Press Releases/Media
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January 18, 2017 (PR No. 1987)

Dr. Muhammad Irshad (Member FBR) look after the work of Chairman FBR

Upon the retirement of Chairman, Federal Board of Revenue, Mr. Nisar Muhammad today, the Finance Minister has assigned Dr. Muhammad Irshad, Member (Operations-Inland Revenue) to look after the work of Chairman FBR, till the appointment of a regular Chairman.

The incumbent Chairman, Nisar Muhammad has retired on reaching the age of superannuation. Dr. Muhammad Irshad, is a BS 22 officer of the Inland Revenue Service. He will look after the work of Chairman FBR in addition to his own duties as Member, FBR. This would ensure smooth functioning of FBR in the interim period.

 
January 18, 2017 (PR No. 1986)

British American Tobacco delegation called on Finance Minister

Eight members global team of British American Tobacco (BAT) led by Jack Bowles, Director Asia Pacific Region called on the Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here today and discussed issues relating to tobacco industry in Pakistan.

Finance Minister said that the government firmly believes that no economy can grow without the participation of the business community. After achieving macro-economic stability, he said, the government is more focused on economic growth. He further said that government is extending maximum facilitation to Private Sector to enable it to play its due role in increasing economic opportunities for the people. He said that government had taken a number of steps to curb the production and smuggling of illicit tobacco products and would continue to pursue this course. He directed the Federal Board of Revenue to keep close liaison with the industry in this regard

Director of the British American Tobacco briefed the Minister about his company’s business in Pakistan and around the globe. The British American Tobacco (BAT) team thanked the Finance Minister for the measures taken by the Government to curb illicit trade of tobacco products in the country. This would facilitate legal and quality tobacco business as well as ensure proper taxation of such businesses.

The meeting was attended by the Special Assistant of the Prime Minister Haroon Akhtar Khan, Chairman FBR and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and FBR.

 
January 18, 2017 (PR No. 1985)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of ECC

The Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet at the Prime Minister’s Office this morning.

ECC considered and approved the proposal of the Aviation Division to increase the Government of Pakistan’s guarantee limit for Pakistan International Airlines Corporation Limited (PIACL) by Rs. 10.5 billion from 151 billion to PKR 161.5 billion, in order to cater to the immediate financial needs of PIACL.

ECC also decided to form a Committee to be chaired by Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Planning and Development, and comprising of Mr. Mohammad Zubair, Chairman Privatization Commission, Mr. Haroon Akhtar Khan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, Mr. Tariq Bajwa, Secretary EAD, and Mr. Irfan Elahi, Acting Chairman PIA / Secretary Aviation Division, to finalize a business plan for improving the financial and operational performance of PIACL on a sustainable basis, in coordination with PIA management.

ECC also considered and approved the proposal by Ministry of National Food Security and Research for the extension of time period for the export of surplus wheat and wheat products, from 31st December 2016 to 15th March 2017. In view of the availability of surplus wheat stocks in the country, ECC also allowed the export of additional quantity of 400,000 tons of wheat and wheat products by Punjab and Sindh governments.

ECC also approved the disbursement of salaries for the month of October 2016 to the employees of Pakistan Steel Mills Corporation.

 
January 17, 2017 (PR No. 1984)

Finance Minister chaired meeting to review Macroeconomic Framework

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here today to review the five-year (2017-18 to 2021-22) macroeconomic framework.

The Finance Minister directed to align medium-term fiscal policy with the targets provided in the amended Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitations (FRDL) Act. The Minister reiterated the Government’s resolve to continue on the path of economic reforms program that was articulated at the beginning of 2013-14, and which has been successfully pursued in the last three-years.

The Minister emphasized that the government is focused on further improving the key macroeconomic indicators, including the investment-to-GDP and tax-to-GDP ratios. Furthermore, he underlined the importance of recent amendment in the FRDL Act which, for the first time, has provided for limiting the deficit of the federal government, as it requires the federal government to bring down its deficit in 3 years, starting with 2017-18, to 4% of GDP, and thereafter maintaining it at a maximum of 3.5%. Additionally, he said that the law requires that the debt-to-GDP ratio will be brought down from current statutory limit of 60% to be achieved by next year further down to 50% in 15 years. The Minister directed that these commitments should be built and adhered to in future projections of macroeconomic framework. He highlighted that a comprehensive and thorough macroeconomic framework enables the federal government, provincial governments as well as the private sector to plan ahead with confidence and take vital decisions in a timely manner.

The framework forms the basis of policy decisions in the areas of annual and multi-annual budgets, management of reserves, investments and economic growth. The Finance Secretary presented macro-fiscal forecasts highlighting key areas where policy interventions will be required to take the country on a higher-growth trajectory. It was observed in the meeting that strong economic reforms already implemented by the government will increase economic opportunities and lead to higher economic growth.

The meeting was also attended by other senior officials of the Ministry of Finance.

 
January 16, 2017 (PR No. 1983)

Commander US Central Command, General Joseph Votel called on the Finance Minister

Commander US Central Command, General Joseph Votel, called on the Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar, here today. Minister for Defence, Khawaja Muhammad Asif and DG, ISI, Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar also participated in the meeting.

Welcoming General Votel, the Finance Minister stated that Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with the United States and wishes to further enhance the political and military cooperation between the two countries. He said that US support has been critical for the efforts against the menace of terrorism and violent extremism and hoped that such cooperation would continue in the future.

The Finance Minister stated that Pakistan is committed to rooting out terrorism and violent extremism and the initiation of 'Operation Zarb-e-Azb' in 2014 was a clear manifestation of the government's resolve. He stated that the operation was launched and sustained through country's own resources. The operation also resulted in displacement of a large number of people, for whom the government made adequate arrangements, resulting in additional unbudgeted financial costs.

The Minister reiterated Pakistan's desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan which was essential for regional stability. He stated that effective coordination among stakeholders and comprehensive political reconciliation process in Afghanistan was imperative to achieve these objectives. He said that improvement in security and economic conditions would also ensure early return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan to their homeland. He also shared with the CENTCOM Chief Pakistan's efforts for effective border management and stressed on the need for enhancement of similar efforts on the Afghan side. Finance Minister reiterated Pakistan’s resolve not to allow its soil to be used against any country.

The CENTCOM Chief stated that the US acknowledged the human and material sacrifices made by Pakistan in fighting terrorism. He emphasized that continued military

cooperation between the two countries was essential. He also stated that the commitment of the political and military leadership of Pakistan to counter terrorism was greatly appreciated.

The US Commander expressed that the improved security and economic environment in Pakistan was heartening. He hoped that the CPEC initiative will further strengthen Pakistan’s economy. The CENTCOM Chief stated that robust border management was important for both Pakistan and Afghanistan. He assured US support to the two countries in this regard.

 
January 16, 2017 (PR No. 1982)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review the demand/supply situation of fertilizer

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division to review the demand and supply situation of fertilizer in the country during the current sowing season after the much awaited rainy spell. The Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbassi also participated in the meeting.

Secretary Industries and Secretary National Food and Security gave a detailed briefing to the participants on the current situation of the available stocks of local and imported fertilizers available in the country. It was informed that besides locally produced stocks there is an additional stock of around 250,000 M tons of imported urea available at a subsidized price of 1200 per bag to benefit the farmers. It was stated during the meeting that the recent country wide rains will have a positive impact on the Rabi crop which will enhance the fertilizer demand.

`The Finance Minister expressed satisfaction over the available stocks of fertilizers in the country and asked the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to ensure uninterrupted supplies of fertilizer to the farmers as per direction of the Prime Minister.

The meeting was attended by the Finance Secretary, senior officials of the Ministries of Finance, Petroleum and Natural Resources, National Food Security & Research, Industries and Production.

 
January 14, 2017 (PR No. 1981)

Finance Minister commends National Savings on Membership of Automated Clearing System

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, commended National Savings on becoming member of the Automated Clearing System. National Savings is the only non-bank member of the clearinghouse. The Minister said that this achievement of National Savings will help serve millions of small savers throughout the country. It was an earnest demand of CDNS’ customers / investors. He said that endeavours of National Savings, like the clearinghouse membership, will enable realization of the vision of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy.

The Finance Minister said that the clearinghouse membership has enhanced the convenience of investors throughout the country, especially senior and retired citizens, who can now draw their profits directly from their accounts, located anywhere in Pakistan. He stated that this facility, which will also provide relief to pensioners, will provide access to National Savings’ investors to alternate delivery channels such as ATMs, Internet Banking etc.

It may be recalled that, previously, a personal visit to the National Savings Centres was required for investors to obtain their monthly profits. This used to result in inconvenience for investors, especially senior and retired citizens as well as widows, who had to undergo lengthy waits in queues to receive their profits. The new system of receiving payments directly from the investors’ accounts is not only more convenient but also a safer mechanism for the general public.

National Savings is serving more than seven million accounts all over Pakistan by offering a variety of savings schemes which target all segments of the society. Finance Minister expressed the hope that National Savings would take further steps to ensure effective utilization of technology, in order to enhance financial inclusion. He urged National Savings to undertake all necessary measures to ensure smooth service delivery and a convenient customer experience to the people of Pakistan.

 
January 13, 2017 (PR No. 1980)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review 6-month performance of FBR

Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting to review the 6-month performance of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for the period July-December of the Financial Year 2016-17 at FBR headquarters today.

While briefing the Finance Minister, Chairman FBR said that FBR has collected more than Rs 1,467 billion in the first half of the Financial Year 2016-17 as compared to Rs. 1,370.9 billion during the corresponding period in the Financial Year 2015-16, reflecting 7% growth in tax revenues, compared to target revenue growth of 16% for the current fiscal year. He further informed the Finance Minister that revenue collection during December 2016 has been the highest amongst all the 6 months of the current fiscal year so far. 

The Finance Minister said that the strong performance in December 2016 bodes well for revenue collection in the second half of the Financial Year 2016-17. While taking notice of the fact that only 7% revenue growth had been achieved in the first half of the Financial Year 2016-17 compared to target revenue growth of 16%, the Finance Minister urged the FBR team to undertake all necessary efforts to make up the revenue shortfall compared to the target set at the beginning of the current fiscal year. He emphasized that strong tax revenue collections are vital to achieving higher, sustainable and

inclusive economic growth, which is a primary focus of the government.

The meeting was also attended by Mr. Haroon Akhtar Khan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, and senior officials of FBR and the Ministry of Finance.

 
January 13, 2017 (PR No. 1979)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of the Law Review committee

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting of the Law Review committee here today.

The meeting reviewed progress on different draft laws that have been placed before the Parliament for enactment as well as matters relating to other legislation in the offing including Companies Bill, 2016. The Committee also reviewed the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 in order to further improve the Law to ensure good governance and eradicate corruption.

The objective of the Committee which meets regularly is to review the laws for identifying anomalies and ambiguities, as well as to bring them at par with the contemporary requirements. The Committee was also apprised of progress achieved till date on electoral reforms.

The Finance Minister appreciated the hard work done by SECP for the Companies Bill, 2016 and the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms for working on the electoral reforms. The Minister for Law and Justice, Mr. Zahid Hamid, Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecom, Ms Anusha Rahman Khan, Attorney General for Pakistan, Mr. Ashtar Ausaf Ali and Special Assistant to PM, Khawaja Zaheer attended the meeting.

 
January 12, 2017 (PR No. 1978)

Google Director Ms. Ann Lavin called on the Finance Minister

Google Director Ms. Ann Lavin called on the Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar called here today and discussed the possibilities of her company’s collaboration in digitalization of  economic activity in Pakistan.

During the meeting, Ms. Lavin acknowledged the economic progress of Pakistan in last three years. She said her company can play a role in IT development, promotion of E-Commerce and assist in attracting investment in Pakistan.

The Finance Minister asked Google’s Director for Public Policy and Government Relations, Southeast Asia and Greater China to submit a complete plan so that the same is considered by the relevant stakeholders. He said that the Government is committed to provide a level playing field to all the prospective local and foreign investors.

The Minister said that Pakistan has been projected by renowned international institutions as the second choicest place for investment in the world. The Finance Minister said that the turnaround of Pakistan’s economy, macroeconomic stability, improvement of energy and security situation in the country has provided a conducive atmosphere for enhanced commercial activity and foreign direct investment. He said that a number of new entrants have shown keen interest to invest in Pakistan’s IT sector as well.

The meeting was attended by the senior officials of the Finance Division and Google.

 
January 11, 2017 (PR No. 1977)

Finance Minister chaired 4th meeting of NFIS Council

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired 4th meeting of National Financial Inclusion Council (NFIS) today in Islamabad. 

Finance Minister in his opening remarks said, “Implementation of National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) is Government’s foremost priority, as we are cognizant of the fact that access to easy & affordable financial services has a strong nexus with equitable economic growth and financial stability.” He highlighted that NFIS stakeholders have shown strong commitment to collaborate, review and advance policy reforms to address the future challenges. Finance Minister emphasized on the need for enhanced coordination and ownership of concerned stakeholders to provide further impetus to achieving the goals under NFIS.  

Mr. Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, Governor SBP and Chairman of NFIS Steering Committee briefed the Council about the substantial efforts and deliberations made by the NFIS stakeholders in the development of a scheme for promotion of Digital Transaction Accounts (DTAs). This would help build ecosystem of digital financial services in the country.  While sharing the features and components of the DTA Scheme, Deputy Governor Mr. Saeed Ahmad informed that after consulting with branchless banking players the scheme has been named as Asaan Mobile Account (AMA).  He also shared the roles and responsibilities of the key stakeholders including SBP, PTA, NADRA, Branchless Banking Providers, Telcos etc. for successful implementation of the scheme. Further, he updated the Council on the key developments made with respect to its earlier recommendations on NADRA’s verification cost and taxation structure for branchless banking operations. The Council after detailed discussions approved the scheme.

Meeting was attended by NFIS Council members including Governor SBP, Secretary Finance, Secretary EAD, Chairman SECP, Chairman FBR, Chairman NADRA, and representatives from Provincial Finance Departments, PTA and ICT and senior officials of the Finance Division and SBP attended the meeting.

 
January 11, 2017 (PR No. 1976)

Finance Minister meeting with Governor SBP

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here today and reviewed the new technological trends and reform initiatives in banking/financial sector.

Governor State Bank Ashraf Mehmood Wathra updated the Finance Minister regarding the new technological trends and reform initiatives in hand in the Banking sector of Pakistan. He briefed him that technological advances are quickly changing the face of the Pakistani banking industry. 

The Finance Minister was apprised on the recent development in private sector credit and agriculture sector growth automation in currency distribution by Central and commercial Banks. Key economic indicators also came under discussion which demonstrate a stable trends

Finance Secretary, Secretary Economic Affairs Division, senior officials of the State Bank of Pakistan also attended the meeting. 

 
January 11, 2017 (PR No. 1975)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECC

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Prime Minister’s Office today.

 The Finance Division informed the ECC about the latest key economic indicators, including reviews of product’s prices, inflation, commodity stock position, energy figures, foreign exchange reserves, foreign investment, trade performance and tax revenues. ECC was informed that headline inflation measured by CPI increased by 3.7% in December 2016 compared to 3.8% in November 2016. On average, during July-December FY 2017, CPI is recorded at 3.88%. ECC was apprised that the reported stock of wheat as on January 03, 2017, is 7.5 million tons showing that sufficient quantity of local wheat is available for daily releases to mills by Provincial Food Departments and PASSCO. The Finance Division informed the ECC that the stock of various POL products averaged 34 days on January 10, 2017. It was also informed that production in the Large Scale Manufacturing sector stood at 2% in July-October FY 2017. ECC was apprised that worker remittances received during July-December FY 2017 amounted to US$ 9,459 million. It was also informed that gross foreign exchange reserves stood at US$ 23.183 billion as on January 09, 2017.

ECC approved the summary submitted by Finance Division regarding the Prime Minister’s Package of Incentives for Exporters which has been formulated with a view to mitigate exporters’ difficulties and enhance the country’s exports. The package will have an estimated financial impact of Rs. 180 billion,and is applicable for the period from January 16, 2017, till June 30, 2018. The incentives for FY 2017-18 would only be available to those exporters who would achieve an increase of 10% in their exports as compared to their exports for FY 2016-17.

ECC approved the proposal of Ministry of Water & Power to extend the closing date of collection of Neelum Jhelum Surcharge at Rs. 0.10/kWh up to June 30, 2018, for the Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project. The previous closing date for the surcharge was December 31, 2016. The extension in the closing date for a period of 18 months up till June 30, 2018, is expected to result in collection of Rs. 9 billion which will assist in ensuring successful completion of the project.

In pursuance of the decision of the Council of Common Interests (CCI), ECC approved the proposal of Ministry of Water & Power for issuance of Letter of Comfort / GoP guarantee by Finance Division to WAPDA for settlement of Net Hydel Profit claims of Government of Punjab. 

 
January 10, 2017 (PR No. 1974)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting regarding Pakistan's investment climate and exports

The Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting here today regarding improving Pakistan’s investment climate and exports. Deliberations on a package to enhance the country’s exports were carried out during the meeting.

The Finance Minister appreciated the extensive work already undertaken to develop a comprehensive strategy for this purpose. He directed to further expedite implementation of business reforms and ensure effective coordination with all concerned government agencies. 

The Finance Minister said that the government is now focused on undertaking all necessary measures to enhance Pakistan’s exports. He stated that it was the strong resolve of the government to make Pakistan an even more business friendly country and help entrepreneurs in setting up and expanding business. He expressed confidence that the government’s measures will enable the country to achieve higher, sustainable and inclusive export-led growth.

The meeting was attended by the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, Haroon Akhtar Khan, Chairman Board of Investment, Miftah Ismail, Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, Finance Secretary, Chairman FBR and other senior officers of the Ministry of Finance. 

 
January 07, 2017 (PR No. 1973)

Corrupt persons to stand Permanently Disqualified from holding Public Office or from being a Government Servant

Federal Finance Minister and Chairman Laws Review Committee, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, held a press conference at Punjab House, Islamabad today, in which he stated that under directions of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on January 05, 2017, the Laws Review Committee has examined and proposed amendments in Section 15 and substitution of Section 25 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 (“NAO”).

With approval of the Prime Minister and the Federal Cabinet, the government has decided to immediately promulgate the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, to give immediate effect to the aforementioned amendments.

The Ordinance will be laid in the Senate session starting on Monday January 09, 2017.

Prior to the promulgation of the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, NAO contains provisions for voluntary return and plea bargain. The provision for voluntary return did not entail disqualification of a holder of public office or dismissal of a government servant who enters into voluntary return arrangements. Nor did it require approval of the Accountability Court. The result was that a corrupt person who voluntarily returned the proceeds of corruption could continue to be a holder of public office or a government servant.

The provision for plea bargain required approval of the Court but disqualification to hold a public office was for a period of ten years only.

Accordingly, the Laws Review Committee has proposed certain amendments, the salient features of which are as follows:

(i) The provisions of voluntary return and plea bargain have been merged.
(ii) A voluntary return arrangement will now be subject to approval of the Court, and will not be at the discretion of Chairman, NAB.
(iii) The person entering into such arrangement shall be deemed to be convicted and;
(a) shall stand disqualified from being a holder of public office; and
(b) if in government service shall stand dismissed without any pecuniary benefits and shall not thereafter be eligible to hold public office.
(iv) A person convicted by the Court for corruption and corrupt practices shall cease to hold public office and shall stand disqualified from being a holder of public office in future.

Upon promulgation of the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, the aforementioned amendments will become operative with immediate effect.

Furthermore, in accordance with unanimous motions passed by the National Assembly and Senate, the Speaker National Assembly in consultation with the Chairman, Senate and Leaders of the Parliamentary Parties has constituted a 20-member Parliamentary Committee comprising 13-MNAs and 07-Senators “to revisit the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and recommend necessary amendments therein”. The Committee is likely to commence its work in the week beginning January 09, 2017.

The Finance Minister was accompanied at the press conference by Mr. Zahid Hamid, Minister for Law and Justice, Ms. Anusha Rahman, Minister of State for IT & Telecom, Khawaja Zaheer Ahmed, Special Assistant to Prime Minister, and Barrister Zafarullah Khan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Law.

 
January 06, 2017 (PR No. 1972)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee

The meeting held on 06 January, 2017 in Finance Division under the Chairmanship of Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization. The meeting was attended by the representatives from the Provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhthunkhwa, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries of Industries, Law and Justice, Commerce, National Food Security and Research, Cabinet, Planning Development and Reforms, Inter Provincial Coordination, Statistics Division, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Utility Stores Corporation and Federal Board of Revenue.

The meeting was informed that the headline inflation measured by CPI increased by 3.7% in December 2016 compared to 3.8 percent of previous month and 3.2% of December last year. On average during Jul-Dec FY 2017 it is recorded at 3.88% as compared to 2.08 % in corresponding period last year. On monthly basis the CPI and food inflation remained lowest by -0.7% and -1.9% since February 2015. The CPI is tamed down and in control. The other inflationary indicators have also been contained. The meeting noted continuous decline of SPI since last week of November 2016. It recorded continuous six weekly decline which has brought food inflation to 3.0 percent in December 2016 compared to 3.3 percent of previous month while non food inflation remained at same level of previous month at 4.2 percent, whereas core inflation increased by 5.2 percent compared to 5.3 percent of previous months and SPI and WPI in December 2016 recorded at 0.5 percent and 3.1 percent respectively, compared to 0.6 percent and 2.6 percent of previous month.

The Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) for the week ended on 5th January 2017 decreased by 0.12%. Out of 53 items, Nine (09) items which recorded decrease in their prices are tomatoes 10.20%, Potatoes 5.02%, Chicken 4.63%, Mash Pulse 1.29%, Onions 0.91%, Garlic 0.87%, Moong Pulse 0.57%, Masoor Pulse 0.06% and Red Chilly Powdered 0.05%. The decrease in prices of 09 items brought an impact of 0.26 percent in SPI decline. Sixteen (16) items recorded increase in prices including Sugar 1.64%, Eggs 1.55%, Bananas 1.51%, LPG 1.22%, Rice Irri-6 0.61%, Rice Basmati 0.47%, Mutton 0.38%, Wheat 0.17%, Vegetable Ghee tin 0.13%, Gram Pulse 0.10% and Wheat Flour 0.08%. The prices of twenty eight (28) items remained stable which shows that there is overall price stability in the country.
The meeting noted the price movement of essential items on month on month and year on year basis. It was observed that prices of wheat, wheat flour, chicken, onion, tomatoes, cooking oil, vegetable ghee, masoor pulse, moong pulse, mash pulse decreased in December 2016 compared to corresponding month of last year. Prices of cooking oil, vegetable ghee loose, vegetable ghee (tin), chicken, banana, tomatoes, rice basmati, rice irri, and mustard oil are much lower than 2013 prices.

The meeting also noted the increasing trend in prices of eggs, garlic, milk powder (NIDO), beef, mutton, gram pulse.The Minister expressed concerns of increasing trend of these food commodities and directed the Ministry of National Food and Security and Competition Commission of Pakistan to closely monitor the situation, control the undeclared monopoly, take corrective measures and arrest any cartelization, particularly in milk and meat products as well as mitigate any expected rise in prices of pulses. For gram pulse he directed Ministry of National Food and Security and USC to carry out inter ministerial consultations with all stakeholders in order to address any abnormal spike in prices. He further expressed concern about the slight increase in the prices of sugar and directed Ministry of Commerce to vigilantly monitor the prices and if there is any erratic movement, take appropriate remedial action. With regard to prices of beef and mutton, he directed the Ministry of National Food and Security to take on board all stakeholders and take corrective measures to curb smuggling. He advised provincial governments to be more vigilant to control prices.

The meeting also reviewed the essential item’s prices in sasta bazaars and open markets and noted that the prices are significantly lower in sasta bazaars as compared to open markets. The Minister urged that the people should benefit from these bazaars.

The meeting also noted the change in prices of selected essential kitchen items in low and combined income group during current week ending on 5th January 2017 compared to previous week and corresponding week of the previous year. The meeting noted that in low and combined income group the price index declined by 0.29 and 0.24 basis points respectively.

The meeting also reviewed the regional price comparison of essential commodities among Islamabad, New Delhi and Dhaka and observed that the prices of Nine (09) items include wheat, wheat flour, chicken farm, petrol, diesel, rice basmati, sugar, mash pulse and beef are lowest in Pakistan as compared to New Delhi and Dhaka and second lowest in nine (09) items which include onions, masoor pulse, moong pulse, eggs, gram pulse, vegetable ghee, milk fresh, red chillies and tomatoes.

The meeting noted that the prices among the provinces are stable.

 
January 06, 2017 (PR No. 1971)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECC

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Prime Minister’s Office this morning.

ECC approved the proposal of the Planning, Development and Reform Division at the request of the Government of Punjab to grant exemptions from withholding tax beyond 6% of E&M contract price, and from tax/duties on import of equipment to be installed for the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project. The ECC also decided that a similar dispensation would also be extended to the other rail based mass transit projects in Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta at the appropriate time. The ECC was informed that the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project has been made a part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) along with rail based mass transit projects in other provincial capitals at the recently concluded 6th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting held in Beijing, China.
 
January 05, 2017 (PR No. 1970)

Finance Minister Conducts Computerized Balloting for Audit for Tax Year 2015

Minister for Finance, Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar said that the government would not tolerate tax evaders in any case and the time to come would be very difficult for them. He however assured those tax payers who were paying their taxes honestly would be further facilitated.

Addressing a ceremony held in FBR to conduct computerized balloting for audit for tax year 2015 (income tax, sales tax and Federal Excise Duty), the Finance Minister said those selected for audit should need not worry if they were honest tax payers. He said due to hard efforts of the government, Pakistan succeeded to become a signatory of the Multilateral Convention of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Pakistan could now have access to information about the tax evaders anywhere in the world. "That is why I am saying that tax evaders can not run anywhere and ultimately they must have to pay their taxes honestly otherwise they would have to face legal process", Dar added. He also directed the FBR officials not to harass the tax payers and they should not be dealt with heavy handedness, however he asked the FBR to ensure tax compliance.

Finance Minister said that due to structural reforms and stringent fiscal discipline, the government succeeded in boosting the revenue collection by 60 percent in three years whereas in 2012-13, the revenue collection increase was 3.38 percent. "Today Pakistan's socio economic condition is far better than that it was in 2013 when the country was on the verge of default", he remarked. He however said that there was a lot to be done in order to bring the country among top 18 countries by 2030s. "Now the whole focus of the government is on exports growth, agriculture and services led economic growth as there is lot of room in these sectors to develop", he added.

The Minister said now Pakistan would not only come out of energy crisis in 2018 but it would also become an energy surplus country. "We have brought down the load shedding period from 16 to 20 hours daily in 2013 to only four hours now and due to a number of energy projects going on in the country", he added.

The Finance Minister said this country's future was bright and every citizen should own it and take part in its development. He said this year too only 7.5 per cent of total tax payers had been selected through computerized balloting audit and their audit would be conducted transparently.

Earlier, speaking at the occasion, Minister of State for Revenue, Haroon Akhtar Khan said that without audit, self assessment schemes could not be successful. He said the balloting was totally computerized and there was no chance of any mismanagement. 

Chairman FBR, Nisar Muhammad Khan said in order to promote tax culture and compliance many audit policies were launched in the past but the latest policy that was approved a few days ago had been carefully drafted keeping in mind the wisdom and experience derived from the past policies. He said the Audit policy, 2016 had proposed a paradigm shift from random ballot to parametric selection and risk based approach. "This approach would minimize chances of selection of compliant tax payers resulting in increased confidence in the system", he said, adding this new trend in taxpayers' audit would not only promote compliance with the existing tax laws but would also generate increased revenues through better declaration for better public spending by the government.

According to results of computerized balloting of audit cases, FBR selected 82,090 cases out of total 1094,507 tax returns for income tax non corporate taxpayers. Similarly, for sales tax non corporate 7,976 cases were selected while for sales tax corporate taxpayers, 986 cases for audit were selected and 30 cases were selected for audit from Federal Excise Duty (corporate sector) and 21 cases were selected for FED non corporate sector.

 
January 05, 2017 (PR No. 1969)

Finance Minister urged stronger enforcement of AML/CFT Laws in Pakistan

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting to discuss the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Financing of Terrorism Regime (AML/CFT) regime in Pakistan. The meeting was attended by the senior officers of Finance Division including Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU).

DG (FMU) briefed the participants about the actions being taken to implement the AML/CFT reforms introduced by the Federal Government through amendments made in Anti Money Laundering Act, 2010 and Anti Terrorism Act, 1997 during the last 3 ½ years. DG (FMU) shared that the chain of financial intelligence produced under the AML Act, 2010 had significantly improved over a period of time, mainly through capacity building of reporting entities, FMU and law enforcement agencies. 

The Minister was briefed about the measures taken in terms of National Action Plan- Chocking financing of terrorism, to insulate the financial sector from any use by the banned entities and the associated individuals. He was also informed about the latest action taken by the authorities to freeze the assets of individuals listed in the Schedule IV of Anti Terrorism Act, 1997.

While appreciating the work so far done for the enforcement of AML/CFT laws in Pakistan, the Finance Minister urged stronger enforcement to ensure that the menace of money laundering is eliminated and access of terrorists to finances is effectively denied. 

 
January 05, 2017 (PR No. 1968)

Finance Minister Emphasized the Need for Early Promulgation of the New Company Law

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar underscored the need for early promulgation of the new company law which will replace more than 32 years old law. 

During the meeting of the sub-committee of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance held on here today, the Finance Minister said that the new law has been finalized after thorough research of various international jurisdictions, the use of technology and keeping in view international best practices. He informed the committee members that before finalization, a comprehensive and exhaustive consultative process with the stakeholders has been done. 

The Minister stated that he had held several meetings with SECP on weekends to ensure timely finalization of all new concepts introduced in the law. He suggested that the sub-committees of both Houses should sit together for early finalization of the Companies Bill, 2016, in the national interest. 

The new areas being introduced through the new company law include the global register of beneficial ownership, which have been a cause of concern for the stakeholders. However, pursuant to the Panama Leaks issue, there has been a movement globally to regulate the beneficial ownership area and a number of countries including UK have undertaken legislation in this area. Barring a few concerns, the promulgation of the Companies Ordinance, 2016 was duly appreciated by majority of the stakeholders. 

Finance Minister told the Committee that he has advised SECP to bring before the Committee all concerned proposals and suggestions from press and professional circle for further improvement of the Law. He said that the Committee should consider all these comments with open mind so that the new Law brings maximum fruits in the matter of ease of doing business, good governance and development of corporate sector.

 
January 04, 2017 (PR No. 1967)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review Tarbela Dam 5th Extension Hydro-power Project

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here today at the Finance Ministry regarding the Tarbela Dam 5th Extension Hydropower Project.

Country Director World Bank Mr.Patchamuthu Illangovan informed the Finance Minister that loans from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) have been arranged for the Tarbela Dam 5th Extension Hydropower Project. He informed that IBRD will lend US$ 390 million while AIIB will lend US$ 300 million for the project. He also informed that two works contracts worth US$ 2 billion for the Dasu Hydropower Project are also ready for signing. He elaborated that both contracts have been awarded to the lowest evaluated bidder.

Finance Minister appreciated the support of the World Bank, IBRD and AIIB in arranging the loans for the Tarbela Dam 5th Extension Hydropower Project. He said that energy reforms are one of the foremost priorities of the present government. He emphasized that the government is actively working towards elimination of load-shedding, ensuring energy self-sufficiency for the country, and provision of cheap energy at affordable rates to the people of Pakistan. He said that Tarbela Dam is an important and historic dam for Pakistan, and its successful extension, with the help of the financing made available by IBRD and AIIB, will

go a long way in achieving the government’s goals for the energy sector of the country. 

The meeting was attended by the Auditor General for Pakistan and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Water & Power and the World Bank.

 
January 04, 2017 (PR No. 1966)

Acting US Ambassador pays courtesy called on the Finance Minister

Acting US Ambassador Mr. Jonathan Pratt paid a courtesy call on the Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here at the Finance Ministry today.

Finance Minister and Mr. Pratt discussed matters of bilateral interest including trade and economic relations between Pakistan and the US. Mr. Pratt said that Pakistan is an important ally of the US. He said that improvement in both the security situation and also macroeconomic indicators infused confidence for US investment to Pakistan.

Finance Minister said that after having achieved macroeconomic stability, the government is now focused on achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. He appreciated the longstanding strategic partnership between Pakistan and the US. He expressed confidence that Pakistan-US ties will strengthen even further under the new US administration. 

 
January 04, 2017 (PR No. 1965)

British MP met with Finance Minister

Rt. Hon. Khalid Mahmood British Member of Parliament for Birmingham Perry Barr, a shadow Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs called on the Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here today and discussed possibilities of expansion in bilateral trade and investment between Pakistan and U.K.

British M.P. said that after Brexit from EU, Britain is looking to expand bilateral trade and investment opportunities in other countries including Pakistan. He said that Great Britain and Pakistan enjoy long standing political, economic and social ties. He mentioned that his country has continued to make significant contributions to development in Pakistan over the years. he viewed that there are bright prospects of enhanced cooperation between the two countries particularly in the field of trade and investment.  

The Finance Minister said that Pakistan valued its long standing ties with the UK and hoped to strengthen bilateral relations further. The Finance Minister said that the Government of Pakistan and the Ministry of Finance is looking forward to working closely with Britain in future as well. He welcomed the proposal of the British Member Parliament to enhance trade and investment with Pakistan and assured him of all support and assistance. 

The Finance Minister also appreciated the contributions of Pakistan origin British citizens for strengthening both countries relations. He thanked the support of Pakistani Diaspora in Britain for promoting close relationship between the two countries and supporting the Kashmir cause.

 
January 03, 2017 (PR No. 1964)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review matters related to Privatization

Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics& Privatization, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting here today at the Finance Ministry to review matters related to Privatization.

Chairman Privatization Commission Mohammad Zubair briefed the Minister on the privatization program approved by the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCOP). He briefed the Minister on the status of the ongoing privatization transactions and post-privatization matters. He also briefed the Minister on the performance of the Privatization Commission for the six-month period ended 31st December 2016.

Finance Minister emphasized that the Privatization Commission should undertake all necessary efforts to complete the ongoing transactions in a timely manner in accordance with processes defined in the Privatization Commission Ordinance, 2000. He urged the Privatization Commission to ensure that privatization transactions are conducted in an open, fair and transparent manner. He said that the privatization program is a major component of the present government’s home-grown structural reforms agenda. 

The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Privatization Commission.

 
January 02, 2017 (PR No. 1963)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review economic performance

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here today to review the economic performance in the six months ended 31st December 2016.

Finance Minister noted that GDP growth appears to be on upward trajectory and inflation was steady below 4% in December 2016 while average inflation during July-December 2016 was recorded at 3.88%, reflecting continued price stability. 

Finance Minister noted FBR’s performance at around 7% for the six month period ended in December 2016, reflecting catching up of the shortfall experienced in the initial months, largely on account of giving relief to consumers on petroleum prices together with sales tax refunds of Rs. 45 billions. On the expenditure side, the performance was on track as expenditure was allowed in a prudent manner in accordance with budget, and keeping in view the revenue growth. 

The Finance Minister, while expressing satisfaction on recent economic performance, noted that economic activities are picking up, investments are taking place, particularly in CPEC-related projects which would further accelerate after the recent understanding with Chinese authorities to further expand the scope of CPEC by including water security, Karachi Circular Railway, mass transit program for

Baluchistan, projects for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and rehabilitation of Railways related project. He further remarked that going forward, Pakistan would experience rising growth and creation of more job opportunities.

The meeting was attended by the Finance Secretary and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance.

 
January 02, 2017 (PR No. 1962)

Finance Minister addressed at the IT Ministry Function

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar said Monday that government was determined to promote digitalization all across the country for increasing outreach and access of financial services to people for sustainable development.

This project will provide Mobile Broadband Internet/3G services to the population in the yet un-served areas of Awaran-Lasbela Lot, consisting of identified un-served 269 Mauzas in Balochistan with an approximate un-served population of 196,177 covering an area of 39,434 Sq. Ft.

Finance Minister said that the national exchequer earned as many as Rs160 billion through six transparent auctions of telecom spectrums, adding that the earning from the spectrum is expected to reach to Rs200 billion. He said that earlier, only Rs50 billion were estimated from the auction of the telecommunication spectrum, however with diligence and transparency mechanism, there has been multifold increase in the earnings.

Chief Guest of the ceremony Finance Minister reiterated government’s resolve to provide internet and mobile access across the country, adding even the remote areas would also be covered in the network to promote digitalization. He said that the villages having even population of just 100 people would also be covered under the network. Although it was not financially viable, but providing these services and facilities to the common people was the duty of the State, he added.

The Finance Minister said that government has been focusing to build infrastructure so attention is on developing telecommunication, highways and railways to ensure proper connectivity. He said that for the sake of better connectivity, the government kick started Multan-Sukkhar project despite the fact that it was not financial viable.

The Minister said that the international institutions are predicting that Pakistan would become the 18th biggest economy by 2050. The challenge to the nation is to materialize this goal in a half time as has been done in case of macro-economic stability, which was predicted by the economic experts  in six years but the present government of Nawaz Sharif achieved in just two and half years.

The Minister said that the merger of all stock exchanges of Pakistan into Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) on January 11, 2016 has been bearing fruits as it has been declared 5th fastest performing exchanges now. It was not an easy job which was pending till last 15 years, but the present government did it, he added.

Finance Minister said that due to the untiring efforts of the government, the load-shedding has been reduced down to three hours in cities and frour hours in rural areas. Earlier, when this government assumed the power in 2013, the power outages of 14 hours in cities and 17 hours were recorded in rural areas, he mentioned. “The darkness would be completely vanished by 2018,” he remarked.

Earlier, State Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, Anusha Rahman gave a detailed presentation on the overall performance of telecommunication sector. He congratulated the Minister Anusha Rehman and her whole team of Ministry of IT, PTA and USF for their landmark achievements in the arena of ICT.

 
December 31, 2016 (PR No. 1961)

Finance Minister Announced New Petroleum Prices with Effect From 1st January 2017

Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar announced today the Government’s policy regarding petroleum products prices for the month of January 2017.

He said that Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources and OGRA have recommended an increase in prices from 1st January 2017 by 0.5% in MS 92 RON Petrol, 5.2% in HSD,16% in Kerosene Oil and 8% in LDO with effect from 1stJanuary 2017 which work out to be Rs. 0.31 /Litre in MS 92 RON Petrol, Rs. 3.94/Litre in HSD, Rs. 3.48/Litre in LDO and Rs.6.93/Litre in Kerosene Oil. The proposed increase in prices of Kerosene, LDO and MS Petrol are based on the reduced Sales Tax rates on these three petroleum products. In case the full sales tax at 17% is levied on these products, the increase in these products work out to be Rs. 14.31 per Litre in Kerosene Oil, Rs. 10.11 per Litre in LDO, and Rs. 1.77 in MS Petrol.

In order to maintain stability since April 2016, prices have been maintained despite fluctuation in international prices and the government has been absorbing the negative financial impact due to Government’s decisions for not passing increases to the end consumers. Only partial increase in MS Petrol and HSD of what had been recommended by OGRA was passed on to the end consumers for only the month of December 2016.

In line with the Prime Minister’s instructions to provide maximum relief to the common man and keeping in view that Kerosene Oil and LDO is used by the low income people, it has been decided to maintain the prices of Kerosene and LDO at current level for the entire month of January 2017.

It has also been decided that the prices of MS RON 92 Petrol and HSD will be frozen and remain unchanged at the current level till midnight 15th January 2017.

As a result of the decision for not passing to the people the actual increase in petroleum products prices and maintaining prices at current level, the Ministry of Finance will bear a revenue loss of Rs. 4 billion approximately.

 
December 31, 2016 (PR No. 1960)

Governor State Bank called on the Finance Minister

Governor State Bank of Pakistan Mr. Ashraf Mahmood Wathra called on the Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here today.

Governor SBP briefed the Minister on the latest position of the country’s foreign exchange reserves. He informed the Minister that on December 30, 2016 SBP has released its First Quarterly Report for FY17 on the State of Pakistan’s Economy. He said that according to the report preliminary macroeconomic data signals a stable growth momentum during the year. Governor SBP also apprised the Minister on the progress made in the implementation of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS).

The Minister expressed appreciation for the efforts of SBP. He said that the present government’s economic policies have resulted in record growth in Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves over the last three years, and have enabled Pakistan to achieve macroeconomic stability. He emphasized that the government is now focused on attaining higher, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. He said that the successful implementation of measures such as NFIS will play a key role in this regard.
 
December 31, 2016 (PR No. 1959)

British High Commissioner called on the Finance Minister

British High Commissioner H.E. Thomas Drew called on the Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar. The High Commissioner briefed the Finance Minister about the recent visit of the British Foreign Secretary Rt. Honourable Boris Johnson to Pakistan. He informed the Minister that the British Foreign Secretary had a very successful and productive visit and carried positive sentiments for Pakistan’s economic growth and development. The High Commissioner also apprised the Minister of the Foreign Secretary’s meeting with CEOs of British companies operating in Pakistan, in which the companies expressed interest to bring more investments to Pakistan.

The Finance Minister expressed appreciation for the Foreign Secretary’s visit to Pakistan and for his encouraging words regarding Pakistan’s economic progress and future potential of Pakistan-UK trade ties. He assured the government’s full support to facilitate investments by British companies in Pakistan and new companies would be welcome. He said that there was interest from across the world to expand business and trade relations with Pakistan. Senator Dar said that Renault from France has recently announced that they would start manufacturing automobiles in Pakistan.

The British High Commissioner said that British companies are successfully operating in Pakistan and that they provide a positive stimulus for fresh British investment in Pakistan. He also said that UK has a strong relationship with Pakistan across a broad spectrum of areas and the scale of engagement can be further enhanced with furthering British trade and investment to Pakistan.

The Finance Minister said that Pakistan valued its long standing ties with the UK and hoped to strengthen bilateral relations further. He welcomed the proposal of the British High Commissioner to enhance trade and investment with Pakistan and assured him of all support and assistance.

Chairman FBR and Secretary Economic Affairs Division also attended this meeting.
 
December 30, 2016 (PR No. 1958)

U.S. Secretary of State telephone called to the Finance Minister

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made a telephone call to the Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar last night.

Secretary Kerry appreciated the improvement in economic indicators of Pakistan. The Finance Minister shared the latest developments in the economy and the Pakistan Stock Exchange and said that all economic indicators had improved over the last three years. He also said that the government after having achieved macro-economic stability is now focused on achieving higher sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Secretary Kerry congratulated the Finance Minister on the economic recovery brought about by the government in Pakistan. He also recalled that his association with Senator Ishaq Dar went back to the days when he was Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. The Finance Minister warmly acknowledged his association with Secretary Kerry which goes back many years and said that he considered him a friend and supporter of Pakistan and it was always a pleasure to work with him. The Finance Minister congratulated Secretary Kerry on his statement of this week on the Middle East peace process and Palestinian rights.

Secretary Kerry also said that the President World Bank had recently informed him about Pakistan’s complaint against India on the subject of Indus Waters Treaty. Secretary Kerry said that the US would like to see an amicable solution to this issue.

The Finance Minister said that Indus Waters Treaty is an international commitment and it is the responsibility of the World Bank to make sure that India honors this.

Treaty and the water rights of hundreds of millions of people of Pakistan are protected. He said that the Court of Arbitration is the legal requirement and appointment of the Chairman of the Court of Arbitration must be fulfilled by the World Bank. Finance Minister said that the President World Bank had been in touch with him in writing and also on telephone during the current month. Senator Dar indicated that US support on the principles and legal position of Pakistan will be greatly appreciated.

The phone call ended with mutual exchange of good wishes and the Finance Minister and Secretary Kerry exchanged Season’s Greetings and best wishes for the upcoming 2017.

 
December 30, 2016 (PR No. 1957)

US Ambassador H.E. David Hale called on the Finance Minister

The US Ambassador H.E. David Hale called on the Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here at the Finance Ministry today.

The Finance Minister and Ambassador Hale discussed the current status of trade and economic ties between Pakistan and the US. Ambassador Hale said that the US values its longstanding ties with Pakistan and considers Pakistan an important partner. He acknowledged the economic turnaround Pakistan has achieved over the last three years.

The Finance Minister emphasized to Ambassador Hale that Pakistan is open for foreign investment and said that US investors should be encouraged to invest in Pakistan. He highlighted that, according to World Bank's Doing Business 2017 report, Pakistan has moved up four places in the ease of doing business rankings and is also one of the top ten global improvers. He said that the European car manufacturer Renault has recently announced its automotive manufacturing plans in Pakistan, with production scheduled to commence in 2018.

The Minister assured his full support for any potential US investors looking to pursue investment opportunities in Pakistan. The Finance Minister expressed confidence that the two countries will continue to work together for the promotion of bilateral economic relations.

The meeting ended with mutual exchange of season’s greetings.
 
December 29, 2016 (PR No. 1956)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review progress on the implementation of National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS)

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here today to review progress on the implementation of National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS). The Finance Minister was briefed on the progress made on various financial inclusion initiatives and allied indicators approved by the NFIS Council in September, 2016.

Finance Minister directed that all relevant stakeholders including NADRA, FBR, Provincial Governments, SBP and Ministry of Finance should work in close collaboration for increasing outreach and access of financial services to people across the country. He emphasized the need to adopt latest technologies for enhancing financial inclusion in a more efficient manner.

The Finance Minister was informed that significant growth has been witnessed in the areas of Branchless Banking, Agriculture credit, microfinance, SME Finance and Islamic Banking since the launch of NFIS in May 2015.Finance Minister appreciated the efforts of all stakeholders involved in implementation of NFIS and for improving expansion of financial inclusion facilities in the country.

Meeting was attended by senior officials of Ministry of Finance.

 
December 28, 2016 (PR No. 1955)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review proposals of the AJK Council for AJK Budget 2016-17

The Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting here today to review proposals of the Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) Council for the AJK Budget 2016-17.

The Finance Secretary briefed the Finance Minister on the proposals of the AJK Government and apprised the Minister on matters related to the AJK budget for Financial Year 2015-16 as well as Financial Year 2016-17.

While reviewing the proposals for AJK Budget 2016-17, the Finance Minister said that the present government has always prioritized the welfare requirements of AJK. He emphasized that successful and timely implementation of development projects in AJK should be ensured. 

The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance.

 
December 28, 2016 (PR No. 1954)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECC

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Prime Minister’s Office today.

ECC has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources regarding allocation of additional around 50 MMCFD available gas from Habib Rahi Limestone (HRL) reservoir to Thermal Power Station Guddu (TPSG/GENCO-II) subject to installation of compression plant by TPSG/GENCO-II and allocation of additional upto 26 MMCFD available gas from HRL reservoir to M/s Engro Fertilizer Ltd’s old plant for continuation of the plant. 

ECC recommended the proposal of the Revenue Division/FBR for extension of the period of applicability of existing reduced withholding tax rate of 0.4 percent for non-filers of income tax returns from 1st January 2017 to 31st March 2017. 

The Finance Division apprised the ECC that State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) principal debt amounting Rs 54.460 billion outstanding against Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL), as on December 31, 2015, is being converted into redeemable preference shares carrying a profit of 7.5 percent per annum, redeemable in 10 years in one bullet payment on December 31, 2025. In this regard, the ECC of the Cabinet approved issuance of guarantee of Rs 54.460 billion by the Government of Pakistan in favour of SBP for principal debt of the preference shares and returns thereon. 

ECC also decided to allow export of 225,000 MT of sugar from the surplus available after ascertaining that there would be 1.23 million metric tons of surplus sugar available in the country. ECC also decided that the Ministry of Commerce should ensure that there are adequate checks and balances available to maintain the price stability in the domestic market at the current level. In case the domestic price stability is disturbed, Commerce Ministry would bring Summary to consider

cancelling the export permission to sugar exporters. Unlike previous years, it was decided that there will be no freight / export rebate payable by the Government to sugar exporters on such exports. Furthermore, only those mills will be allowed to export which have cleared outstanding dues of farmers relating to the last season and have started crushing at full capacity.

 
December 27, 2016 (PR No. 1953)

Finance Minister chaired Law Review Committee meeting

The Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting of the Law Review committee here today. The Minister for Law and Justice, Zahid Hamid, Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecom, Anusha Rahman Khan, Special Assistant to PM on Law, Zafar Ullah Khan, Attorney General for Pakistan, Ashtar Ausaf Ali and Special Assistant to PM, Khawaja Zaheer attended the meeting.

The Committee deliberated on legislative proposals to be tabled in the Parliament during the next session. The status of processing of various other legislative proposals, which are currently at draft stage, was also reviewed.

The Committee also discussed the report recently submitted to the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms regarding the Draft Elections Bill 2017 and Draft Election Rules 2017. 

The Finance Minister said that the report has been shared with the Political Parties and also made public including uploading on the National Assembly’s website to facilitate maximum consultation and enable wider consensus.

 
December 26, 2016 (PR No. 1952)

Naval Chief of Staff called on Finance Minister

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zaka Ullah Khan called on the Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here today and briefed the Minister about Pakistan Navy preparedness for safeguarding coastal boundaries of the country and measures taken for maritime security, particularly in the context of CPEC security.

The Finance Minister said that National security is top priority of this Government and would extend all possible support to make the country’s defense invincible. He said that Pakistan Navy is playing an important role in making Pakistan coastal defense impregnable and providing maritime security to sea lanes.

Chief of Naval Staff also discussed naval development schemes and budget matters in the meeting.

 
December 26, 2016 (PR No. 1951)

Ministry of Finance Dispels Demonetization Rumors

The Official Spokesman of the Ministry of Finance has categorically denied the news reports and rumors circulating in a section of press and some business circles regarding demonetization of Rs.5000 note. The statement said Government has neither taken such a decision nor was there any justification for the discontinuation of Rs.5000 note.

The Spokesman elaborated the position that the current denomination of highest value notes in Pakistan i.e. Rs.5000 was significantly smaller compared to those of major currencies such as $100 note, Euro 200 and Pound Sterling 50. During 2015-16, only 17% of the notes printed were of Rs.5000 denomination.

Given the continuing use of cash in transactions, Government believes that discontinuation of Rs.5000 note would adversely affect the efficiency of exchange in the business and be a source of major discomfort and anxiety for the people. As such the very notion of cancellation of such convenience in transactions is preposterous and unequivocally denied.

The Government further states that it is pursuing a National Financial Inclusion Strategy in association with the State Bank whereby digital transactions and branchless banking is being brought to the doorstep of people that would significantly reduce the dependence on currency. This is the way to move forward for promoting documentation in the economy rather than by cancelling any existing denomination.

The Government hopes people would not lend their ears to rumors and trust the authentic word of their elected Government.

 
December 25, 2016 (PR No. 1950)

Finance Minister takes notice of the fraud in National Bank of Pakistan

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has taken a serious notice of the news item (also highlighted by a senior anchor in his recent program) regarding a fraud in the National bank of Pakistan amounting to more than a billion rupees.

According to the news item the fraud had been committed in connivance with the senior bank officials, the most prominent amongst whom is an Assistant vice president of the Bank.

The Finance Minister, after taking a serious notice of the news highlighted by the media, has tasked the Governor State Bank of Pakistan to investigate the matter and also send a report to the Finance Ministry within three days, so that the matter may further be proceeded in accordance with the rules.

 
December 25, 2016 (PR No. 1949)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review matters related to SECP

The Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division to review matters related to SECP.

Chairman SECP briefed the Finance Minister on the legislative and reform measures being taken by the government to facilitate the corporate sector.

The Finance Minister emphasized that the reforms being introduced by the government are meant to facilitate and regulate the corporate sector, in keeping with the international best practices, and use modern technology platforms. He appreciated the role of SECP in regulating the corporate sector, and in providing quality input towards policy formulation by the government to spur investment led growth. He urged SECP to continue undertaking measures to further facilitate the corporate sector.

The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance.

 
December 25, 2016 (PR No. 1948)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review the measures taken by FBR on increasing the direct collection of taxes

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division to review the measures taken by Federal Board of Revenue on increasing the direct collection of taxes.

Chairman FBR, Nisar Mohammad Khan, briefed the Minister on the different models adopted by the countries around the world to increase the direct collection of taxes.

The Finance Minister was presented different models to mobilize revenue generation by Chairman FBR and his team along with the necessary framework. The Finance Minister directed Chairman FBR to prepare a comprehensive plan that may be implemented through the next Finance Bill.

The Finance Minister also directed FBR to take all measures that would facilitate the voluntary tax payers/ filers; he also directed that there should be a clear distinction between filers and non-filers. The FBR will present their firmed up proposals in the next meeting which will be held soon.

The meeting was participated by senior officials of the Finance Division and Federal Board of Revenue.

 
December 24, 2016 (PR No. 1947)

WB delegation hold a meeting with Finance Minister

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar held a meeting with a World Bank delegation led by Country Director for Pakistan Mr. Patchamuthu Illangovan. 

The World Bank Country Director briefed the Minister regarding international best practices on anti-money laundering. He also briefed the Minister on the international best practices on corporate governance sector, global registry and relating to banking financial institutions. 

The Finance Minister informed the Country Director that the Government was actively working on ensuring a sound legislative and regulatory frame work to curb money laundering and ensure transparency in fiscal governance.

The meeting was attended by senior officials of Ministry of Finance and World Bank.

 
December 24, 2016 (PR No. 1946)

Finance Minister's letter to the President of WB on IWT

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar sent a letter to Mr.  Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, Washington D.C. and responded to the World Bank’s decision to “pause” the process of empanelment of the Court of Arbitration. Finance Minister emphasized in his letter that this decision of the World Bank will seriously prejudice Pakistan’s interests and rights under the Indus Waters Treaty (1960). The letter from the Finance Minister is a response to the President World Bank’s letter of 12th December, 2016.

2.       The letter to the President World Bank has been sent with approval of all concerned stakeholders and strongly conveys that the matter of appointment of a Chairman of the Court of Arbitration has been inordinately delayed, while urging the World Bank to execute its obligations under the Indus Waters Treaty as the “chosen appointing authority” and “appoint the Chairman of the Court of the Arbitration Indus Waters Treaty, expeditiously”.

3.       Finance Minister noted that the “pause” proposed by the President World Bank Group will merely prevent Pakistan from approaching a competent forum and having its grievances addressed. The letter from the Finance Minister notes that the Indus Waters Treaty 1960 does not provide for a situation wherein a Party can “pause” performance of its obligations under the Treaty.

4.       The Finance Minister has stated that the letter of 12th December 2016 from the World Bank is a departure from the World Bank’s earlier position conveyed in its letter of 18thOctober 2016 in which it was stated: “The Bank’s role is limited in character, and relates only to the exercise of procedural functions which do not touch upon the factual or legal merits of the contested issues”.  The Finance Minister emphasized that as acknowledged by the World Bank, “the Bank has a well-defined role, which should remain consistent with the provisions of the Treaty”.
 
December 23, 2016 (PR No. 1945)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review matters related to Pakistan-China JCC

The Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting here today to review matters related to the upcoming Pakistan-China Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meetings and CPEC.

Secretary Planning, Development and Reforms briefed the Finance Minister on the implementation status of various projects under CPEC. Secretary Economic Affairs Division briefed the Minister on development assistance for ongoing and upcoming CPEC projects. 

The Finance Minister appreciated the ongoing efforts of Planning Division, EAD, FBR and all other stakeholders to make CPEC a success. He said that CPEC will provide a major impetus to Pakistan’s economy and will enable higher, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. He urged all stakeholders to ensure timely and successful completion of various CPEC projects. He emphasized that all government ministries and departments who are involved in the implementation of CPEC should ensure effective coordination amongst each other.

The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance.
 
December 23, 2016 (PR No. 1944)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on development policy credit for growth

Federal Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, held a meeting with a delegation of the World Bank, led by Country Director Mr. Patchamuthu Illangovan, here today to review the World Bank’s proposed Development Policy Credit for Growth.

The Finance Minister reviewed various reforms initiatives being undertaken by the government and implementation status of various projects being executed with World Bank’s assistance. The Finance Minister expressed satisfaction over the pace of project implementation and appreciated the cooperation offered by the World Bank team to Pakistan in its various development projects.

Both sides agreed to speed up the reforms process which will bring economic efficiency and transparency in the system. The Country Director World Bank appreciated the reforms introduced in various sectors by the current government.

The meeting was attended by Secretary Economic Affairs Division and other senior officials of Ministry of Finance and the World Bank.

 
December 22, 2016 (PR No. 1943)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on macroeconomic indicators

The Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting on matters related to Finance Division here today. The Finance Secretary, Dr. Waqar Masood Khan, presented a review to the Finance Minister regarding macroeconomic indicators which continued to show positive growth.

The Governor State Bank of Pakistan also apprised the Finance Minister on matters relating to foreign remittances and Forex situation. The Governor SBP briefed the Minister about various targets related to the SBP such as Net International Reserves and Net Domestic Assets. 

The Finance Minister appreciated the efforts of the Finance Division and State Bank. He emphasized the importance of further improving the ease of doing business in the country. 

The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and State Bank of Pakistan.

 
December 21, 2016 (PR No. 1942)

Finance Minister chaired First Meeting Of The E-Commerce Policy Board

The first meeting of the e-Commerce Policy Board was chaired by the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, at the Ministry of Finance today. The Board has recently been constituted by the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to oversee the cross-institutional efforts of creating an e-Commerce Policy Framework being coordinated by the Ministry of Commerce.

The Finance Minister said that formation of the e-Commerce Policy Board is proof of the government’s serious commitment to the promotion of e-Commerce in Pakistan. He highlighted the importance of creating a conducive environment for the growth of e-Commerce in the country, including through provision of the requisite infrastructure, and legal & regulatory framework.

Secretary Commerce briefed the Board on the current status and future prospects of e-Commerce globally and in Pakistan. He informed that e-Commerce now accounted for nearly 2.6% of global GDP. He highlighted that e-Commerce is still in its infancy in Pakistan but it is estimated to reach US$ 1 billion by 2020 provided the correct regulatory framework and infrastructure is in place.

The Commerce Minister, Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan, informed the Board that e-Commerce had become a globally important issue in the World Trade Organization. He emphasized that it was extremely important for Pakistan to create an environment in the country which would lead to high growth of SMEs, including e-Commerce initiatives. Minister of State for IT & Telecom, Ms. Anusha Rahman, informed that the Ministry of IT & Telecom is already working on some key areas related to e-Commerce which would assist in unlocking the hidden potential of e-Commerce in Pakistan.

The Board discussed the way forward to devise a comprehensive e-Commerce Policy in the country. A detailed action plan focusing on reforms in several areas affecting e-Commerce was discussed. The Board approved formulation of five Working Groups on various tasks in the plan, namely Taxation, Payment Infrastructure, Regulatory Framework, Logistics, and E-Commerce, WTO & Development, with representatives

from both the public and private sectors. The Board also directed that the holistic regulatory framework may be examined in consultation with all stakeholders to promote and ease e-Commerce.

The Finance Minister thanked all participants and encouraged all members of the Board to work on a fast-track basis to ensure the success of this initiative. The meeting was also attended by Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Chairman SECP, Chairman FBR, Secretary IT, Secretary Communications, private sector representatives, and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce and SBP.

 
December 21, 2016 (PR No. 1941)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting with a delegation of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The Finance Minister held a meeting with a delegation of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by Mr. Abdul Basit, President LCCI here today.

Welcoming the delegation, the Finance Minister recalled that when the present government assumed office in 2013, Pakistan’s economy was in a precarious situation and international experts were predicting that it would take Pakistan’s economy five years to stabilize. The Minister highlighted that, contrary to those predictions, Pakistan has managed to achieve macroeconomic stability within two and a half years due to the efforts of the present government. He said that the government is now focused on achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Mr. Abdul Basit, President of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry congratulated the Minister over his remarkable achievements in achieving macro-economic stability, structural reforms, merger of three stock exchanges, Companies Bill 2016 and uninterrupted electricity supply to the Industry. He said the business community highly appreciates these developments and making sincere efforts to boost industrial growth and exports. He stressed upon the need of focusing on food industry which has huge potential to enhance exports and provide relief to the agriculture sector. He also extended an invitation to the Finance Minister to visit Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the near future.
The Finance Minister accepted the LCCI’s invitation and briefed the delegation on the turnaround of Pakistan’s economy in the last three years, macroeconomic stability, and improvement of energy and security situation in the country, which has provided a conducive atmosphere for foreign direct investment. The Government has built confidence of the business community and country’s outlook is positive, he maintained. The Finance Minister said that the Government is implementing all those things promised in the PML (N) election manifesto.

The Finance Minister informed the delegation that the OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative assistance in Tax Matters, which he signed on 14th September, 2016 in Paris has been ratified by the Pakistani Cabinet. He added that Pakistani Cabinet also authorized the processing of Pakistan’s membership to Open Government Partnership (OGP). Accordingly, he handed over Pakistan’s Letter of Intent for joining OGP to the French President Francois Hollande in the OGP Global Summit held in Paris.

All these measures vouch Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Governments commitment to usher in transparency and good governance in Pakistan, he maintained. He viewed that these steps had enhanced Pakistan image as a sovereign and prestigious country in the international arena. The Minister said that world's economists applauded Pakistan's economic performance and British economist Jim O'Neill said in his report that Pakistan had potential to become the 18th largest economy by 2050 but he is determined to achieve this target much earlier. He assured the delegation that Government would make every possible effort to promote investment and exports.

The delegation also discussed problems being faced in further growth of industry in the country.

 
December 21, 2016 (PR No. 1940)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review financial matters pertaining to the upgradation of Pakistan Railways

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division to review financial matters pertaining to the upgradation of Pakistan Railways. Minister for Railways Khwaja Saad Rafique and Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal were also present in the meeting.

Minister for Railways Khwaja Saad Rafique informed the meeting that Pakistan Railways has been planning to upgrade its infrastructure to provide better services to its customers and incorporate the technological developments taking place around the world for most efficient use of resources. The Minister also stated that Railways infrastructure had been neglected in the past years and under the present leadership, improving the roads and communication infrastructure has been the priority of the government.  He also said that the constant upgradation of the Railways infrastructure will prove be an active factor in increasing the speed of development in the country.

Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar assured the Ministry of Railways that maximum possible help and assistance will be provided to the Railways Ministry on its upgradation initiatives as it is one of the most important public sector service providers and still a cost effective source of travel for the common man in the country.

 Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms and Economic Affairs Division were also advised to assist the Ministry of Railways in the development of projects for the improvement in Railways network.

The meeting was participated by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Railways, Economic Affairs Division and Ministry of Planning and Development.

 
December 20, 2016 (PR No. 1939)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of ECC

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Prime Minister’s Office today.

ECC considered and approved Policy Directives to NEPRA to make the Policy Framework for Private Sector Transmission Line Projects, 2015, consistent with the existing practice of tariff determination, for the purpose of clarity.

ECC also deliberated upon the Ministry of Water and Power proposal regarding implementation of 660 KV HVDC transmission line from Matiari to Lahore project. ECC of the Cabinet authorized Ministry and PPIB to process 660 kv HVDC Matiari-Lahore Transmission Line Project to State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) / China Electric Power Equipment & Technology Co. Ltd (CET) subject to acceptance of NEPRA’s approved Tariff for the Project and fulfillment of other applicable provisions of Transmission Line Policy 2015 on the basis of fact that the project has been conceived and awarded under CPEC.

 
December 20, 2016 (PR No. 1938)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of ECNEC

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) here at the Prime Minister’s Office today.

ECNEC considered and approved the Prime Minister’s National Health Program (Revised), which will be implemented in 34 districts all over Pakistan at a rationalized cost of Rs. 8,179.092 million. The program is expected to be completed in 36 months. The project aims at improving the health status of the population in the country by ensuring access to quality health care especially enhancing coverage and access to secondary and priority treatment of the poor and vulnerable population. The insurance cover would be limited to Rs. 50,000 per family per annum for secondary care treatment and Rs. 250,000 per family per annum for priority treatment.

ECNEC also considered and approved “Renewable Energy Development Sector Investment Program (REDSIP) (2nd revised PC I) at an estimated cost of Rs. 15,794.66 million including FEC of Rs. 4,865.97 million. The project envisages construction of three hydropower projects with total capacity of 56.2 MW including 36.6 MW Daral Khawar Hydropower project (HPP), 17 MW Ranolia HPP and 2.6 MW Machai HPP. Under this program, three feasibility studies of Koto HPP (31MW), Jabori HPP(8MW) and Karora HPP(9.8MW) will also be carried out besides capacity building of PEDO. The main objective of the REDSIP program is to develop on sustainable basis, environment friendly and affordable, renewable power potential of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The project will be located in the districts of Swat, kohistan, Mardan, Dir, Shangla, Mansehra and Peshawar.

The 1410 MW Tarbela 5th Extension Hydropower Project was also approved by ECNEC at a revised cost of Rs. 82,361.6 million.  The implementation period of the project will be around 48 months (2017-2021). The aim of the project is installation of three additional power generating units, having installed capacity of 470 MW each (total 1410 MW) on existing Tunnel-5 without affecting the capacity of irrigation release. The total installed capacity of Tarbela Dam after completion of Tarbela 5th extension will rise to 6298 MW.

ECNEC also gave final approval for the Dualization and Improvement of Mandra Chakwal Road Project (64 km) Revised at the total cost of Rs.9332.006 million. The project had been approved by ECNEC in principle on 8th March 2016 with an observation; the final approval came after the compliance of the said observation. The project is for the improvement/ rehabilitation of 64 km existing road to a width of 7.3 m (2-lanes carriageway), construction of additional 7.3 m wide road (2-lanes carriageway) provision of 7.3 m wide and 14.5 km Chakwal Northern by-pass, a railway flyover with allied structures and facilities.

ECNEC approved the proposal of the Government of Balochistan to change the executing agency for the Construction/ up-gradation of Dirgi Shabozai (N-70) to Taunsa Sharif (N-55) Road (175km) project from Balochistan Development Authority to Communications and Works Department, Government of Balochistan. The project has already been approved by ECNEC on 13-9-2013 at the total cost of Rs. 4795.980 million. The project envisages the construction/ up-gradation of 6.1 m wide and 155KM long road besides widening of 20km long section from 3.65 m width and allied facilities between Dirgi-Shabozai on N-70 leading to Taunsa Sharif on N-55 with the cost being shared by the Federal and provincial governments in 60:40 ratio.

Construction of 6- Lane Highway from Kala Shah Kaku to Lahore Ring road (18.30 Km) including Bridge over River Ravi (Lahore Eastern Bypass) was also approved by ECNEC at the total cost of Rs.12, 848.047 million. The scope of work also includes construction of 6 lane bridge over River Ravi spanning 800 m, 2 bridges over railway crossings, 4 bridges on drains/ nullahs, 5 underpasses, 3 interchanges, 17 cattle creeps, 12 culverts, drainage, erosion and flood protection works. The executing agency for the project will be the National Highway Authority. The project will be completed in a period of 24 months starting from October 2016.

ECNEC also approved the “Technology Park Development Project-Islamabad” at the total cost of Rs.9246.013 million. The foreign exchange component for the project (Rs 7983.091; included in the total cost) will be provided by the EXIM Bank of Korea through a soft loan. The project is expected to be completed in 4 years. The project envisages the establishment of Information Technology Park on 14.9 acres of land leased by PSEB at Kuri Road Chak Shahzad, Islamabad. The concept design park proposes two phases of self contained and interconnected buildings having covered area of approximately 45000 square meters providing office space and other facilities to IT companies. ECNEC was also briefed that the successful completion of the project will open door of direct/ indirect employment opportunities for Pakistanis.

ECNEC also approved “Faculty Development Program for Pakistani Universities” at the rationalized cost of Rs.7142 million. The program is expected to be completed by December 2024. Under the project 2000 Split PhD scholarships to non-PhD faculty members already inducted in the public sector universities/ Degree Awarding Institutes (DAIs). Scholars will start their initial research in Pakistan and at any point during research he/she would be required to proceed abroad for a maximum period of 6-12 months with the recommendation of the local supervisor and acceptance by the foreign supervisor for the research work. The program is expected to improve the quality of higher education in the country. According to HEC, all provinces will be given due representation in the program.

 
December 20, 2016 (PR No. 1937)

Finance Minister chaired the 20th Meeting of PCER

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the 20th meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms (PCER) here today. 

The Sub-Committee unanimously submitted its Report regarding the Draft Elections Bill, 2017, the Draft Elections Rules, 2017 (being sent to the Election Commission of Pakistan for finalization as per Elections Bill, 2017) for consideration and approval of the PCER. The PCER has also been informed about the Draft Constitution (Twenty-seventh Amendment) Bill, 2017. Since its formation, the Parliamentary Sub-Committee held seventy (70) meetings and submitted 7 Progress Reports to the PECR. It examined the following 9 Laws and the Constitution relating to elections, namely:- 

 (i) the Electoral Rolls Act, 1974 (Act No. XXI of 1974);

 (ii) the Delimitation of Constituencies Act, 1974 (Act No. XXXIV of 1974);

 (iii) the Senate (Election) Act, 1975 (Act No. LI of 1975);

 (iv) the Representation of the People Act, 1976 (Act No. LXXXV of 1976);

(v) the Election Commission Order, 2002 (Chief Executive’s Order No.1 of 2002);

(vi) the Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002 (Chief Executive’s Order No.7 of 2002);

(vii) the Political Parties Order, 2002(Chief Executive’s Order No.18 of 2002);

(viii) the Qualifications to Hold Office Order 2002 (Chief Executive's Order No. 19 of 2002); and

(ix) the Allocation of Symbols Order, 2002.

The PCER has held 20 meetings so far. In its today’s meeting, the PCER discussed the Report of the Sub-Committee referred to above and adopted the same and decided that the Draft Elections Bill, 2017, be presented to the Senate and National Assembly of Pakistan for consideration and views of the honorable parliamentarians within 30-days to the National Assembly Secretariat for the consideration of the PCER. It was also decided to put it on website for civil society comments and suggestions as well. A number of honorable members of the PCER expressed their reservations regarding the 10% turnout of the women voters with reference to clause 9 of the Draft Elections Bill, 2017and proposed that the same should be 5%. About this matter final decision will be taken in subsequent meeting of the PCER. With reference to the Draft Constitution (Twenty-seventh Amendment) Bill, 2017, the PCER decided that it may be finalized by the Sub-Committee by keeping in view the other proposals relating to the Constitutional provisions requiring amendments, as and when received. 

The Chairman of the PCER, also appreciated all the Members, especially the Convener and Members of the Sub-Committee, as well as officers and staff of the ECP, NADRA, Ministry of Law and Justice, and National Assembly Secretariat for their hard work in finalizing the Report and accompanying Drafts/Annexures.

On this occasion, a team of experts gave demonstration on Bio-metric Voters Identification (BVI) and Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) to the Committee. 

The meeting was attended Mr. Zahid Hamid, MNA, Minister for Law and Justice & Climate Change, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Abdul Qadir Baloch, MNA, Minister for States and Frontier Regions, Mr. Murtaza Javed Abbasi, MNA, Deputy Speaker, National Assembly, Ms. Anusha Rehman Khan Advocate, MNA, Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunications, Dr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, MNA, Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division, Syed Naveed Qamar, MNA, Ms. Shazia Marri, MNA, Mr. Shafqat Mehmood, MNA, Dr. Shireen Mehrunnisa Mazari, MNA, S.A. Iqbal Quadri, MNA, Sahibzada Tariq Ullah, MNA, Ms. Naeema Kishwar Khan, MNA, Mr. Usman Khan Tarakai, MNA, Mr. Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, MNA, Mr. Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq, MNA, Syed Ghazi Gulab Jamal, MNA, Senator MushahidUllah Khan, Senator Saleem Zia, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, Senator Syed Shibli Faraz, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, Senator Hidayat Ullah, Ms. Asia

Nasir, MNA. The Officers of the ECP along with a team of experts on electronic voting machines and biometric voters identification systems, NADRA, Ministry of Law and Justice, and National Assembly Secretariat also attended the meeting.

 
December 19, 2016 (PR No. 1936)

Finance Minister chaired the 3rd meeting of the 9th National Finance Commission (NFC)

The Federal Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the 3rd meeting of the 9th National Finance Commission (NFC) here today. The meeting was participated by the Members of the Commission namely M/s Dr. Aisha Ghaus Pasha, Finance Minister Punjab, Mr. Said Muzaffar Advocate, Finance Minister KPK, Senator Saleem Mandviwala, Member Sindh, Prof. Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, Member KPK, Dr. Kaiser Bengali, Member Balochistan and Dr. Ali Cheema, Member Punjab. The meeting was also attended by Federal Finance Secretary, Member/Federal Expert, Chairman, FBR, Additional Finance Secretary (IGF), Joint Secretary/Secretary NFC, Finance Division and the four Provincial Finance Secretaries.

The Chairman, NFC Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar welcomed the participants and informed that CCI in its meeting held on 16-12-2016 referred the proposal for creation of National Security Fund (NSF) and allocation for Special Areas i.e. Azad Jammu &Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA, to the NFC for deliberation. He highlighted the extraordinary security situation and measures being taken by the Federal Government. He also explained that though the Federal Government is providing funds to Special Areas, however, their financial needs are increasing year on year.

To further elaborate the proposal, Federal Finance Secretary made presentation on NSF and Special Areas. It was recommended that for NSF and Special Areas, NFC may consider to allocate 3% & 4% of the gross divisible pool respectively. The provincial representatives desired that they should be given time for deliberation and consultations, so that they may come up with appropriate reply to the recommendations, which was accepted. It was also desired that the Federal Government may put forth a complete set of proposals i.e. details and modalities, for use of fund/allocation, particularly related to Special Areas.

          The 3rd meeting of the 9th NFC was held in a cordial and friendly atmosphere. The Provincial Governments and the Federation agreed to push the process for completing the next NFC Award before the next budget. For this purpose, the Commission agreed to convene next meeting in January, 2017. It was also proposed that, if all provinces agree, the next meeting of the Commission may be convened at Lahore.          
 
December 16, 2016 (PR No. 1935)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review matters related to Economic Affairs Division

The Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting to review matters related to the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) here today.

Secretary EAD briefed the Finance Minister on the portfolios of grants and loans. He apprised the Finance Minister of the Country Partnership Strategies of International Development Partners. The Finance Minister was also briefed on the implementation status of the ongoing projects under EAD’s purview.

The Finance Minister appreciated the efforts of EAD. He said that progress of disbursement of foreign grants and loans for infrastructure and energy projects should be diligently monitored. The Minister emphasized that disbursement of funds should be timely and transparent so that the people of Pakistan can benefit from successful and timely completion of said projects at the earliest. He urged EAD to undertake all effort for efficient utilization of the funds.

The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Division.

 
December 16, 2016 (PR No. 1934)

Population Census 2017

The Council of Common Interests (CCI), in its meeting chaired today by Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, agreed to start Pakistan’s 6th Population and Housing Census on March 15, 2017.

In pursuance of the abovementioned decision, the Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics & Privatisation, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, has advised the Statistics Division and the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to undertake all necessary steps and preparations to ensure compliance with the agreed timelines. He emphasized that every effort should be made to ensure that the census is credible and transparent. Furthermore, the Minister directed Statistics Division to carry out thorough consultations with all stakeholders, including the provincial governments, in order to ensure close and effective coordination for the census.

The Minister highlighted that reliable data gathered from the census will play a vital role in adequate planning, policy-building, and effective delivery of services to the people of Pakistan.

 
December 15, 2016 (PR No. 1933)

Finance Minister inaugurated F-9 Park Solar Lighting Project

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar inaugurated F-9 Park Solar Lighting Project along with the Ambassador of People’s Republic of China, Mr.Sun Weidong, and the Mayor of Islamabad/Chairman CDA, Mr.Anser Aziz here today.

On this occasion, Finance Minister congratulated the Citizens of Islamabad, Chinese government and Chairman CDA on completion of the Solar power project in Fatima Jinnah Park in F-9 sector. He said that Fatima Jinnah Park project is the second gift of the Chinese government for Islamabad as the first one was for the Parliament building. The gift will benefit the citizens of Islamabad, he added.

Finance Minister said that Pakistan enjoys historic relations with China and China is a great friend. He said Pakistan values its friendship with the Government and the people of China. He thanked the Chinese Government for assistance in establishing the project. The Minister also appreciated the efforts of the Capital Development Authority and the Chinese company for the timely completion of the project.

The Finance Minister also urged the Capital Development Authority to work hard on improving civic facilities for the citizens of Islamabad.
 
December 15, 2016 (PR No. 1932)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of ECC

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here at the Prime Minister’s Office.

ECC considered and approved the proposal submitted by the Privatization Division for disbursement of one and a half month salary to Pakistan Steel Mills employees. Privatization Division sought approval of Rs. 570 million for payment of 50% remaining salary for the month of August 2016 amounting to Rs. 190 million and Rs. 380 million for the month of September 2016.

ECC also approved in principal the funding on expenditure of Inter State Gas Systems (Private) Limited (ISGSL) subject to completion of corporate formalities. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources proposed that the Government Holding (Private) Limited (GHPL) being the parent company will give a three year term loan to ISGSL to fund all its expenditure on all Government mandated projects being undertaken by (ISGSL). This loan and related interest will be repayable after three years through a single bullet payment on terms separately agreed between GHPL and ISGSL through a Loan Agreement.

ECC also approved revision of its earlier decision of 17th November 2016 on the proposal of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources. The decision was; reduction in gas sale price for Industrial sector and Captive power from Rs. 600/ MMBTU to Rs. 400/ MMBTU which was also applicable to fertilizer sector (only Fuel stock) and General Sales Tax to be charged @ Rs 100 per MMBTU on the gas sale price for the aforesaid consumers. 

As a consequence of this decision, the differential in cost of production of Industrial customers on SNGPL system vs SSGC customers have widened which was agitated by the industrial consumers on SNGP system who sought level playing field.

Therefore, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources requested ECC for withdrawal of its earlier decision of 17th November 2016 and proposed reduction in gas sale price for Power Stations and Independent Power Producers from Rs. 613/MMBTU to Rs. $400/MMBTU, and General Sales Tax to be charged at Rs. 100 per MMBTU on gas sale for the aforesaid consumers. The Ministry stated that the revise decision in this context will not only result in elimination of price disparity to a large extent but will also reduce electricity generation cost in the country which will provide relief to electricity consumers across the board.
 
December 15, 2016 (PR No. 1931)

Managing Director of Pak Suzuki Motors Mr. Hirofumi Nagao called on the Finance Minister

Managing Director of Pak Suzuki Motors Mr. Hirofumi Nagao called on the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here today and discussed his company’s plan of future investment in Pakistan.

The MD of Pak Suzuki Motors said that his company is ready to invest 460 million US dollars in Pakistan to set up a second plant. After completion of formalities, the new project will be completed within a period of two years and may start production by the end 2018, he informed.

The Finance Minister asked the Managing Director to submit a complete plan with all the details to process the request in accordance with prescribed codal formalities/ rules and procedures. He said that the Government is committed to provide a level playing field to all the prospective investors.

The Minister said that Pakistan has been projected by JETRO as the second choicest place for investment in the world. The Finance Minister said that the turnaround of Pakistan’s economy, macroeconomic stability, improvement of energy and security situation in the country has provided a conducive atmosphere for foreign direct investment. He said that a number of new entrants have shown keen interest to invest in automobile manufacturing sector as well.

The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and the members of the delegation of Pak-Suzuki.

 
December 14, 2016 (PR No. 1930)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on AML (Anti-Money Laundering)

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting here today on the AML (Anti-Money Laundering) regime and its implementation in Pakistan.

DG Financial Monitoring Unit, Syed Mansoor Ali, provided an update on measures to implement the AML regime, including efforts to ensure smooth coordination amongst all stakeholders. Finance Secretary, Dr. Waqar Masood Khan, said that amendments enacted in December 2015 to the Anti-Money Laundering Act have played a positive role in the fight against money laundering. Secretary Interior, Arif Ahmed Khan, apprised that the capacity of investigating agencies is being enhanced, both at Federal and Provincial levels, in order to conduct thorough investigations into money laundering activities. 

The Finance Minister appreciated the efforts of all stakeholders to combat money laundering. He urged all participants to ensure effective coordination amongst all involved in order to achieve the desired results. 

The meeting was attended by the National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. (R) Nasir Khan Janjua, Finance Secretary, Secretary Foreign Affairs, Interior Secretary, DG FMU, and senior officials of Ministry of Finance and the Foreign Office. 

 
December 14, 2016 (PR No. 1929)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting with Chairman SECP and his team

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting in Islamabad at the Finance Division with the Chairman SECP and his team.

The Chairman briefed the Minister on the feedback on the promulgation of the New Companies Ordinance, 2016. He told the Minister that as per his instructions all the feedback and proposals are being summarized to place before the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance. He further informed the Minister that important regulations under the Companies Ordinance 2016 like Companies (Incorporation) Regulations; Electronic Intermediaries Regulations and Associations Not Fit for Profit (Licensing & Corporate Governance) Regulations have been drafted and will be put for public consultation next week.

The Chairman SECP also updated the Minister on the divestment of 40% blocked shares of the Pakistan Stock Exchange and the prospectus of development of Pakistan capital market. He assured Finance Minister that SECP is taking all necessary steps for stability of the capital market and risk mitigation.

The Minister appreciated the hard work done by the SECP team which has contributed effectively in regulating the financial sector of the country. The Finance Minister especially acknowledged the recent measures taken by the SECP on submission of quarterly accounts through email.  The measure is another step towards encouraging use of technology and electronic means in conduct of business and its regulation, added the Minister.

The Finance Minister directed SECP to consult all the relevant stake holders on Draft Modaraba Companies & Modaraba (Floatation and Control) Ordinance, (Amendment) Act, 2016, and the Amendments in the Insurance Law which are currently under consideration of the SECP.

The meeting was participated by the senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and members of the SECP team.
 
December 14, 2016 (PR No. 1928)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting to review the measures to attract FDI and improve local investment in the country

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division with Chairman BOI Mr. Miftah Ismail and SAPM on Revenue Haroon Akhtar Khan to review the measures to attract FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) and improve local investment in the country.

The Minister directed BOI to formulate a long term investment plan for the country focusing on the sectors which have potential to absorb the maximum investments and create more job opportunities in the country. The Minister asked BOI to take input from the private sector to make the plan more inclusive and beneficial. The Plan, later, will be presented to the Prime Minister for further consideration.

 Chairman BOI Mr. Miftah Ismail briefed the Minister on the current situation of the foreign direct investment in the country and steps being taken to make the country more attractive destination for investors both foreign and local. Chairman BOI said that as the country had been making progress on the economic front, there is a need to put in place measures to ensure an enabling environment by enhancing the ease of doing business in the country. The meeting also discussed measures to boost exports of the country.

The Finance Minister said that the present government since its inception has promoted policies that could facilitate the investment both foreign and local in the country. We have worked on improving the transparency in operations and taken measures to build on the image of the country in the World at large; now our approach should be to reap the benefits of the changed perceptions, said the Finance Minister.

The meeting was participated by SA to PM on Revenue, Secretary Finance, SA to Finance Minister and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance.

 
December 13, 2016 (PR No. 1927)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting on matters related to Finance Division

The Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting on matters related to Finance Division here today.

The Finance Secretary, Dr. Waqar Masood Khan, briefed the Finance Minister on the progress of the overall budgetary targets for the current fiscal year. He also apprised the Finance Minister on matters relating to non-tax revenues and multilateral development agencies. The Finance Minister was also briefed on progress of the National Doing Business Reform Strategy.

The Finance Minister appreciated the efforts of the Finance Division. He urged the Finance Secretary to ensure that all efforts are made to meet the budgetary targets. He emphasized the importance of further improving the ease of doing business in the country. 

The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance.

 
December 13, 2016 (PR No. 1926)

Promotion of Islamic Banking in Pakistan

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar said that the government is taking structured policy actions to promote Islamic Banking in Pakistan. In this connection, the Finance Ministry has issued Notifications constituting four sub-Committees for promotion and facilitation of Islamic Banking in the country. Terms of Reference of the sub committees were also approved and issued.

The SUB-COMMITTEE ON LEGAL & REGULATORY FRAMEWORK will be chaired by the Governor State Bank of Pakistan. It has representation of various commercial Banks, Shariah Scholars, Ministries of Law and Finance.

TORs of the Committee include Fast track adoption of Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions & Islamic Financial Services Board standards for Islamic Financial Institutions (IFIs), encourage conventional banks with large Islamic banking operations to convert into full-fledged Islamic banks or establish Islamic banking subsidiaries and conversion of domestic debt into Shariah compliant financing.

The SUB-COMMITTEE ON TAXATION will be chaired by the Chairman Federal Board of Revenue. It has representation of the Banks, Finance Division, Shariah Scholars and Heads of Revenue Authorities of all Provinces.

The Committee will advise FBR to provide tax neutrality for Islamic Financial Institutions and review tax related matters of Islamic banking subsidiaries of conventional banks and will make it a competitive business model.

The SUB-COMMITTEE ON CAPITAL MARKET will be chaired by the Chairman, Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan. It has representation of FPCCI, Banks, Shariah Scholar, Pakistan Stock Exchange and Finance Division.

The committee will harmonize terms and conditions of Shariah compliant instruments issued by NBFC, Notified Entities and Modarabas, Issuance of retail sukuk,  introduce innovative financial products like Real Estate Investment Trust, securitisation etc on Islamic basis. Further, SBP & SECP will develop framework for Islamic Banking Institutions to enter into private equity business.

The SUB-COMMITTEE ON AWARENESS, TRAINING AND CAPACITY BUILDING will be chaired by the Deputy Governor, SBP who is also the convener of all the sub-committees. It has representation of National Institute of Banking and Finance (NIBAF), SECP, Banks, IBA, LUMS, IMS and Finance Division.

This committee will promote culture of Islamic finance research and development, set up multi-stakeholders’ forum-Islamic Finance Association, introduce educational reforms w.r.t Islamic Finance and Training & capacity building of designated focal persons in government departments.
 
December 13, 2016 (PR No. 1925)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of ECC

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet today at the PM Office.

ECC approved a summary submitted by the Finance Division regarding lifting of withholding tax on small farmers schemes. The summary sought exemption from the purview of section 236U of Income Tax Ordnance, 2001 to the Crop Loan Insurance Scheme and livestock Insurance Scheme which are aimed at providing risk cover to mitigate losses in case of natural disasters.

ECC also approved extension in the export of wheat date from 30th November 2016 to 31 December 2016. It was also approved that same rate of rebate would be given on export of wheat products like Suji, Maida and wheat flour fine (Aata) as available on per Kg wheat export. Meaning thereby that one Kg of Suji, Maida and wheat flour Fine (Aata) will be exported against one Kg of wheat issued so there will be no extra claim of rebate. As more than 3 million tons exportable surplus wheat is available, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research proposed to allow export of the equal quantity of Suji, Maida and wheat flour Fine (Aata)/ equivalent to the quota of wheat issued.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research proposed maintaining the Minimum Guaranteed Price (MGP) of Wheat at Rs.1300 per 40 Kg for wheat crop 2016-17. ECC accorded approval to the proposal for maintaining the MGP of Rs.1300/- per 40 Kg for wheat crop 2016-17.

ECC also approved relending the China Eximbank Loans to Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) for Chashma Nuclear Power Project 3 and 4 on similar terms/lines available to the loans relent to provincial governments / departments. The Chinese loans will be relent to PAEC at actual terms and conditions available to the Government of Pakistan and also the exchange rate risk will be borne by PAEC.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources apprised the ECC regarding increase in natural gas production of more than 83 to 84 MMCFD from Nashpa field. It also stated that the M/s SNGPL is also keen to receive the additional gas due to demand-supply imbalance of natural gas on its system. The ECC approved the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources proposal for allocation of the additional gas up to 84 MMCFD produced from Nashpa field to SNGPL to cope with demand-supply imbalance on its system.

ECC also accorded approval in principle for re-enactment of OGRA [Amendment] Ordinance, 2009 [XVI of 2009] with retrospective effect containing validation and sun-set clauses from the date of promulgation of the Ordinance with a condition not to change the present system of Sales Tax collection.

ECC approved the Memorandum of Agreement signed on 20th May 2016 between the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources and the Balochistan government for extension of Sui gas mining lease agreement for next ten years.
 
December 10, 2016 (PR No. 1924)

President AJK met with Finance Minister

The President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan held a meeting with the Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here today.

President AJK thanked the Finance Minister for his cooperation and support in addressing and resolving the issues of the AJK government on priority basis. He appreciated the move of the Government of Pakistan to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative and observed that it would improve the image of Pakistan. He said that Pakistan’s standing has globally improved due to the enabling environment created by the PML (N) Government.

President AJK discussed with the Finance Minister budgetary outlays and details of developmental projects of the AJK government.

The Finance Minister said that the Federal Government is cognizant of these issues and fully supports the AJK government on its agenda of early completion of its development projects. He said that the federal government has always given all possible support to the AJK and will continue to do so.

President AJK said that due to the policies of macro-economic stability brought about by the government, the outlook of Pakistan has improved. He emphasized that the AJK government appreciates the hand holding of the federal government in addressing the financial matters of AJK.
The Finance Minister also shared the details of his recent visit to France for joining the OGP initiative. The Minister told the President AJK that the OGP initiative promotes transparency, citizen participation and democratic innovation. The Minister also shared that the Government is also planning to sign the OECD Convention on Anti-bribery.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and AJK participated in the meeting.

 
December 10, 2016 (PR No. 1923)

Finance Minister met with French Counterpart in Paris

Before leaving for Islamabad after his official visit to Paris, Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar met with French Finance Minister Michel Sapin yesterday. This was his second meeting with French counterpart in the last three months.

French Minister Sapin congratulated the Finance Minister on joining the Open Government Partnership process. He also appreciated the ratification by Pakistan of the OECD Convention on Mutual Assistance on Tax Matters.
The Finance Minister apprised his counterpart of the importance Pakistan attaches to transparency in public matters and his intention to make Pakistan a member of OECD Convention against Bribery in due course.

The Finance Minister briefed Minister Sapin on the turnaround of Pakistan’s economy in the last three years, macroeconomic stability, and improvement of energy and security situation in the country, which has provided a conducive atmosphere for foreign direct investment. Mr. Sapin acknowledged Pakistan’s economic achievements and expressed hope that the journey towards further progress and development would continue.  

Both the Ministers also discussed trade, economic and investment relations between the two countries. While expressing satisfaction over the upward trajectory of bilateral relations, including decision by French automobile company Renault to start manufacturing vehicles in Pakistan, they emphasized the need to further strengthen ties through the institutional mechanism of Administrative, Economic and Trade Committee (AETC). They agreed, in principle, to upgrade AETC to Ministerial level. The Finance Minister invited Mr. Sapin to visit Pakistan to co-chair the next meeting of AETC. Prior to that, both sides would meet early next year at Secretary level to prepare the ground for the Ministerial meeting.

Secretary Economic Affairs Division and Ambassador of Pakistan to France were also present in the meeting.
 
December 10, 2016 (PR No. 1922)

Governor State Bank called on the Finance Minister

Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Mr. Ashraf Mehmood Wathra called on the Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar today.

Governor State Bank of Pakistan discussed recent measures taken by the State Bank of Pakistan on the crackdown against illegal money exchangers as directed by the Finance Minister before he left for Paris. He also informed the Minister on the latest foreign exchange reserve situation of the country. He briefed the Minister on the current forex reserve position and the measures adopted by SBP to facilitate the export oriented sectors.

The Finance Minister stressed upon the need of best possible management of the precious resources of the country and provision of maximum facilities to the export oriented sectors to enhance exports of the country.

The Finance Minister also shared with him the details of his recent visit of Paris to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP); an international platform committed towards making governments more open, accountable and responsive to citizens.

The OGP was launched in 2011and 70 countries have so far joined this Partnership.
 
December 09, 2016 (PR No. 1921)

Finance Minister Holds Bilateral with CEO of French Development Agency (AFD)

Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Pakistan’s Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs met with Mr. Remy Rioux, Chief Executive Officer of French Development Agency (AFD) in Paris yesterday. The CEO of AFD appreciated the progress that Pakistan has made in stabilizing economy and taking it to a higher trajectory of growth.

During the meeting, Finance Minister said that Pakistan values the financial assistance provided by AFD to Pakistan in important sectors including energy, water and sanitation. He added that Pakistan government appreciates AFD’s support for GoP initiatives for improving the transmission efficiency and water and sanitation in Pakistan. 

AFD announced that for the year 2016, it has approved a portfolio of Euros 265 million as soft loans for Rehabilitation of Mangla Hydropower plant, augmenting NTDC transmission capacity and budget support for energy sector reforms. AFD has joined ADB and JICA in the 5 year budget support program initiated in 2014 for improving the management of tariff opening the market and strengthening accountability and transparency in the energy sector. AFD also evinced interest in working in the sectors of heritage and culture.

AFD has been operating in Pakistan since 2007. It is promoting green and inclusive growth and has been focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Mr. Sanjay Pradhan, Chief Executive Officer, Open government Partnership (OGP) called on the Finance Minister in the Embassy of Pakistan and congratulated Pakistan on joining the elite group of members of OGP. He invited Pakistan to participate in the meetings of various OGP Working Groups and Steering Committees and offered help in developing Pakistan’s National Action Plan for OGP. The Finance Minister said that Pakistan’s decision to join OGP demonstrates government’s commitment to a transparent and accountable governance. He reiterated government’s pledge to work against corruption and fiscal fraud and further high level commitments to fully achieving and sustaining the principles of OGP.

Mr. Bernard Cambier, Head of Middle East Division of Renault, the French largest car manufacturing company also met with the Finance Minister.  They reaffirmed Renault’s decision for setting up their car manufacturing facility in Pakistan by 2018. Finance Minister appreciated Renault’s decision for choosing Pakistan for establishing their car facility and assured full support for Renault’s operations in Pakistan.

Finance Minister also interacted with French and Pakistani media and briefed them on the outcome of his visit.

The meetings were also attended by Mr. Tariq Bajwa, Secretary Economic Affairs Division, Pakistan, Ambassador of Pakistan to France Moin ul Haque and the Embassy team.
 
December 08, 2016 (PR No. 1920)

Finance Minister held bilateral meeting with Secretary General,(OECD) in Paris

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq held bilateral meeting with Mr. Angel Gurria, Secretary General, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris today. This was his second meeting with OECD Secretary General in the last three months. 

The Finance Minister informed the Secretary General that the OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, which he signed on 14th September, 2016 in Paris has been ratified by the Pakistani Cabinet. 

He added that Pakistan Cabinet also authorised the Finance Minister for processing Pakistan’s membership to Open Government Partnership (OGP). Accordingly, he handover Pakistani’s Letter of Intent for joining OGP to the French President François Hollande in the OGP Global Summit held in Paris. 

Secretary General OECD welcomed Pakistan’s membership to OGP which coupled with Pakistan’s active engagement with OECD clearly demonstrated Pakistan’s commitment to join the international mainstream fora to adopt their best practices and to a transparent and accountable governing structure. He invited Pakistan to join OECD Development Centre and offered OECD’s technical help for developing Pakistan’s National Action Plan for OGP.

Senator Ishaq Dar shared with OECD Secretary General that Pakistan is currently working to meet the OECD criteria and parameters to formally apply for accession to OECD Convention on Combating Bribery. 

Earlier, the Finance Minister met with Sir Eric Pickels, Head of UK Anti-Corruption on the sidelines of OGP Summit. Sir Eric congratulated the Finance Minister on joining OGP. The Minister informed Sir Eric that Pakistan was the first country to issue a Tax Directory of parliamentarians and the fourth country to publish General Tax Directory of tax payers for the three consecutive years. They also discussed matters relating to transparency and good governance.

Mr. Denis Simonneau, the Head of European and International Relations, ENGIE, a leading French energy company also called on the Finance minister at the Embassy of Pakistan in Paris and expressed interest of his corporate group to cooperate in the field of energy in Pakistan. 

All the meetings were also attended by Mr. Tariq Bajwa Secretary Economic Affairs Division, Pakistan, Ambassador of Pakistan to France Moin ul Haque and Embassy team. 

Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs of Pakistan is meeting with Sir Eric Pickels Head of Anti-Corruption, UK at the British Embassy in Paris today (8th December, 2016).

Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs of Pakistan is holding bilateral meeting with  Mr. Angel Gurria, Secretary General, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in OECD Headquarter in Paris, Today (8th December, 2016).

Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs of Pakistan is meeting with Mr. Remy Rioux, Chief Executive Officer of French Development Agency (AFD), in AFD Headquarters, Paris, France today (8th December, 2016).​

 
December 07, 2016 (PR No. 1919)

Finance Minister expressed grief over PK-661 Crash

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has expressed his profound grief over the air crash of PK-661and loss of human lives. In his message from Paris, the Minister conveyed his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and prayed for the departed souls. 

 
December 06, 2016 (PR No. 1918)

Finance Minister attended the closing session of the 75th Anniversary celebrations of French Agency for Development (AFD), France

Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Federal Minister for Finance attended the closing session of the 75th Anniversary celebrations of French Agency for Development (AFD) hosted by the President of France, Mr. Francoise Hollande in Paris, today. 

Amongst the dignitaries who attended the ceremony included the President of Guinea and Prime Minister of Haiti. Mr. Jean Marc Ayrault the French Foreign Minister, Finance Ministers from a number of countries, French parliamentarians, diplomats and members of the civil society also attended the ceremony. 

French Agency for Development is a financial institution and main implementing agency for France’s official development assistance for developing countries aiming to contribute to economic and social development in diverse geographical areas for improving the living conditions of the people. Its programs mainly focus on financing for energy efficiency and hydropower projects, adding value to Pakistan’s efforts in tackling energy shortages in the country.

 
December 06, 2016 (PR No. 1917)

Finance Minister received a telephone call from Ms Catherine A. Novelli, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, U.S. State Department

Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Minister for Finance, received a telephone call from Ms Catherine A. Novelli, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment, U.S. State Department today.

Ms. Novelli appreciated the deep reforms and bold initiatives taken by the government to bring about macroeconomic stability and improve governance during the last three years.  Finance Minister thanked Ms. Novelli for the cooperation and assistance provided by the US which has led to an increase in US-Pakistan bilateral engagement at both public and private sector level.

Ms. Novelli expressed the hope that incase the Finance Minister visits Washington DC, they can meet to discuss the bilateral economic portfolio. Under Secretary Novelli expressed hope that bilateral economic cooperation to stimulate growth in Pakistan will continue with the same zeal and commitment under the new administration of President elect Donald J Trump.

The Finance Minister expressed satisfaction at the ongoing bilateral economic relations with the US and hoped for enhanced relations with the incoming administration of President elect.

Both sides expressed good wishes and agreed to work closely on mutually beneficial areas of bilateral economic cooperation.

 
December 05, 2016 (PR No. 1916)

Finance Minister will attend OGP Summit, AFD moot & hold Bilateral Meetings in France

Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs will undertake a three day official visit to Paris, France starting from tomorrow. Senator Dar accepted the invitation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France and the UK government to participate in the OGP Summit being held from 6th to 9th December in Paris.

During his visit, the Minister will attend the OGP Summit and the closing ceremony of the 75th Anniversary Celebration of French Agency of Development (AFD) (likely to be hosted by French President Hollande) .The Finance Minister will also speak at a variety of events, attend roundtables with global leadership in the area of action against fiscal fraud and improving governance.

The Finance Minister will attend Open Government Partnership (OGP) summit where leaders of over seventy countries will debate on principles of transparency, accountability and citizen participation which contributes to good governance and socio-economic development of member countries.

Launched in 2011, OPG is a multilateral initiative aimed at promoting the principles of open and transparent government through civic consultation and participation, reinforcing public integrity and the fight against corruption.

Round tables will be held under the themes,“Collective Ambitions and the Future of Open Government”, “Open Government as a Force for Democracy”, “Building Trust in Government, Anti-Corruption”; “The Time for High Level OGP Commitments”, and “Citizen Movements and Democratic Transitions”.

The Minister is also likely to hold bilateral meetings with Managing Director AFD and will meet the Management of Renault besides interacting with French and Paris Based Pakistani Media.

 
December 04, 2016 (PR No. 1915)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review revenue collection targets and other matters related to FBR

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here today to review the revenue collection targets and other matters related to FBR. SA to PM on Revenue Mr. Haroon Akhtar Khan was also present during the meeting.

Chairman FBR Nisar Mohammad Khan briefed the Finance Minister on the latest revenue collection figures.

The Finance Minister appreciated the efforts of FBR in increasing tax collections by 60% over the last three years. He urged the FBR team to redouble their efforts to meet this year’s revenue targets. He emphasized the importance of enhanced revenue collection in the background of country’s need for development and for achieving higher rate of inclusive and sustainable growth.

The meeting was attended by senior officials of FBR and the Ministry of Finance.

 
December 03, 2016 (PR No. 1914)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting for preparations to attend OGP summit in Paris

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here today to review the preparations for his visit to Paris to participate in the 4th biennial “Open Government Partnership” Global Summit to be held from 6th to 9th of December 2016.

The Finance Minister earlier accepted the invitation of the Governments of the United Kingdom and France to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative. The Letter of Intent signed by the Finance Minister has already been sent to OGP Secretariat expressing the intention of the Government of Pakistan to join OGP and commitment to respect the open government principles articulated in the Open Government Declaration of the OGP. On the instructions of the Finance Minister, the Economic Affairs Division had earlier arranged the first interactive session with the members of the civil society to formulate a road map for open government action plan. The next meeting with the members of the civil society shall be held in the month of January.

The Federal Minister for Finance said that Pakistan’s participation in OGP will be another step towards increased government transparency and stronger accountability leading to greater prosperity and wellbeing of the citizens. He said that measures such as accession to the OECD Convention on Tax Matters and move to join the OGP, will project a positive image of the country around the world and demonstrate Pakistan’s strong commitment to transparency, good governance and accountability.

The Minister directed Secretary EAD and his team to take all necessary steps that could help in reaping the maximum benefits from Pakistan’s participation in the OGP Summit.

The meeting was attended by the senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Division.

 
December 03, 2016 (PR No. 1913)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on promotion of Islamic finance

Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired the first meeting of the Committee for Implementation of the recommendations of Steering Committee for Promotion of Islamic Banking here today.

The Finance Minister while chairing the meeting commented that “our Government has always been committed to the development and promotion of Islamic Finance”. He said that the issuance of Sukuks by the present government during the last three years, including the recent issuance of US$ 1 bn international Sukuk, is proof of the Government’s commitment to Islamic Finance.

 Mr. Saeed Ahmad, Deputy Governor, SBP and convenor of the Committee briefed the meeting on the recommendations of the steering committee:

  • Formation of task force to undertake amendments in legal and regulatory framework
  • Fast track adoption of AAOIFI & IFSB standards for Islamic Financial Institutions
  • Develop a policy to raise new international financing through Islamic modes
  • Harmonisation by SECP of terms and conditions of Shariah compliant instruments issued by NBFC, Notified Entities and Modarabas
  • Promotion of Islamic finance research and development
  • Training & capacity building of focal persons in government departments
  • Formation of Implementation Committee to deliver above recommendations

After detailed deliberations with the committee the Finance Minister directed that four sub-committees, with membership from all the relevant stakeholders, to ensure effective and timely implementation of recommendations may immediately be notified and they are:

  • Sub-Committee on Legal & Regulatory Framework
  • Sub-Committee on Taxation
  • Sub-Committee on Capital Market
  • Sub-Committee on Awareness , Training & Capacity Building

The Committee was also briefed on the salient features of the Wakalah Sukuk. The Finance Minister appreciated the efforts of the Committee members and assured them of his full support for promotion of Islamic finance in the country.

The meeting was also attended by Finance Secretary, Chairman SECP, Chairman FBR, Chairman PBA, President ICAP, President Bank Alfalah, Shariah Finance experts and other senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and SBP.

 
December 02, 2016 (PR No. 1912)

Finance Minister met with Forex Dealers Association

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohamamd Ishaq Dar held a meeting today with the delegation of Forex Association of Pakistan led by Shaikh Allauddin, Chairman forex Association of Pakistan on the issue of smuggling of foreign exchange from the country.

The Finance Minister said that the Government has already launched crackdown against illegal money changers and at the airport. As a result of this crackdown against unscrupulous elements, the rupee dollar parity has improved by rupee one in the last 48 hours, he mentioned. He said that the Government would not allow any unscrupulous element to play with destiny of the country. The Government did it in past as in1998 and 2013 and would correct this unnatural hike this time as well, he affirmed. He said that these unscrupulous elements should mind that one rupee devaluation cost 57 billion loss to the exchequers which is detrimental to the interest of Pakistan.

The Minister mentioned during the meeting that some unpatriotic elements have been involved in forex and bullion smuggling. He reiterated in unequivocal terms that rupee dollar parity will not be allowed to be tampered through illegal and unnatural practices, and discipline will be enforced.

The Minister shared with the delegation that DG FIA, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue, Joint -Director Intelligence Bureau and other senior officers concerned have been to take strict measures immediately against criminal elements involved in the smuggling of gold and currency. He stated that FIA, IB, Custom Intelligence and State bank of Pakistan have been tasked to keep strict vigilance in this regard and all airports and other entry points would be kept under strict surveillance to curb this menace of currency and bullion smuggling. He reiterated that the Government is determined to establish writ of the State by all means.

Earlier, the forex dealers appreciated steps taken by the agencies which have resulted in improvement of rupee dollar parity. They assured their fullest cooperation to the Government. They also assured that they would not support any member of their association if involved in this illegal practice. It is expected that the situation will further improve in the coming week, they observed.

 
December 02, 2016 (PR No. 1911)

Finance Minister addressed NDU course participants

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, on the invitation of National Defense University, addressed the participants of National Security Workshop (18) at Institute for Strategic Studies, Research and Analysis (ISSRA), NDU today. The Minister was received by Lieutenant General Nazir Ahmed Butt and DG ISSRA Major General Ghulam Qamar and senior officials of the college.

The Finance Minister spoke on the Economic Policy of Pakistan and shared the perspective on Pakistan’s economy, the challenges faced by the government in 2013, steps taken for fostering growth and the roadmap for future economic growth in the country.

The Minister said that when the government came to office our priority was to re-fix the economy and bring macro-economic stability. Prior to 2013, the country was faced with serious challenges like macro-economic instability, frequent power outages and dire security situation. Agriculture, large scale manufacturing and services sectors were all underperforming. The foreign exchange reserve position had reached precarious levels; the interest rates and inflation were high. The external sector was heavily out of balance, and the performance of state owned enterprises had severely deteriorated.

The incumbent government has paid attention to all these issues and achieved considerable success in resolving them. We took necessary and difficult steps to avoid predicted default, and ensure fiscal discipline and consolidation. In this regard, we undertook structural reforms, including restructuring Pubic Sector Enterprises, and other measures including reduction in un-targeted subsidies and broadened the tax base. Measures were also taken to build foreign exchange reserves, contain inflation and overcome energy shortages. Now, our country ratings have been improved by Rating Agency as acknowledgement of our achievements.

The Minister noted that the slowdown in the global economy has posed a risk for Pakistan like other developing economies. He further said that the strengthening of the energy infrastructure and improving the security situation will be the key to achieving higher levels of growth in Pakistan.
The workshop members included Senators, MNAs, MPAs, senior military officers, bureaucrats, Ambassadors and representatives of the civil society.

 
December 02, 2016 (PR No. 1910)

Asian Development Bank to provide US$ 200 million and Australia to extend grant of AUD 4.5 million for National Disaster Risk Management Fund

Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization witnessed the signing ceremony between the Government of Pakistan and Asian Development Bank (ADB) for Loan Agreement of US$ 200 million and Grant Agreement of Australian Dollar 4.5 million for National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF). The Signing Ceremony was held in the office of Finance Minister.

NDRMF is being established as a public limited company under Section 42 of the Companies Ordinance 2016 for sustainable mechanism and permanent instrument to enhance Pakistan’s resilience to any future disaster. The focus of the Fund is on: (i) disaster risk reduction; (ii) design, development and seeding of disaster risk financing strategies and instruments; and (iii) partnerships with other organizations to provide relief and recovery support, including livelihood restoration initiatives, and reconstruction and rehabilitation of key public infrastructure.

The eventual total outlay of the Fund would be is USD 3 Billion of which ADB will provide USD 1 billion in five tranches. Out of ADB’s total commitment, a loan of USD 200 million has been signed today. The Government of Australia is also providing co-financing grant for this Fund. Apart from ADB and Australia, other donors such as Norway, Belgium and Switzerland have also shown their interest to contribute in the Fund.

Speaking on the occasion, the Finance Minister thanked ADB and the Government of Australia for providing support and enabling Government of Pakistan to establish a common window to pool financial resources. This mechanism will serve for alignment of donors’ commitments and GOP financing for disaster management efforts, if God forbid a disaster does take place.  The Minister also said that the participation of our development partners in this noble cause will also inspire organizations around the world to take similar initiatives. He also said that this initiative will strengthen Pakistan’s disaster preparedness efforts.

The Country Director Asian Development Bank stated that this is a trend-setting initiative which would not only mitigate the effects of disaster but would also help cushion the fiscal shock of the catastrophe.

The loan agreement was signed by Mr. Tariq Bajwa, Secretary, Economic Affairs Division and Mr. Werner E. Liepach, Country Director, Asian Development Bank. The High Commissioner of Australia and the representatives of Norway, Japan, Switzerland and European Union were also present on this occasion.

 
December 01, 2016 (PR No. 1909)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review the matters related to Pakistan Steel Mills

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here with the Privatization Commission of Pakistan to review the matters related to Pakistan Steel Mills.

Chairman Privatization Commission gave a detailed presentation on matters pertaining to Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and its administration. Secretary Industries and Production informed that the new CEO of PSM has assumed charge and is attending to issues related to administration and finance.

After the presentation, the Finance Minister directed the Privatization Commission and Ministry of Industries and Production to coordinate and suggest measures to resolve the outstanding issues at the Mills.

The Minister said that government is committed to finding a way forward and resolving the issues of PSM. He said that the government is keen to encourage the participation of the private sector in PSM in order to make sure that this asset makes its due contribution to Pakistan’ economy, including through creation of jobs. He highlighted that the government’s commitment to the workers of PSM is demonstrated by the fact that the government paying the salaries to the employees, even when no production is taking place.

Chairman, Privatization Commission, Secretary Industries & Production, Special Assistant to Finance Minister, CEO PSM and other senior officials of Finance Division participated in the meeting.

 
December 01, 2016 (PR No. 1908)

Ambassador of the European Union called on Finance Minister

Mr. Jean Francois Cautain, Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan called on the Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar this evening.

The Minister greeted the Ambassador and said that Pakistan regards the European Union countries as good friends and excellent trade partners as Pakistan’s exports to the region have been multiplied after GSP plus status given to Pakistan. The Minister also said that he hopes that the relationship of Pakistan and European Union will also improve further in future.

The Ambassador thanked the Minister for his warm welcome and said that his stay in Pakistan has been a pleasant experience and as the security situation has improved in the country, tourists from all over the world are showing interest in visiting Pakistan. He said that Pakistan has a great potential to improve tourism, which should be realized by the government.

The EU Ambassador also briefed the Minister that the European Union is preparing to offer an Electoral Reform Package (15 million Euros) to train and assist the Election Commission of Pakistan to manage the next elections in the most efficient and transparent manner. On this the Minister also shared that in Pakistan the Electoral Reforms Committee has also done extensive work with participation from all political parties and wide consultation with the members of the Civil society and it is expected that there will a positive development soon in the introduction of a comprehensive law regarding the electoral process in Pakistan.

The Finance Minister assured the Ambassador that his support and assistance will be available in all possible ways to strengthen the bilateral relations between Pakistan and the European Union.

 
 
 
 
 

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