Press Releases/Media
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Press Releases Archieve

 

June 03, 2020 (PR No. 322)

ECC has set up body for hedging imported petroleum prices

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has set up a body headed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Petroleum Mr. Nadeem Babar to explore various call options for hedging prices for the petroleum products imported by Pakistan.

The ECC meeting chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh also gave go-ahead to a “full and final” human resource rationalisation plan for the Pakistan Steel Mills employees in accordance with the judgements and observations of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and other courts hearing the cases involving the PSM.

The ECC took up the proposal prepared by the Ministry of Energy in consultation with various international institutions and local partners for hedging prices for petroleum products being imported and decided to set up a Committee headed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Petroleum Mr. Nadeem Babar and including representation from SBP, PSO, Finance Division, Petroleum Division, Law Division and Planning Division to explore call option for 15 million barrels of oil for one or two years divided in 12 equal monthly amounts for different stock price above current Brent as long as fee is within acceptable range. Under the TOR which can be readjusted by the Committee in the light of future developments, PSO will act as the counterparty while the Ministry of Finance shall give a guarantee of performance by the PSO. OGRA would also be given the policy direction to include the monthly price of the Option in the cost of LNG or any other oil product chosen in announcing the monthly prices.

The ECC also discussed the reported shortage of petrol in some cities and asked the Ministry of Energy, Competition Commission of Pakistan and the OGRA to ensure the requisite stocks were maintained by the OMCs and the supply to the fuel stations across the country was regular and intact throughout the month. Chairman ECC while taking a stern view of the reported petrol shortage directed all the relevant Government Ministries /Departments to immediately inform him if situation worsens any further.

On another proposal by the Ministry of Energy, the ECC considered and approved reimbursement of operational cost of Single Point mooring (SPM) installed by M/s Byco. Under the decision BYCO would submit actual audited operating cost of the SPM (excluding Wharfage/FOTCO charges/crude saving) to OGRA for inclusion in IFEM subject to a cap of PARCO rate while OGRA shall determine the actual impact for inclusion in the IFEM on the ongoing basis. Consequently with the implementation of the above decision, BYCO will withdraw its case from the Supreme Court of Pakistan and would also provide an undertaking that the ECC decision conclusively closes the pending matter of SPM’s costs.

On another proposal by the Ministry of Energy, the ECC asked the Finance Division to release an amount of Rs 1 billion to meet the cost over and above the criteria for supply of gas to villages and localities falling within 5 kilometres radius of gas producing fields as per instructions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to implement an announcement of the Prime Minister made in September 2003 for supply of gas to villages and localities falling within 5 kilometres radius of gas producing fields.

The ECC also took up a proposal by the Ministry of Energy for payment of unrecovered fixed costs of Rs.43.7 billion to the IPPs and asked the Finance Division to release Rs 23 billion while the issue of remaining payments would be resolved by all the stakeholders within one week and would be taken up in the next ECC meeting.

During the meeting, the ECC also took up and approved 12 separate proposals for technical supplementary grants of various amounts from different divisions and departments, including Interior Division, NAB, Revenue Division, Cabinet Division, National Heritage and Culture Division, Finance Division, Federal Education and Professional Training, Communications Division and Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Division.

 
May 31, 2020 (PR No. 321)

Petroleum Prices for month of June 2020

In order to provide further relief to the consumers, the following petroleum prices have been approved by the Government.
Product Existing Price per litre (Rs) New Price per litre (Rs):

Product Old Price New Price
Ms Petrol 81.58 74.52
HSD 80.10 80.15
Kerosene Oil 47.44 35.56
LDO 47.51 38.14

Despite the global trend of increasing prices of the petroleum products, the government has decided to extend further relief in petroleum prices to the public.
These prices shall be applicable from 1st of June.2020.

 
May 30, 2020 (PR No. 320)

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

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

ECC discussed in detail and approved the Criteria for Disbursement of Rs.200 billion in power sector received through Islamic Sukuk . According to the decision made by the forum energy purchase price inclusive of GST will be paid to ensure maximum generation is available during next 3 summer months(June, July and August 2020) according to the generation plan of next three months. Capacity payments will be disbursed to meet the debt servicing and taxation requirements for the period from June to end August 2020 and Payments to WAPDA, Nuclear Power Plants and partial settlement of import of power from Iran and NTDC transmission charges will be disbursed separately for operational requirements for public sector plants and entities, as WAPDA and Nuclear power plants comprise of more than 30% of the total planned generation in the next three months. However, this disbursement criteria will be followed for funds released under Rs.200 bn only. ECC directed Ministry of Energy to submit a proposal in next two weeks setting up the general principles and exact formula of payments based on the principles for the future payments. The Chair also directed the Ministry of Energy to minimize discretion in the principles/ formula so that the funds may reach the maximum possible number of receivers and reduce the built up of liabilities towards the government. It was also directed that as soon as the payments are made the information should also be made public through the official website of the Ministry for the information of the general public.

On the proposal of the Ministry of Industries and Production, ECC approved the release of Rs 525.858 million in favor of government of AJK for disbursement amongst the eligible commercial and industrial consumers of electricity under the PM’s SME Relief Package and similarly Rs. 136.299 millon to be provided to the government of Gilgit Baltistan for disbursement amongst the eligible commercial and industrial consumers of electricity. Total subsidy under the SME relief package for AJK and GB comes to 662.157 million rupees.

 
May 27, 2020 (PR No. 319)

Delegation of Nishat Group has met Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue

A delegation of Nishat Group met Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to apprise him of the damage done by Covid related economic downturn to large-scale manufacturers.

Advisor Commerce and Minister Industries were also present in the meeting apart from Dr. Ishrat Husain, Finance Secretary and Chairperson FBR who also participated in the meeting.

It was shared by the delegation that owing to Covid induced demand compression, size of balance sheets of large manufacturers is not maintainable. The major contributory factor is massive labour cost specially in labor intensive industries like garments sector. Any arrangements of avoiding permanent laying off or furloughs are putting excessive strains on the liquidity position of businesses, which are anticipating slow economic recovery, hence hedging against potential solvency issues.

The delegation head stressed on enhanced role by the Government to ease liquidity position of large businesses. The need for crafting scheme for cost sharing between public and private sectors was stressed.

The Adviser Finance empathized with the participants and updated them about the current status of implementation of PM stimulus package worth Rs 1240 billion. The delegation was asked to put up precise case for financial facilitation and its parameters as SBP has already been running a scheme for payroll protection.

The Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce desired for working out impact of reversion of orders by US, from China to other countries, and its potential impact for manufacturers in Pakistan.

The Minister Industries requested the delegation to provide details of proposal in terms of cost sharing arrangements along with details about requirements of different sectors so that Government could ensure balanced treatment to all key contributors to GDP.

The Adviser Finance concluded the meeting with the understanding that specific proposal be crafted regarding upscaling of existing scheme of SBP as too many interventions carry the risk of diluting the impact. He further emphasized that upper bounds of additional liability be calculated through defined parameters so that evidence-based decision may be shaped before next budget.

 
May 26, 2020 (PR No. 318)

Special meeting of the PM-formed Think Tank was held during the Eid holidays with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue

A special meeting of the PM-formed Think Tank was held here during the Eid holidays with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

All other members of the high-level group also participated in the meeting while Governor State Bank of Pakistan joined the proceedings on special invitation

During the meeting, the work done by Finance & Banking Committee remained under primary focus apart from the feedback from Committee on Social Safety Nets. Sultan Ali Allana presented the joint work of committee on Banks and Financial Institutions to improve liquidity and credit for individuals and businesses. The emphasis remained on Digital Account Offering for overseas Pakistanis, with reference to its objectives, key processes, product features as well as key regulatory and administrative challenges.

Mr. Shoukat Tarin and Mr. Sultan Ali Allana jointly shared other proposals too, including suggestions on enhancement of temporary relief facilities, expanding lending to SMEs and enabling demand growth through expanding consumer lending and encouraging housing finance.

Advisor Commerce and Dr. Ishrat Husain sensitized about the need for due diligence with reference to potentially adverse effects of the new scheme on existing remittances/ products, FATF concerns and harmonization of all initiatives aimed at promotion of digital economy. The experience of Pakistan Banao Certificate needs to be kept as benchmark to plug potential loopholes while offering new product.
Advisor Finance stressed on the need for demand trials in pursuit of developing target market. The proposal by Arif Habib for reduction of NADRA fees in data verification process got particular endorsement from other members ,as this wholly public-owned entity should not keep profit as primary motive in its operations.

Governor, SBP appreciated various recommendations of the Committee on improving liquidity for individuals and businesses and shared that SBP, in collaboration with MOF and CDNS has been in final phase of launching a saving product for overseas Pakistanis, in partnership with banks and CDNS, where lot of back-end work has already been sorted out.

Dr. Ishrat Husain and other participants raised concerns about the level of automation and digitization within CDNS and stressed for the need of combining of SBP’s and Committee’s proposals to offer more robust and legally compliant solution.

Shoukat Tarin briefed that multiple consultative sessions of Committee have been held with Naya Pakistan Housing Authority and other stakeholders, on shaping recommendations for boosting investments in housing sector and promotion of multiple financing options . It was further informed that committee report was ready for sharing with the group members to attract constructive feedback.

Dr.Ijaz Nabi shared the committee’s assessment on Ehsas program, with reference to key areas of concerns and briefed the participants about various recommendations shaped so far. Participants felt the need for engaging Dr. Sani Nishtar in the next meeting to have better understanding on moving forward. Provincial coordination issues were also highlighted which need to be resolved for smooth implementation of matters like tax harmonization.

Advisor to PM on Finance & Revenue shared holistic capture of all the main arguments presented in the meeting. He advised Finance Secretary to organize meeting of SBP with Shoukat Tarin, Sultan Ali Allana and Arif Habib , to have understanding of bilateral point of view on the features, processes and allied aspects of Digital Account Scheme, with a view to evolve consensus on unified practical approach. Moreover, other proposals of Committee also need to be deliberated with SBP in the same meeting to have clarity about way forward.

It was decided that members of Think Tank Group would share feedback on proposals of various committees to synthesize unified approach. Committee on Housing initiatives was requested to share its report for advance feedback whereas Chairman, Naya Pakistan Housing Authority and Dr. Sania would also be invited in next session to evolve consensus on respective domains.

It was unanimously agreed that Think Tank forum would meet again shortly owing to the urgency for finalization of work. Advisor Finance shared that recommendations of Think Tank would also be presented before PM soon, so that final directions from top forum are incorporated into budgetary process including budget speech.

 
May 21, 2020 (PR No. 317)

ECC approved Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy to promote local manufacturing and assembly of mobile phone handsets.

The policy approved in a meeting of the ECC chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh is aimed at ensuring localisation and indigenization of the parts of the mobile phones.

Earlier, the ECC was told that under the Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy, parts of mobile phone handsets will be used for the entire range of mobile phone handsets produced in Pakistan instead of limited to a particular model. The policy will have a positive impact on allied industry including packaging and plasting. The expected arrival of high end brands will give local industry an opportunity to become part of the global value chain. In addition, setting up of R&D centres and an ecosystem for software application is also visualised under the policy.

The ECC discussed various recommendations proposed as part of the policy and approved the following:

  1. Removal of Regulatory Duty for CKD/SKD manufacturing by PTA approved manufactures under input/output Co-Efficient Organization (IOCO) approved import authorization.
  2. Removal of Fixed Income Tax on CKD/SKD manufacturing of mobile devices up to USD 350 category.
  3. Increase in Fixed Income Tax on USD 351-500 USD category by Rs 2000 and>USD 500 by Rs.6300 on CKD/SKD manufacturing only.
  4. Removal of Fixed Sales Tax on CKD/SKD manufacturing of mobile devices.
  5. PTA shall allow activation of handsets manufacturing in the country under import authorization of inputs by IOCO in CKS/SKD kit (8517.1211) and not under HS Code 8517.7000 i.e. parts. This will eliminate misdeclaration in parts category at the import stage. Activation of CBUs imported through notified routes after payment of all levied duties and taxes as fixed by government from time to time shall continue till further amendment.
  6. In up to USD 30 category, words “except smart phones” to be inserted for CBU imports under 8517.1219 to avoid misdeclaration.
  7. R&D allowance of 3% to be given to local manufactures for exports of mobile phones.
  8. Locally assembled / manufactured phones to be exempted from 4% of withholding tax on domestic sales.
  9. Government to commit maintaining tariff differential between CBU imports and CKS/SKD manufacturing till the expiry of the policy.
  10. Local industry to ensure localization of parts and components as per roadmap included in draft policy.
  11. EDB to act as Secretariat of Mobile Phone Manufacturing Policy and ensure development of allied parts, components and devices.


Meanwhile, the ECC also considered a proposal brought forward by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for an intervention price for cotton 2020-21 crop by rationalising earlier proposals after fresh consultation with the stakeholders.

The members of the ECC had an in-depth discussion on the matter and maintained that an effective and sustained support to the cotton growers was vital and necessary due to the importance of cotton for the local as well as export industry. However, such a support should be extended in the form of direct targeted subsidy to the formers. ECC further directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to bring up to ECC proposals, for promoting research and development and to improve seed quality and yield per acre.

The ECC decided that since the matter was not federal in nature, a mechanism should also be adopted by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to engage with the provincial governments, particularly Punjab, at the higher government level for introducing some intervention with regard to ensuring better price to the cotton growers.
 
May 20, 2020 (PR No. 316)

Dr. Hafeez Shaikh lauds US support for FATF, COVID-19, G-20 debt relief

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said that Pakistan appreciates the support extended by the US in FATF, COVID-19 and debt relief from the G-20 countries.

“We value our relationship with the US particularly the business collaborations which have a great potential of growth given the opportunities for business and investment available in Pakistan,” he said while speaking during a virtual discussion with the office-bearers and members of the US-Pakistan Business Council here at the Finance Division today. Esperanza Jelalian, president of the US-Pakistan Business Council, Charles Freeman, senior vice-president Asia of US Chamber of Commerce, Steven Kobos, chairman of the US-Pakistan Business Council, Dr. Asad M. Khan, Ambassador of Pakistan to the US and other senior office-bearers and members of the US-Pakistan Business Council and US Chamber of Commerce also attended the discussion.

During the discussion, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh conveyed heartfelt sympathies from the government and the people of Pakistan on the loss of precious lives in the US due to COVID-19 pandemic. He said the Pakistani leadership had met President Trump thrice in the past and the visit by US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to Pakistan earlier this year was a confirmation of the growing trade and investment ties between the two countries. He said the business environment in Pakistan facilitated by a greater ease of doing business, improved regulations and huge market potential, was ideal for investment and joint ventures by the US businessmen.

The Adviser said the government had recently announced a Rs 1.2 trillion stimulus package that included direct cash transfers, payment of tax refunds, subsidized credits and payroll loans, to shore up the economy and boost businesses. Similarly, the upcoming budget was being designed in a way to provide maximum relief and incentives to the businesses and promote trade by reducing tariff on a large number of items of raw material.  

While speaking on the occasion, Esperanza Jelalian, president of the US-Pakistan Business Council and Steven Kobos, chairman of the US-Pakistan Business Council, said the US government and the businessmen saw Pakistan as an important trade partner and the visit by US Secretary of Commerce to Pakistan was an evidence of the degree of importance the US attached to Pakistan. The hoped the bilateral collaborations between the two countries would further grow in the coming times. 

 
May 20, 2020 (PR No. 315)

NPMC called for provision of food items at affordable prices

The National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) has called on the authorities concerned as well as the provincial governments to coordinate their efforts to monitor the provision of essential food items at affordable prices.

The Committee also asked the Competition Commission of Pakistan to check anti-competitive practices and take prudent administrative measures to check anti-competitive practices. The Committee stressed the need for chalking out a comprehensive plan in collaboration with provinces to prevent risk of major and minor crop due to locust attack.

The observations were made during a meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) held at Finance Division today under the chair of Finance Secretary to discuss the price trends of essential food items. The meeting was attended by the representatives from the provincial governments, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries of Industries, Interior, Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, National Food Security & Research, Federal Board of Revenue, Competition Commission of Pakistan and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

The meeting was informed that CPI inflation decreased by 0.8% on MoM in April 2020 over March 2020. However on YoY, recorded at 8.5 % in April 2020 over April 2019 and July-April CPI inflation on YoY reached to 11.2% (6.5% last year). Price trend in international market are on declining trend which will augur well for the domestic prices in near future. Government is proactively taking measures to control the general price level of daily use items during the month of Ramadan.

It has been noticed that Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) which monitors the price movement of 51 essential items on weekly basis recorded an increase of 0.01% for the week ended on 14th May, 2020.  During the week, 11 items recorded decline in their prices while 26 items remain stable. This is the fifth consecutive increase in SPI during the month of April and May 2020.

Provincial governments informed that they are regularly monitoring the prices and taking strict action against hoarding and undue profiteering. Sindh Government informed that during month of Ramadan 49,833 units were checked out of which 8902 shopkeepers were fined for an amount of Rs.15.717 million.  Punjab Government informed that 460,337 inspections have been carried out and 51,924 shopkeepers were found involved in overcharging and fine of Rs.103,746,779 were imposed. The Committee also discussed the price movements of essential items among the provinces/ICT and observed variations in price level.

The meeting also discussed the outbreak of novel coronavirus and its impact on demand and supply of essential items. The spread of pandemic has compelled the governments to close/strict the boarders, however, it was informed that there is no impact of such closure on domestic prices of essential food items as their trade on these borders are negligible. 

The Chair advised that all relevant authorities along with provincial governments should in close coordination monitor the provision of essential food items at affordable prices. Competition Commission of Pakistan should also check anti-competitive practices and take prudent administrative measures to check anti-competitive practices. The Committee stressed the need of chalking out a comprehensive plan in collaboration with provinces to prevent risk of major and minor crop due to locust attack.

 
May 20, 2020 (PR No. 314)

Pakistan will not go for commercial loans refinancing - Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet here at the Prime Minister’s Office.
The following Technical supplementary Grants were approved by ECC

a)      Rs. 360.515 million for the repair and maintenance of Supreme Court of Pakistan Buildings in Islamabad and various cities.
b)      Rs. 3.836 billion in favor of Ministry of Housing and Works to execute development schemes in the Sindh Province
c)      Rs. 291 million in favor of Ministry of Housing and Works/ Pak. PWD for payment of salary of maintenance staff of Pak. PWD.

On the recommendations of the Committee formed under the Chairmanship of Adviser to PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity and comprising Secretary Finance Division and Secretary Power Division to look into the issues of servicing of power sector loans and stock handling in a holistic manner, ECC allowed allocation of Rs.10 billion from Stimulus Package as a stop gap arrangement for the payment of interest on the Pakistan Energy Sukuk II for a period of six months or amendment in NEPRA Act whichever is earlier.

Subject to the approval of the Cabinet, ECC approved in principal to allow EAD to sign an MOU for availing the G-20 relief initiative. Pakistan is required to enter into this MoU with all official bilateral creditors including Paris Club creditors to implement the debt relief initiative of G-20. Chairman ECC unequivocally informed the forum that Pakistan has no intension of seeking any kind of relief for repayment of its commercial loans/ borrowings. He also informed that Pakistan has the means and will to honor its commercial commitments.

ECC also approved the proposal of the Revenue Division for declaration of multi-modal transit hub Jia Bagga NLC Transit Port as Customs Clearance port under Section 9 of the Customs Act 1969.

In order to reduce the capacity charges of power generation companies through  synthetic financing, ECC approved the ToRs for negotiations with IPPs/Gencos as recommended by a committee constituted by the CCOE vide its decision dated April 2nd 2020 under the Chairmanship of Minister for Power and comprising SAPM on Mineral Resources, Secretary Finance Division, Secretary Power and Secretary Law and Justice Division, The committee will submit its report in due course.

In order to manage and operate the Prime Minister’s COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Fund 2020, ECC approved the constitution of the Policy Committee with the following members;

1)      Prime Minister of Pakistan.( Chairman)
2)      Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives (member)
3)      Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue. (member)
4)      Adviser to PM on Commerce and Investment. (member)
5)      SA PM on Poverty alleviation and social safety. (member)
6)      Prime Minister’s Focal person for Corona Philanthropy Drive. (member)
7)      Secretary Finance Division. (member)
8)      Secretary Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety. (Secretary)

Terms of reference for the proposed committee would be as under:

1)      To decide on the appropriate usage of the proceeds deposited in the fund including means of identification of the beneficiaries of the fund and the parameters of their selection.
2)      To decide about the means of disbursement of assistance to the beneficiaries
3)      To take any appropriate decisions for collection of donations, maintenance and administration of the fund and related matters.

In order to devise a comprehensive policy to incentivize “Smart phone manufacturing in Pakistan” ECC constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Federal Minister for Industries and Production and with members from Ministries of IT and Industries, Board of Investment and Engineering Development Board. The Committee shall bring its proposals after consultation with all the relevant stakeholders in due course.

ECC also assigned the role of Chairman, to Mr. Hammad Azhar, being the Federal Minister for Industries and production, of the Committee to oversee the effective utilization of subsidies, Ramazan relief package and PM’s relief Package of 50 billion by Utility Stores Corporation.

 
May 19, 2020 (PR No. 313)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting with Chairman Board of Investment (BoI)

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division with Mr. Atif R. Bokhari Chairman Board of Investment (BoI), to discuss measure that could facilitate the investors to bring in more investment to the country to boost up the pace of development of the country.

Chairman BoI discussed with the Adviser the investment prospects available in the country and the areas and fields where foreign investors could show interest and make investments leading to overall economic development and increase in the GDP growth rate. The problems faced by the foreign investors post COVID-19 environment were also discussed. Chairperson FBR also apprised the Adviser on the details of ongoing discussion on tax matters with the foreign investors and shared their views and expectations with regard to the upcoming budget.

The Adviser directed that the foreign investors shall be facilitated as far as possible keeping in view the prevailing environment and observing the policy guidelines.

 
May 18, 2020 (PR No. 312)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting through video link with Dr. Ikram-ul-Haq

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division through video link with Dr. Ikram-ul-Haq to discuss proposals on improving the tax structure of the country with the help of effective data gathering and reconciliation mechanism. Chairman FBR, Secretary Finance and ex-secretary Finance Dr. Waqar Massoud Khan were also present during the meeting.

The Adviser appreciated the work done by Dr. Ikramul- Haq for gathering data across the country from selected markets and from different chambers of commerce and Industry. Dr. Ikram shared with the Adviser the important inferences from data gathering exercise and suggested certain techniques for data reconciliation that could improve tax collection in a more effective manner.

       The Adviser said that the basic purpose of this exercise is to consult experts to seek suggestions and insights so that the fundamental problems of the tax collection system in the country could be effectively addressed. He said that as we are preparing the next budget, we should be more vigilant, practical and analyze the opportunities and challenges offered by the current environment. The Government is ready to listen to all stakeholders to prepare a budget which is according to the need of the prevailing economic circumstances and innovative in providing solutions to the structural problems of the economy. He asked the Expert to firm up his proposals in concise and doable manner and share the draft as early as possible with the Ministry so that these proposals could be well incorporated in the upcoming budget. He also directed FBR to collect data through multiple sources that may be best used for effective budget making exercise.
 
May 15, 2020 (PR No. 311)

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

ECC in its meeting today at the Cabinet Division approved the Emergency Cash Assistance (Criteria and Mechanism) to the labour whose livelihoods has been affected by the COVID_19 Pandemic. The announcement was made earlier by the Prime Minister and required the formal approval of the ECC.

The meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet was chaired by the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

The Prime Minister on May 3rd 2020 announced that the funds collected through PM’s COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Assistance Fund 2020 will be used to assist the labour whose livelihood have been affected due to the lockdown and its impact on the economy. In his announcement the PM directed that the funds shall be disbursed through Ehsaas Emergency Cash program. The Prime Minister had also announced that for every rupee donated the government shall match 4 rupees in the fund. The budget envelop of Rs 75 billion released to BISP out of the 200 billion earmarked in PM’s relief package for distribution among labour in the country will be used for this purpose. The modalities of the disbursement are worked out by Finance Division, Poverty Alleviation Division and BISP.

BISP Board has approved that in order to identify the beneficiaries for Ehsaas Labour (Category-iv) the eligibility criteria used for Category –III of Ehsaas Emergency Cash may be used. The applications will be received only through Ehsaas Labour portal for inclusion of beneficiaries in Category-iv. Cash disbursement of Rs 12000,( one time assistance) will be made to eligible applicants through existing payment mechanism of BISP. Provinces, AJK, GB and ICT will be allocated quota in Ehsaas Labour assistance in accordance with their population share.

 
May 15, 2020 (PR No. 310)

No downgrading of Pakistan's B3 rating by Moody's: Finance Division

The Ministry of Finance has said that the rating review conducted by Moody’s Investor Service on 14th May 2020 does not downgrade Pakistan’s B3 rating.

In a statement on Friday, the Ministry has said that the Moody’s Investor Service has only placed the current rating under review for downgrade in case the G-20 Covid-19 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (G-20 DSSI) extends to private sector creditors. The action is, therefore, not Pakistan specific and is in line with Moody’s global approach to place under review for downgrade all sovereigns availing the G-20 DSSI.

The Ministry of Finance has further said that the review by the Moody’s Investor Service acknowledges that Pakistan has not indicated any interest in extending its debt service relief request to the private sector creditors and that the country’s fundamentals remain strong and on track. The review also appreciates that amid the pandemic, Pakistan’s economic, financial and institutional strength remains materially unchanged.

 
May 15, 2020 (PR No. 309)

Federal Spending Priorities Deliberated for Corona Budget

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has called for demonstration of fiscally responsible attitude as Corona led impacts are expected to deeply distort economic fabric of Pakistan.

He has also called on all the Federal Ministries and Divisions to have innovative and out of box brainstorming to achieve further cost cutting, along with efficient utilization of meagre budgetary resources.

The Adviser was addressing a meeting held at the Finance Division to discuss budgetary outlook for the next financial year. The Minister for Industries & Production and Advisor to PM on Commerce also participated in the meeting apart from core team of Finance Division. The focus of meeting was on spending priorities of the Federal Government amid corona led economic downturn and in the wake of IMF review.  

During the meeting, the Debt Wing of the Ministry of Finance shared the perspective on budget deficit projections as well as borrowing plans for foreign and domestic components of debt. T-bills and bonds dominated domestic debt borrowing has witnessed decline in cost of debt financing due to robust debt management strategy. It was apprised that choice of timing of tapping the money markets and quantum of debt raising have helped in reshaping the maturity structure of debt portfolio.  Growing market confidence has led to saving in borrowings costs for GoP as banks are now dominant participants in auctions.

It was highlighted that debt to GDP ratio has been distorted due to economic compression. Advisor Finance instructed that option of tapping sharia compliant bonds may also be exercised to diversify the portfolio. Finance Secretary shared that with every one percent decrease in policy rate, saving of Rs 50 billion in debt servicing is expected.

The DG Debt shared the details about repricing options for existing domestic debt portfolio, in case of interest rate cuts. The strategy of raising major chunk of financing needs through floating rate bods, during high interest rate environment was appreciated.  Advisor Commerce advised that debt managers must keep eye on the yield curve inversion and its implications on borrowing choices in a macroeconomic climate dominated by recessionary headwinds. Dr. Ishrat Husain highlighted the significance of broadening the investors’ base in the pursuit of better price discovery.  

Finance Secretary shared plans on further expenditure squeeze, rationalizing all domains of current expenditure including running of civil government, interest payments, subsidies and other related expenditures. Plan was shared to divert current expenditure savings to Corona Stimulus financing, under the vision of Prime Minister of Pakistan.  Finance Secretary apprised that core areas of reform pertain to general austerity and discouraging Supplementary Grants as principle. He also shared the proposal of disbursement of electricity subsidy to subsistence consumers through Ehsas, damage control in PSEs including their selective turnaround and scope of their management outsourcing through PPP modalities. The team deliberated on the transfer of four tertiary care hospitals from Provinces to Federation in the backdrop of new NFC talks, as the act would place additional recurring liabilities worth Rs. 27 billion per year on the platter of Federal Government. The ongoing work on right sizing of Federal Government by PM’s Task Force under Dr.  Ishrat Husain was appreciated as it is expected to bring long awaited fresh breeze in the corridors of status quo driven bureaucracy. 

Public Finance experts stressed the need to prioritize financing arrangements for Covid related expenditures as adjustor from IMF is available during this window of short duration. Advisor Finance advised for demonstration of fiscally responsible attitude as corona led impacts are expected to deeply distort economic fabric of Pakistan. He requested all Federal Ministries and Divisions to have innovative and out of box brainstorming to achieve further cost cutting, along with efficient utilization of meagre budgetary resources.
 
May 13, 2020 (PR No. 308)

ECC approved multi-billion package to boost agriculture, support farmers

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved a multi-billion agriculture package to provide the farmers subsidy on fertilizers, reduction in bank mark-up on agriculture loans, subsidy on cotton seed and white fly pesticides and sales tax subsidy on locally manufactured tractors.

The agriculture package is part of the Rs 100 billion earmarked out of the Rs 1,200-billion coronavirus relief package, for the Small and Meidum Enterprises (SMEs) and the agriculture sector. The agriculture package was proposed by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research at a cost of Rs 56.6 billion but the ECC chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh asked the Ministry of NFSR to rationalize it as per its share in the overall Rs 100 package announced for the SMEs and the agriculture sector out of the Rs 1200 billion coronavirus relief package. The ECC had already approved a Rs 50 billion package for the SMEs to provide indirect cash flow support to nearly 3.5 million people through pre-paid electricity.

Under the agriculture package as prepared by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research in consultation with the stakeholders, subsidy to the tune of approximately Rs 37 billion would be offered to farmers on the purchase of fertilizers. The amount would include a subsidy of Rs. 925 per bag on DAP and other Phosphatic fertilizers and Rs. 243 per bag on urea and other nitrogen fertilizers. The ECC was told that the estimated Urea offtake would be around 3.04 million ton while DAP was estimated at 0.95 million ton for the Kharif season. The subsidy scheme will be implemented by the Provinces and the amount will be disbursed through scratch card scheme already being implemented by the Province of Punjab. The ECC was told that the fertilizer share in cost of production for major crops was around 10 to 15 percent and the provision of subsidy would reduce cost of production for farmers and increase their affordability to adopt the recommended level of fertilizer nutrient use and best agricultural management practices.

Similarly, under the agriculture package, reduction in mark-up of agriculture loans to farmers at the total cost of Rs. 8.8 billion and subsidy on cotton seed at a cost of Rs 2.3 billion and White Fly pesticides at a cost of Rs 6 billion were also approved. The package would also include Rs 2.5 billion subsidy on sales tax on the locally-manufactured tractors for a period of one year.

Earlier, the ECC discussed various features of agriculture relief package in detail and lauded the efforts of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for preparing a comprehensive package for the farmers. However, the ECC called for inclusion of other banks along with ZTBL in the scheme to enhance outreach of farmers with focus on subsistence farmers with a land holding of 12.5 acres. It was also suggested that since markup had been reduced by the State Bank of Pakistan, the interest rates used in the proposal could also be rationalized accordingly. The ECC also called for the implementation mechanism, especially through the scratch card system, to be monitored carefully to ensure that the actual beneficiaries of package were genuine farmers. It was also pointed out that since with the provision of subsidy on fertilizers demand for the fertilizers might increase, the same had to be communicated to the Ministry of Industries and Production in time to make arrangements accordingly. The Minister NFSR assured that the regular offtake of fertilizer was being subsidised, however, any increase would be communicated to the relevant Ministry.

During the meeting, the ECC also approved a proposal by the Poverty Alleviation & Social Safety Division for disbursement of the Special Relief Package for the population living along the Line of Control in a single installment of Rs 12,000 for six month months from 1st January to 30th June 2020 while from July onwards, LoC families would be disbursed monthly installments of Rs 2,000 each till 31st December 2020.

The ECC also took up different proposals for technical supplementary grants by various divisions and approved one proposal by the Defence Division for technical supplementary grant of Rs 16.6 billion to meet the expenses on POL, utilities and medical stores maintained by the Defence Services and another proposal by the Finance Division for a technical supplementary grant of  Rs 288 million for payment of salaries to the employees of Pakistan Machine Tool Factory for the period from October 2019 to June 2020. The ECC also approved a proposal by the Ministry of Law and Justice for technical supplementary grant of Rs 40 million for the employees related and operating expenditures of the Federal Judicial Academy.

The ECC also took up a proposal by the Ministry of Industries and Production regarding the human resource rationalization of workforce of Pakistan Steel Mills at a cost of Rs 18.74 billion to be paid for retirements and termination dues of over 8000 of 9000 PSM employees. The ECC discussed the proposal in detail and asked the Ministry of Industries and Production to re-work the scheme in consultation with the PSM Management to extend its scope to a maximum number of PSM employees and bring it back to ECC.

The ECC also discussed the Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy as proposed by the Ministry of Industries and Production with the objectives of technology acquisition and localization of mobile devices through local investment, joint ventures, foreign direct investment; creation of 200,000 direct and indirect jobs, price reduction for consumers, increase in digitization through supporting 4G/5G technologies, development of efficient manufacturing eco-system, exports of competitively manufactured handsets and achievement of security objectives. The ECC discussed various components of the policy and approved it in-principle with instructions to the Ministry of Industries and Production to further fine-tune its various features and incentives for promoting localization and research and development leading to export of mobile phones.

The ECC also considered and approved a proposal by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for release of 35,000 metric tons of wheat from the PASSCO to the Azad Jammu and Kashmir government at a cost of Rs 1.52 billion, including cost of wheat and incidental charges, to be paid 50 per cent by the federal government from the stimulus package announced to fight against COVID-19.

 
May 13, 2020 (PR No. 307)

Govt keeping balance between health of citizens, enterprises: Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said that the government is carefully trying to keep a balance between protecting the health of its citizens and the economy by opening only essential services and the sectors of the economy such as logistics, retail of essential items and construction where safely possible.

“We are also trying to get in the hands of the citizens and businesses as much liquidity as possible through direct cash transfers payment of tax refunds, subsidized credits and payroll loans to ensure that the recovery path once the pandemic is over, is not affected,” he said while talking to Ms Anne Marie Trevelyan, MP and Secretary of State DFID, during a video conversation here Wednesday.

The Adviser lauded the support of DFID in various social sectors, particularly healthcare and education sectors in Pakistan and asked the DFID leadership to extend technical support to Pakistan to combat the threat of swarm locust to standing crops and vegetation in Pakistan. He also appreciated the role and support of the British government in the G-20 initiative for loan deferment to poor countries in the wake of COVID-19 crisis and hoped the British government would use its influence at other similar forums for debt relief and debt deferment to the countries trying to fight the effects and devastation caused by the coronavirus.

Ms Anne Marie Trevelyan shared with Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh important updates on various aspects of the British government strategy to deal with the threat and aftermath of the COVID-19. She said the British government valued its relationship with Pakistan and considered the DFID support to uplift of social sector in Pakistan as a sign of its long-term commitment to the country and its people.

 
May 12, 2020 (PR No. 306)

Minister for Maritime Affairs called on Advisor to PM on Finance and Revenue

Minister for Maritime Affairs, Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, called on the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here at the Ministry of Finance.

The Minister for Maritime Affairs discussed with the Adviser Finance the Financial requirements of the Ministry for various ongoing projects at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs for which the financial assistance will be required in the next financial year. He also discussed the financial requirements of the Ministry to contest the Elections for International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council for the term 2022-2023, the elections shall be held in December 2021. The Minister said that the financial implications of the process have already been prepared in consultation with High Commission of Pakistan, London, UK and submitted to the Finance Division.

The Adviser assured the Minister for Maritime of his full support for the projects and said that the he hopes that the Ministry shall be able to fulfill all requirements in the already allocated Indicative Budgetary Ceiling for the financial year 2020-2021.

 
May 11, 2020 (PR No. 305)

Ambassador of Germany accompanied by French Ambassador called on Advisor to PM on Finance and Revenue

Mr. Bernhard Stephan Schlagheck_ Ambassador of Germany accompanied by French Ambassador Dr. Marc Barety and Economic Counselor _Mrs. Anais Boitiere, called on the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here at the Finance Division.

The Advisor welcomed the Ambassadors and shared with them the overall picture of the country’s economy amid the Corona Virus pandemic and its future impact on the overall progress of the economy. He shared that before the pandemic Pakistan was successfully able to control its current account deficit and was expecting a growth of 3% during the ongoing financial year after observing strict financial discipline. However, after the outbreak the growth projections have become difficult to realize. He shared that due to the ongoing circumstances it is expected that the growth might remain between -1% to -1.5%. He then, told the ambassadors about the details of the relief package offered to the vulnerable by the Prime Minister through Ehsaas Program and the steps which the government is taking to support the SME sector.

The Ambassadors then discussed with the Adviser the details of the debt rescheduling offered by G-20 countries and the need for any further loans. The Adviser said that Pakistan’s firm stance in favor of debt rescheduling drive at the G-20 forum was based on the belief that the poorer countries genuinely require this assistance though Pakistan Specifically had benefitted lesser from the said relief. He also shared that $1.8 bn due in debt servicing to G-20 countries till December 2020 are under process of rescheduling. Pakistan is not going for any commercial loan rescheduling until now, said the Adviser. The Finance Division shall adhere to the requirements of Debt Limitation Act before planning to take up additional burden as most of the loans will be for the purpose of clearing old debt stocks, shared the Adviser.

The Adviser appreciated the support offered by the friendly countries and said that he hopes that the cooperation will continue in future for the benefit of the people of the three countries.

 
May 07, 2020 (PR No. 304)

Secured Transactions Registry Inaugurated by Advisor to PM on Finance and Revenue

Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, formally launched the Secured Transactions Registry (STR) today.

The STR, established under the Financial Institutions (Secured Transactions) Act, 2016,for registration of security interests/charges created by entities other than companies on their movable assets,has been operationalized by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).The STR is an electronic register that can be accessed through a dedicated website 24/7. Financial institutions can now file security interests online. Registration process is fully automated and the registry is searchable by general public, free of charge.

The launching ceremony was chairedby the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue-Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and attended by Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)-Mr. Reza Baqir,Chairman SECP-Mr. Aamir Khan, Chairman Board of Investment-Mr. Atif R.Bokhari, Chairperson, Karandaz Pakistan-Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, CEO, Karandaz Pakistan-Mr. Ali Sarfraz,Department Head of International Development (DFID)Pakistan-Ms. Annable Gerry, Country Director World Bank in Pakistan- Mr. Illango Patchamuthu, Commissioners SECP-Mr. Shaukat Hussain and Mr. Shauzab Ali.

In her address at the occasion, Ms. Annable Gerry, lauded the efforts of the financial sector regulators for their thought leadership and progressive role. Dr. Shamshad Akhtar also praised the SECP leadership and assured of Karandaz Pakistan’s continued support for the SECP’s technology projects. Governor SBP and Chairman SECP also spoke on the occasion.

Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh appreciated the support offered by the British Government, through DFID and Karandaaz, and collaboration between SECP, SBP,Board of Investment and the World Bank for the successful implementation of this reform. He particularly lauded the commitment demonstrated by the SBP and SECP teams, and the hard work of the SECPfor spearheading this initiative, and its completion within a year of its assignment to the SECP in March last year.

The Advisor, while discussing the importance of this initiative, highlighted that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) play a vital role in the economic development of the country due to their significant contribution in terms of output, exports and employment.Particularly, SMEs constitute approximately 90% of businesses in Pakistan, employ 80% of the non-agricultural labor force and contribute 40% in country’s annual GDP. He noted that despite playing a significant role in economic growth of the country, SMEs access to formal finance is limited to only 6% of the total financing by the banking sector.

The Advisor was optimistic that this initiative would prove to be a game changer by improving the access to finance for the MSMEs, Agri borrowers and rural enterprises. The commencement of the registry will broaden the scope of assets that these underserved segments can offer as a security for availing the finance.On the other hand, this reform will also help banks to expand their lending portfolios.The operationalization of STR will contribute towards improving Pakistan’s score on ‘getting credit indicator’, and in particular raise its global ranking on the World Bank’s Doing Business’index.

The launch of STR is yet another millstone achieved by the current government that is a testamentto its commitment towards improving financial inclusion, growth of the private sector and ultimately, the economic development of the country.

 
May 07, 2020 (PR No. 303)

British High Commissioner Dr. Christian Turner called on Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

British High Commissioner Dr. Christian Turner called on the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here at the Finance Division. Ms. Annabel Gerry – Head of DFID also accompanied the High Commissioner.

The Adviser exchanged views with the High Commissioner and Head of DFID on matters of common interest and specially thanked DFID on its cooperation in the recent launch of “Secured Transaction Registry”. He said that the cooperation between Pakistan and DFID will continue in future for overall prosperity of the people and businesses.

 
May 07, 2020 (PR No. 302)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting with the members of Pakistan Dairy Association via video link

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division with the members of Pakistan Dairy Association via video link.

The representatives of the Dairy Association discussed with the Adviser the issues the industry has been facing in the recent years and put forth suggestions that could help the Industry flourish and expand its base in the near future. They particularly requested the relief in taxation matters which could make the industry more compatible with the informal sector.

The Adviser said that he is aware of the importance of the industry and the foremost objective of the current government is to support businesses and provide employment. The Adviser directed that a special committee may be formed under the chairmanship of Secretary Finance with representatives from FBR and the Dairy Industry. This committee shall give its report within the a fortnight week and will provide information/data regarding the profit and loss situation of the dairy business across the country, the current rate of utilization of its full capacity and future possibilities of growth, the cost of relief requested for the government, the overall implications of the relief measures for the industry’s growth, institutional arrangements that could help in the discharge of their liabilities any other factors that should be considered.

The Adviser said that the government shall consider the requests of the Dairy Association with an open mind after reviewing all the facts and related data that could help in taking the best decision in favor of the economy and well being of the people.

 
May 07, 2020 (PR No. 301)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting on SMEs

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division to deliberate on the contours of a financial assistance package for the Small and Medium enterprises in the wake of the Corona Virus pandemic. Minister for Industries and Country Director World Bank also participated in the meeting.

The assistance package would explore the possibilities of supporting the small and medium sized enterprises, formal or informal, which are employing 5 to 30 people but have suffered losses due to the recent lockdown. The ways and means to support the firms to continue their production and to enable them to pay their fixed costs and support their workers were discussed in detail. The Adviser said that the focus of the scheme should be that the workers attached with these small businesses should not be laid off from their work because of the un-sustainability of the business. Provision of basic IT related skills to the smaller businesses was also discussed, such skills/ expertise would help the workers as well as the businesses to continue their entrepreneurship in the odd and difficult times.
It was also agreed that the cooperation of SMEDA and Punjab IT Board will be sought to make the package implementable.

 
May 06, 2020 (PR No. 300)

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

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has asked the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to closely monitor the wheat procurement process and actively engage with the food departments and PASSCO to ensure procurement of wheat as per 8.25 million tones target set for procurement by the public sector this year.

The ECC meeting chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh further asked the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to submit to ECC a detailed report in the next two to three weeks on the progress of wheat procurement by PASSCO and provincial food departments and overall wheat production in the country with the help of reliable data and figures to have a clearer picture for better planning in future.

The ECC also called for exploring possibilities for extending more time to flour mills to procure wheat from the market, allowing inter-provincial movement and preventing smuggling of wheat outside Pakistan. The ECC gave the instruction after a report was presented to it by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research on wheat procurement by the public sector in the current season. The Ministry, in its report, told the ECC that the wheat procurement target for the wheat crop 2019-20 was set to 8.25 million tones with 4.5 million tones to be procured by Punjab, 1.4 million tones by Sindh, 0.4 million tones by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 0.1 million tones by Balochistan and 1.8 million tones by PASSCO. So far PASSCO and the provincial food departments had procured 3.96 million tones of wheat, approximately 48 % of the target while the procurement pace was slow in KP and Balochistan and both the provinces had been requested to speed up the procurement process.

The ECC also took up another proposal by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for fixing an intervention price for cotton and after a detailed discussion asked the Ministry to come up with a comprehensive package focusing on cotton seed research, overall research and development, better water management, deregulation of the sector and zoning of crop growing areas to enhance productivity and competitiveness of the local crop.

The ECC also discussed and approved five separate supplementary grants on different proposals submitted by various divisions. On two separate proposals for technical supplementary grants by the Defence Division, Rs 1.665 billion grant was approved for upgradation of Special Telecom Monitoring Project at Directorate ISI and a Rs 500 million for construction of Special Education School at the Defence Complex Islamabad. On a proposal by the Prime Minister’s Inspection Commission, a technical supplementary grant of 10.476 million was approved for assistance package for the family of Mr. Raees Anwar Abbasi, Senior Private Secretary (BS-19), Prime Minister’s Inspection Commission following his death on 12th August 2019. On a proposal for technical supplementary grant by the Poverty Alleviation & Social Safety Division, an amount of Rs12.143 million was approved following transfer of the subject of “Collection of Zakat and Ushr, disbursement of Zakat and Ushr to the Provinces and other areas as per formula approved by the Council of Common Interest” from Religious Affairs & Interfaith Harmony to the PA&SS Division and subsequent transfer of officers along with their posts and budgets by the Ministry of Religious Affairs & Interfaith Harmony to the PA&SS Division. On another proposal for technical supplementary grant by the Finance Division, the ECC approved Rs 306.615 million for the Office of Controller General of Accounts during FY 2019-20 for payment of dues on account of Prime Minister’s Assistance Package.

On a proposal by the Ministry of Interior, the ECC allowed Capital Development Authority (CDA) Islamabad to allocate Rs 3.05 billion to the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) on loan basis for payment of obligatory expenses for the second half of the FY 2019-20.

The ECC also considered and approved a proposal for reconstitution of a Committee formed by the ECC in its meeting on 26th March 2020 for examination of incentive package for the National Electronic Vehicle Policy by nominating the Minister for Industries and Production Mr. Hammad Azhar in place of Mr. Abdul Razak Dawood as Chairman and member of the committee following the cabinet reshuffle and including Secretary Commerce as member of the Committee in place of Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Mr. Abdul Razak Dawood.

The ECC also considered and approved a proposal by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs for extension due to Corona pandemic of free period from five working days to 15 working days for cargo and containers landing for period up to May 31, 2020.

The ECC also approved another proposal by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs for technical supplementary grant of Rs 58 million as compensation of the demolished structures of Pakistan Coast Guards in order to provide 19 acres land previously in possession of Pakistan Coast Guards and vacated for Gwadar Free Zone and Right of Way of the Eastbay Expressway.

On a proposal by the Ministry of Energy for development of a new mechanism/criterion for disbursement of payments to the tune of Rs 300 billion through CPPA-G to the power generators, the ECC asked the Power Division to devise the requisite criterion for fair and equitable disbursement of payments to the power generators and come back to ECC for its approval.

On another proposal by the Power Division, the ECC approved shifting of most expensive loan from the books of PHL to Government of Pakistan and taking up of Rs 136.454 billion loan in the FY 2019-20 while other loans to be considered in the following financial years accordingly.

On another proposal by the Power Division, the ECC gave go-ahead to issuance of new sovereign guarantee by the Ministry of Finance in respect of fresh syndicated term finance facility for Rs 41 billion through Power holding Limited (PHL) for the purpose of set off/adjustment of existing PHL finance facility of Rs 41 billion executed in pursuance of ECC decision made on 7th June 2017.

The ECC, on a proposal by the Petroleum Division, asked the Finance Division to transfer Rs 11.7 billion in the NBP account for ensuring remittances to Kuwait as per schedule.

 
May 06, 2020 (PR No. 299)

Ministry of Finance and State Bank of Pakistan introduce risk-sharing mechanism to support bank lending to SMEs and small businesses to avail SBP's Refinance Facility to Support Employment

Taking cognizance of the SMEs finding difficulties in arranging adequate collateral and banks’ risk averseness in taking exposures for such lending under the SBPs Refinance Scheme to Support Employment and Prevent Layoff of Workers, Ministry of Finance has stepped forward to shoulder risk sharing with banks.  Accordingly, the Federal Government has allocated Rs 30 billion under a credit risk sharing facility for the banks spread over four years to share the burden of losses due to any bad loans in future.  Under this risk sharing arrangement, Federal Government will bear 40% first loss on principal portion of disbursed loan portfolio of the banks. This facility will incentivize banks to extend loans to collateral deficient SMEs and small corporates with sales turnover of upto Rs2 billion to avail financing under SBP refinance scheme.

Under the SBP’s Refinance Scheme to Support Employment and Prevent Layoff of Workers due to the impact of COVID-19, businesses that commit to not lay off workers in the next three months can avail credit through banks for the three months of wages and salaries expenses at a concessional mark up rate.

The risk-sharing mechanism being introduced today, that is expected to increase the banks’ incentive to lend to SMEs and small corporate under this scheme, was developed on the basis of feedback received from relevant stakeholders and in collaboration between MOF and SBP. Ministry of Finance’s swift approval of the subsidy to provide risk coverage to banks has made it possible for the SBP to launch this credit risk sharing facility for which relevant circular has been issued today.

SBP will continue to monitor the implementation of the scheme.

 
May 03, 2020 (PR No. 298)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired 3rd meeting of the Thinktank

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh chaired 3rd meeting of the Thinktank, here Sunday to assess the emerging situation resulting from Covid-19 related economic slowdown and its impact on individuals and businesses.

The forum has the  mandate to provide cognitive support to on-going response of the Federal Government  apart from extending help  in designing new initiatives and mid -course correction of  interventions already under execution. The forum has representation form eminent public finance practitioners, financial analysts, bankers, development and monetary economists and academia. The participants included Advisor to PM on Commerce, Finance Secretary, Dr. Ishrat Husain, Shaukat Tareen, Dr. Ijaz Nabi, Sultan Ali Allana, Arif Habib and Dr. Waqar Masood.

Advisor to PM on Finance engaged all participants in extensive deliberations, while defining that the focus of the forum would remain on the short term urgently needed measures to give boost to economy which is under acute stress due to both demand and supply compression. He emphasized the need to learn from international experience in designing fiscal, monetary and other policy responses by the Federal as well as Provincial Governments.

The Thinktank has devised an “Impact and Urgency Response Matrix” by identifying multiple actionable themes with low, medium and high economic impacts, pitched against short, medium and long time horizons. The participants discussed the evolving economic scenario and identified priority areas which carry the potential of giving maximum boost to economy through accelerating aggregate demand and easing out supply concerns while also ensuring stability of financial system which is equally critical in robust recovery of the economy.

Advisor to PM, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh emphasized the need for evolving road map for chosen domains, thereby bringing clarity about what needs to be done and who will do it. The need for real-time data and research was highlighted in development of clear roadmap and implementation framework. The forum selected six broad priority domains including boosting social safety nets (Ehsas and allied initiatives), food security and safety of supply chains, boosting role of banks and financial institutions in appropriately designing incentives for market participants, kick-starting low and medium cost housing projects, making PSDP and Provincial ADPs responsive to labour intensive propositions and business facilitation through fiscal interventions.

The forum decided that fiscal proposals including changes in rates of Sales Tax, refunds etc. would be deliberated with FBR in detail, so that next Federal Budget addresses these burning concerns which are essential to spur consumer spending. Moreover, proposals related for financial and banking matters including review of payroll refinancing scheme, incentives to banks to finance MFIs and MFB, measures for enhancement of remittances and injecting additional liquidity to commercial banks by cutting CRR/SLR and CCB, were decided to be dealt by forum in more details.

Advisor to PM on Finance concluded the session with the consensus decision that detailed roadmaps for chosen six domains would be prepared so that respective Ministries are engaged, to create further value in on-going plans meant for giving economic boost. It was further decided that implementation review of PM Economic Stimulus Package (worth Rs. 1240 Billion ) would be a regular feature in next Thinktank meetings to ensure value for money apart from smooth service delivery to deserving segments of society.

 
April 30, 2020 (PR No. 297)

Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved four major projects at a cost of nearly Rs 250 billion

Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved four major projects at a cost of nearly Rs 250 billion in a meeting held today at the Cabinet Block with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the chair.

The meeting discussed a proposal for the construction of Lodhran-Multan Section (North Bound 62 kms) of N-5 and construction of 2 flyovers at Railways Crossing at Lodhran Bypass and approved the project at cost of Rs 12.434 billion. Under the project to be completed in 24 months, beside road two flyovers along with three interchanges at Super Chowk and Permit ChowkLodhran and an interchange at Bahawalpur Chowk Multan would be built. Besides, four minor bridges as well as reconstruction & widening of culverts and urban area improvement at BastiMalook, Multan City and Larr Town would also be carried out under the project. The reconstruction of existing two-lane northbound and construction of flyovers, interchanges and area improvements would help reduce traffic hazard and congestion on the project road and after completion of the project, a safe, reliable and efficient road facility would be available to the commuters.

The ECNEC also approved a project titled ‘Punjab Human Capital Investment Project’ at a cost of Rs 32 billion to strengthen primary health facilities, introduce conditional cash transfer program to encourage the poor to access the health and nutrition support, support economic inclusion for the young parents with children for poverty alleviation and expand and strengthen early childhood education. The project to be completed in five years would be rolled out in 11 less-developed districts of Punjab, including Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Bhakkar, Dera Ghazi Khan, Khushab, Layyah, Lodhran, Mianwali, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan and Rajanpur. 

The ECNEC also considered and approved Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Irrigated Agriculture Improvement Project (KP-IAIP) at a cost of Rs 30 billion for improvement of 14,260 watercourses, installation of 10,000 acres high-efficiency irrigation system, construction of 5000 water storage tanks, provision of 500 laser land levelers, capacity building, strategic studies and value addition, and project management and monitoring. The project to be completed in six years, would be rolled out in all 26 districts of the province.

The ECNEC also considered the DiamarBasha Dam Project (Acquisition of land and resettlement) and accorded in-principle approval to the project with the instruction to the Planning Division to further rationalize the cost on the pay and allowances component of the project. Under the project to be completed at a cost of Rs 175.43 billion, 30,350 people being displaced from 4,102 households of the project area would be resettled while land spread over 35,924 acres would also be acquired. Besides, provision of health facilities, establishment of educational institutions and improvement, implementation of Cultural Heritage Management Plan, Fisheries Management Plan, Camp Management Plan, Livelihood Interventions, social safety net, business restoration plan and socio-economic research studies would also be undertaken and completed under the project. 
 
April 30, 2020 (PR No. 296)

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

Adviseto the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has emphasized the need for better coordination among the stakeholders for arriving at consensus on targets of macro-economic variables and the required policy actions to achieve them.

He further stressed that all organs of the state should play their role in this difficult time to fully capitalize their potential to achieve set macro-economic targets as per their mandate. He was chairing a meeting of the Monetary and Fiscal Policies Co-ordination Board held at the Finance Division today. Other members of the Board present in the meeting were the Adviser to PM on Commerce and Investment, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Finance Secretary, Governor SBP and Dr. Asad Zaman. Chairperson FBR also attended the meeting on special invitation.

The Finance Minister in his opening remarks stated that this high powered Board facilitates the policy makers to review and coordinate in an effective manner to adopt a comprehensive set of policy actions to overcome the economic challenges that we are facing at internal and external fronts.

Secretary Finance presented that the government has embarked on a journey towards stability and sustainable inclusive growth through various structural and policy adjustments that have paid off in the form of decline in current account deficit, fiscal deficit, buildup of foreign reserves, stable exchange rate etc. Thus for the first time primary balance posted surplus of Rs 104 bn during Jul-Mar, FY2020 (0.2 % of GDP) as compared to deficit of Rs 474 bn (1.2 % of GDP) during same period last year. He then presented the pre-Covid and post-Covid overview of the economy and stated that the pandemic has brought multiple challenges for Pakistan’s economy. Prior to coronavirus, the GDP growth was estimated at 3.24% for 2019-20 and after pandemic it may decline significantly.  The government has timely initiated a Fiscal Stimulus Package worth Rs 1.24 trillion encompasses emergency response, support to businesses and relief to citizens. Couple of other schemes approved by ECC and the Cabinet is also in place to minimize the adverse impact of the Covid-19.

Governor SBP appreciated the efforts of Ministry of Finance for curtailing fiscal deficit and achieving positive primary balance in first three quarters of current fiscal year. From Monetary perspective he briefed that SBP has given the stimulus to economy through cut in policy rate (425 bps) and increasing quantity of money by injecting additional liquidity. SBP has introduced number of measures and some concessional refinance schemes to address both the demand and supply side conditions for businesses. These include Temporary Economic Refinance Facility (TERF), Refinance Facility for Combating COVID-19 (RFCC) and Refinance Scheme for Payment of Wages and Salaries to the Workers and Employees of Business Concerns. These measures are aimed at facilitating the businesses to remain afloat during the crisis times. On the demand side, a cumulative reduction of 425bps in the policy rate is expected to address the high cost of borrowing issue.

Deputy Chairman Planning Commission apprised the meeting that coronavirus has declined the confidence of both consumer and investors. Thus both aggregate demand and supply has been disrupted and the society is following risk aversion behavior.  The government should provide further support in terms of simplification of processes and lowering administrative burden on businesses, and help SMEs find some ways to cope with emerging situation. However, accommodative fiscal and monetary policies adopted by the Government will be helpful in stimulating economic activities.

Adviser for Commerce and Investment was of the view that in prevailing situation exports will be around 21 to 22 billion, while imports will fall to 42 billion mainly due to decline in international commodity and oil prices. There is a risk of decline in remittances. However, due to decline in imports current account deficit may not be adversely affected. Even in these testing times, Pakistan’s exports to Africa and Middle East have remained positive and are growing which has been a direct outcome of the government efforts to explore new avenues in export markets. Dr. Asad Zaman emphasize the need of enhancing the capacity of institutions like Federal Bureau of Statistics for timely dissemination of authentic data that will be helpful to reset policy direction in the post Covid changing environment by setting realistic targets and to monitor and analyze the performance of relevant stakeholders.

 
April 28, 2020 (PR No. 295)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting to weigh economic impact of COVID-19

A high-level meeting Tuesday underlined several challenges the country was likely to face on the economic front due to the impact of COVID-19 on the national, regional and global economy.

The meeting chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and attended by leading development partners, including World Bank, Asian Development Bank, DFID and UNDP, agreed that while it was too early to predict the impact of COVID-19 but if the crisis persisted then the manufacturing and service sectors as well as the exports were likely to be severely affected in the year 2020 while agriculture growth was likely to remain intact in Pakistan.

The participants of the meeting also predicted that due to an extended economic crisis, the fiscal deficit could rise to 9.6 per cent of the GDP while the impact on the poverty figures could also be higher due to closure of businesses and restricted economic activity due to the lockdown situation. In a worst-case scenario, the growth rate could remain negative at -1.57 per cent of the GDP.

During the meeting, it was pointed out that the COVID-19 crisis had drastically affected the global economy that could shrink by 3 per cent. Similarly, it was also felt that there would be negative growth throughout 2020 and the chances of recovery were expected from the start of 2021.

The meeting underlined the need for pursuance of a clear, transparent and unified plan of action combining a “whole of the country” approach backed by necessary constitutional measures to sail out of the crisis. Expenditure rationalization, particularly reduction of low-impact spending, and revenue generation were also emphasized as key areas of focus in coming months. It was felt that the construction sector could provide the key for resurgence of the economic activity.

The meeting also warned against the relaxation of the lockdown which could further increase the infection rate and put unbearable burden on the healthcare system which was already finding it hard to provide regular healthcare services due to increased focus on dealing with the COVID-19. It was suggested that Pakistan would be required to “reset and reboot” its economy to get above the red-line. It was felt that the second tranche of cash grants to those vulnerable segments who were adversely affected by the lockdown and closure of businesses would be required to further the relief efforts. Asian Development Bank informed the meeting that they are interested in giving local currency loan to Small and Medium Enterprises adversely affected by this crisis.

 It was also noted in the meeting that the speed, efficiency, and transparency with which Pakistan has already disbursed more than 75 billions to its millions of vulnerable population is unprecedented not only in Pakistan but in the entire region and such a  thing was unimaginable in recent past of the country.

     
 
April 25, 2020 (PR No. 294)

PM-formed Think-tank identifies key areas to boost economy during Covid crisis

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh chaired the 2nd meeting of the Thinktank, recently constituted under the directions of Prime Minister, to deliberate on the Covid related economic downturn and mitigation of ensuing risks.

The forum has been mandated to provide platform for collective thinking on the emerging situation resulting from the Covid-19 related medical crisis and its spillover to economy. Its other members include Shaukat Tareen, Dr. Ishrat Husain, Dr. Ijaz Nabi, Sultan Ali Allana, Arif Habib, Dr. Waqar Masood. Advisor to PM on Commerce and Finance Secretary are also part of it.

After extensive deliberations on emerging themes, the forum  identified key areas for policy interventions, including monetary affairs and banking sector, fiscal matters and public finances, social safety nets, SMEs and large businesses, commodity prices, public health challenges and role of private sector and NGOs. Advisor to PM on Finance apprised the forum about developments at G-20 forum regarding debt relief package. There is potential for USD 1.8 billion debt deferment for one year under this, whereas proceeds worth USD 1.4 billion under IMF have already been received.

Participants highlighted the need for further downward revision in policy rate coupled with passing on the benefits of slashed oil prices in global market to public. The focus of the deliberations remained on strengthening of aggregate demand and supply of the economy, with emphasis on lower income groups and small firms.  Need for further liquidity for banks was discussed as strong and vibrant banking sector is essential to boost economy under such strong recessionary headwinds.

Ways to further encourage remittances, agriculture financing and timely lifting of crops and vegetables from small farmers were analyzed.  The forum discussed the need and scope for bailout package for large businesses and exporters apart from gauging the viability of reduction of GST on consumer goods, from 17% to 5%, to kick-start consumer spending for next 2 years. The constraints of FBR amid high revenue targets in a shrinking economy were highlighted by Finance Secretary. Decision in this regard would be made after detailed consultations.

The progress of ongoing cash disbursements under Ehsas program were shared. The need for gathering reliable data on recently laid-off works and timely cash transfers to the most vulnerable were emphasized.  Economists within the Thinktank stressed for the need of designing PSDP to facilitate labor intensive projects apart form crafting robust agriculture financing plans. The need for public private partnerships was elaborated to create fiscal space within public sector through these off-balance sheet financing arrangements which encourage private sector participation in public sector initiatives.

Professionals within group stressed for the need of oil price hedging, power sector debt securitization and creation of fiscal space through rescheduling of foreign and domestic debts. The need for designing lending programs for housing sector participants came under consideration including facilitation of end-users. The massive scope for mortgage backed financing in Pakistan was also highlighted.

Advisor to PM on Finance and Revenue took lead in picking most urgent themes for proper policy deliberations and decisions. He shared that Prime Minster of Pakistan may participate in the next session to give boost to the work of this Forum which has been constituted to provide intellectual and professional insights to the Ministry in designing and implementing incentives for economy in pragmatic fashion.

Advisor decided that interventions with highest, medium and low impacts would be sorted out and aligned on the basis of short, medium and long term time horizons so that most essential tasks are pushed on priority basis, with proper funding and execution arrangements.   

It was also decided that international think-tanks will be engaged for cross-leaning for select policy making players in Pakistan so that robust interventions are designed to bring relief to economy and most deserving segments of public. 

 
April 24, 2020 (PR No. 293)

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Mr. Yao Jing called on Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Mr. Yao Jing called on Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh at the Finance Division here Friday.

During the meeting, both sides discussed matters of mutual concern and decided to further strengthen bilateral collaborations. The Chinese ambassador lauded the relief package announced by the government for the people and business community and also appreciated the government response to tackling the spread of coronavirus in the country.

 
April 23, 2020 (PR No. 292)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue chaired a meeting to discuss and review issues being faced by the telecom sector

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Thursday chaired a high-level meeting to discuss and review issues being faced by the telecom sector. 

During the meeting also attended by Minister for Industries & Production Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistan Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari, Secretary IT & Telecom, Secretary Finance and CEOs of major cellular companies, various issues being faced by the telecom and cellular companies were discussed and debated. 

Secretary IT & Telecom Mr. Shoaib Siddiqui told the meeting a high-level committee had already been constituted to formulate recommendations for the resolution of the issues being faced by the telecom sector and its final recommendations would be completed by 28th April 2020. 

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh assured his full support and cooperation for the resolution of the issues of telecom sector.
 
April 22, 2020 (PR No. 291)

ECC releases Rs. 75 Billion under PM's Relief Package for payments to Labourers

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved release of Rs 75 billion from PM’s Relief Package of Rs 200 billion for targeted payments to the low-income groups, especially labourers and daily wagers most severely affected by the lockdown situation in the country.

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

Under the decision, disbursement of Rs 12,000/- per selected person would be made using the Ehsaas disbursement mechanisms under a programme called “Mazdoor Ka Ehsaas Programme”. For this purpose, a fourth category in addition to already existing three categories in “Ehsaas Kifalat”, would be created and standard filters/checks of Ehsaas Program would be applied for identification of the beneficiaries.

Earlier, the ECC was told that after the usual filters and checks, up to 6 million low-income people were expected to benefit under the planned 4th category in addition to the 12 million labour population already targeted through category 1-3 of Kifalat. “Mazdoor Ka Ehsaas Programme” was aimed at extending much-needed support in the current situation to the low-income labour/daily wagers mostly involved in activities such as loaders, cleaning staff, contract employees, piece rate workers, self-employed street vendors, construction workers, painters, welders, mechanics, carenters, domestic help, drivers, etc.

The ECC also asked the Ministry of Industries and Production and the Poverty Alleviation and Social Sector Development Division (PASSD) to jointly work out comprehensive mechanism and modalities to ensure a transparent and efficient disbursement of the support to the deserving people. 

During the meeting, the ECC on two separate proposals approved a technical supplementary grant of Rs 606 million for 19 projects to be implemented by the Government of Balochistan for FY 2019-20 and another technical supplementary grant amounting to Rs 7 million for purchase of spare parts for helicopter maintenance by Frontier Corps Balochistan (North).

The ECC also approved release as government loan of Rs 1.30 billion in the current financial year and Rs 3.85 billion per annum during the next three years for settlement of the outstanding liabilities of litigants in the case involving Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).

On a proposal by the Ministry of Commerce, the ECC approved notification of the Export Policy Order, 2020 and Import Policy Order, 2020 in consolidated form as per the Law Division’s recommendations for the convenience of the business community.

The ECC also approved a proposal by the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and HRD for approval of the budget proposal for the year 2019-20 & revised budget estimate for 2018-19 of EOBI.

The ECC, on a proposal by the Ministry of Climate Change, approved exemption from the Re-lending Policy of the Government in respect of a USD 188 million World Bank IDA for the Pakistan Hydromet and Ecosystem Restoration Services Project.

The ECC also accorded principled approval to a proposal by the Ministry of National Health Services for provision of Rs 150 million funds as grant in aid/seed money for Islamabad Healthcare Regulatory Authority, the ECC asked the Secretary Finance and Secretary Health to jointly to work out modalities for the arrangement of funds.

On a proposal by the Ministry of Industries and Production seeking a supplementary grant of Rs 288 million for payment of salaries to the employees of Pakistan Machine Tool Factory, the ECC asked the Finance Division and the Industries and Production Division to sit together and resolve the issue.

The ECC also considered a proposal by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs regarding arrest of PNSC ships in South Africa on account of alleged claims of M/s Coniston against Pakistan Steel Mills Ltd and asked the Finance Secretary to engage with the PNSC and PSM and seek opinion of the Law Division, if necessary, to resolve the issue having ended up in litigation.

 
April 16, 2020 (PR No. 290)

Govt trying its best to resolve liquidity crunch, cash flow issues of industry: Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said the government has vowed to resolve the liquidity crunch, cash flow and other allied issues being faced by the industry and businesses and work in this direction has already started by releasing more than Rs. 115 billion of the sales tax and income tax refunds as well as duty drawbacks held up for years.
He was chairing a meeting-cum-video conference arranged at the Finance Division with leading industrialists and businessmen of the country. Minister for Industries and Production Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, Chairperson FBR Ms Nausheen Javaid Amjad and senior officials of the Finance Division were also present.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh heard various proposals and suggestions from the businessmen to support and provide relief to the industries and assured the participants of the conference that the government would carefully and favourably study all the proposals and all the major issues faced by the industry and businesses would be resolved and a comprehensive relief package would be offered to the industry.

He briefed the meeting that the government had released Rs 52 billion of the claimed Rs 57 billion to exporters through the Faster system and Rs 25 billion out of the Rs 52 billion sales tax refunds for other sectors and industries while the remaining would also be cleared within next one week. Similarly, the government had also cleared about Rs 30 billion tax refunds under the DLT, while Rs 15 billion duty drawbacks had also been paid. “Not only this, the government has also decided to pay within the next week all Income Tax refunds held up since 2014 and this measure alone would benefit nearly 100,000 taxpayers who would be paid over Rs 50 billion worth of refunds,” he added.

Earlier, the businessmen and industrialists giving their proposals and suggestions called for an inclusive relief package that addressed the needs of the large-scale as well as SME sectors.

 
April 16, 2020 (PR No. 289)

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue constituted body to finalise proposals for incentivising retail sector

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has constituted a five-member committee including senior officials from Finance Division and the FBR to sit with representatives of the retail sector and finalise proposals for providing relief to the retail sector, in the wake of prevailing situation.

The Adviser made this decision while chairing a video conference arranged at the Finance Division with the representatives and office-bearers of Retails Association of Pakistan to discuss the problems faced by the sector and their possible solutions. The Association representatives said that the retail sector in Pakistan was contributing 18 per cent to the GDP besides employing 16 per cent of the labour force. They said that due to prevailing circumstances they are foreseeing negative growth in current year, hence it was imperative to provide relief, particularly in taxes, to the retail sector, especially the integrated sector.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said that the government was keen to help the retail sector and constituted a committee to further discuss and firm up proposals offered by the representatives of Retails Association of Pakistan before the next meeting which would finalise the proposals. He directed the committee to follow a quick-action approach to decide the mechanism of support as the government wanted to alleviate the hardships being faced by the various sectors of economy.

 
April 14, 2020 (PR No. 288)

Ambassador of the People's Republic of China called on Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue

Ambassador of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Yao Jing, called on the Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh here at the Finance Division.

The Adviser welcomed the Ambassador and thanked the Chinese Government for all the assistance it has provided so far to Pakistan in dealing with the Corona Virus Pandemic. He then shared with the Ambassador the details of the Economic Relief Package given by the Government of Pakistan to the people whose lives and businesses have been effected by the pandemic. He said that during this difficult time, the government has three major priorities: to provide health care and safety to its people, provide cash assistance to the most vulnerable and keep the wheel of the economy moving in slow but steady pace. The government has came up with a comprehensive relief package of worth Rs 1.2 trillion, which inter alia includes, Rs 200 billion assistance for workers and labourers, Rs 100 billion for supporting SME and Agriculture sector, Rs 107 billion as sales tax refunds and Rs 50 billion income tax refunds from 2014 onward. Moreover, Ehsaas Program through its urgent cash disbursement is taking care of the most vulnerable in the country. Reduction in petrol and diesel prices and deferment of payment of bills are some other significant steps. Incentivizing the construction sector is also an opportunity for those who are in need of work.

The Adviser also discussed with the Ambassador the effect of the Corona virus Pandemic on the overall growth of the economy of the country as exports and remittances shall both suffer as the global economies are in recessionary phase. He said that different economies have different levels of strength to deal with the economic losses and the developing countries will be the worst hit by the impact of this slow down. Keeping in view the present circumstances World Bank, IMF and G-20 countries are talking about debt relief without which developing countries will be worst affected. The Adviser expressed hope that these forums would be able to come up with a plan enabling developing countries like Pakistan to not only meet its international obligations but also to provide relief to its population adversely effected by this pandemic.

The Adviser said that Pakistan looks forward to Chinese support in dealing with this unprecedented situation arising because of this pandemic.

 
April 08, 2020 (PR No. 287)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
April 06, 2020 (PR No. 286)

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

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

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

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

 
April 02, 2020 (PR No. 285)

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

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

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

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

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

 
April 01, 2020 (PR No. 284)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
 
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