Press Releases/Media
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November 29, 2017 (PR No. 2241)

Pakistan executes US$ 1.0 billion five years Sukuk, US$ 1.5 billion ten years Eurobond transactions

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has successfully executed US$ 1.0 billion five years Sukuk and US$ 1.5 billion ten years Eurobond transactions at a profit rate of 5.625% and 6.875% respectively.

The order book for Pakistan’s sovereign papers was over US$ 8 billion. However, the Government decided to pick up only US$ 2.5 billion in order to ensure low final yields on the Sukuks and Eurobonds. This reflects the overwhelming confidence of global investors in Pakistan’s economy. It is worth mentioning that 6.875% rate for 10 year Eurobond issuance is the lowest ever rate, as no 10 year bond has ever been sold at a cheaper rate by Pakistan in international capital markets. Furthermore, Pakistan has never executed multiple tranche transactions worth US$ 2.5 billion, simultaneously.

The orders were placed by numerous blue chip institutional international investors from all across the globe. About 44% of the orders were placed by investors from Europe, 24% from Asia, 20% from North America, 8% Middle East and 12% from other regions.

The process of issuance of Sukuk and Eurobond included roadshows in Dubai, London, Boston and New York by a team comprising Mr. Miftah Ismail Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Economic Affairs, Mr. Shahid Mahmood Finance Secretary and Mr. Tariq Bajwa Governor State Bank of Pakistan. The team held meetings with over 100 potential institutional investors in these major financial centres. The Pakistani delegation consistently remained in contact with the Prime Minister who also accorded the final approval for the transactions.
 
During the roadshows, the investors expressed keen interest in Pakistan and its economy, which is evident by a total bookbuilding of over US$ 8.3 billion.  They were particularly appreciative of the remarkable economic turnaround and high growth rate achieved as a result of economic reforms undertaken by the government. The roadshows ended on 28th November, 2017 and bookbuilding process closed on 29th November, 2017.

It is important to note that the “Subscription Agreement” with Joint Lead Managers provides that the certificates or interests therein will not be offered, sold or transferred directly or indirectly in Pakistan, to residents of Pakistan, or to, or for the account or benefit of, such persons. The issuance of Sukuk and Euro Bond will increase the country’s forex reserves without increasing overall public debt as there will be a corresponding reduction in domestic debt.

Such oversubscription and overwhelming response of global investors to the said sovereign issuance is an evidence of the trust and confidence of international capital markets in the economic policies of the Government and the impressive economic turnaround story of Pakistan.

 
November 15, 2017 (PR No. 2240)

Date extended for filing of Income Tax Returns/ Statements for Tax Year 2017

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has extended due date for filing of Income Tax Returns/Statements by salaried individuals, other individuals and AOPs, till 30th November, 2017.

Extension of date has been approved by the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on the proposal of FBR, in view of requests made by tax bars, various trade associations and members of the business community. It was felt that the taxpayers could not find ample time for filing of their tax returns. It may be recalled that in the spirit of facilitating filers, the due date was earlier extended from 31st October to 15th  November 2017.

It is added that due date for filing of returns/statements of final taxation in case of companies has not been extended and remains 15th November, 2017

 
October 31, 2017 (PR No. 2239)

Extension of date for filing of Income Tax Returns / Statements for Tax Year 2017

As directed by Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Tuesday, the due date for filing of Income Tax Returns / Statements by Companies, salaried individuals, other individuals and AOPs, has been further extended till 15th November, 2017. Earlier, the due date was extended from 30th September to 31st  October, 2017.

The date was extended in view of the requests made by the tax bars and various trade and other associations. It was felt that the taxpayers could not find ample time for filing of their tax returns.

In the light of above and in the spirit of taxpayers facilitation, the Minister gave approval for extending the due date till 15th November , 2017.

 
October 31, 2017 (PR No. 2238)

Macro Economic Environment Promoting Corportization

Improvement in the macroeconomic environment of the country has led to increased incorporation of companies in FY 2017. The Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan incorporated 8286 companies in FY 2017 compared to 6200 companies in FY 2016. The incorporation of companies has seen tremendous increase of 109.24% growth during 2013-2017. This trend continued during current fiscal year as Q1 FY 2018 has seen 64% growth compared to the corresponding quarter last year. This is reflective of the reforms undertaken by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

These facts were placed before the SEC Policy Board which met here on Tuesday to approve the SECP's annual report and audited annual accounts for the financial year 2016-17. The Chairman, SEC Policy Board, and Federal Secretary for Finance Mr. Shahid Mahmood, chaired the meeting.

The Policy Board also viewed with satisfaction the fact that foreign investment was reported in 562 new companies, including 33 from China. This reflects that the CPEC factor has started contributing to growth. The Board also observed that the SECP's audited annual accounts for FY 2016-17 show impressive financial soundness of the regulatory body, evident from the 14% year-on-year growth in the SECP's financial strength.

In addition to the strong financial performance, the SECP carried forward its legislative reforms in the last few years, in line with the financial reform agenda of the government. The SECP was able to get 9 pieces of primary legislations passed by the parliament, including the Securities Act, the Futures Act, the Companies Act, the SECP Amendment Act etc, while 5 new bills have been proposed. The meeting was also informed that SECP successfully processed the approval/amendment in over 80 secondary rules/ regulations under laws administered by it.

The meeting noted that the SECP excelled by creating an enabling business environment through a series of reform measures that significantly improved the overall business climate in the country. As a direct consequence of the above measures a growth of 34 % in the rate of corporatization, significant and broad-based growth in the specialized companies, including asset management and microfinance areas, and finally Pakistan's upgrade from a frontier market to the emerging market category under the MSCI's Emerging Markets Index in 2017 after a gap of nine years were achieved.

Finance Secretary emphasized to continue to build upon these achievements and its facilitation based commitment to corporatization and economic growth through a combination of promoting ease of doing business and nurturing investor's confidence.

The Board hoped SECP shall also continue with its sector base reform agenda to ensure adequate growth in securities market, corporatization, insurance and specialized companies' arenas so that they can meaningfully supplement the development of Pakistan's economy by way of deepening the debt capital markets.

 
October 30, 2017 (PR No. 2237)

Standard & Poor's Affirms Pakistan's 'B/B' Ratings with Stable Outlook

The global rating agent Standard & Poor's Global Ratings (S&P) in its report on Monday affirmed Pakistan's 'B' long-term and short-term sovereign credit rating. The outlook for the long-term ratings remains stable.  Affirmation of Pakistan's rating reflects that economic prospects remain favourable and external and fiscal metrics of the country will not worsen materially from their current level.

Standard & Poor's expect the Government of Pakistan to continue its reform agenda and retain key economic targets while maintaining macroeconomic stability, reducing fiscal and external vulnerabilities and promoting growth supporting reforms. S&P further expects Pakistan's GDP to grow at an average of 5.7% in the period 2017 - 2020. This stronger growth projection reflects large scale investments taking place under CPEC in energy and infrastructure sectors of the economy. The report acknowledges that the present government has improved security situation in the country, narrowed infrastructure and energy gaps and reduced power shortages in the country.

The report points to higher than expected current account and fiscal account deficits in the fiscal year ended June 2017. However, the report acknowledges that current account deficit was mainly due to sharp surge in imports of machinery and fuels caused by robust domestic demand and implementation of energy and infrastructure related projects. The report expects that the external imbalances are temporary and will reverse in next two years. The report also acknowledges that the higher than expected fiscal deficit in FY17 was largely caused by higher than expected provincial spending and lower growth in tax revenue collection. The report observes that external imbalances will abate after peaking out of CPEC related investments and in the meanwhile Pakistan should benefit from the robust growth generated by investments in energy and infrastructure sectors of the economy.

The Government of Pakistan welcomes the annual rating report by Standard & Poor's as a manifestation of soundness of economic policies. Affirmation of Pakistan's better economic prospects, higher and inclusive GDP growth in coming years with stable economic outlook reflects on the economic management of the Government of Pakistan.

 
October 27, 2017 (PR No. 2236)

Finance Minister addressed 16th CAREC Ministerial Conference in Dushanbe

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, participated in the 16th Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Ministerial Conference in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on Friday.

During his address to the Conference, the Finance Minister reiterated Pakistan’s strong commitment to the CAREC Program to improve connectivity in the region. Highlighting the geo-strategic location of Pakistan, the Minister emphasized Pakistan’s role as facilitator for connecting the regions of South Asia and Central Asia, in order to enable efficient market access, and enhance trade and investment in the region. The Minister said that Pakistan supports CAREC’s areas of focus in the sectors of energy, trade and transportation network. He also acknowledge the assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in augmenting these initiatives.

The Finance Minister endorsed the new CAREC Strategy 2030, on behalf of the Government of Pakistan. He appreciated ADB’s leadership and efforts for including the areas of cooperation offered by the Prime Minister of Pakistan during the previous CAREC Ministerial Conference held in Islamabad in October 2016. The Finance Minister also suggested further steps in this regard. He emphasized the importance of collective efforts to enhance regional cooperation and achieve the common goals envisaged under the CAREC Program.

Earlier, the President of Tajikistan, Mr. Emomali Rahmon, inaugurated the Ministerial Conference. In his address, he voiced his support for regional cooperation and integration, and assured of all out support to implement the
CAREC 2030 Strategy.

It may be noted that the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program is a partnership of 11 countries and 6 multilateral development partners working to promote development through cooperation, leading to accelerated economic growth and poverty reduction. The Program is aimed at helping Central Asian and neighbouring countries realize their potential, by promoting and facilitating regional cooperation in the priority areas of transport, trade facilitation, trade policy, and energy. The 11 countries partnering in the CAREC Program are Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, People's Republic of China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The 6 multilateral development partners of CAREC include the Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Fund, Islamic Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, and the World Bank. ADB serves as the CAREC Secretariat.

 
October 26, 2017 (PR No. 2235)

Sales Tax Refund Payment against RPOs issued up to 31st August, 2017

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar at a meeting held in Ministry of Finance on Thursday directed Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to issue sales tax refunds by 31st October, 2017, against Refund Payment Orders (RPO) issued up to 31st August, 2017.

Chairman, Federal Board of Revenue and senior officials of Ministry of Finance were present in the meeting.

The decision aims at facilitating trade, particularly exporters. A refund of Rs. 13 billion is involved in more than 4000 RPOs.

Finance Minister said that the government is mindful of the problems being faced by the business and traders community on account of liquidity and keeping this fact in view he has given instructions for refunds.

It may be added that the government has been able to contain the problem of refund pendency despite the increase in tax payers number and increase in tax payments. FBR has been trying to facilitate the businessmen so that they are encouraged to pay their taxes.

The refunds shall be paid to all segments and sectors of registered persons including exporters, textile, etc. It may further be mentioned that as per practice adopted previously, all refund amounts shall be electronically transferred to claimants’ bank accounts through the State Bank of Pakistan. This measure, he said, is aimed at enhancing transparency and facilitation and reducing contact between tax collectors and the taxpayers.

FBR has already paid sales tax refunds amounting to Rs. 27.6 billion during the current financial year. These payments were made in pursuance of the announcement by the Finance Minister in the budget speech for the year 2017-18 that taxpayers’ long outstanding demand for payment of refunds will be soon addressed and the sales tax refunds against refund payment orders (RPOs) issued up to 30th April, 2017, shall be paid in two stages. Accordingly, payments against RPOs involving amount up to Rs. 1 million were made on 15th July, 2017, and for RPOs exceeding Rs. 1 million, the payments were made on 8th August, 2017. 

 
October 24, 2017 (PR No. 2234)

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

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting at the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday to review matters related to the Economic Affairs Division (EAD). Secretary EAD and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and EAD attended the meeting.

Secretary EAD briefed the Minister on his participation in the Pakistan-European Union (EU) Joint Commission Meeting held in Brussels earlier this month. He informed that during the meeting the two sides welcomed continued growth in their broad-based relationship, and appreciated the implementation of the EU-Pakistan 5-year Engagement Plan (2012-17). He said that they looked forward to further deepening the relationship, especially through the Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP).

Secretary EAD also briefed the Minister on the progress of the various ongoing development projects. He apprised the Minister of ongoing negotiations with various donor agencies for finalization of projects in pipeline.

Finance Minister said that the progress of disbursement of foreign grants and loans for infrastructure and energy projects should be diligently monitored. He emphasized the need for timely disbursement of funds so that the people at large can benefit from successful and timely completion of the projects.. He urged EAD to undertake all efforts for efficient utilization of the funds. Finance Minister directed EAD to maintain close coordination with Federal Ministries as well as the Provincial Governments in this regard.

 
October 21, 2017 (PR No. 2233)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on OGP initiative

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting at the Ministry of Finance regarding Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative. Finance Secretary and senior officials of the Finance Division and Economic Affairs Division (EAD) attended the meeting.

EAD officials briefed the Finance Minister on the progress of the National Action Plan (NAP) being prepared for submission to OGP. They informed the Minister that input for the NAP has been obtained from most of the stakeholders, and EAD is in the process of gathering the remaining input. The Minister was apprised that EAD has already organized a number of consultative meetings in Islamabad as well as in the provincial capitals for preparation of the National Action Plan, with the support of Federal Ministries, Provincial governments, Civil Society, Academia and other stakeholders. This includes a National Workshop held in Islamabad in July 2017.

Finance Minister directed EAD to ensure that input and commitments from all stakeholders are incorporated in the NAP. He further directed that a broader-level consultation with all stakeholders may be held prior to the submission of the NAP to the Cabinet for approval, and subsequent submission to the OGP Secretariat. The Finance Minister emphasized that the government is fully committed to ensuring transparency and adopting international standards of governance. He said that the government’s accessions to the OECD Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters and submission of letter of intent to join OGP are proof of the government’s commitment.

It may recalled that Pakistan had already met the eligibility threshold for membership to OGP, achieving 15 out of the 16 criteria. The Finance Minister handed over Pakistan’s Letter of Intent to join OGP to the French President during the fourth biennial OGP Global Summit held in Paris in December 2016. An important requirement of OGP is for the government to develop a national action plan in consultation with civil society and private sector, and to define commitments to foster transparency, accountability and public participation in all government processes.

 
October 20, 2017 (PR No. 2232)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting with Tax Reforms Commission's Implementation Committee

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Friday had a meeting with members of Tax Reforms Commission’s (TRC) Implementation Committee, discussing the way forward for further up-gradation of the tax system.  Chairman of the TRC Implementation Committee, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue, Mr. Haroon Akhtar Khan, members of the Committee and senior officers of FBR were present on the occasion.

The Minister while appreciating the work of Tax Reforms Commission (TRC) in the form of a very comprehensive report said that it was the resolve of the Government to implement the proposed reforms which led to establishment of Tax Reforms Implementation Committee (TRIC). This Committee, he said has an important task at hand and its contribution for improvement of the tax system would be highly valued. He said prioritizing recommendations/steps having major impact in terms of revenue collection, facilitation of tax payers and effective management of the tax system, would be an ideal thing to do for effective implementation. The Committee should also categorize different proposals having immediate, short and long term implications.  The Minister said the FBR has all along extended valuable support to the TRC as well as the Implementation Committee, and the joint effort, would Inshallah yield positive results.

Chairman and Members of TRIC thanked the Finance Minister for his support and encouragement in undertaking its work in an effective manner.

Chairman FBR, speaking on the occasion, informed that the number of tax returns filed for tax year 2017 as of 18th October 2017 has reached 406,310 as compared to 192,059 filed for tax year 2016, as of 18th October 2016. Finance Minister asked the FBR officials to keep up the good work.

 
October 19, 2017 (PR No. 2231)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review performance of National Savings

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Thursday chaired a meeting to review the performance and other matters related to National Savings.

At the outset the Finance Minister stated that it had come to his notice that an anomaly in the tax regime had resulted in taxation of yield on Behbood Certificates and Pensioners Benefits accounts. Apparently the impact on taxation of these schemes was an unintended consequence of certain legal changes introduced in the Finance Act.  He said that he has already instructed FBR to take appropriate measures to remove the anomaly. 

DG Zafar Masud briefed the meeting on performance of the National Savings during the last one year. The briefing covered the progress made in areas like financial inclusion through automation, introduction of new products and improving the customer service and outreach.

The meeting was informed that National Savings has emerged as a formidable vehicle for financial inclusion with introduction of popular welfare oriented products and registering a large number of customers of which more than 50% were women. The efforts of National Savings are being actively supported by the World Bank and Karandaaz (DFID and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) through up-gradation of IT system, offering alternate delivery channels (cell phone, internet banking and ATM cards), Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP), Business Intelligence, Data Warehouse, capacity building and  training etc.

He said that the efforts of National Savings in promoting financial inclusion have been lauded and recognized, not only nationally but also internationally. The reputed CFI magazine UK has recently bestowed on National Savings the award for “outstanding performance in promoting financial inclusion-2017”. The award is in fact a recognition of the progress made by National Savings in the last one year on the automation front with 2/3rd of the branches having been connected online and the offering of banking clearing services to the customers.

The meeting was informed that after the successful roll out of Rs. 40,000 Premium Prize Bond (Registered), the Rs. 100,000 denomination bond is on the cards. The launch of Shuhada Families Welfare Account and extension of Behbud Saving Certificates for disabled persons is also coming up. Furthermore the Overseas Pakistanis Savings Certificates and Shariah Compliant Products are also being considered.

DG National Savings further informed that for customer facilitation, SMS Service, access through social media and revamping of the institution’s website have been carried out. He said that a complaint resolution cell has been established at the DG’s Office which disposes of public complaints on daily basis.

Finance Minister appreciated the achievements made by the National Savings in various areas particularly financial inclusion and customer outreach. He also praised the performance of the institution for surpassing the annual savings target. He assured his continued support to National Savings in achieving the objective of greater financial inclusion.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance attended the meeting.

 
October 18, 2017 (PR No. 2230)

Finance Minister briefed on IMF / World Bank Annual Meetings

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting at the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday and received a briefing from Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Mr. Tariq Bajwa, and Finance Secretary, Mr. Shahid Mahmood relating to participation of Pakistan’s delegation in the recently concluded Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF.

During the briefing to the Finance Minister, Governor SBP said that the World Bank and IMF were informed by the Pakistani side that the government is focused on maintaining the economic stability achieved during the last four years, and attaining higher economic growth. He said that the measures being taken by the government to manage the current account deficit and strengthen the external account position were also conveyed during the meetings, including the Prime Minister’s Package of Incentives for Exporters and policy options being adopted to manage imports.

The Finance Secretary briefed the Finance Minister on the discussions held with the World Bank during the annual event. He said that the opportunity was utilized to hold in-depth discussions on various matters such as further economic reforms as well as Bank-supported development projects. He said that the delegation also held productive meetings with ratings agencies, banks and investors on the side-lines of the Annual Meetings regarding Pakistan’s economy.

Minister Dar expressed satisfaction at the participation and contribution of the Pakistani side during the Annual Meetings. He welcomed World Bank’s clarification relating to Pakistan’s external financing requirements, and said that the matter had caused unnecessary commotion. He said that the government is focused on achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, in order to capitalize on the hard-earned macroeconomic stability of recent years. In this regard, he highlighted the strong fiscal performance during the first quarter of the current fiscal year. He stated that Pakistan’s external financing needs are at a sustainable level, and external inflows are expected to be sufficient to meet repayment obligations.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance also attended the meeting.

 
October 17, 2017 (PR No. 2229)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review progress on different draft laws

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday chaired a meeting to review progress on different draft laws initiated by the Ministry of Finance for enactment.
 
Acting Finance Secretary briefed the meeting that presently there were ten bills relating to different Laws under process at different stages.  These included Corporate Rehabilitation Bill 2017, Amendment in Bank's (Nationalization) Act 1974, Loans for Agricultural, Commercial & Industrial Purposes (Amendment) Bill 2017,  SBP-BSC Amendment Bill, 2017, The Auditor General’s Functions, Power & Terms and Conditions of Service (Amendment Bill), 2017 etc. The Acting Secretary informed that the Finance Ministry officials were assisting the National Assembly and Senate Secretariats in the processing of these legislative proposals.

The Acting Secretary also apprised the Minister regarding formulation/amendments in different Rules to make them compatible with present day requirements. These included Loans for Agriculture, Commercial & Industrial Purposes Rules, 1973,  Draft Investor Education & Awareness Fund Rules, 2017 and Rules under the Financial Institutions (secured transaction) Act, 2016. He said that substantial progress had been made in the recent weeks and the work in this regard would be completed soon.

The Minister stated that the legislative proposals were part of the reform agenda of the government and their timely completion must be ensured. He directed the officials to keep close liaison with the Ministry of Parlaiamentary Affairs and Secretariats of National Assembly and the Senate in this regard.
Senior officials  of the Ministry of Finance attended the meeting.

 
October 17, 2017 (PR No. 2228)

ADB Executive Director called on Finance Minister

Asian Development Bank (ADB) Executive Director, Mr. Sami Saeed on Tuesday called on Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar at the Ministry of Finance and discussed matters related to ADB’s various projects and programmes in Pakistan.

The Minister was informed that due to the improved credit ratings of Pakistan and the economic reforms carried out by the government during the last 4 years, Asian Development Bank had increased their country exposure limit for private sector operations in Pakistan from US$700 million to US$1.7 billion. This would make available additional resources to the private sector in Pakistan. Executive Director ADB said that the disbursement of the contracted sovereign credits was currently at a historical level. 

Minister Dar appreciated ADB’s continued support for development programmes in Pakistan. He recalled his recent meeting with the ADB President Mr. Takaheki Nakao in Urumqi, China and asked Mr. Sami Saeed to follow up with the ADB management to take the matters further in the light of the discussions held during the meeting.

 
October 16, 2017 (PR No. 2227)

Press Conference by Finance Minister - 16-10-2017

 
October 16, 2017 (PR No. 2226)

Finance Minister has expressed deep sense of sorrow and grief over the sad demise of former Chief Justice, Supreme Court, Mr. Ajmal Mian

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has expressed deep sense of sorrow and grief over the sad demise of former Chief Justice, Supreme Court, Mr. Ajmal Mian.

In his  message of condolence, the Minister said that losing a dear one in the family is indeed the most poignant time in one's life which cannot be described in 

words. He prayed that May Allah rest the departed soul in peace and grant courage to the bereaved family to bear this immense loss. 

 
October 15, 2017 (PR No. 2225)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review matters related to FBR and Finance Division

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting at the Ministry of Finance on Sunday to review matters related to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Finance Division. Chairman FBR and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and FBR participated in the meeting.

Acting Finance Secretary briefed the Finance Minister on the progress of the various ongoing initiatives of the Ministry of Finance. He said that efforts were in hand to make sure that the strong fiscal performance of first quarter is maintained during the second quarter and beyond. Acting Finance Secretary also briefed the Minister on the estimates of gross external financing needs during the current fiscal year. He said that a recently published World Bank Report had erroneously indicated Pakistan’s gross external financing needs at US$ 31 billion for the current fiscal year. He said that the Report is based on misinterpretation of standard definition of the gross financing needs of the country. Based on the international reporting standards, Pakistan’s actual gross financing need for FY 2017-18 is estimated atUS$18 billion (5.3% of GDP) rather than $31 billion (9% of GDP). He informed the Minister that the matter has been taken up with the World Bank to rectify the error. The Minister was informed that external inflows are expected to be sufficient to meet repayment obligations. Acting Finance Secretary said that, in the first two months of current financial year, exports and remittances have improved and imports have slowed down.

The Finance Minister directed the Finance Division to proactively work with the World Bank to ensure correct reporting of economic data. He also directed to ensure timely and effective implementation of the various ongoing initiatives of the Ministry.

Chairman FBR briefed the Finance Minister regarding the progress in Taxpayer’s outreach programme launched by FBR on the instructions of FM for broadening of tax base. He informed that senior officers of FBR are holding workshops on e-filing of returns for members of tax bars, professional bodies and chambers of commerce and industry. Large corporate employers have been approached for ensuring filing of returns by all employees receiving taxable salary. Help desks have been established in tax offices throughout the country and FBR’s helpline and website have been revamped to facilitate return filing. Chairman FBR informed the Finance Minister that the efforts in this direction are yielding results and up to 13th October more than 352,000 returns have been received as against 162,000 returns received up to the same date last year. The Minister was further informed that specialized Broadening of Tax Base (BTB) zones will become fully operational w.e.f 1st November 2017.

Finance Minister expressed his satisfaction on the progress made by FBR and stated that the last date for filing of returns was extended to 31st October, based on the genuine demands from tax professionals and trade organizations. He said that given this facilitation which has been extended to trade bodies and taxpayers, FBR should now work closely with representative bodies to ensure that returns due for the current year are filed by 31st October 2017.

 
October 09, 2017 (PR No. 2224)

Government closes first quarter on strong Fiscal Performance

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting at the Ministry of Finance on Monday to review fiscal out turns of the first quarter (July to September) of current fiscal year. Finance Secretary presented provisional data on fiscal operations during the meeting, and stated that the first quarter has closed on strong fiscal performance.

Finance Secretary stated that as per the provisional data, the FBR tax collections remained robust. Total collections of Rs.765 billion during July-September 2017 demonstrated growth of over 20% as compared to collections in the first quarter of last year. Because of higher tax collections, the amounts transferred to the provinces also increased substantially. As compared to transfers of Rs.416 billion last year this year the total transfers have so far reached Rs.570 billion, including arrears.

The meeting was informed that on the expenditure side, the Federal Government maintained strict fiscal discipline. As against total expenditure of Rs.914 billion in first quarter last year, the Federal Government spent Rs.894 billion in the first quarter this year. This was despite the fact that increased investments were carried out through the development budget.

The overall budget deficit was recorded at Rs.324 billion in the first quarter this year as compared to Rs.438 billion in the same period last year. This was made possible through robust tax collections and lower expenditure. In terms of GDP, the overall deficit decreased to 0.9% in the first quarter of current financial year as compared to 1.3% recorded in the first quarter of last year. Reduced fiscal deficit means lower public debt accumulation which supports alignment to targets defined in the amended Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitations Act.

The Finance Minister expressed satisfaction with the growth in revenue collections by the FBR and appreciated the measures taken to achieve fiscal prudence in the first quarter. The Finance Minister reiterated the government’s resolve of continuation on the path of fiscal discipline. He directed officials to ensure achievement of fiscal targets in the remaining three quarters of the current fiscal year.

While commending inflation containment, low interest rates, positive and strong growth in large-scale manufacturing, recent increase in exports and remittances, the Finance Minister stressed on the need to maintain focus on acceleration of economic growth for continued reduction in unemployment and poverty.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance attended the meeting.

 
October 02, 2017 (PR No. 2223)

Signing ceremony for modern tax payment system held

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, witnessed  signing ceremony for a modern tax payment system between the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and 1-Link at the Ministry of Finance on Monday. The modern system will enable payment of taxes through Alternate Delivery Channels (ADCs). A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for launching a pilot project for payment of taxes / duties on cross border trade, and an Agreement for payment of domestic taxes were signed during the ceremony. The MoU and Agreement were signed by Governor SBP, Mr. Tariq Bajwa, Chairman FBR, Mr. Tariq Pasha, and senior representative of 1-Link, Mr.Najeeb Agrawalla. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, Mr. Haroon Akhtar Khan was also present on the occasion.

Welcoming signing of the MoU and Agreement, the Finance Minister said that mode of payment of taxes has an important role to play in increasing tax revenues and compliance by taxpayers. He said that the modern system for payment through ADCs is an important tax reform for further facilitating the taxpayer and increasing revenue collections.

The Minister was informed that technological advancements have enhanced the efficiency and credibility of tax payment systems. After the launch of ADCs payment facility using E-Payment System, taxpayers will have the option to make tax payments 24/7 through ATMs, online banking or mobile applications.

This will enable taxpayers to avoid long queues for tax payments at bank branches, save time and reduce the cost of doing business. It has been a priority of the current government to reduce the cost of doing business and make tax compliance easier for taxpayers in compliance with the spirit of Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the WTO and Ease of Doing Business of the World Bank.

The ADCs payment system will help SBP save billions of rupees which are currently paid as annual service charges for revenue collection. The ADCs would also ensure real-time transfer of funds to the national exchequer, enable FBR to report accurate collection of taxes on real time basis, and avoid the need for cumbersome reconciliations. The modern payment system will also enable a more conducive environment for e-commerce in Pakistan.

 
October 02, 2017 (PR No. 2222)

FBR registers more than 20% revenue growth

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, has shown his satisfaction on the provisional revenue collection figures for the quarter ended 30th September 2017, and has expressed confidence that the same trend shall continue and the entire team of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) would not leave any stone unturned for achievement of assigned target during the remaining part of the fiscal year.

Chairman FBR briefed the Finance Minister on the revenue collection effort and informed that the Board has clocked an unprecedented provisional revenue collection of over Rs. 765 billion for the first quarter of the fiscal year by recording an increase of more than 20% over the revenue collected during the corresponding period of last fiscal year. The provisional collection for the month of September 2017 shows an increase of 20% over the collection for September 2016 which depicts a substantial improvement over the growth of 0.8% registered in the monthly collection last year. During fiscal year 2016-17, the collection for the first quarter stood at Rs. 634 billion as against the figure of Rs. 765 billion collected this year.

During September 2017, according to the provisional figures received so far, FBR has made a net collection of more than Rs. 315 billion as against Rs. 263 billion collected during September 2016. The revenue collection trend during the first three months of the financial year augurs well for the efforts of FBR towards achievement of the assigned annual revenue targets.

The Finance Minister was informed that, contrary to certain press reports based on unconfirmed and unreliable sources, FBR has achieved quarterly growth of over 20% during July-September 2017, whereas the required annual growth for achieving the assigned target was 19.4%. To put the performance in perspective, it may be noted that the growth of over 20% over the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year has been recorded against 6.6% growth achieved during July-September 2016 over the corresponding period of fiscal year 2015-16. The increase in growth of revenue collection becomes even more impressive when viewed in context of an increase of more than 110% in the amount of refunds issued in the first quarter of the current year as compared to the first quarter of the preceding year.

 
September 30, 2017 (PR No. 2221)

Petroleum Prices for October 2017 announced

The Government has announced the prices of petroleum products for the period starting from 1st October 2017 until midnight on 31st October 2017.

On the basis of the prevailing prices in the international market, OGRA recommended an increase of Rs. 2.35/Litre in the price of MS 92 RON Petrol, increase of Rs. 2.17/Litre in the price of High Speed Diesel (HSD), increase of Rs. 19.32/Litre in the price of Kerosene Oil, and increase of Rs. 14.09/Litre in the price of Light Diesel Oil (LDO), with effect from 1st October 2017.

After considering the proposal of OGRA, the Prime Minister has decided that the prices of HSD, MS 92 RON Petrol and LDO will be increased by Rs. 2.00/Litre each, while the price of Kerosene Oil will be increased by Rs. 4.00/Litre, with effect from 1st October 2017 until midnight on 31st October 2017. As a result, the new prices will be as follows:

Product

New price w.e.f. 1st October 2017

MS 92 RON Petrol

Rs. 73.50 / Litre

High Speed Diesel (HSD)

Rs. 79.40 / Litre

Light Diesel Oil (LDO)

Rs. 46.00 / Litre

Kerosene Oil

Rs. 48.00 / Litre

 
September 28, 2017 (PR No. 2220)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review progress of revenue collection, return filing

Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting on Thursday at the Ministry of Finance to review the progress of revenue collection, return filing and awareness campaign undertaken by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). Chairman FBR, senior Members of FBR, and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance were present in the meeting.

Chairman FBR briefed the Finance Minister on revenue collection in the month of September 2017 and the first quarter of FY 2018, i.e. July-September 2017. He apprised the Minister of that FBR is on-course to achieve the tax revenue target for FY 2018. The Finance Minister expressed satisfaction over the revenue collection efforts being made by FBR.

Chairman FBR also briefed the Finance Minister regarding the awareness campaign being run by FBR to educate and convince taxpayers to fulfil their legal tax obligations. He said that the campaign has started to translate into results as the number of returns received upto 28th September 2017 has increased to 178,945 compared with 54,086 returns received till the same date in September 2016. The Finance Minister appreciated the successful awareness campaign of FBR and the resulting increase in compliance by taxpayers.

During the meeting, it was decided that the period of applicability of reduced rate of 0.4% withholding tax on banking transactions for non-filers shall be extended from 30th September 2017 to 31st December 2017. The Finance Minister directed FBR to complete the due process in this regard.

 
September 13, 2017 (PR No. 2219)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review progress of revenue collection

Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs and Revenue, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Wednesday chaired a high level meeting at Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to review progress of revenue collection in the current fiscal year.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, Haroon Akhtar was also present.

Chairman FBR gave the meeting an update on the state of revenue collection in July-August 2017-18. He informed that over 24% growth in gross revenue has been registered in the first two months as compared to the corresponding period in FY 2016-17. He added that as against Rs. 17 billion worth of refunds paid in July-August last fiscal year, Rs. 36 billion have been refunded in the first two months of the current fiscal year. The net collection after refunds shows increase of 21.02%, over the last year.

The Finance Minister was also apprised about FBR’s robust awareness campaign utilizing electronic as well as social media for sensitizing existing as well as potential taxpayers to file their returns by the due date which is 30th September, 2017. The Finance Minister was briefed that active liaison is being maintained with, corporate employers to ensure maximum filing of income tax returns. In the next phase trade bodies, tax bars and Chambers of Commerce & Trade will be engaged to facilitate and ensure filing of maximum number of returns. 

The Finance Minister appreciated FBR’s efforts for revenue collection in July-August period of FY 2017-18 and said the spirit with which the whole FBR team had worked together is already showing good results. He emphasized on concerted efforts for broadening the tax base and said people must be provided proper facilitation to contribute their due share to national exchequer. He called upon officials of the FBR to put in their best to achieve the overall targets for the current fiscal year. The Minister added that Government aimed to achieve sustainable economic growth and FBR's role in this respect is very important. 

 
September 08, 2017 (PR No. 2218)

Finance Minister met with President ADB

Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs held a meeting with Mr. Takehiko Nakao, President ADB here. Various matters related to  ADB financed development projects in different sectors came under discussion.  

Finance Minister appreciated ADB's support to the CAREC initiative which was helping to bring the member countries closer through cooperation in areas like trade and transportation. He said that regional connectivity was extremely important for the member countries of CAREC as this region has lacked regional trade and cooperation in the past compared to other regions in the world. He said that ADB's support to CAREC Institute was also commendable and hoped that the Institute will play its due role in devising innovative solutions for regional development issues.   

Mr. Nakao thanked the Minister for his continued encouragement for ADB supported initiatives in Pakistan and assured to further enhance the level of cooperation in the years to come. He said that ADB would continue to lend financial and technical support to the CAREC member countries wishing to enhance regional cooperation. He said that there was immense potential for regional connectivity projects in the CAREC region.  

Finance Minister and President ADB also discussed matters related to various on-going ADB funded projects in Pakistan as well those in the pipeline.

 
September 08, 2017 (PR No. 2217)

Finance Minister met with Finance Minister of China

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, held a meeting with Mr. Xiao Jie, Finance Minister of China here. The two leaders discussed various issues of mutual interest including ways and means to further enhance the bilateral economic relations. 

Minister Jie welcomed Ishaq Dar on his visit to China. He said that senior level exchanges between the two neighbors have been helpful in furthering the objectives of strong bilateral relationship. He appreciated the efforts of the government of Pakistan for timely implementation of CPEC projects. He also thanked Minister Dar for Pakistan's support to the CAREC Institute in Urumqi and expressed the hope that Pakistani professionals will also continue to extend support to the Institute in future. 

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that Pak-China strategic relationship is an anchor for regional peace and stability. He said that Pakistan-China friendship enjoys across-the- board political, institutional and popular support in Pakistan. He said that the bilateral relationship has further strengthened through the launch of the CPEC initiative, which will bring the two countries even closer. He congratulated Minister Jie on the inauguration of CAREC Institute and said that Pakistan would continue to actively participate in the activities of the Institue just as it had extended full support during the process of establishment of the Institute.

 
September 07, 2017 (PR No. 2216)

Mr. Shohrat Zakir, Governor of Xinjiang Province called on the Finance Minister

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar arrived in Urumqi, China Thursday for attending the inaugural ceremony of the Central Asian Region Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Institute.    

Mr. Shohrat Zakir, Governor of Xinjiang Province called on the Finance Minister and extended him a warm welcome. He said that the friendship between China and Pakistan is time tested and the best of the relationships between any two countries of the world. The visit by the Finance Minister and his delegation to Xinjiang Province would further enhance the level of cooperation not only between the two governments but also between the people of Xinjiang and people of the bordering areas of Gilgit –Baltistan in Pakistan. He  said that the establishment of CAREC Institute would provide a research and knowledge sharing  platform  for the people of two countries to explore new  avenues of development.

Finance Minister thanked the Governor for his hospitality and congratulated him for successful inauguration of the CAREC Institute. He said that Pakistan-China friendship enjoys across the board political, institutional and popular support in Pakistan that is unique and sets it apart from relationships with other countries. Xinjiang Province is contiguous with Pakistan’s Northern Areas and having historical, cultural and trade links, which needs further strengthening to declare the same as the Gateway between the two countries. He also emphasized on development of rail linkages between the bordering cities of the two countries. The Minister thanked the Governor for permission to Habib Bank Limited for opening up its branch in Urumqi. He stated that given the ever-increasing number of Pakistani businessmen engaged in trade in the province of Xinjiang, opening of a Consulate is also a priority for the Government of Pakistan. 

 
September 07, 2017 (PR No. 2215)

Pakistan committed to objective of regional connectivity - Finance Minister

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said that Pakistan is committed to the objective of regional connectivity as it believes that the future of people of the region lies in greater connectivity with each other’s markets. 

The Minister was addressing Inaugural Session of CAREC Institute here Thursday.

The Finance Minister said that Pakistan seeks to expand trade and investment links with the region in the East, West and Central Asia. It aims to expand oil and gas pipelines, infrastructure, electricity grids and transport networks with these regions so as to create employment opportunities and accelerate growth. Minister Dar called upon the member countries to expedite work on the proposals made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan to accelerate cooperation among the member states in the areas of Aviation, Capital Markets and Capacity Development.

Reiterating Pakistan’s strong commitment to the CAREC Program, Ishaq Dar said that enhanced regional cooperation will play a vital role in Pakistan’s economic success in the future. Referring to the CPEC initiative he said that it is a milestone in regional connectivity which will not only benefit Pakistan and China but the whole region and beyond. He complimented the Chinese leadership for the One Belt One Road initiative as well as its role in the establishment of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), as a new multilateral institution to address the infrastructure financing needs of countries in the Asian continent.

Finance Minister described the Inauguration of the CAREC Institute as a major step in enhancing regional cooperation and achieving the common goals envisioned under the CAREC Program. He thanked the Government of the People’s Republic of China, the Government of the Xinjiang Uyghur Region, and the people of China for their warm reception and generous hospitality in the vibrant city of Urumqi, and also for hosting the CAREC Institute. He also appreciated the efforts of Asian Development Bank, under the leadership of President Nakao, and CAREC members for the institutional support to CAREC, and for making this important event possible.

 
 
 
 
 

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