approaches Across Reservoir Channel on Mirpur – Islamgarh Road at a revised cost of Rs. 6,480.159 million. The project entails construction of 2 lanes (7.3m wide), 7,217m roadway with allied structures. The project is a component of the Mangla Dam Raising Project.

ECNEC considered and approved the ‘Karachi Neighborhood Improvement Project (KNIP) Karachi Transformation Strategy (KTS)’ at a cost of Rs. 10,260.60 million. Under the project, measures would be taken for public space and mobility improvements in selected neighbourhoods, and to improve citizen services and city capacity development.

ECNEC granted approval to a project for Improvement, Upgradation and Widening of Jaglot – Skardu Road (S-1, 164 km) at a revised cost of Rs. 32,325.6 million.

ECNEC considered and approved a project for Improvement and Widening of additional 2-lanes on either side of Thokar Niaz Baig to Hudyiara Drain Multan Road N-5 (KM 10 + 170) in Lahore, at a cost of Rs. 10,397.3 million.

ECNEC also considered and approved the Punjab Irrigated-Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project at a revised cost of Rs. 67,459 million. The project entails rehabilitation / completion of improvement works on 6,000 canal irrigated watercourses, development / rehabilitation of 4,000 irrigation schemes outside the canal commands, provision of 6,000 additional laser units to farmers / service providers for field levelling, and completion of installation of drip / sprinkler irrigation system on 120,000
acres.

 
July 09, 2017 (PR No. 2183)

Inquiry into sharp deterioration of PKR-US$ exchange rate in the interbank market

Finance Division has officially asked the Governor, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), to initiate an inquiry into the sharp deterioration of PKR-US$ exchange rate in the interbank market on 5th July 2017, and to send a report in this regard within a period of ten days. The inquiry has been recommended by the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammed Ishaq Dar, in his capacity as Chairman of Monetary and Fiscal Policies Coordination Board.

It may be recalled that, after concluding a meeting on this matter with the Presidents / CEOs of Banks on 6th July 2017, the Finance Minister held a press talk in which he conveyed that a detailed inquiry will be held into the matter, and those responsible will be held to account.

The PKR-US$ exchange rate in the interbank market deteriorated by 3.1% from Rs. 104.90 per US$ on 4thJuly 2017 to Rs. 108.25 per US$ on 5thJuly 2017.

The sudden depreciation of PKR versus the US$ led to speculation and anxiety in the foreign exchange market.On the same day, i.e. 5th July 2017, the Finance Minister took immediate notice and action on this matter. He called for a detailed report from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on this artificial and unnatural deterioration in the PKR-US$ exchange rate, and he called an emergent meeting with Presidents / CEOs of Banks on 6thJuly 2017. The Finance Minister’s immediate notice and action resulted in stabilization of Pak-US$ exchange rate in the interbank market to Rs. 105.50 per US$ on 6thJuly 2017 when the financial markets opened.

It may be noted that, under the State Bank of Pakistan Act 1956, the Monetary and Fiscal Policies Coordination Board, comprising of the Federal Minister for Finance (Chairman) and other members, including Governor SBP and Finance Secretary, is responsible for coordinating the exchange rate policy as well as the fiscal and monetary policies, to ensure consistency among macroeconomic targets. However, the sharp deterioration of the exchange rate on 5th July 2017 occurred due to the fact that members of the Monetary and Fiscal Policies Coordination Board, including the Finance Minister and Finance Secretary, were not taken on-board on the matter. 

 
July 06, 2017 (PR No. 2182)

Vice President ADB called on the Finance Minister

Vice President of Asian Development Bank (ADB),Mr. Wencai Zhang, called on the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, at the Ministry of Finance on Thursday. He was accompanied by ADB’s Country Director for Pakistan, Ms. Xiaohong Yang, and former Country Director, Mr. Werner Liepach.

The Vice President said that development cooperation has expanded between Pakistan and ADB during the last few years, which has resulted in impressive levels of approvals and disbursement of aid from ADB to Pakistan in FY 2016-17.He said that ADB is interested in learning more about the government’s new initiatives, including the Pakistan Development Fund (PDF) and the Pakistan Infrastructure Bank (PIB), with a view to potentially collaborate on them with the government.The Vice President said that the ADB’s recent experience of policy-based lending for reforms in Pakistan has been very successful. Both sides agreed to identify further areas where reforms are required, which may be good candidates for policy based lending. The areas that are being explored in this regard include governance and public sector enterprise reforms.He reiterated ADB’s commitment to supporting development initiatives in Pakistan.

The Finance Minister appreciated the role of ADB as a development partner for Pakistan. He congratulated the Vice President on ADB’s 50th Anniversary, and appreciated the Vice President’s visit to Pakistan to celebrate the anniversary. He appreciated contributions of former Country Director, Mr. Werner Liepach, and the progress made in a short time by current Country Director, Ms. Xiaohong Yang.

The Finance Minister said that, after having achieved macroeconomic stability, the government is now focused on achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. He said that federal PSDP of Rs. 1,001 bio for FY 2018 is over three times higher than federal PSDP for FY 2013. He highlighted that provincial transfers have increased significantly due to increase in tax collections during the last 4 years, and as a result, the provinces are in good fiscal shape.He said that both ADB and the Government of Pakistan must work together to further strengthen this relationship. He appreciated ADB’s interest in participating in the government’s initiatives, such as PDF and PIB, which will enable mobilization of resources for further infrastructure projects in the country. The Finance Minister said that the Government of Pakistan will continue to work closely with development partners on initiatives aimed at improving the quality of lives of the people of Pakistan.At the conclusion of the meeting, the Finance Minister conveyed his regards to President ADB, Mr. Takehiko Nakao.

 
July 05, 2017 (PR No. 2181)

Acting US Ambassador called on Finance Miniser

Acting US Ambassador, Mr. Jonathan Pratt called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar hereon Wednesday. 

The Finance Minister and the Acting Ambassador exchanged views on matters of mutual interest.

The US Envoy apprised the Minister of the US Embassy's efforts for enhancing the trade and economic relations between the two countries. 

The Finance Minister appreciated the efforts and, referring to the recent visit of US Congressmen, said that exchange of high level visits was important as these help the two sides understand each other's perspective and promote mutual understanding.

Finance Minister on the occasion underscored Pakistan’s continued and concerted efforts aimed at economic development with due focus on forging regional cooperation. He also highlighted Pakistan’s resolve of having good neighbourly relations and its all out support for peace in the region which he said was very important for development.

Finance Minister said Pakistan wished to strengthen a strong and all round Pak-US partnership which was significant to address issues confronting the region.

He also highlighted the economic turnaround that manifested in enhanced investor interest and added that Pakistan would also welcome increased investment by US companies.

 
July 05, 2017 (PR No. 2180)

Canadian High Commissioner called on Finance Minister

The Canadian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Mr. Perry Calderwood, called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, at the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday.

The Finance Minister and the High Commissioner discussed the current state of bilateral ties including economic cooperation between the two countries.

The High Commissioner said that there has been robust economic growth and a visible improvement in the security situation in Pakistan, which provides a good opportunity for further strengthening economic and business linkages between the two countries. He said that Canadian companies were already exploring opportunities in Pakistan in various sectors, including solar energy and information technology. He highlighted that the level of bilateral trade was currently at a record level. He added that steps have been taken to reactivate the bilateral Trade and Investment Working Group to help promote economic cooperation. He apprised the Finance Minister about Canada’s International Development Policy which has been launched recently. The High Commissioner appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to eradicate polio.

The Finance Minister said that Canada and Pakistan enjoy friendly and long-standing bilateral ties. He welcomed the reactivation of the Working Group, and said there is ample room to further enhance trade and investment cooperation between the two countries. He said that joint efforts should be made by both sides to this end. He highlighted that international investors and companies from various countries are currently investing and setting up businesses in Pakistan. He also encouraged Canadian investors and firms to explore and benefit from the business and investment opportunities available in the country. The Finance Minister said Pakistan is committed to the eradication of polio, and all efforts are being made to this end. While exchanging views with the High Commissioner on the ‘debt for education’ swap, the Finance Minister said that the present government lays strong emphasis on the promotion of education at all levels. He welcomed all initiatives to achieve this objecitve.

The Finance Minister said that, after having achieved macroeconomic stability, Pakistan is now fully focused on achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. He appreciated Canada’s support for development projects in Pakistan. He said that the present government is keen to further strengthen bilateral partnership between Pakistan and Canada.

 
July 05, 2017 (PR No. 2179)

Finance Minister has taken cognisance of the spike in the Interbank Rate of the US dollar versus the Pakistani Rupee

The Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, during an emergent meeting of the officials of Finance Division, has taken notice, expressed deep concern, indignation and disappointment at the fact that the current political situation is being exploited by certain individuals, banks and entities, resulting in the artificial rise of the interbank rate of the US Dollar versus the Pakistani Rupee, which has negatively affected our Foreign Exchange (FX) markets.

The Finance Minister said that the responsible persons and entities in this matter will be identified and appropriate action will be taken against them in the national interest.

 
July 04, 2017 (PR No. 2178)

Ambassador designated to Japan called on Finance Minister

Executive Director, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Mr. Sami Saeed, called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, at the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday.

The Executive Director discussed matters, with the Finance Minister, related to ADB’s various projects and programs, including those in Pakistan. He briefed the Finance Minister on his interactions with senior government officials regarding ADB’s ongoing projects in Pakistan, including the Sustainable Energy Sector Reform Program, the Peshawar Sustainable Bus Rapid Transit Corridor, and the Punjab Intermediate Cities Improvement Investment Project. He said that the Finance Minister’s participation in the 50th Annual Meeting of ADB in Yokohama in May 2017, had enabled further strengthening of relations between Pakistan and ADB.

The Finance Minister appreciated the support of ADB for development projects in Pakistan. He highlighted the work done by the present government to establish the Pakistan Development Fund, as well as the Pakistan Infrastructure Bank in partnership with development partners, in order to further facilitate both public and private sector development projects in the country. The Finance Minister said that Pakistan is keen to continue working with ADB, and other development partners, in order to implement further development projects in the country. He said that successful implementation of development projects will play a key role in enabling higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Pakistan.

 
July 04, 2017 (PR No. 2177)

Ambassador designated to Japan called on Finance Minister

Ambassador designate of Pakistan to Japan, Dr. Asad Majeed Khan, called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, at the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday.

The Finance Minister said that Japan is a long-standing, reliable partner of Pakistan. Finance Minister recalled his meetings with senior Japanese political leadership and heads of different Japanese institutions, including Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), on the side-lines of Asian Development Bank’s Annual Meeting in Yokohama in May 2017. He urged the Ambassador designate to build on the discussions held by the Finance Minister during the aforementioned meetings, and to make a dedicated effort to enhance economic cooperation with Japan.

The Finance Minister said that Pakistan has become an attractive destination for international investors, including for relocation of industries, as a result of the economic reforms implemented by the present government. He urged the Ambassador designate to promote foreign direct investment from Japan into Pakistan, so that Japanese investors may also benefit from the investment and business opportunities available in Pakistan. He also encouraged the Ambassador to explore opportunities for stronger cooperation between the financial markets of the two countries.

Dr. Asad Majeed appreciated the guidance of the Finance Minister, and said that he would undertake all necessary efforts to further strengthen bilateral relations between Pakistan and Japan.

The Finance Minister wished Dr. Asad Majeed all the success in his future tenure as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Japan.

 
July 02, 2017 (PR No. 2176)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on matters related to Finance Division

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting at the Ministry of Finance on Sunday on implementation measures for the budget for FY 2017-18.

The Finance Secretary briefed the Finance Minister on the status of implementation of measures announced in the budget for FY 2017-18. The Minister was informed that notifications to implement various decisions /announcements of the budget were being issued, and most of the work in this regard had been completed.

The Finance Minister said that budget for FY 2017-18 has been prepared with the primary aim of providing relief and increasing the welfare of the general public. He urged Finance Division officials to ensure that necessary formalities regarding implementation of budgetary measures, including issuance of the requisite notifications, are completed in a smooth and timely manner. He said that, through prudent economic policies and strict financial discipline, the present government has been able to achieve macroeconomic stability, and now the focus is on achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. He said that the government is determined to achieve the GDP growth target of 6% in the current fiscal year. He directed the Finance Secretary to maintain financial discipline during FY 2017-18, as has been the practice during the last four years.

Secretary EAD and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance also participated in the meeting.

 
July 01, 2017 (PR No. 2175)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting with FBR officials

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting on Saturday at the Ministry of Finance on matters related to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, Mr. Haroon Akhtar Khan, Chairman FBR, and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and FBR attended the meeting.

The Finance Minister was updated on the latest status of the collection of tax revenue. He was informed that the final revenue figures were being compiled, and a final position would emerge in the next few days.

The Finance Minister instructed the FBR officials to expedite the process and ensure that all the amounts deposited up to 30th June 2017 are duly accounted for.

The Finance Minister congratulated the outgoing Chairman FBR, Dr. Muhammad Irshad on the completion of his tenure. He also presented him with a memento as a token of the appreciation of his services. The Minister expressed his best wishes to Dr. Irshad for his future endeavours.

 
June 30, 2017 (PR No. 2174)

4G License formally handed over to successful bidder, Jazz

Technology neutral license for the 10 MHz of frequency spectrum 1800 MHz was handed over to the successful bidder, Jazz Pakistan, in a ceremony at the Ministry of Finance on Friday. Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, and Minister of State for IT & Telecom Mrs. Anusha Rahman formally handed over the 4G license to Mr. Aamir Ibrahim, CEO Jazz. The newly awarded license will enable Jazz to launch 4G Services in Pakistan, making Jazz the third 4G operator in the country. The successful bidder has submitted the entire license fee of US$ 295 million.

On the occasion, the Finance Minister congratulated Minister of State for IT & Telecom and her team,Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Jazz and all other stakeholders, who worked hard for the successful completion of the auction process. He said that the auction has been conducted in a fair and transparent, in accordance with global best practices.

The Finance Minister highlighted the present government’s commitment to enhancing digital inclusion in Pakistan. He said that the government has announced several incentives for the IT industry in the budget for FY 2017-18 which the IT industry will start availing from July 2017 onwards.

Minister of State for IT & Telecom joined the Finance Minister in congratulating all concerned parties on the successful auction. She said that the Ministry of IT & Telecom has conducted 3 spectrum auctions in last 3 years, which is unprecedented. She appreciated the significant role played by Jazz in the telecom sector of Pakistan. She highlighted that, under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, broadband penetration has increased phenomenally, and broadband penetration, which was less than 3% in 2013, has grown to more than 29%. She said that the new 4G license awarded to Jazz will further enable provision of high-speed connectivity and the associated socio-economic benefits to the citizens of Pakistan.

CEO Jazz extended his heartfelt felicitations to the government for three transparent and successful spectrum auctions within just three years, and for undertaking key initiatives for expanding Pakistan’s overall digital ecosystem. 

Secretary IT & Telecom, Chairman PTA, and senior officials of Ministry of IT & Telecom, Ministry of Finance, PTA, Frequency Allocation Board and Jazz were also present on the occasion.

 
June 29, 2017 (PR No. 2173)

Acting British High Commissioner called on Finance Minister

Acting British High Commissioner, Mr. Richard Crowder called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, at the Ministry of Finance on Thursday. He was accompanied by Ms. Judith Herbertson, Deputy Head of Department for International Development UK (DFID) in Pakistan. Secretary EAD also participated in the meeting.

The Finance Minister and the Acting High Commissioner discussed the current state of bilateral ties between Pakistan and the United Kingdom. The Finance Minister said Pakistan and the UK have a strong and historic partnership with mutual cooperation in various areas. He appreciated the continued support of the British government, including through DFID, for different initiatives and projects in Pakistan aimed at socio-economic development. He said that Pakistan is keen to work with the UK government to further strengthen bilateral ties and broaden economic cooperation. The Finance Minister said that, after having achieved macroeconomic stability, the government is now focused on attaining higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. He said that Pakistan achieved a GDP growth rate of 5.28% in FY 2016-17, the highest in a decade, and the growth target for FY 2017-18 is 6%.

The Acting High Commissioner briefed the Finance Minister on the upcoming Family Planning Summit being hosted by DFID in London on 10-11 July 2017.

 
June 29, 2017 (PR No. 2172)

Finance Minister chaired briefing session on Population & Housing Census

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Thursday chaired a briefing session on the recently held Population and Housing Census 2017.

Chief Statistician, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS)/Chief Census Commissioner, Asif Bajwa informed that the field operation of the 6th population Census concluded on 24th May 2017. During the process, 151 districts of all the four provinces, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were covered. The Census was conducted in two phases and during the process 63 districts were covered in first phase while 88 districts were covered in second phase. The first phase started on 15th March and ended on April 13 while the second phase of the census exercise was initiated on April 25 which concluded on 24th May.

Asif Bajwa added that services of 119,000 enumerators and supervisory staff were utilized in collecting data from about 168,540 census blocks throughout the country. In addition to civilian field staff, 200,000 army personnel were engaged as enumerators as well as to provide security to the census teams. He said that all the census related record and material has been safely retrieved under the supervision of Armed Forces Personnel. Its sorting and stacking has also been completed, he added.

The Chief Statistician/Chief Census Commissioner assured the Finance Minister that the provisional Census results would be made available as per the timeline given i.e. by end of July, 2017.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said it was heartening to note that international independent observers, who visited different places and interacted with people during the process, had termed population census exercise as satisfactory. Further, the whole process was conducted in accordance with the given timelines. He was also appreciative of the fact that barring a few incidents, the process remained peaceful. He said the credit for smooth conduct of the Population & Housing Census goes to the whole PBS team, the Armed Forces personnel, the Provincial Governments and security Agencies throughout the country. The overwhelming participation and support by the general public and their interest in the whole process was highly encouraging. The Finance Minister said that the last Census was conducted in 1998 by the PML-N government and it was after a gap of almost two decades that the 6th census is being conducted, again by the PML-N government.

Finance Minister called upon PBS officials to compile the results within the given time line as the data would prove highly beneficial for better economic planning and development.

 
June 28, 2017 (PR No. 2171)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting at Federal Board of Revenue (FBR)

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting at the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Wednesday regarding the state of tax revenue collection in the current fiscal year. Finance Secretary, Chairman FBR, and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and FBR attended the meeting.

Chairman FBR briefed the Finance Minister on the tax revenue collected during FY 2016-17. He said that all efforts are being made to attain the collection target for the current fiscal year.

The Finance Minister urged FBR to take all necessary measures to meet the tax collection target for the current fiscal year. He also assured his full support to FBR for achieving the tax collection targets for FY 2017-18. The Finance Minister said that the measures included in the budget for FY 2017-18 will enhance the welfare and prosperity of the general public. He emphasized that the budgetary measures are aimed at enabling Pakistan to achieve higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

 
June 18, 2017 (PR No. 2170)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting on matters related to FBR

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting on Sunday at the Ministry of Finance on matters related to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, Mr. Haroon Akhtar Khan, Finance Secretary, Secretary EAD, Chairman FBR, and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and FBR attended the meeting.

Chairman FBR updated the Finance Minister on the latest status of tax collection during FY 2016-17. He said that all efforts are being made to attain the collection target for the current fiscal year. He said that a comprehensive strategy is being finalized for tax collection in FY 2017-18, and it would be presented to the Finance Minister in due course.

The Finance Minister urged FBR to take all necessary measures to meet the tax collection target for the current fiscal year. He said that the prudent policies of the present government, and the efforts of FBR, had resulted in 60% growth in tax revenue collection between FY 2012-2013 and FY 2015-2016.

He assured his full support to FBR for achieving the revenue targets for FY 2017-18. The Finance Minister appreciated the contributions of FBR officials in the preparation of the budget for FY 2017-18, which has recently been passed by Parliament. He expressed the confidence that the measures announced in the budget for FY 2017-18 will enhance the welfare and prosperity of the general public, and enable Pakistan to achieve higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

 
June 17, 2017 (PR No. 2169)

Saudi Ambassador designated called on Finance Minister

The Saudi Ambassador designate to Pakistan, Commodore Nawaf Saeed Ahmed Al-Malkiy called on the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, at the Ministry of Finance on Saturday.

The Finance Minister welcomed Commodore Al-Malkiy on his nomination as the new Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan, and wished him success in his new role.

The Finance Minister and the Saudi Ambassador designate discussed the current status of bilateral ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The Finance Minister appreciated the continued support of the Saudi Government for projects aimed at economic development in Pakistan. He urged Saudi investors to avail the investment opportunities in Pakistan, including in the petrochemical industry, offered under the liberal investment regime of the present government. The Finance Minister also highlighted the recent visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Saudi Arabia to meet King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, during which the Prime Minister expressed the hope that the current impasse in the Gulf will be resolved soon in the best interest of the Muslim Ummah. The Finance Minister had accompanied the Prime Minister during the said visit.

Saudi Ambassador designate said he would be keen on promoting greater presence of Saudi investors and companies in Pakistan with a view to further bolster the current level of bilateral economic cooperation. The Finance
Minister assured him of his full support in this regard.

At the end of the meeting, the Finance Minister and the Saudi Ambassador designated reaffirmed the resolve of both sides to work together to further strengthen bilateral relations.

 
June 17, 2017 (PR No. 2168)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of ECC

  • ECC considered proposal submitted by Ministry of Commerce regarding PM's Package  for Exporters, ECC decided to extend date of submission of claims till 30th September 2017 for shipments / exports made up to 30th June 2017. 
  • ECC approved proposal of Ministry of National Food Security & Research to extend export period of wheat and wheat products beyond 15th March 2017 till 31st August 2017. 
  • Wheat exporters, who shifted wheat from godowns of food departments prior to 15th March 2017,will be allowed to benefit from this extension. 
  • ECC  approved proposal regarding outstanding claims of PASSCO on account of wheat supplied to Afghanistan.
  • ECC recommend to Federal Government to extend period of applicability of reduced rate of withholding tax of 0.4% on banking transactions of non-filers till 30th September 2017
  • ECC recognized services of Mr. Tariq Bajwa, both as an ex-officio participant of the ECC, and as a civil servant in various capacities including his current role as Finance Secretary. Mr. Bajwa will be retiring from civil service on 18th June 2017
 
June 16, 2017 (PR No. 2167)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting to review progress on development of border crossing complexes at Torkham and Chaman

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting at the Ministry of Finance on Friday to review the progress on the development of border crossing complexes at Torkham andChamanas part of the Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) project.

Finance Secretary, Secretary Economic Affairs Division, Quartermaster General of Pakistan Army, Country Director Asian Development Bank (ADB),DG NLC, Project Director ITTMS at FBR, and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, ADB, and Infrastructure Project Development Facility participated in the meeting.

The Project Director updated the Finance Minister regarding the progress of the project. DG NLC briefed the meeting regarding the technical aspects of the project. NLC has been assigned to carry out the civil works of the project on the two sites. Country Director ADB informed the meeting that ADB considers it as an important project due to its significance in the context of the corridor for trade envisaged under the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC).

The Finance Minister appreciated the efforts of all stakeholders, including ADB, in ensuring satisfactory progress of the project so far. He said that the project is based on the vision of the government to develop Pakistan as an economic corridor and enhance regional connectivity. He said that the project, once completed, will result in significant reduction in processing times at the border crossing points in Torkham and Chaman. He urged all stakeholders to ensure completion of the project in accordance with the scheduled timelines.

 
June 15, 2017 (PR No. 2166)

Finance Minister witnessed contract signing of Broadband for Sustainable Development Projects in Baluchistan

Finance Minister Witnesses Contract Signing of Broadband for Sustainable Development Projects in Baluchistan and Establishment of National Incubation Centres in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar

The Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, witnessed the contract signing of Broadband for Sustainable Development Projects in Baluchistan worth Rs 2.769 billion in total, awarded by Universal Service Fund to Pak Telecom Mobile Limited (Ufone). The contract signed between USF and Ufone marks the launch of Mobile Broadband Internet/3G Services by Ufone in Dera Bugti and Kharan-Washuk in the province of Baluchistan. It was followed by a contract signing ceremony for establishment of National Incubation Centres in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar. The contracts were signed between National ICT R&D Fund and TPL Trakker, LUMS and LMKT, respectively. Minister of State for IT & Telecom, Ms. Anusha Rahman Khan, Secretary IT & Telecom, senior officials of Ministry of IT & Telecom, diplomats and senior executives for IT & Telecom companies were also present on the occasion.

The Broadband for Sustainable Development project it may be added, would provide Mobile Broadband Internet/3G services in the yet un-served areas of Dera Bugti Lot (District of Dera Bugti includes Tehsils of Dera Bugti, Sui, Pir Koh, Baiker, Loti, Malam, Sangsillah and district of Kohlu comprises Kohlu, Mawand, Kahan tehsils), consisting of 396 un-served Mauzas with population of 333,100, and Kharan-Washuk Lot (District of Kharan includes Kharan Tehsil and Distrcit of Washuk comprises Washuk and Besima Tehsil), consisting of 289 un-served  muzas in Balochistan with population of 222,000.

Speaking on the occasion, the Finance Minister said that the development and promotion of Pakistan’s IT sector is an area of priority for the present government. He congratulated the Ministry of IT & Telecom, USF, National ICT R&D Fund, and all stakeholders involved in the aforementioned contract signings. He said that the Broadband for Sustainable Development Projects in Baluchistan would enable the increase of broadband coverage in the country. He further stated that the establishment of the National Incubation Centres would assist in channelling the entrepreneurial drive amongst young graduates of the nation.

The Finance Minister said that government has announced special incentives for the IT sector in the budget for FY 2017-18. He highlighted that the government is setting up an IT Park in Islamabad with the assistance of Korean EXIM Bank. He also said that IT export houses / companies shall be allowed to open Foreign Exchange Accounts in Pakistan going forward. He informed the audience about various measures to promote usage of smartphones in the country. He highlighted that start-up software houses shall be exempted from Income Tax for the first 3 years, and that exports of IT services from Islamabad and other Federal territories shall be exempted from Sales Tax. He said that, in addition to IT companies, these incentives will also be available for IT-enabled services

Minister for IT & Telecom Anusha Rehman  said that the Government of Pakistan is striving to increase the level of telecom penetration significantly in the under-served and un-served areas. She said that the launch of the National Incubation Centres in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar is yet another important milestone in the Government of Pakistan’s digital agenda. She highlighted that a National Incubation Centre has already been established in Islamabad. She further said that a comprehensive national level technical training program for freelancers is also being launched this year which will train approximately 1 million freelancers within the span of 2 years. She highlighted that a nation-wide “ICT for Women Entrepreneurship Development Program” has already been launched to tap the entrepreneurial potential of Pakistani women. She said that the program will train a total of 500 women from across the country.

 
June 10, 2017 (PR No. 2165)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review various proposals received from parliamentarians related to the budget for FY 2017-18

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting on Saturday at the Ministry of Finance to review various proposals received from parliamentarians related to the budget for FY 2017-18. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, Mr. Haroon Akhtar Khan, Finance Secretary, Secretary EAD, and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and FBR attended the meeting.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue and the Finance Secretary apprised the Finance Minister of the proposals submitted by the honourable members of Parliament during the ongoing budget session in Parliament over the last two weeks. They also briefed the Minister on the feedback received from other stakeholders regarding the budget. They assured the Minister that a thorough study of the different proposals received has been carried out.

The Finance Minister said that all proposals are being decided upon based on their merit and practicability. He said that, in keeping with the past four years’ tradition and democratic spirit of the PML-N Government, the government is accommodating maximum possible proposals from the parliamentarians. He emphasized that ensuring the well-being of the general public is the top priority of the budget. He said that all sectors of the economy will be catered in the final budget document. The Finance Minister appreciated the hard work put in by the budget team at the Ministry of Finance and FBR during the ongoing budget session.

The Finance Minister expressed the confidence that the measures announced in the budget will enhance the welfare and prosperity of the general public, and enable Pakistan to achieve higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

 
June 10, 2017 (PR No. 2164)

KP Irrigation Minister called on Finance Minister

Senior Minister for Irrigation, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr. Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, at the Ministry of Finance.

Mr. Sikandar Sherpao discussed matters relating to the financing of different projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the Finance Minister, including the Pehur High Level Canal Extension Project, for which a loan agreement has been signed with the Asian Development Bank. The Federal Government is also making a financial contribution for the project which will have positive impact on the development of the agriculture sector and the welfare of the farming community in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Minister Dar said that the Federal Government encourages and welcomes initiatives from the provinces for economic development. He said that the present federal government has always been keen to work together with all provincial governments to develop and support initiatives which enhance the welfare of the general public. He said that the federal government is currently in the process of finalizing the budget for FY 2017-18, which would extend all possible facilitation to people throughout the country including the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Finance Minister assured Sikandar Sherpao of his full support for economic uplift schemes in the KP province.

 
June 09, 2017 (PR No. 2163)

Finance Minister witnessed signing of loan agreement for Pehur High Level Canal Project

The Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, witnessed the signing of the loan agreement between Government of Pakistan and Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the financing of Pehur High Level Canal Extension Project amounting to US$ 86.405 million. The total project cost is US$ 96.6 million. Mr. Tariq Pasha, Secretary, Economic Affairs Division (EAD), signed the Loan Agreement with Ms. Xiaohong Yang, Country Director, ADB. The ceremony was also witnessed by Mr. Sikandar Sherpao, Senior Minister for Irrigation (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), and Mr. Abdul Karim Khan, Special Assistant to Chief Minister for Commerce & Industries (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). Subsequently, Secretary, Irrigation Department, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa signed the project agreement with Country Director, ADB. 

The Finance Minister appreciated ADB's assistance for the Pehur High Level Canal Extension Project, and their continued support and partnership for development projects in Pakistan, including in the agriculture sector. He congratulated the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government, EAD, and ADB on successful negotiations and signing of the agreement. The Finance Minister said that the project will target three major agriculture domains in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said the project will enable increase of water available for agriculture, increase of water-use skill and farm management capacity, and facilitate project management support and capacity building.He emphasized that the project is expected to result in increase in farm incomes and incomes of non-farm households engaged in agriculture in arid areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Finance Minister highlighted that the agriculture sector registered 3.46% growth during FY 2016-17, as a result of the Prime Minister’s agriculture package and extraordinary measures approved in the budget for FY 2016-17. He said that the government’s support for the agriculture sector will continue during the current fiscal year.

Country Director ADB said she that was pleased to sign her first agreement since assuming her responsibilities in Pakistan. She said that enabling effective water resource management was an important step towards increasing farm productivity across Pakistan. She highlighted that the project would help increase agriculture output and raise income opportunities of the farming families in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The project will build on the earlier phase of the Pehur High Level Canal, developed with ADB’s assistance, by further increasing availability of water to farmers through new irrigation canals and pipeline over 65 km, and improving water-use efficiency and farm management capacity to secure the province’s food security targets. The project will create job opportunities for about 75,000 people in the new irrigated area of 8,727 hectares in the districts of Swabi and Nowshera.

The project envisages construction of Irrigation System in Janda Boka-Malikabad area and Indus Ambar area, along with construction of on-farm level irrigation canals in both areas. Interventions through this project will involve construction of the irrigation system in JandaBoka-Malikabad area and Indus Amber area, along with construction of on-farm level irrigation canals in both areas (20 water courses in JandaBoka-Malikabad and 86 water courses in Indus Amber area). Approximately 100 demonstration plots will be developed for high irrigationefficiency, profitable farming and training on farmer practices to approximately 106 water user associations and farmers.

The project is expected to be completed by June 2023.

 
June 08, 2017 (PR No. 2162)

Country Director, ADB pays courtesy called on Finance Minister

Country Director, Asian Development Bank, Ms. Xiaohong Yang paid a courtesy call on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Thursday. Finance Minister welcomed the newly appointed Country Director to Pakistan. 

During the meeting, ADB’s current portfolio was discussed. Finance Minister appreciated that ADB’s portfolio in Pakistan has been increasing for the last three years and was likely to grow further in coming years. The Minister expressed satisfaction over the pace of project implementation and both sides emphasized efforts to keep up momentum of Pak-ADB cooperation in different spheres. Finance Minister assured Ms Xiaohong of all possible support in her efforts for furtherance of Pak-ADB cooperation. The Minister on the occasion also accepted her invitation to the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the ADB in Islamabad in July 2017.

The Country Director ADB appreciated Finance Minister’s effective participation as head of Pakistan’s delegation in the annual meetings of the ADB in May this year. Finance Minister conveyed his regards for the President ADB Mr. Takehiko Nakao.
Senior officials of the Finance and Economic Affairs Divisions attended the meeting.

 
June 08, 2017 (PR No. 2161)

No move to appoint Atif Bajwa as Governor SBP - Spokesman, Finance Division

The spokesman of Finance Division here on Thursday strongly rebutted print and electronic media reports regarding appointment of Mr. Atif  Bajwa, CEO of Bank Alfalah as Governor, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

Terming the reports as mere speculations, the spokesman said that at present no proposal for appointing Mr. Atif Bajwa as Governor, SBP is under consideration.

The process for appointing Governor SBP is however underway and a decision to this effect would be taken in due course. Till such time, Mr. Riaz Riazuddin shall continue to serve as the Acting Governor, the spokesman added.

 
June 07, 2017 (PR No. 2160)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECC

The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet discussed and approved proposals from different ministrieson Wednesday at the Prime Minister’s Office. Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired the meeting.

The ECC approved the proposal of Cabinet Division for provision of bridge financing to the tune of Rs. 864 million for facilitating the Printing Corporation of Pakistanin procuring new printing machines for meeting the requirement of the Election Commission of Pakistan, including with respect to General Elections 2018.

ECC also considered and approved the proposal of Ministry of Commerce for extending the deadline for export of sugar from 31st May 2017 till 31st July 2017. The ECC directed the relevant ministries to ensure price stability especially during the holy month of Ramazan.

While considering a proposal of the Economic Affairs Division, ECC approved the exemption from the payment of General Sales Tax (GST) for the German Development Agency – GIZ, in respect of goods purchased by GIZ. This exemption shall also be available on procurement of services by GIZ received in Islamabad Capital Territory. This decision has been made to support the development activities carried out by GIZ in Pakistan.

The ECC also considered and approved a proposal of Ministry of Industries & Production, finalized with consensus, for not deregulating the price of sugarcane.

The ECC accorded approval to the proposal of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources that upto 10 MMCFD gas from Tolanj field may be allocated to M/s SNGPL. The price of gas will be as per the applicable Petroleum Policy.

ECC approved another proposal from the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources for allocation of 2.9 MMCFD gas from Khamiso-01 well, located in district Ghotki, to M/s Engro Fertilizer during the Extended Well Testing (EWT) period and post-approval of commerciality / D&P lease of the field.

On a proposal moved by the Privatization Division,ECC granted post-facto approval for payment of one month’s salary to the employees of Pakistan Steel Mills Corporation (PSMC) for the month of February 2017. As Ramzan was to begin in the last week of May 2017, Chairman ECC had previously accorded anticipatory approval in this regard. Also, keeping in view the fact that Eid-ul-Fitrwill will fall in the last week of June, the ECC also directed that the salary of PSMC employees for the month of March 2017 may be disbursed before the last week of June.

ECC approved a proposal of the Ministry of Water & Power for provision of a government guarantee by the Ministry of Finance for repayment of loan as well as interest, for a syndicated term finance facility for the power sector amounting to Rs. 41 billion. The amount will be utilized for the purposes of funding the repayment liabilities of the Distribution Companies (DISCOs), through arrangement between Power Holding Private Limited and DISCOs.

ECC also considered and approved a proposal from Finance Division regarding revised pay packages for the employees of PSDP funded projects.

ECC approved a proposal of the Ministry of Water & Power for amendments in the support package for provision of power for the Industrial sector.

OGRA also made a presentation to the ECC regarding the trends in the prices of petroleum products. It was noted that sales tax and PD levy on petroleum prices was currently much lower than 2013 in most cases.

 
June 05, 2017 (PR No. 2159)

Finance Minister chaired a high level meeting regarding energy-related matters

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a high level meeting here at the Ministry of Finance on Monday regarding energy-related matters. Minister for Water and Power, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Minister for Petroleum & Natural Resources, Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Finance Secretary, Secretary Water & Power, and senior officials of Finance Division and Ministry of Water & Power participated in the meeting. 

Secretary Water & Power provided an update during the meeting on the demand and supply situation of electricity in the country. He also briefed the meeting on the status of various ongoing power sector projects. He said that all necessary measures are being undertaken to provide maximum relief to the general public during Ramzan through provision of electricity, and to ensure timely completion of the ongoing power projects.

 The Finance Minister reiterated the government’s determination to resolve the issue of energy. He said that the high level of priority accorded to energy matters by the present government is evident from the fact that the Prime Minister chairs the Cabinet Committee on Energy himself. The Finance Minister said that additional electricity will be added to the national grid by early 2018 through completion of ongoing projects, which will significantly reduce load-shedding. He said that, in addition to power generation, necessary projects are also being undertaken for electricity transmission and distribution in order to ensure timely and effective evacuation and delivery of electricity. He urged the officials to ensure completion of the ongoing power projects according to the given timelines.

 
June 03, 2017 (PR No. 2158)

Chief of Naval Staff called on Finance Minister

Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah NI(M), called on the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar at the Ministry of Finance on Saturday.

Financial matters relating to Pakistan Navy were discussed during the meeting, including the financial requirements of the Pakistan Navy in the upcoming fiscal year. The Naval Chief congratulated the Finance Minister on presenting the budget to the Parliament for FY 2017-18.

Finance Minister said that, as always, the government would ensure that the requisite financial requirements for the upcoming fiscal year of all armed forces of Pakistan, including Pakistan Navy, are fully catered for. He said that the armed forces are performing their duties valiantly and professionally, by safeguarding Pakistan’s borders and fighting the menace of militancy and terrorism.

The Finance Minister said that the government and people of Pakistan will stand by our armed forces and fully support them in this national cause.

 
June 03, 2017 (PR No. 2157)

US Ambassador called on the Finance Minister

The US Ambassador H.E. David Hale called on the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Saturday.

The Finance Minister and Ambassador Hale discussed the current status of bilateral ties between Pakistan and the US.

The Finance Minister said that Pakistan and the US are longstanding friends, partners and strategic allies. He highlighted that he had a productive series of meetings with senior US administration officials in Washington D.C. in April 2017, during his visit to attend the IMF-World Bank Spring meetings. He urged Ambassador Hale to encourage more US investors and companies to explore investment and business opportunities in Pakistan. The Finance Minister assured his full support in this regard. He expressed confidence that the two countries will continue to work together for the promotion of bilateral relations.

Ambassador Hale said that the US relationship with Pakistan is a strong, long-term, and broad bilateral partnership with many shared interests. He said that the recent meetings in Islamabad and Washington D.C. between top government officials of both sides bode well for US-Pakistan relations. He said that the US Embassy will continue to encourage more US investors and firms to benefit from the attractive opportunities available in Pakistan.

 
June 02, 2017 (PR No. 2156)

British High Commissioner Mr. Thomas met with Finance Minister

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar received British High Commissioner Mr. Thomas Drew for a meeting here on Friday.
          
The High Commissioner felicitated the Minister on successful presentation of budget 2017-18 and said expressed his government’s support for efforts aimed at enhancing inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

The High Commissioner extended invitation to the Finance Minister to attend the Family Planning Summit scheduled to be held next month in London. The Department for International Development of the UK will jointly host the Summit  with the United Nations Fund for Population Welfare and the Bill & Malinda Gates Foundation.   

The Finance Minster thanked the High Commissioner for the invitation and said that family planning was an important policy area for Pakistan, being a country with a large population. He said that the the government of Pakistan would like to benefit from the ideas to be presented in the Summit. The Minister also appreciated the continued support being provided by the British government for different initiatives and projects in Pakistan aimed at economic development and well being of the people in different spheres. The Minister said Pakistan wanted Pak-UK ties to grow and that he would extend all support for efforts aimed at augmenting economic cooperation between the two friendly countries. He said Pakistan has its eyes set on economic growth and looks to all its development partners to strengthen the measures taken to achieve this objective.

Minister appreciated the resolve and deep interest evinced by Mr. Thomas Drew for promoting Pak-UK economic relations.

Secretary Finance and Secretary Economic Affairs Division also attended the meeting.

 
June 02, 2017 (PR No. 2155)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on matters related to the FBR

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting on Friday at the Ministry of Finance on matters related to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). Chairman FBR briefed the Finance Minister on the progress of tax collection during the current fiscal year, and the targets for FY 2017-18.

The Finance Minister urged FBR to take all necessary measures to meet the tax collection target for the current fiscal year. He said that the tax measures, which have been proposed in the budget for FY 2017-18, are based on extensive consultations with all relevant stakeholders. He expressed the confidence that the measures announced in the budget will enhance the welfare and prosperity of the general public, and enable Pakistan to achieve higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. He added that the government will welcome all constructive and positive suggestions regarding the budget from parliamentarians during the ongoing budget session in Parliament. The Finance Minister directed FBR to finalize a tax revenue collection strategy for the next year in a timely manner in order to effectively pursue the tax collection targets for FY 2017-18 .

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, Mr. Haroon Akhtar Khan, Finance Secretary, Secretary EAD, Chairman FBR, and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and FBR attended the meeting. 

 
June 01, 2017 (PR No. 2154)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting regarding energy related matters

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a high level meeting here at the Ministry of Finance on Thursday regarding energy-related matters. Minister for Water and Power, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Minister for Petroleum & Natural Resources, Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Secretary to Prime Minister, Finance Secretary, Secretary Water & Power, Secretary EAD, Secretary Commerce and senior officials of Finance Division and Ministry of Water & Power participated in the meeting.

Secretary Water & Power apprised the meeting of the demand and supply situation of electricity in the country. He informed that instructions had been passed to all power companies to avoid unscheduled power shedding. He said that there has been excessive demand for electricity in recent days due to the hot temperatures across large parts of the country, but load management had been carried out prudently to facilitate the people as much as possible. He also briefed the meeting on the status of various ongoing power sector projects. 

The Finance Minister said that the government is focused on resolving the issue of energy as a top priority. He said that additional electricity will be added to the national grid by early 2018 through completion of ongoing projects, which will help improve the energy situation and reduce load-shedding. He urged the relevant officials to ensure completion of the ongoing power projects according to the given timelines. He also urged the officials to provide relief to the general public by ensuring maximum provision of electricity during the holy month of Ramzan, especially at the time of Sehar and Iftar.

 
 
 
 

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