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March 21, 2017 (PR No. 2072)

Pakistan, Switzerland signed Revised Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation

Pakistan and Switzerland here on Tuesday signed the revised Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation with respect to Taxes on Income. The Agreement was signed by the Ambassador of Switzerland, Mr. Marc George and Chairman, Federal Board of Revenue, Dr. Muhammad Irshad.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Federal Minister for Finance. Mr. Haroon Akhtar Khan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue, other officials from the Embassy of Switzerland, Ministry of Finance and Federal Board of Revenue were also present on the occasion.

The revised Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement between Pakistan and Switzerland will open new vistas for cooperation, especially in the areas of exchange of information for tax purposes. It contains improvements with regard to the taxation of service fees and capital gains resulting from the sale of qualifying participants. These rules promote economic exchange in bilateral relations. The agreement also contains an arbitration clause, which should guarantee the avoidance of double taxation.

One of the highlights of the re-negotiated treaty is the replacement of the Article on “Exchange of Information” with the new one reflecting the internationally accepted standard which is based on the OECD Model. The new Article on Exchange of Information will considerably expand the existing scope of information to be obtained on request basis for the enforcement of domestic tax laws. It will also provide access to bank information for tax purposes and such information shall not be refused solely because the information is held by a bank or other financial institution. For this purpose, the Requesting State will be providing information to the Requested State such as the identity of the person under investigation and period of time for which the information is requested.

The existing Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement between Pakistan and Switzerland was signed in 2005, and enforced in 2008. However, subsequent to the Federal Cabinet approval in August 2013, Pakistan had approached Switzerland for incorporating the updated version of the Article on Exchange of Information based on the OECD Model. In August, 2014, Pakistan delegation visited Switzerland for re-negotiation of Pak-Swiss Treaty and initialed the draft agreement between the two countries. However, in order to safeguard national interests and to bring certain provisions of the initialed agreement in line with Pakistan’s tax policy, Switzerland was requested for a second round of negotiations which was finally agreed in May, 2016 and held in Berne, Switzerland in June, 2016. The negotiations were held in a very cordial and friendly atmosphere and all the issues were amicably resolved.

It may be recalled that the Swiss government had invited the Finance Minister to sign the agreement with the Head of the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) of Switzerland, and had proposed the signing to be held on 21stMarch 2017 in Berne. However, owing to unforeseen commitments of the Head of FDF, the Swiss government informed the Government of Pakistan that it can no longer proceed with the signing in Berne on 21stMarch 2017. In the interest of avoiding any delay in the signing of the agreement, the Government of Pakistan proposed that the signing may be held in Islamabad on 21stMarch 2017. The Swiss government acceded to this proposal and authorized the Ambassador in Islamabad to sign the agreement, while the Prime Minister of Pakistan issued the instrument of full powers for the Chairman FBR to sign the agreement. The Swiss government has also proposed a meeting between the Finance Minister of Pakistan and the Head of FDF of Switzerland on the side-lines of the upcoming Spring meetings of the World Bank Group and the IMF on 21 – 23 April 2017. The Government of Pakistan has agreed to the proposed meeting.

After signing, both the States will undertake internal procedures for ratification of the Agreement. After exchange of instruments of ratifications, the Agreement will come into force in Pakistan on first July of the next calendar year following that of the entry into force.

 
March 21, 2017 (PR No. 2071)

Agreement signed for construction of IT Park

The loan agreement to build first state of the art multipurpose information technology park in Islamabad was signed between Government of Pakistan and Korean EXIM bank here on Tuesday. Secretary Economic Affairs Division (EAD), Mr. Tariq Mahmood Pasha and Executive Director of Korean Exim Bank, Mr. Younghoon Chang signed the document.

The ceremony was witnessed by the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaque Dar, Minister for IT Ms. Anusha Rehman, and Korean Ambassador to Pakistan Dr. Dong-gu Suh.

The information technology park would be constructed in the Chak Shahzad area of Islamabad at a cost of US $ 88.383 million (Rs. 9.2 billion) including loan of US $ 76.3 million from Korean Exim Bank under the Economic Development Cooperation Framework (EDCF) arrangement. It may be mentioned that EDCF arrangement worth US $ 500 million was signed with Korea in October 2015.

The IT park would be spread over an area of 45 acres, and  provide half a million sq ft of office space for 5000 knowledge workers. It would house an incubation center for start ups, a data center, and allied facilities in day care centers, gyms, and sports facilities.

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar welcomed signing of the agreement and said it was the first multi-purpose IT Park being built in Pakistan. It would provide conducive environment where IT companies would be able to work together and leverage each other’s expertise. The park, he said, would not only attract investment but also help generate IT exports. Minister Dar thanked the Korean Government for their continued support. He invited Korean Exim Bank to have representative office in Pakistan which he said would facilitate better coordination between the Bank, EAD and other executing agencies.  

Speaking on the occasion Ms. Anusha Rehman said that the IT Park is a major step towards realizing the goal of digital Pakistan as envisioned by the Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif. She said that it would provide a complete ecosystem for promotion of  IT in the country in combination with other IT and Telecom initiatives being carried on by the Ministry of IT. Ms. Anusha Rehman said that the provision of quality work space would encourage IT companies to shift to Pakistan and in the process strengthen the exports as well as create jobs for the local youth. She said that it would  be the first in the series of IT Parks to be built in the country. In the next phase, similar state-of-the-art IT Parks will be built in Karachi and Lahore.

Executive Director of Korean Exim Bank, Mr. Younghoon Chang on the occasion said he felt greatly honoured attending the signing ceremony. Pakistan was making headway in the field of IT. Pakistan's digital landscape would be further expanded through the new IT park. He said the project would  benefit the whole of Pakistan. Mr. Younghoon added that Korean Exim Bank would continue to partner Pakistan in its socio-economic development.

Korean ambassador in Pakistan, Dr. Dong-gu Suh, senior officials from Korea Exim Bank, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of IT, Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), and Economic Affairs Division (EAD) were also present at the ceremony.

 
March 20, 2017 (PR No. 2070)

Finance Minister has announced special compensation for the family of an official deputed on Census duty

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has announced special compensation worth Rs. 10,00,000/- (Ten Lac rupees) for the family of Mr. Abdul Qadir, an official deputed on Census duty, who died in a fatal accident in village Neen Ban, Mansehra Distt last week. 

Mr. Abdul Qadir, a Primary School Teacher, who hailed from village Khun Shakoora, distt Mansehra was on census duty when the accident took place. He is survived by a widow, four sons, two daughters and aging parents.

Minister Dar has expressed deep sense of grief over the tragic death of Abdul Qadir and sympathized with the bereaved family, praying to Allah Almighty for granting them fortitude to bear this loss with equanimity.

 
March 20, 2017 (PR No. 2069)

Meeting reviewed economic reforms

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here on Monday to review the progress of various economic reforms being carried out by the government. The Minister reviewed the ongoing structural reforms in key areas of the economy, including energy sector, public sector enterprises and investment climate. 

Finance Secretary, Tariq Bajwa briefed the Minister on the latest status of various reform measures and their implementation. He shared the progress in the key areas of the economy and highlighted the publication of Public Sector Enterprises Report, work on the Circular Debt Plan and the National Doing Business Reform Strategy. 

Minister Dar expressed his satisfaction on the progress of reforms and said that the dividends of these reforms were already visible. He emphasized the importance of timely implementation of various decisions so that the desired objectives can be achieved within the planned timeframe. He desired that compendium of reforms implemented since 2013 be updated to properly reflect the reforms over the last 3 years. The Finance Minister also instructed that a meeting of the Economic Advisory Council may be convened to discuss budgetary proposals for enhancing growth. He said implementation of ongoing work may be expedited through coordination with concerned government ministries.  

The meeting was attended by Finance Secretary, Secretary EAD and senior officials of Finance Division.

 
March 20, 2017 (PR No. 2068)

Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua paid a courtesy call on Finance Minister

Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua paid a courtesy call on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Monday, after assuming her new responsibilities. 

Minister Dar felicitated Ms Janjua on her appointment as the first woman Foreign Secretary and hoped that she would utilize her rich experience of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy to further the interests of the country in the international arena. 

Finance Minister and Ms. Janjua also on the occasion exchanged views on steps taken by the present government for betterment of the economy and improving the security environment.

The Minister said that with concerted efforts the country had been able to achieve macroeconomic stability and was now well set on the path to growth and employment generation. He said the stable economic situation had greatly encouraged foreign investors as well as overseas Pakistanis to explore business and investment opportunities in the country. He said that in that backdrop it was important to have greater engagement with the Pakistani diaspora and foreign investors and facilitating them with regard to exploring business and investment opportunities in Pakistan.

 
March 19, 2017 (PR No. 2067)

Voting in National Assembly on Military Courts related Bills on Tuesday

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has stated that amendments to the already tabled Constitutional Amendment Bill and Army Act amendment Bill have been lodged in the National Assembly in the light of the  consensus arrived in the Parliamentary leaders meeting on Thursday 16th March 2017.

The House will discuss the consensus Bills on Monday and the same will be put to vote on Tuesday 21st March 2017, as discussed by Speaker National Assembly with the Parliamentary leaders.
 
Minister Dar further said that in the said meeting of Parliamentary leaders it was also agreed to set up a Parliamentary Committee on National Security with Parliamentary leaders of National Assembly and Senate as its members.  Accordingly a Resolution in this regard will also be moved in the National Assembly on Monday, the Minister said. 

In this backdrop, the Parliamentary Party meeting of PML(N) members of National Assembly and Senate which was earlier scheduled for Monday,  would now be held on Tuesday 21st March 2017, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the Minister added.

 
March 18, 2017 (PR No. 2066)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting regarding Kohsar Block project

The Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Saturday chaired a meeting to discuss matters regarding completion and operationlizing of Kohsar Block (New Pak. Secretariat) project and subsequent allocation of office space to different ministries and departments.

The Secretary Housing and Works and DG, PWD briefed the Finance Minister on the progress of the project and informed that construction work had been substantially completed and efforts were afoot to finish the remaining work related to HVAC and installation of Lifts by May 2017. The meeting was also briefed on various aspects of interior designing and partitioning of space for allocation to different departments. 

Finance Minister emphasized completion of all the works and installation of lifts on priority and said that all systems should be up and ready by end of May as per the latest timeline. He said a meeting of the Allotment Committee would be called soon to allocate space to different ministries/departments so that they could plan their activities for shifting to the building accordingly.

The Minister said Kohsar Block would help accommodate scattered government offices, departments under one roof, not only facilitating the general public but also helping to make significant savings under the head of building rent.

The Minister also on the occasion asked officials concerned in Finance Division and Planning & Development Division to extend maximum facilitation for completion of all necessary works.

The 9-Storey Kohsar Block with ground floor and two basements, having covered area of 7,69,200 sqft will be the largest office building in the federal capital when completed.

Secretary Housing and Works, senior officials of Finance Division, Planning and Development Division, PWD and others attended the meeting.

 
March 17, 2017 (PR No. 2065)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review CDA development activities

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, here on Friday called upon senior officials of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to put in their best for development of the federal capital, ensuring an attractive and serene environment for the residents.

The Minister held a meeting with the officials to review different development activities in Islamabad and adjoining areas. Minister of State for CADD, Dr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Mayor Islamabad and senior officials of Ministry of Finance, CADD and CDA participated in the meeting.

Chairman CDA briefed the Minister about the ongoing development programmes of CDA. The meeting was informed that CDA was making all out efforts to make Islamabad a modern metropolis. He also informed the Minister about the arrangements in place for maintenance and upkeep of the capital. 

The Minister said that the government will fully support CDA in its efforts to develop Islamabad into a model capital, with all basic amenities and facilities for its citizens, under the guidance and leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

Finance Minister also asked CDA to develop housing sector for overseas Pakistanis to provide them profitable, safe and secure investment and residential opportunities. He further said that full use of latest available information technology be made for maximum facilitation of overseas investors with respect to registration, land records and all documentary processes related to purchase of properties in the proposed sector by overseas Pakistanis. The Minister highlighted that due to the visible and internationally-recognized economic progress achieved by the country, foreign investors are showing strong and tangible interest in investment opportunities in Pakistan, including in the real estate sector. Similarly overseas Pakistanis are also keen to take advantage of investment opportunities in the country and the government would facilitate them in this regard.

 
March 16, 2017 (PR No. 2064)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on matters pertaining to FBR

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

Mr. Haroon Akhtar Khan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, provided an update to the Minister on preparations for the upcoming budget for FY 2017-18. He said that pursuant to the Minister’s instructions, the exercise to obtain views of business and traders’ community, chambers of commerce and industries, economic experts and other stakeholders was being actively undertaken. He said FBR is making all out efforts to pursue the tax revenue targets for this fiscal year.

The Finance Minister urged FBR to undertake all necessary efforts to meet the tax revenue target for the current fiscal year. He encouraged FBR to ensure that all stakeholders are actively engaged and consulted in the preparation process for the budget. He said that effective measures against tax evasion and for promotion of tax culture would further strengthen revenue generation which is vital for achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the country.

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

 
March 15, 2017 (PR No. 2063)

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

The US Ambassador H.E. David Hale called on the Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar at Punjab House in Islamabad today. He was accompanied by Mr. Ted Seager, Economic Counselor at the US Embassy.

The Finance Minister and Ambassador Hale discussed the current status of trade, investment and economic ties between Pakistan and the US. The Ease of Doing Business Reforms underway in the country also came under discussion.

The Finance Minister said that Pakistan and the US are longstanding friends, partners and strategic allies. He emphasized to Ambassador Hale that Pakistan is keen to further expand economic ties with the US to explore opportunities for generating jobs and realize the full economic potential of our relationship. He highlighted that, according to World Bank's Doing Business 2017 report, Pakistan has moved up four places in the ease of doing business rankings and is also one of the top ten global improvers. He said that reforms implemented for improving ease of doing business include facilitation in transferring property, cross-border trade and access to credit information. The Finance Minister said that implementation of these ease of doing reforms has resulted in an improved investment environment in the country. He urged the US government to encourage more US investors to explore Pakistan as an investment destination. He said that reputable international firms and investors, from Europe and Asia, are investing in Pakistan. The Minister assured his full support to US investors interested in pursuing investment opportunities in Pakistan.

The Finance Minister said that the Budget for FY 2017-18, preparations for which are underway, will focus on attaining higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The Finance Minister expressed confidence that the two countries will continue to work together for the promotion of bilateral relations.

Ambassador Hale said that the US Embassy will continue to encourage more US investors to take advantage of the attractive investment opportunities available in the country due to the success of the government’s economic reforms agenda. He said that the US relationship with Pakistan is a strong, long-term, and broad bilateral partnership with many shared interests.

 
March 15, 2017 (PR No. 2062)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on matters related to FWO

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting at the Ministry of Finance today on matters related to the Frontier Works Organization (FWO).

DG FWO, Lt. Gen. Muhammad Afzal, briefed the Finance Minister on the ongoing projects of FWO. He apprised the Finance Minister on financial matters pertaining to FWO. DG FWO also informed the Minister regarding FWO’s ongoing and completed projects in foreign countries.

The Finance Minister appreciated the efforts and performance of FWO. He said that FWO is playing a positive role as an ambassador for Pakistan through its successful execution of projects in foreign countries. The Finance Minister assured the support of Finance Division, Economic Affairs Division and Revenue Division to FWO for successful completion of its projects. He encouraged FWO to continue its focus on the successful implementation of projects in the best interests of the country.
The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and FWO.

 
March 14, 2017 (PR No. 2061)

Press Release

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has said that conducting a transparent Census was a national effort which could only be successful with the cooperation and support of all concerned.

Replying to a letter of Chief Minister, Sindh on the matter of the forthcoming Census, the Finance Minister appreciated the support and cooperation being extended to the Census Operation by the Provinces.

The Finance Minister emphasized that services of the Armed Forces of Pakistan have been co-opted to work with the civil enumerators for ensuring a transparent and smooth Census. The Minister stated that Coordination and the Vigilance Committees have been set up at census district level to monitor the process to ensure accuracy of data collection. 
The Finance Minister however clarified that public access to data at Census District level was not possible as the census data will not be processed at District level and also the law in this case prohibited sharing of data before it was anonymised.   

Referring to Chief Minister's proposal for setting up of complaint redressal system, the Finance Minister stated that an elaborate complaint redressal system had already been put in place. Control rooms have been established at federal, provincial, divisional, admin district and census district level to cater to the issues of non/over/under enumeration in the areas during census operation.

Replying to the proposal of doing away with the condition of CNIC for the Census, the Finance Minister clarified that CNIC is not mandatory. CNIC of the head of the family or any responsible person is required to ensure authenticity of data. However, if a family does not have a CNIC, they can provide other forms of identification to prove their identity. In the extreme case, where no member of the family has a CNIC, that family will still be enumerated in the census process.

In order to further strengthen the transparency of the process, the Finance Minister proposed the setting up of a committee of technical experts, nominated by the Provincial Governments, to monitor the data processing at PBS Headquarters and ensure that all parameters of the data processing are being uniformly applied across the country.

 
March 13, 2017 (PR No. 2060)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review various matters related to public sector corporate entities

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting on Monday to review various matters related to public sector corporate entities at the Ministry of Finance today.

Chairman Securities and Exchange Commission briefed the Minister on the regulatory regime of public sector corporate entities and various ancillary matters.

 The Finance Minister said that the public sector corporate entities should ensure strict adherence to the code of corporate governance. This, he said, would improve the governance in these institutions and would enhance their efficiency. He said that the Boards of Governors/ Directors had an important role to play in improving governance in these entities. 

The Minister directed the officials concerned in Ministry of Finance to ensure that members of these bodies are abreast of the latest corporate governance guidelines issued by the SECP and other regulatory institutions. He also asked SECP to strictly monitor observance of regulatory requirements by all such entities. 

Senior officials of the Finance Division and SECP attended the meeting.

 
March 11, 2017 (PR No. 2059)

Finance Minister called on President Mamnoon Hussain

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar called on President Mamnoon Hussain at the Aiwan e Sadr on Saturday.

The Minister apprised the President about the economic situation in the country, saying that all key economic indicators were positive and moving in the right direction. He said that with concerted efforts and through a comprehensive economic reforms process, the country was able to attain macro-economic stability. He said now the government was fully focused on measures aimed at sustainable and inclusive economic growth. 

The Minister also shared with the President the recent developments with regard to legislation on military courts and the government's efforts to achieve consensus on the issue.

 
March 11, 2017 (PR No. 2058)

Finance Minister's meeting with delegation of Pakistan Stock Exchange

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar held a meeting with a delegation of Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) here Saturday. 

Mr. Muneer Kamal, Chairman PSX who led the delegation was accompanied by Mr. Arif Habib, Mr. Yasin Lakhani and Mr. Amin Tai. 

The delegation apprised the Minister that the process of acquisition of 40% share in the PSX by foreign investors had been completed by the appointment of Directors representing Shanghai &  Shenzhen Stock Exchanges and Pakistan China Investment Company, on the PSX Board. The introduction of new partners as well as the markedly improved economic environment will help the stock market grow further in the future. Members of the delegation lauded the progress made by the government in the economic and security environment and stated that both domestic and foreign investors are now keen to expand their investments in the country.

Several proposals for improvement of the regulatory regime were also discussed during the meeting, which aimed at consolidating and taking further the gains made in the recent years.
The delegation also presented to the Minister Dar proposals for the upcoming budget and informed that these were aimed at removing anomalies and rationalizing the tax structure for the capital market.  

Finance Minister assured the delegation that the process of reform will continue and all the positive suggestions for improvement of the regulatory regime and taxation structure would be considered for implementation. He said that the hard work by all stakeholders during the last four years had resulted in the economic turnaround which is globally acknowledged now. He appreciated the role of the business community and urged that they should continue to make their positive contribution for the progress and development of the country.

The Minister also shared his plans for expanding investment in various fields through the Pakistan Development Fund (PDF), which he said would focus on financing commercially viable public sector projects. The delegation expressed keen interest in partnering with the government to expand the outreach of the Fund. 

Secretary Finance, Tariq Bajwa, Secretary EAD Tariq Mehmood Pasha and Chairman SECP, Zafar ul Haq Hijazi and other senior officers of Ministry of Finance and SECP also participated in the meeting.

 
March 09, 2017 (PR No. 2057)

Pakistan's Ambassador designated to USA called on the Finance Minister

Pakistan’s Ambassador – designate to USA, Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry paid a courtesy call on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here.

Wishing him well in his future assignment, Minister Dar emphasized efforts for further augmenting Pak-US economic cooperation and trade. He said both countries enjoy a long history of all round cooperative partnership and he hoped it would continue to grow in future.

Finance Minister also on the occasion appreciated the services rendered by Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry as Secretary Foreign Affairs.

Ambassador-designate Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry thanked the Minister for sparing time from his busy schedule for the meeting. He said all possible steps and efforts would be made to promote Pak-US trade and economic ties. Minister Dar assured Mr. Aitzaz of full support in his endeavours to enhance relations between the two countries.

 
March 08, 2017 (PR No. 2056)

High Level Delegation of GAVI and its partners called on the Finance Minister

A high level delegation of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and its partners called on the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, at the Ministry of Finance today.

Welcoming the delegation, the Finance Minister said that mother and child Healthcare was a priority agenda in the health sector for the Government of Pakistan. He said the Government was committing resources to the Expanded Program on Immunization as it provided the most cost-effective protection to children and mothers against deadly and debilitating diseases, in order to saves lives of hundreds of thousands of children every year. He appreciated the support of GAVI and its partners including the World Bank, UNICEF, WHO, USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for their continued support for strengthening Pakistan’s child immunization program. He said the Federal and Provincial Governments are focused on increasing immunization coverage with special attention to underserved areas. The Finance Minister highlighted that, with the help of GAVI and its partners, significant progress has been made in immunization coverage over the past one year.

Members of the delegation expressed their appreciation for the impressive performance that has been made by both the federal and provincial governments in the area of immunization during the last two years. Ms. Hind Khatib-Othman, Managing Director of Country Programmes at GAVI, conveyed the warm regards of the Deputy CEO of GAVI to the Finance Minister, and expressed gratitude to the Minister for his leadership which has been essential to the progress made in the immunization program. Dr. Timothy Evans, Senior Director of Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice at World Bank Group, also thanked the Finance Minister for his leadership, which has resulted in significant increase in immunization coverage. Dr. Orin Levine, Director of Vaccine Delivery at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said that it was exciting to see the progress that has been made over the last year. He informed the Finance Minister that, according to a John Hopkins report, every US$ 1 invested in vaccination of children results in a return of US$ 44, and therefore, Pakistan will definitely bear the fruits of its current commitment to this noble cause.

The Finance Minister appreciated the kind words and sentiments of the representatives from GAVI, World Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the other partners, present in the meeting. He highlighted that, despite curtailing fiscal deficit over the past three years, the government has ensured significant increases in expenditures on social safety initiatives, including the health sector.
Finance Secretary, Health Secretary and senior officials of Ministry of Finance also participated in the meeting.

 
March 07, 2017 (PR No. 2055)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECNEC

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday chaired meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council which accorded approval for three different projects.

Federal Minister for Planning & Development, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Food Security, Sikandar Hayat Bosan, Provincial Ministers and senior officials of federal and provincial governments were present.

ECNEC considered and approved the project for detailed design and construction of Pehur high level canal extension, Swabi at a cost of Rs.10,156.000 million which also includes ADB loan of US $ 86.29 million. The project is an extension to the command area of the Pehur High Level Canal and draws its supplies through Gandaf Tunnel directly, which conveys irrigation water from Tarbela Dam reservoir. The project will bring about 8,727 ha (1316 ha in Janda Boka and 7411 ha in Indus – Amber area) of rain fed land under irrigated agriculture. The project will enhance irrigated area and ensure food security due to increase in crop production over the next decade in KP.

ECNEC also accorded approval for conversion of existing 220 KV sub- stations at Bandd Road, Kalashah Kaku, Ravi and Nishatabad (distt Lahore and Faisalabad) to GIS technology at a cost of Rs. 5,683.87 million. Under the project conversion of existing 220 KV sub-stations  from air insulated substations(AIS)  to Gas Insulated sub-stations (GIS) will be undertaken. The GIS substations will improve efficiency and reliability of the system and result in reduction of erosion and deterioration thereby cutting down maintenance costs and frequent tripping. The power flow will also increase by 684 MW in the system.

Approval was also given for Kachhi canal project (phase-I) at a cost of Rs. 80,352 million. The project aims at development of water and land resources within the less developed areas of Balochistan Province covering districts of Dera Bugti, Naseerabad, Bolan, Kachhi and Jhal Magsi. Kachhi canal offtakes at Taunsa Barrage from river Indus with peak discharge of 6000 cusecs and will ultimately irrigate an area of 713,000 acres. Under Phase-I of the project 72,000 acres would be irrigated. The project will  boost the agriculture production of food grain, fiber and oilseeds. It will also facilitate availability of potable drinking water. 

The projects related to Right Bank Outfall Drainage were deferred on the request of the Government of Sindh to allow them time to firm up views on their contribution for RBOD-II, as per the financing plan.

 
March 06, 2017 (PR No. 2054)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review preparations for Housing and Population Census - 2017

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Monday chaired a meeting to review preparations for the upcoming Housing and Population Census – 2017.

Chief Statistician, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Mr. Asif Bajwa  briefed the meeting about the print and electronic media campaign to be launched for creating awareness among the masses about the Census. Mr. Asif Bajwa said that the campaign was meant to project the purpose and utility of the census exercise and that it also aimed at encouraging people to proactively and accurately provide the relevant data and to fully cooperate with the teams deputed to conduct census activities across the country.

Minister Dar directed the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to ensure that the general public is properly and timely informed about the Census activities and the long term benefits of having accurate data and statistics. He reiterated that timelines for various activities be strictly followed. He advised all officers to play their due role to make the Census a real success.

Secretary Statistics Division, Dr. Shujaat Ali, Chief Statistician Asif Bajwa and senior officials of the Finance Division attended the meeting.

 
March 04, 2017 (PR No. 2053)

Finance Minister met with heads of ECO Chamber of Commerce & Industry delegations

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Friday said that ECO countries could achieve economic and trade potential of the region through greater integration and connectivity. The role of the private sector,  he added, would be vital for achieving the 2025 vision of ECO.

The Minister was talking to Heads of ECO Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ECO CCI) delegations at a meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Minister while welcoming the guests conveyed them felicitation on behalf of the Prime Minister, the Government and people of Pakistan on a very successful ECO summit.

The Minister said that ECO region accounts for 16% of the world’s population but only 2% of the world’s trade. Trade and investment are the areas that the ECO countries specially need to focus and for that regional connectivity is all the more necessary. He said that Chambers of Commerce and Industries have a leading role to play in this regard. He said in addition to ECO initiatives and CPEC, regional connectivity is being enhanced through bilateral and multilateral agreements. He cited the CASA-1000, TAPI and Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation in this regard. The Minister said that with dedicated efforts the ECO countries can achieve the objectives described in the declaration of the just concluded summit.

The Minister said it was indeed necessary to ease procedures for visa facilitation, especially for business community among ECO countries that would in turn help enhance better contacts and trade facilitation. He said ECO Chamber of Commerce and Industires needs to play it due role for achieving this objective. Minister Dar also emphasized active role of ECO Trade and Development Bank and its enhanced liaison with business community of ECO member countries to promote trade and business activities in the region. The Finance Minister said that Pakistan had achieved macro-economic stability and was now treading on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth. He said international experts acknowledged the economic headway Pakistan had made. He said during last three years Pakistan has achieved an overall 60% revenue growth. We are eyeing a GDP growth rate of 7% in another year or so, and look for greater engagement with ECO countries, the Minister added.

Representatives of different countries including Eng. Gholamhosein Shafei, President ICCIMA and ECO CCI from Iran and Mr. Rifat Hisarciklioglu, President TOBB, Turkey viewed that the ECO summit would go a long way in promoting trade and economic opportunities among ECO member countries. They emphasised efforts for visa facilitation between ECO countries to encourage economic activities. They said that Pakistan had made noticeable economic strides in the last three to four years. Pakistan was the founding member of ECO and now it had a key role to play for its success in realizing the goal of economic development. They opined that there was due focus now on the silk route and its active role in generating economic activity and ECO countries should also give due attention to this factor. 

President ECO Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Mr. Zubair Tufail said that Pakistan with a population of 200 million, a liberal investment regime and a bank rate as low as 6% was a great attraction for foreign business and traders community. He said there was enthusiasm shown by representatives of ECO countries at the recent summit for participation in CPEC projects. This would help generate economic activities among the ECO countries.

Mr. Iftikhar Ali Malik, Vice President SAARC CCI on the occasion specially felicitated the Government on successful holding of the ECO summit.

Minister Dar wished all the heads of delegations a wonderful stay in Pakistan and hoped they would carry the message of the ECO summit with them for enhancing future cooperation among ECO member countries.

 
March 03, 2017 (PR No. 2052)

Delegation of the Alibaba Group led by Mr. Max Bittner met with Finance Minister

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar received a delegation of the Alibaba Group here on Friday which was led by Mr. Max Bittner.

Alibaba, it may be added, is China’s leading group in online commerce, with its Taobao platform estimated to hold more than 90 per cent of the consumer-to-consumer market, and its Tmall platform is believed to have over half of business-to-consumer transactions.

Welcoming the delegation the Minister stated that Alibaba Group led by its Chairman Jack Ma has established itself as one of the leading e-commerce companies of the world. He said there was growing emphasis on increasing role of e-commerce in global trade as an effective means of promoting small business exports,entrepreneurship and exports diversification. He said that in Pakistan e-Commerce was a growing business and has great potential for growth. This sector he said has been doubling in size every year and is projected to surpass US $ 1 billion in 2020. He said that Pakistan had adequate ICT infrastructure in place for facilitating fast developing e-commerce sector and there was exponential growth in mobile broadband access to nearly 26 million people. Pakistan had already introduced 3G and 4G technologies. With more than 11% citizens using mobile phones for financial transactions, Pakistan is the regional leader in mobile banking transactions in South Asia, the Minister remarked. He said that expanding e-commerce could further facilitate the present government’s aim of inclusive economic growth, promoting socio-economic development and providing livelihood for the marginalized segments of society including women.

The Minister welcomed and appreciated Alibaba Group’s interest in investing in Pakistan’s e-commerce sector. He also referred to the meeting between  Prime Minister of Pakistan and Chairman Alibaba Group Mr. Jack Ma on the sidelines of World Economic Forum at Davos in January, 2017 where Mr. Ma expressed his intention to establish an e-commerce platform in Pakistan and support small scale industries. He also urged the Alibaba Group to invest in Pakistan’s digital trade industry.

Members of the visiting delegation said they were happy to see great headway being made in the realm of digitization in Pakistan and that they recognized the efforts for development of E-commerce. They added that the delegation was impressed by the progress made by Pakistan in the field of IT, Telecom and Broadbandpenetration. They said that the growing e-Commerce market in Pakistan presented great opportunities for entrepreneurs and companies and the group would also like to benefit from them.

 
March 02, 2017 (PR No. 2051)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECC

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Thursday chaired meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet. The meeting reviewed the key economic indicators.
 
The Finance Secretary gave a detailed presentation to the meeting. It was informed that headline inflation measured by Consumer Price Index (CPI), Wholesale Price Index (WPI) and Sensitive Price Index (SPI) for the month of February 2017 increased to 4.2 percent, 5.3 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively on account of increase in food inflation by 3.7 %, non food 4.6%, and core 5.3%.

The committee reviewed the stock position and found that stock of wheat as on February 28, 2017 is 5.52 million tons showing sufficient quantity of local wheat for releases to mills by provincial food departments and PASSCO. The total reported stock of sugar in the country as on February 22, 2017 stood at 3.20 million tons. The stock of various POL products averaged 30 days on March 01, 2017.

The committee was informed that Large Scale Manufacturing is continuously moving upward as in November and December the growth remained 7% over last year. The sectors which showing positive growth are iron and steel products which increased by 15.63 %, electronics 14.35%, non metallic mineral products 9.31%, pharmaceuticals 7.90%, food beverages & tobacco 6.95%, automobiles 6.67%, paper & board 5.69%, fertilizers 3.47%, rubber products 0.45% and textile 0.14%.
  
The committee was informed that outlook of industrial sector is positive and encouraging as the credit to private sector seen expansion more than 22 %. The industrial sector is improving due to persistent growth in electricity generation and gas production as electricity generation in January 2014-15 was 8,292 MW which increased to 9210 MW in January 2015-16 and 9352 MW in January 2016-17. Likewise the gas production also increased above 4000 MMCFD in December 2016 compared to 2015 and 2014 which was 3627 and 3780, respectively.

The committee observed decline in wood products, leather products, engineering products, chemicals and coke & petroleum products.

The committee noted that negative growth in exports sector is bottom out in January 2017 as it registered a growth of 4.6 % over last year. However, on average it declined by 1.13% whereas imports on average increased by 9.2% and on year on year increased by 28% in January 2017. On the positive note most of the imports is coming in machinery group showing productivity. The import of the machinery registered at 42% of which power generating machinery 38%, textile 117%, construction and mining 101% etc.

The remittances received during July-January 2016-17 amounted to US$ 10.946 billion against US$ 11.155 billion in 2015-16, registered decline of 1.9 percent. However, on year on year in January it improved by 1.5%.

The FBR tax collections on year on year improved by 9% in January and on average during July-January 2016-17, the tax collection improved by 7.6%.
 
The committee also noted that increasing trend in foreign direct investment that it improved by almost 10% during July-January of the current year over last year. The major recipient sectors were food, power, electricity, and construction.

The committee, however, showed concern over the widening of current account deficit and the chair urged to increase exports of goods and services to bridge the gap.

In consideration of the proposal submitted by the Privatization Division, ECC also approved one month’s (Nov. 2016) salary to the tune of Rs.380 million for the employees of Pakistan Steel Mills, Karachi.

 
March 01, 2017 (PR No. 2050)

Chairman SECP called on the Finance Minister

Mr. Zafar-ul-Haq Hijazi, Chairman SECP, called on the Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, here Wednesday.

Chairman SECP thanked the Minister for his leadership and personal role in the formulation and the passage of the Companies Bill, 2017 from the National Assembly. Chairman SECP briefed the Finance Minister on various operational matters related to the SECP. He apprised the Finance Minister of the efforts being undertaken for the development and smooth functioning of the capital market.

The Finance Minister acknowledged the contribution of Chairman SECP in the formulation of the Companies Bill, 2017. He expressed satisfaction at the recent passage of the Bill from the National Assembly. He asked SECP to brief and fully cooperate with the Senate Standing Committee on Finance regarding the Bill, just as SECP had facilitated the National Assembly Standing Committee. He said that the thirty three-years old Companies Ordinance 1984 required revamping in order to provide a modern legislative framework to the corporate sector of Pakistan, which addresses the needs of the corporate sector. He said that the Bill has been developed based on extensive consultations and inputs from all stakeholders.

The Finance Minister also said that the present government fully supports SECP’s efforts for facilitation and effective regulation of capital markets. He urged the SECP to take all necessary measures to ensure that the corporate sector and capital markets of the country realize their full potential through adoption of international best practices. He said that this would enable the country to achieve higher, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, which is the main aim of the present government after having achieved macroeconomic stability.

 
March 01, 2017 (PR No. 2049)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review progress of upcoming budget

The Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a high-level meeting to review progress of preparations for the upcoming budget for FY 2017-18 here on Wednesday.

The Finance Secretary provided an update to the Minister on the state of preparations for the budget and coordination with different Ministries and departments in this regard. He said that as desired by the Finance Minister, all stakeholders including economic experts, chambers of commerce & industries, business and traders community etc., would be taken on board while finalizing the budget. He said a proper mechanism for in-depth liaison with these stakeholders had already been devised. He said all budget activities would be undertaken according to the timelines given in the schedule shared with the Finance Minister in the previous meeting on the matter.

The Finance Minister said that, as always, the PML-N government would accord top priority to the well-being of the people in the budget for FY 2017-18. He added that the budget would also focus on measures for further improving ease of doing business and increasing financial inclusion in the country. The Minister  said that the budget would be finalized keeping in view the primary aim of achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

 
February 28, 2017 (PR No. 2048)

Finance Minister had a meeting with newly promoted officers of the Ministry of Finance

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday had a meeting with newly promoted officers of the Ministry of Finance. He extended felicitations to the officers and wished them well in their new assignments.

Secretary Finance Division, Mr. Tariq Bajwa was also present on the occasion.

Talking to the officers, the Minister said that all of them had worked hard as part of the Ministry’s team and made their contribution for development of the national economy. He said that their promotions were well deserved as they had diligently and sincerely accomplished their respective jobs related to different activities of the Division.

 
February 28, 2017 (PR No. 2047)

Meeting was held between Finance Minister and Chief of Army Staff at the GHQ, Rawalpindi

A meeting was held between Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar and Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, at the GHQ, Rawalpindi today.

The financial requirements of Pakistan Army were discussed during the meeting, in the context of the budget for next financial year 2017-18. The on-going development projects of Pakistan Army as well as the future development plans were discussed in detail.

Finance Minister said the government would provide all possible resources to the armed forces to meet the national security and development needs.

 
February 27, 2017 (PR No. 2046)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review preparations for the upcoming housing and population census

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Monday chaired a meeting to review preparations for the upcoming housing and population census.

Chief Statistician, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) gave the Minister an update on the state of preparedness saying that field work was being undertaken at a brisk pace and that census material was being transported to different areas of the country. He further said that all arrangements including deployment of security personnel would be completed in accordance with the time lines. He said that training of enumerators had nearly been completed and they would subsequently be posted to different census blocks across the country. He also apprised the Minister about the publicity campaign being undertaken by the PBS for creating awareness among the masses about the census.
 
Minister Dar said that the census activities be carried out professionally with complete coordination among departments concerned. He emphasized that time lines be observed for all the activities. The Minister added that the census would help acquire the much needed data that in turn would facilitate equitable allocation of resources for different areas of the country. This is a very serious exercise and full dedication on part of government bodies and involvement of the general public are the key to making this exercise a complete success, the Minister remarked.

Senior officials of the Finance and Statistics Divisions attended the meeting.

 
February 25, 2017 (PR No. 2045)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review progress of foreign funded projects

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting to review the progress of foreign funded projects here Saturday.

Secretary Economic Affairs Division (EAD) gave a detailed briefing on the utilisation of foreign assistance in various sectors, across the country. He apprised the Minister of the various projects in energy, communication, water, and social sectors being implemented with the assistance of different multilateral and bilateral development partners.  

The Minister was informed that disbursement of foreign assistance to different projects was progressing smoothly.

Finance Minister stated that effective utilization of foreign funds was extremely important to ensure achievement of the objective of accelerated economic development. He said that the timely completion of development projects must be ensured. He directed EAD to maintain close liaison with the development partners and remove any impediments in the way of implementation of the projects.

 
February 24, 2017 (PR No. 2044)

Finance Minister met with Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Air Staff at the Joint Staff Headquarters, Chaklala

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat and Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman held a meeting at the Joint Staff Headquarters, Chaklala on Friday.

The meeting discussed the on-going development projects of Pakistan Air Force. The future development needs and the consequent financial requirements also came under discussion.

On the occasion the Finance Minister appreciated the role played by the Air Force, in conjunction with the Army, in the operation Zarb-e-Azb. He said that the whole nation was determined to get rid of the menace of terrorism and wholeheartedly backed the armed forces in the effort. He said that the force development needs of the armed forces will continue to be met on priority.

 
February 23, 2017 (PR No. 2043)

President, Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries, (FPCCI) called on Finance Minister

The President, Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries, (FPCCI) Zubair Tufail here on Thursday paid a courtesy call on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar.

Mr. Zubair appreciated the measures taken by the government for promoting exports and said they would further contribute to strengthening of the economy. He added that the business community across the country would fully support government’s drive aimed at economic growth and generation of job opportunities. He also shared with the Minister hopes and aspiration of the business community that it attached with the upcoming budget.

Minister Dar said that the government had already initiated the process for preparation of budget and in this regard it would take into consideration views and suggestions of all stakeholders, the business and traders community, economic experts as well as the general populace. He said the business community had a key role to play in uplift of the economy and government would take all possible steps for its well-being.

Minister Dar added that enhancing exports was no doubt of paramount importance for betterment of the economy and again the role of business community in this regard was also very significant.

 
February 23, 2017 (PR No. 2042)

Secretary of State for International Development, UK met with Finance Minister

Ms Priti Patel MP, Secretary of State for International Development, UK, called on the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, along with members of her delegation today at Punjab House, Islamabad.

Ms. Patel conveyed the warm sentiments of the British Prime Minister Theresa May for Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and the people of Pakistan. The Finance Minister reciprocated the kind words of the British Prime Minister, and conveyed his best wishes for the British Prime Minister and the people of the United Kingdom.

Ms. Patel complimented the Finance Minister on the successful completion of the IMF program. She said that the successful implementation of tax reforms, while conducting fiscal consolidation, was a remarkable achievement. She said DFID’s program in Pakistan is its largest globally. She said there were huge opportunities for collaboration in the future in economic development and education, and also in the fields of social security and health. Ms. Patel said that the partnership with Pakistan is incredibly strong and that we need to work together to further evolve and develop the relationship.

Ms. Patel said that both Pakistan and UK must explore new and more diverse ways of forming connections, including through financial markets and stock exchanges. She said that dialogue can be held on exploring bilateral opportunities regarding market access, foreign direct investment, and other opportunities that the financial markets of UK have to offer. Talking about the post-Brexit era, Ms. Patel said it is even more important now for the UK to enhance opportunities for trade and economic development, and to develop new partnerships and strengthen existing ones.

The Finance Minister highlighted that after having achieved macroeconomic stability, the government is now focused on attaining higher, sustainable and inclusive growth. He acknowledged the valuable support of DFID and said that the UK and DFID are true partners of Pakistan. He said that the government has submitted the letter of intent for joining the Open Government Partnership, after having become a signatory to the OECD Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax matters. He expressed the hope that the new Development Partnership Agreement between the Government of Pakistan and DFID will be signed soon. The Finance Minister apprised the visiting dignitary about the merger of the Pakistan Stock Exchange and the strong performance of the Exchange over the last year or so.

Ms. Patel expressed her condolences over the recent spate of terrorist incidents in different parts of the country. The Finance Minister appreciated her thoughtful sentiments and said that the government is determined to undertake all necessary measures to eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country.

 
February 22, 2017 (PR No. 2041)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on data collection practices

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday chaired a meeting with a World Bank team led by Country Director, Patchamuthu Illangovan and senior officials of the Statistics Division. Former Vice President, World Bank, Shahid Javed Burki was also present.

The meeting discussed the mechanism and methodologies in place in the country for data gathering and compilation. The Chief Statistician briefed the meeting on the existing data gathering mechanism and informed that the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics has an elaborate set up which is updated from time to time in collaboration with international development partners, with a view to adopt international best practices. 

Mr. Shahid Javed Burki shared the experiences of different countries around the world and highlighted the significance of a robust data gathering mechanism, for public policy making. He said that it was important to learn form the experiences of other countries and adopt the latest processes and techniques.

Country Director World Bank stated that being partners in development the Bank has in the past helped various reform initiatives of the government of Pakistan and it would continue to do so for any future reform and restructuring of processes aimed at increasing their efficiency and efficacy. 

Finance Minister stated that the present governmnt had boldly taken on various economic reforms and the process will continue in the future as well. Quoting the example of introduction of the Cost of Basic Needs (CBN) method of estimating poverty, he said that it was need of the time and the government took a bold step in adopting the new methodology. He said that the government would follow a similar approach and continue to improve the processes and practices in the pubic sector, in line with international best practices. He said that PBS should use the global expertise of the World Bank and make assessment of its processes with a view to fill any existing gaps.

Senior officials of Finance, Economic Affairs and Statistics Divisions/Pakistan Bureau of Statistics participated in the meeting.

 
February 22, 2017 (PR No. 2040)

Finance Minister witnessed the contract award ceremony regarding Mobile Broadband Internet/ 3G services in Kohistan

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar witnessed the contract award ceremony for the project to provide Mobile Broadband Internet/ 3G services in Kohistan, at the Ministry of IT here today. Minister of State for IT & Telecom, Ms. Anusha Rahman Khan, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, Sardar Mohammad Yousaf and Deputy Speaker, National Assembly Murtaza Javed Abbasi were also present on the occasion.
                        
Universal Service Fund (USF) and cellular services provider Telenor signed the contract agreement worth Rs. 3.51 billion.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister Dar applauded Ministry of IT and USF for their efforts to promote information and communication technologies in the country and congratulated them on their achievements. He said that government and given due priority to the ICT sector and is keen to help it reach even greater heights in future. He added that it is Prime Minister‘s objective to pursue sound and equitable economic policies that has put Pakistan on the path of sustainable economic development.  He said that the Ministry of IT and the ICT sector would be provided full support to ensure accessibility of ICT services to people in all regions of the country.

Mrs. Anusha Rahman was of the view that the Broadband for Sustainable Development projects will take state of the art 3G Mobile Broadband service to far-flung areas at a rapid pace and in almost parity with urban areas of the country. She said that this contract is part of overall policy decision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for providing maximum facilitation to remote areas of the country. She informed that a population of around 9 lac people living in 1,283 villages within an area of 11,000 sq. ft of Kohistan lot will benefit from this project. She added that this project will improve the lives of people, create job opportunities for them and particularly empower females. 

It is noteworthy to mention here that through this Broadband for Sustainable Development Project, areas of Kohistan (Pattan, Dassu, Palas), Battagram (Alai, Battagram), Mansehra (Balakot, Torghar, Mansehra,Oghi), Haripur (Ghazi, Haripur) and Abbottabad (Abbottabad) will be served. 

Sharing his thoughts on the development, Irfan Wahab Khan, CEO, Telenor Pakistan, said,the project will be a gigantic stride towards promoting digital and financial inclusion across the country, opening up doors of opportunities for the marginalized communities to step into mainstream development process and another step towards empowering Pakistan.

 
February 22, 2017 (PR No. 2039)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECC

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here Wednesday. 

In consideration of a proposal by Economic Affairs Division(EAD), the ECC approved allocation of funds (equivalent to USD 25 million) for National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF). EAD, it may be mentioned has set up the fund which aims to have a government-owned sustainable mechanism to support disaster risk financing instruments that can enhance country’s resilience to natural calamities. The Asian Development Bank has shown an indicative assistance of USD 1.2 billion as loan for this fund. EAD and ADB, signed the loan agreement for USD 200 million on 2nd December 2016 as first tranche against the total amount. The fund will enable the government to immediately and effectively respond to natural calamities. 

ECC also considered and approved NEPRA’s proposal to allow exemption from withholding tax on Dividends to the Transmission Line Projects under Transmission Policy 2015. 

ECC also accorded approval for grant of Rs. 12.00 million as equity share of GoP to clear liabilities and financial obligations so as to facilitate process of winding up of Pakistan Textile City, (PTCL) Ltd. The chair also directed formation of a committee comprising SAPM on Law, representatives from NBP, SECP and the CEO of PTCL to oversee smooth finalization of the company’s winding up process.

 
February 21, 2017 (PR No. 2038)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review Macroeconomic Indicators

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting here Tuesday to review macroeconomic indicators. Finance Secretary gave a detailed briefing to the Minister on the current status of various macroeconomic indicators.

The Minister emphasized that the government is focused on further improving the key macroeconomic indicators, including the investment-to-GDP and tax-to-GDP ratios. He said that after having achieved macroeconomic stability, the government is determined to attain higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. He directed for steps to be taken for keeping fiscal deficit  within the limit of 4% for the next fiscal year and thereafter maintaining it at a maximum of 3.5% as prescribed in the amended Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act. He reviewed the status of various reforms and initiatives under implementation by the Finance Division, and directed the officials concerend to undertake all necessary measures to expedite their implementation for successful completion within the given timelines.

The Minister reiterated the Government’s resolve to continue on the path of economic reforms program that was articulated at the beginning of FY 2013-14, and which has been successfully pursued in the last three-years. He observed that strong economic reforms already implemented by the government will increase economic opportunities and lead to higher economic growth.

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

 
February 20, 2017 (PR No. 2037)

Governors Sindh, KP called on Finance Minister

Governor Sindh, Mohammad Zubair here on Monday paid a courtesy call on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar.

Minister Dar wished Mr. Zubair all the best in his endeavours aimed at well being of the province of Sindh and assured him of full support in this regard.

Referring to the recent act of terror at Sehwan Sharif, Minister Dar said that the Federal and Provincial governments should work in a well-coordinated fashion to uproot the scourge of militancy and that life and property of the people at large must be protected at all costs.

Governor Zubair on the occasion appreciated Finance Minister’s efforts for generating consensus on the issue of military courts. He agreed that concerted efforts needed to be made to curb acts of terror. 

Governor of KP, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra also separately called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar. The two discussed in detail, the FATA reforms as well as measures / activities for development of FATA and rehabilitation of TDPs in the area. Minister Dar said that Federal Government wished to undertake all possible steps for the well being of the people of FATA. He assured Governor KP of government’s full support in the matter. 

 
February 20, 2017 (PR No. 2036)

TCA delegation called on Finance Minister

The visiting delegation of the Turkish Court of Accounts (TCA) led by its Deputy President, Mr. Fikret Çöker, called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Monday. Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP), Rana Assad Amin, accompanied the delegation.

The two sides discussed matters relating to enhancement of cooperation between TCA and AGP, including under the MoU signed last year in order to mutually benefit from each other’s experience and expertise. The MOU provides for co-operation through parallel / joint audits, co-operative audits and peer reviews.

Minister Dar expressed his condolences to Mr. Fikret Çöker and the Turkish people at the loss of precious lives in terrorist attacks in Turkey. He said that the Pakistani people stand in solidarity with Turkey at this difficult time. Minister Dar said that Pakistan has also suffered from attacks in the last two weeks which have resulted in the loss of numerous innocent lives in different parts of the country. He emphasized that the government and people of Pakistan are strongly determined to eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country.

Minister Dar said that like Turkey, the Constitution of Pakistan provides for the mechanism of AGP which functions independently and has the mandate to ensure transparency in all financial matters in the country. He said that Pakistan welcomes close collaboration between TCA and AGP that could help modernize audit practices in both countries, thereby bringing improvement in overall governance with particular emphasis on transparency in financial matters. On this occasion, Minister Dar also apprised the TCA delegation about Pakistan’s participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multilateral initiative which aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. He said that Pakistan has also become member of the OECD Anti-Tax Evasion Convention.

In his remarks on the occasion, Mr. Fikret Coker said that being in Pakistan is like being at home. He said that friendship between Turkey and Pakistan is very deep rooted and one of a kind. He highlighted that the current visit is focused on streamlining cooperation activities between TCA and AGP under the MoU signed last year and in this regard they had detailed exchange of views with senior officials at the AGP office. He also welcomed the concepts of parallel and joint audit, and exchange of visits by experts. He assured complete cooperation from TCA in upgrading audit systems in both the countries.

Mr. Fikret Coker on behalf of the President TCA and members of his delegation, also expressed deep sense of sorrow over the heinous acts of terror that occurred across the country during the last few days. He said the Turkish people shared the grief of their Pakistani brethren and prayed that Allah may grant them the courage to bear the great loss of precious lives.

Minister Dar thanked the Dy. President TCA for the kind sentiments.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and AGP Office attended the meeting.

 
February 19, 2017 (PR No. 2035)

Finance Minister called more parliamentary leaders on telephone

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar continued telephone contacts with parliamnentary leaders for the second day today.

The Finance Minister called Mr Farooq Sattar of MQM, Shabzada Tariquullah of Jammat e Islami, Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour of ANP, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed of AML, Shahji Gul Afridi of FATA & other parliamentary leaders on Sunday.

 He highlighted significance of extending the working of military courts for speedy trial of terrorists and emphasized consensus among all the party leaders on this important issue.

 Minister also telephoned Speaker National Assembly and emphasised   on behalf of the government, to advance the meeting of the main Parliamentary Committee on the subject and hold it on 23rd February, 2017 instead of 27th February as was earlier planned. He advised the Speaker that since the meeting of the Sub Committee is scheduled on 22nd February, it would be appropriate to convene the main Committee on 23rd February 2017 to facilitate early decisions in the matter.  

Minister Dar in his conversation with different leaders Sunday reiterated that recent spate of terrorist attacks across the country called for a rapid and fitting response. Extension in functioning of military courts, he said would strengthen efforts to curb militancy.

 
February 18, 2017 (PR No. 2034)

Country Director of World Bank called on the Finance Minister

Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar had a meeting with Country Director of World Bank for Pakistan,Patchamuthu Illangovan (Illango), and members of his team here today.

The Minister discussed with Mr. Illangovan, the progress of various economic reforms undertaken by the government. He said that having completed the home grown reform agenda with the assistance of the IMF, the government remains committed to continue with the reform agenda that it had promised in PML-N's election manifesto in 2013. He said that the country was benefiting from the reforms carried out so far which had helped the country achieve macroeconomic stability. He said that the government would ensure that the process of reforms continues with the same zeal so as to achieve the objective of higher, inclusive and sustained economic growth.

The Finance Minister said that the new Companies law, is a part of the reform effort. The law has already been passed by the National Assembly and hoped that it will soon be passed by the Senate as well. Once enacted the law will go a long way in improving corporate governance & surveillance in the country in line with international best practices. 

The Country Director stated that government's commitment to reform was widely acknowledged. the World Bank will continue to support and assist the reforms in various sectors of economy as it has supported the process in the last many years. 

Mr. Illangovan also on the occasion updated the Minister about the status of different World Bank sponsored/supported projects and said he was fully focused, as always on furthering Pak-WB economic cooperation

 
February 18, 2017 (PR No. 2033)

Mr. Shahid Javed Burki called on Finance Minister

Mr. Shahid Javed Burki, former Caretaker Finance Minister of Pakistan and former Vice-President of the World Bank, called on  Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Saturday.

Mr. Burki, who is currently based in Washington D.C., USA, discussed various matters related to Pakistan's economy with the Finance Minister. He stated that Pakistan's economy was performing well and there were visible improvements in the country compared to the past. He said that as a frequent traveller to the region, he could see that Pakistan was doing much better than many other regional economies. He said that the general perceptions however were different and it was important to narrate the true and factual story of Pakistan to international audiences.  He said that the perception of the country could improve tremendously if the visible improvements in Pakistan are understood and acknowledged properly.

Finance Minister stated that the during the past three and a half years the government had focused on economic reforms and the dividends of the same were now visible. He said that it was heartening that many credible international institutions were now openly acknowledging the achievements of Pakistan’s which would help correct the misperceptions.

Mr. Burki appreciated the fact that the government was undertaking the national Census. He stated that correct and reliable data was extremely important for policy planning and the upcoming exercise will be helpful in this regard. He said that there was a need to upgrade the data collection methods so as to get a clearer picture of various sectors of economy.

The Finance Minister said that Pakistan has recently adopted the Cost of Basic Needs (CBN) method for calculation of poverty levels instead of the outdated Food Energy Intake (FEI) method, and that under the CBN method, poverty levels have reduced in Pakistan to 29.5% in FY 2014 from 64.3% in FY 2002. He said that the government believes in transparency and openness and would welcome any suggestions on improvement and reform of the data gathering methodologies.

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

 
February 18, 2017 (PR No. 2032)

Finance Minister called parliamentary leaders on telephone

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Saturday called parliamentary leaders on telephone, to discuss with them matters concerning extension in working of military courts for speedy trial of terrorists.

The political leaders that the Finance Minister called Saturday included Maulana Fazal ur Rahman, Syed Naveed Qamar, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and Maulana Attaur Rahman.
  
 During his telephone calls the Minister emphasized the need for complete consensus in this matter and said that a prompt decision was vital to counter the fresh wave of militancy that had gripped the country during the last few days.  Referring to the recent incidents in FATA. Peshawar, Lahore, Quetta, Awaran, and Sehwan Sharif, the Minister said that it was heart wrenching to see so many precious lives being lost in gory incidents of terror in all the four provinces. He said that an effective and well-coordinated response on part of the federal and provincial governments was need of the hour. Continuation of the military courts was essential for ensuring continuation of the momentum of anti terrorism campaign and the political leadership in the Parliament needed to show unity as well as complete unanimity of views on this issue. There can be no compromise on the safety and security of the people and the country, the Minister remarked.

The parliamentary leaders expressed agreement with Minister Dar on having a well-coordinated and fitting response to the terrorist threat.

The Minister also earlier made phone call to Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq asking him to facilitate early convening of meeting of the parliamentary committee on the subject of military courts so that a concrete decision in the matter could be taken as early as possible.

 
February 16, 2017 (PR No. 2031)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review measures against money laundering

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Thursday chaired a meeting to review the progress on the reformatory measures and enforcement actions against money laundering and terrorism financing.

Director General FMU gave a briefing on the actions recently taken to curb the menace of money laundering and terrorism financing. He shared latest progress made by Pakistan in this regard and apprised the participants of details. Foreign Office shared a number of parleys held with diplomatic community about latest reforms undertaken by Pakistan. Some additional measures to strengthen the regime on anti-money laundering and counter terrorism (AML/CFT) were also discussed.

The meeting reaffirmed the State’s resolve to continue to strengthen the AML/CFT framework and collectively work towards peace and security of the country.

National Security Adviser, Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretary Finance, Additional Secretary and Director General (UN) of the Foreign Office, senior representatives of the Interior Division and State Bank of Pakistan attended the meeting.

 
February 15, 2017 (PR No. 2030)

Finance Minister announced new petroleum prices

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Wednesday announced the prices of petroleum products for the period starting from 16th February 2017 till midnight on 28th February 2017.

He said that OGRA recommended an increase of Rs. 1.91/Litre in the price of MS 92 RON Petrol, Rs. 2.03/Litre in the price of High Speed Diesel (HSD), Rs.16.71/Litre in the price of Kerosene Oil and Rs. 12.53/Litre in the price of Light Diesel Oil (LDO), with effect from 16th February 2017.

The Minister stated that, in line with the Prime Minister’s instructions to provide maximum relief to the common man, and keeping in view that Kerosene Oil and LDO is used by the low income segments of the country’s population, it has been decided to maintain the prices of Kerosene Oil and LDO at the current level till28th February 2017. This decision has been taken also keeping in view the fact that Kerosene Oil caters to the energy needs of the poor, especially in the winter season. In order to maintain the prices of both Kerosene Oil and LDO at current levels, the government will not only be foregoing all applicable taxes and duties on these petroleum products, but will also continue to subsidize the prices of these products for the consumers, with a subsidy of Rs. 2.00/Litre on Kerosene Oil and Rs. 1.41/Liter on LDO.

The Minister further announced that it has been decided to increase the price of MS 92 RON Petrol and HSD by Rs. 1.00/Litre each. These increases are around half of the increases recommended by OGRA for both MS 92 RON Petrol and HSD.

The Finance Minister highlighted that, in order to maintain stability, prices have been maintained since April 2016 despite an increase of around43% in international oil prices during 2016. He said that the government has been absorbing the negative financial impact due to the government’s decisions to not pass onprice increases to the end consumers. He highlighted that, prior to today, only partial increase in the price of MS Petrol and HSD was passed on to the end consumers for the month of December 2016 and for the last one month, compared to OGRA’s recommendations.

 
February 15, 2017 (PR No. 2029)

Delegation of the K-Electric called on Finance Minister

A delegation of the K-Electric called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Wednesday morning.
Federal Minister for Water & Power, Khawaja Muhammad Asif was also present on the occasion.

Head of the delegation, Mr. Umar Lodhi apprised the Finance Minister of the electricity situation in Karachi and the steps taken by the company to improve the supply of electricity to various areas in the metropolis.

The delegation also briefed the Minister on the status of payables/ receivables of K-Electric with regard to various government entities and suggested ways to resolve the pending issues. The delegation informed the meeting that negotiations for investment of Shanghai Power in the K-Electric were progressing and the matters were likely to be finalized soon. The Chinese side has carried out its due diligence and is satisfied with the financial position of the company, Mr. Umar informed. The meeting was also informed that the Abraj Group is planning to invest around US$ 150 million in the banking and health sectors in the country. Abraj group, it may be added is currently the major shareholder of K-Electric.

Minister Dar assured the delegation of full cooperation and support of the Ministry of Finance for settlement of outstanding issues between K-Electric and various federal government entities. He stated that the government wants to resolve the pending issues in a fair and equitable manner and the company should reconcile their payables/ receivables with the respective entities in a similar spirit.

Minister Dar appreciated the planned investment venture of the Abraj Group and added that liberal investment regime and incentives offered by the Government encouraged investment in different sectors of the economy. Foreign investors are now willing to avail of this liberal investment regime, he said. 

Senior officials of the Ministries of Finance, P&NR and Water & Power participated in the meeting. 

 
February 14, 2017 (PR No. 2028)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Laws Review Committee

The Laws Review Committee here on Tuesday evaluated the progress on different draft laws that were placed before the parliament for enactment.

The meeting, which was chaired by Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, also discussed other legislative matters.

Important legal matters concerning the Ministry of IT also came under discussion.

The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for Law & Justice, Zahid Hamid, Minister for Information Technology, Anusha Rahman Khan, Attorney General of Pakistan, Ashtar Ausaf Ali and Special Assistant to Prime Minister, Barrister Zafarullah Khan.

 
February 14, 2017 (PR No. 2027)

Chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, called on the Finance Minister

Chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, here on Tuesday called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar.

Federal Minister for Housing & Works, Akram Khan Durrani was also present in the meeting.

During the meeting there was detailed discussion on the process of legislation in the parliament. There was also exchange of views between Minister Dar and Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman on the electoral reforms.

JUI Chief lauded the efforts of Minister Dar in carrying out the hectic electoral reforms process with sincerity of purpose and full dedication. Both the senior leaders agreed that the reforms would go a long way in improving electoral system in the country and invariably strengthen democratic norms.

Overall political situation in the country was also discussed on the occasion.

 
February 13, 2017 (PR No. 2026)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECC

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, here on Monday chaired meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC).

Secretary Water & Power on the occasion gave a short presentation on performance of power sector for the years 2014-16. He said that in line with the vision of the Prime Minister, Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, all possible efforts had been made for development and strengthening of the power sector. With concerted efforts there has been considerable decrease in load shedding in the country. In Urban areas load shedding had decreased from almost 12-14 hours in 2013 to 4 hours in Dec-16. For Industrial consumers the load shedding has become zero. He said during the last two years, recovery rate was as high as 93% which had benefited the national exchequer by Rs.93 billion. Transmission and Distribution losses had been brought down to lowest ever, 17.80% by 2016, again benefiting the exchequer by Rs. 23 billion. AT&C losses, stood at 23% in 2016, unprecedented not only in Pakistan but in the region and this saved an amount of Rs. 116 billion for the nation. Secretary Water and Power further informed that efforts were afoot towards achieving zero percent load-shedding.

The ECC appreciated the performance of the Ministry of Water and Power and directed the Ministry to ensure completion of remaining development and reform initiatives as per timelines.

The meeting later, after considering a proposal from the Ministry of Water and Power, accorded approval for issuance of Sovereign Guarantee in respect of syndicated term finance facility for the Power Sector.

Another proposal by the Ministry of Water and Power on Wihholding Tax on dividend for HVDC Transmission Line from Matiari to Lahore, was deferred for inter-ministerial discussion and re-submission to the ECC thereafter.

The meeting had a detailed discussion on the proposal by the Ministry of Industries and Production for release of Rs. 1035.202 million to Utility Stores Corporation(USC) on account of maintaining subsidized prices of 11 essential items. The Chair with consensus of the house deferred the matter of release of funds and directed for a special audit of the sale-purchase prices of certain items, within 15 days to determine the need for release of the amount of subsidy.

 
February 13, 2017 (PR No. 2025)

Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, called on the Finance Minister

Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, Ms Marriyum Aurangzeb called on the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Monday.

During the meeting the Information Minister discussed with Mr. Ishaq Dar, financial matters pertaining to Ministry of Information and also had exchange of views on media related matters.

Minister Dar said that a vibrant media was always vital for growth of democratic norms in the country. He said government would always do its best to facilitate working of print and electronic media. The Finance Minister while referring to his recent meeting with senior representatives of the Pakistan Broadcasters Association said that all their genuine issues would be addressed.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance were also present in the meeting.

 
February 11, 2017 (PR No. 2024)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting on budget matters

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, here on Saturday chaired a high level meeting to review proposed calendar of events and other matters related to the federal budget for FY 2017-18.

The Minister was given a briefing on the proposed schedule by the Finance Secretary, Mr. Tariq Bajwa.

The Minister expressed his satisfaction with the progress of various activities and emphasized the importance of completing all the scheduled activities in a timely manner. He directed the officials concerned to ensure that budget preparations were undertaken as per timelines, with due consideration to the timing of holy month of Ramadan this year. He also stressed the need for close coordination between Ministry of Finance and other Ministries/Departments so as to carry out the budget exercise in an efficient and cohesive manner.

The Minister said that, keeping in line with the past four years’ tradition of the present PML-N Government, all opinion, proposals and constructive suggestions from stakeholders and experts will be taken into account while preparing the budget. He said that as always, ensuring well-being of the general public will be accorded the utmost priority. The Minister impressed upon all the officials concerned to undertake budget preparations diligently while also abiding by the time lines.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance attended the meeting.

 
February 10, 2017 (PR No. 2023)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting on coordination between Ministry of Finance, SBP and FBR

Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting at the Ministry of Finance today to review the coordination arrangements between the Ministry of Finance, State Bank of Pakistan and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Governor SBP, Mr. Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, Finance Secretary and Officiating Chairman FBR participated in the meeting and apprised the Finance Minister of various measures taken by the respective organizations to ensure seamless coordination amongst the three organizations.

They also briefed the Minister on the mechanisms put in place for reconciliation of financial flows between the three organizations. The Finance Minister appreciated the measures taken by the Ministry of Finance, SBP and FBR and stated that effective inter-organizational coordination was essential for smooth functioning of the government. He encouraged meeting participants to find solutions for faster reconciliation of revenues and expenditures between the organizations. He said that efforts should be made to achieve further efficiencies with regard to implementation of other policy directives within the three organizations. He said that smooth working between Ministry of Finance, SBP and FBR had been an important factor in achieving the economic objectives and the whole country was benefitting from the dividends.

The meeting was also attended by senior officials of SBP and Ministry of Finance.

 
February 09, 2017 (PR No. 2022)

Finance Minister met with a group of international corporate and business leaders

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, held a meeting with a group of corporate and business leaders from around the world, currently on a visit to Pakistan, at the Ministry of Finance today.

The leader of the delegation, Mr.Zia Chishtiof the The Resource Group, informed the Finance Minister that the group is visiting Pakistan to explore business and investment opportunities in the country, and also to visit the beautiful areas in the North of Pakistan. He highlighted that the meetings the group has held so far in Pakistan, especially with the honourable Prime Minister earlier today, have greatly helped in further improving the perceptions of the group members about Pakistan. He thanked the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, on behalf of the visiting group, for the government’s hospitality. He further conveyed that the visiting group acknowledges the success of the economic reforms agenda of the present government over the past threeand a half years, and the increased opportunities for business and investment that have resulted due to the successful economic turnaround.

The Finance Minister extended a warm welcome to the visiting group. He said that Pakistan is now being acknowledged globally by the international media and financial community as an attractive destination for business and investment, and therefore the group’s visit to Pakistan is very timely. The Finance Minister highlighted the report recently published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) which has projected Pakistan to become the 20thlargest economy by 2030 and the 16thlargest economy by 2050.He also highlighted the report published earlier this week by Barron’s which has described Pakistan as the “next big thing” and “the flag bearer of the positive changes taking place in the South Asian nations”. 

The Finance Minister said that as a result of the investor friendly policies of the present government, and the economic turnaround achieved in the last three years, various reputable international investors and companies, including Renault, Arçelik and FrieslandCampina, have been frequently visiting Pakistan and interacting regularly with both the private sector and public officials in Pakistan to explore business and investment opportunities. He urged the members of the visiting group to also benefit from the business and investment opportunities available in the country, and extended the government’s full cooperation in this regard.

He said that, after having achieved macroeconomic stability, the government is now focused on achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive growth. He highlighted that GDP growth was recorded at 4.7% in FY 2016, an eight year high, and that the target is to achieve GDP growth of over 5% in FY 2017. He said that, as a result of the improved macroeconomic situation, the government has been able to tap the international bond, sukuk and equity markets over the past three years. He said that the resilience of the economy has also been recognised by international credit rating agencies in the form of improved ratings and outlooks. 

At the end of the meeting, the Finance Minister wished the group a productive and enjoyable stay in Pakistan. 

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

 
February 09, 2017 (PR No. 2021)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review LNG supply project in Pakistan

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting with senior executives representing the multinational consortium which is developing the first private sector LNG supply project in Pakistan. The consortium comprises of leading multinational energy companies including Qatar Petroleum, ExxonMobil, Total, Mitsubishi Corp, and Hoegh LNG. Federal Minister for Water & Power, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and Chairman Board of Investment (BOI), Dr. Miftah Ismail, were present in the meeting. Chairman and CEO of Global Energy Infrastructure Limited (GEIL), with which the consortium is partnering on the project, also participated in the meeting.

Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources said that this project is completely a private-to-private venture, with no government financing or off-take guarantee, which makes the project the first of its kind in Pakistan. He further stated that the LNG Supply Agreements relating to project have also been executed without the involvement of the Government of Pakistan. He said that the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources will extend all requisite policy and regulatory support for the project. Minister for Water & Power said that this project augurs well for the gas supply needs of the power sector. Chairman BOI, who is also Chairman of Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC),

said that BOI and SSGC will extend full cooperation to the consortium for the successful implementation of the project.

On the occasion, the Finance Minister said that the Government of Pakistan welcomes and appreciates the efforts of the consortium to develop this project. He said that the participation of leading multinational energy companies in this project is yet another demonstration of the international investors’ confidence in Pakistan’s economic turnaround and the investor-friendly policies of the present government. The Finance Minister highlighted the most recent report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) according to which Pakistan is projected to become the 20thlargest economy by 2030 and the 16thlargest economy by 2050. He said that Pakistan has achieved macroeconomic stability within three years, contrary to predictions from various quarters that Pakistan would default on its obligations by 2014 and would need six years to attain macroeconomic stability. He said that foreign exchange reserves recently reached an all-time high providing five months of import cover, and that GDP growth was 4.7% in FY 2016, an eight year high. The Finance Minister said that the government is actively working on projects to add over 10,000 MW of electricity to the system in the short term, and a further 15,000 MW beyond 2018. He highlighted that the government is now focused on achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and is targeting GDP growth of over 5% in the current fiscal year.

Senior executives representing the consortium acknowledged the government’s achievements in stabilising the economy and putting it on the path to growth. They reaffirmed the fact that the project entails zero burdens on the government. They appreciated the government’s investor friendly policies which have enabled this project to materialize. They said that it would have been very difficult to envisage a project of this nature in Pakistan a few years ago.

Under the project, the LNG Terminal will have a capacity of 1,000 mmfcd per day, and it will re-gasify up to 750 mmfcd gas per day as base-load. The project is expected to be completed in 2018. The project, after completion, will account for around 10% of the primary energy supplies of the country, and will be equivalent of 20% of the current domestic natural gas production. 

The meeting was also attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Water & Power and Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources.

 
February 08, 2017 (PR No. 2020)

Finance Minister congratulates the Prime Minister and the nation on international recognition of Pakistan's economic turnaround and prospects

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, has congratulated the Prime Minister, Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, and the whole nation on international recognition of Pakistan’s economic turnaround and prospects, the latest addition to which is the most recent report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the world’s foremost financial services firms. The report projects that Pakistan will become the 20th largest economy by 2030 and the 16th largest economy by 2050.

The Finance Minister stated that Bloomberg has also declared Pakistan as the most underrated economy in the world, in its recent report titled ‘Pakistan's Economy Is a Pleasant Surprise’. The report acknowledges that recent GDP growth has put Pakistan’s economy on a positive path. It also highlights that the rate of poverty in Pakistan has fallen by half since 2002, rate of terrorist deaths has declined by two-thirds over the past three years, inflation is low, and the country has staved off a foreign-exchange crisis and is rebuilding its reserves. It also acknowledges that Pakistan has graduated from the IMF program and is in a stable fiscal state.

The Finance Minister emphasized that these reports, and recent reaffirmation of Pakistan’s credit rating by Fitch earlier this week, are a continuation of the recognition by the international media and financial community of Pakistan’s economic development and progress. He said that Pakistan now stands well-placed to realize its true economic potential. He highlighted that the present government is fully focused on achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

 
February 07, 2017 (PR No. 2019)

Finance Minister received PBA delegation

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has said that media, as fourth pillar of the state carries great significance in promoting national harmony and it has an important role to play in strengthening democratic norms and values in the country.

The Minister was talking to a delegation of the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) that he received here Tuesday evening.

The PBA delegation comprising Mian Aamir Mahmood (Dunya Media Group), Mir Ibrahim (Geo Television Network) and Doraid Siddiqui (Hum TV), on the occasion apprised the Minister about certain tax related issues faced by television channels. There was discussion on streamlining the procedures for payment of dues to television channels and removing bottlenecks at different stages.

The Minister said that government would do its utmost to facilitate the working of media. He said the government attached due importance to the development of media which serves as a bridge between the government and the masses. He noted the issues conveyed by the visiting delegation and said these would be given detailed consideration by the FBR keeping in line with relevant rules and regulations. Effort would be made that all genuine issues are addressed, he said.

Members of the delegation thanked the Minister for sparing time from his busy schedule to give a patient hearing to their tax-related issues.

Secretary, Finance Division, Tariq Bajwa, Special Assistant to Finance Minister, Tariq Pasha, and senior FBR officials were  present on the occasion.

 
February 06, 2017 (PR No. 2018)

Dr. Sania Nishtar Pakistan's candidate for the position of D.G, WHO called on the Finance Minister

Dr. Sania Nishtar, Pakistan’s candidate for the position of Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), called on the Finance Minister,Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar,at the Ministry of Finance today.

Dr. Nishtar thanked the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister for supporting her candidature for the position of WHO Director-General. She apprised the Finance Minister of the fact that the WHO Executive Board has selected her, by vote,as one of the final three candidates to be presented to the World Health Assembly as nominees for the post.She said that Member States will vote in a new Director-General at the World Health Assemblyin May 2017. The other two final candidates are Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from Ethiopia and Dr. David Nabarro from the United Kingdom. She informed the Finance Minister that the final three candidates were selected by the Executive Board after interviewing five short-listed candidates. 

The Finance Minister congratulated Dr. Nishtar on making it to the final round of elections for the prestigious position. He said that her strong candidature and prospective selection for the position would also help raise Pakistan’s global profile even further. He emphasized that, as per the decision of the Prime Minister, the

Government of Pakistan will continue to extend full support and cooperation to Dr. Nishtar for her candidature. He conveyed his best wishes to Dr. Nishtar for the remainder of the selection process for the post.

 
February 06, 2017 (PR No. 2017)

Finance Minister welcomes reaffirmation of Pakistan's rating by FITCH

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has welcomed reaffirmation of Pakistan credit rating by Fitch Ratings and stated that it was an acknowledgment of governments economic policies .Fitch Ratings has affirmed Pakistan’s rating at ‘B’ with a ‘Stable’ outlook confirming the progress achieved by the present Government under its economic reform agenda.

 Fitch has recognized that the country’s foreign exchange reserves have strengthened, fiscal deficit reduced and significant progress has been made on structural reforms. Fitch further acknowledges that the country’s economic outlook has brightened and looks promising in the current fiscal year on the back of agricultural recovery and an influx of investments under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

 Fitch has forecasted continued strong domestic demand, with private consumption and faster credit growth. Fitch also appreciates the performance of the banking sector and the improvements shown across IMF’s Financial Soundness Indicators wherein the percentage of non-performing loans has also fallen considerably. 

 Fitch forecasts Pakistan’s debt-to-GDP ratio to gradually fall in the medium term as a result of continued fiscal consolidation. The report also highlights the reduction in general government budget, with revenues boosted by structural reforms, including the withdrawal of a number of tax concessions. The budget deficit has also been projected to continue narrowing gradually as the Government remains committed to policy reforms. Fitch does not expect Pakistan to face external liquidity difficulties as Pakistan demonstrated market access in October 2016 by issuing US$ 

 
February 03, 2017 (PR No. 2016)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review the progress on the LNG Power Plants

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division to review the progress on the LNG Power Plants. Federal Minister for Water and Power Khwaja M. Asif was also present during the meeting.

Secretary Water and Power Younas Dagha briefed the meeting that the Ministry of W&P has been working hard to generate maximum power with most efficient energy mix and the LNG based power project are an efficient option to cater the increasing energy demand of the country.  He reported that the progress on the under construction LNG Power plants has been closely monitored by MoW&P. The project are progressing at a smooth pace as per the timelines. He assured that the Ministry is making every effort to generate additional 10,000 megawatts of electricity into the grid before end of 2017.

Minister for Water & Power said that it has also been on our agenda to improve our performance by improving on our distribution network. Generation and distribution circle are being improved to provide better service to the consumers.

The Finance Minister appreciated the serious efforts of the Ministry of Water and Power to find effective solution to energy shortage problem of the country. He said that the Government wants not only to improve the energy supplies for the current period but also find solutions for the future. The Finance Minister also assured the participants of all possible cooperation in completing the ongoing projects on time.

The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministries of Water and Power and Finance. SAPM on Law Barrister Zafarullah also attended the meeting.

 
February 03, 2017 (PR No. 2016)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on matters related to the Debt Policy Coordination Office

Federal Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, chaired a meeting on matters related to the Debt Policy Coordination Office here at the Ministry of Finance today.

The Finance Minister emphasized the importance of prudent debt management for a growing economy. Referring to his article on Pakistan’s debt published earlier this week, he said that the purpose of the article was to emphasize that Pakistan is properly managing its debt, and to dispel any notion that the country is at risk with regard to debt obligations in the foreseeable future. He said that the sustainability profile of public debt has improved significantly during the present government, andurged the Debt Office to continue its efforts to further improve the debt sustainability profile.

The Finance Minister expressed his satisfaction that the Net Debt to GDP ratio has remained unchanged at 60.2%, during the period from July 2013 to June 2016. He emphasized that the Net Debt to GDP ratio has been maintained at this level despite the fact that the present government has enhanced Federal Development spending from Rs. 348 billion in FY 2013 to Rs. 800 billion for FY 2017, and has increasedcash income support to the most vulnerable from Rs. 40 billion to Rs. 115 billion in three years to end June 2016. He further highlighted that fiscal deficits have been curtailed from 8.2 percent to 4.6 percent of GDP in three years to June 2016.

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

 
February 03, 2017 (PR No. 2015)

Appointment of new Finance Seretary

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting to review progress on various programs and activities of the Ministry of Finance here today. The newly appointed Secretary Finance Mr. Tariq Bajwa also participated in the meeting.

Finance Minister felicitated Mr. Bajwa on his appointment as Secretary Finance. He said that it was a challenging assignment and brought with it a significant level of responsibility. He expressed the hope that the new Secretary will prove himself equal to the challenge as he brought with himself a wealth of experience of working in different key positions including Secretary Finance Department Punjab, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue and Secretary Economic Affairs Division.

The Finance Minister said that immediate task for the new incumbent and his team was the preparation of next fiscal year’s budget and meeting the time lines of various ongoing reforms and initiatives.  He expressed satisfaction with the performance of Finance Division and advised the officials to ensure that various targets set for the ministry are achieved.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Tariq Bajwa thanked the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister for reposing confidence in his abilities and assured that he would do his best to take forward government’s economic agenda of fiscal prudence and sustainable inclusive growth.

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

 
February 02, 2017 (PR No. 2014)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on matters pertaining to FBR

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

Mr. Haroon Akhtar Khan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, briefed the Finance Minister on the performance of FBR. He apprised the Finance Minister of the fact that FBR is actively working on the implementation of the remaining steps under the OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, which Pakistan became a signatory to in September 2016. He informed the Minister that all formalities to sign the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information (MCAA), which is one of the remaining steps to be implemented under the said OECD Multilateral Convention, are almost complete.

The Finance Minister appreciated the efforts made by FBR and urged that all necessary efforts be made to meet the tax revenue target that was set at the beginning of the current fiscal year. He saidthat strong tax revenue collections will play an important role in achieving higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The Finance Minister said that accession to the OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters has enabled Pakistan to benefit from automatic exchange of information for tax purposes with other countries that are signatories to the Convention. 

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

 
February 02, 2017 (PR No. 2013)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting regarding Companies Bill

The Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar,chaired a meeting today at the Ministry of Finance, regarding the draft Companies Bill, currently being considered by the Parliament.

Mr. Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan, Parliamentary Secretary for Finance, and Mr. Zafar-ul-Haq Hijazi, Chairman SECP, briefed the Finance Minister on the legislative progress of the Bill. They apprised the Minister of the fact that comprehensive discussions on all aspects of the Bill were being held in the Parliament in order to achieve wideconsensus on the Bill.

The Finance Minister said that any valuable guidance, suggestions and improvements from Parliamentarians which can help further improve the draft law are welcome. He urged SECP and Ministry of Finance to continue extending full cooperation to the members of Parliament in this regard. Hesaid that there is a strong need to promulgate the Companies Bill, in order to provide relief and incentives to the corporate sector, especially small and medium sized companies. He said that the thirty-two years old Companies Ordinance, 1984, needed to be revamped in order to provide an improved competitive legal framework for the corporate sector in Pakistan.

The meeting was also attended by Mr. Zahid Hamid, Minister for Law and Justice, and senior officials of SECP and the Ministry of Finance.

 
February 02, 2017 (PR No. 2012)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to discuss various reforms being undertaken to enhance the quality of audit

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting today to discuss various reforms being undertaken to enhance the quality of audit and capacity of the Audit Department.

Finance Minister stated that Audit is an important function for good governance as it plays a major role in enhancing transparency and ensuring accountability. He said that effective audit strengthens government efforts to eradicate financial irregularities and financial misappropriation.  

Auditor-General of Pakistan, Rana Assad Amin,  apprised the Finance Minister of the performance of the department and the various initiatives that have been taken in recent years to enhance the output as well as effectiveness of the audit function.  

The Auditor-General elaborated that output of the Department included 596 audit reports including 101 financial attests, 151 special audits, 133 foreign aided audits and 211 regularity audit reports. During 2015-16, 11,000 formations were audited involving an audited amount of Rs.9,477 billion. He highlighted that the reforms, based on the Department’s first ever Strategic Plan included improving financial and organizational independence, capacity building, development of communication and cooperation with stakeholders, use of modern audit techniques and technologies and improving internal governance. Operational reforms also include a paradigm shift involving re-introduction of risk-based auditing, focused on systemic issues.

Finance Minister was also briefed on the salient points of the legislation for Auditor-General’s Act, leading to greater financial and operational independence of the department.

The Finance Minister appreciated overall performance of the Auditor-General’s Department and its agenda on systemic reforms, restoration of soft image of the Department.  The 100% increase in recoveries effected by audit,

from Rs.40 billion in 2014-15 to Rs. 81 billion in 2015-16 were specifically appreciated.

The Auditor-General also apprised the Finance Minister about pension reforms, which were initiated on his directions in October 2015. He updated that out of a total of 26,00,000 pensioners, more then 7,00,000 cases have been converted to Direct Credit System (DCS) to facilitate smooth payments to pensioners. Pensioner’s form is now simplified from the conventional format of 9 pages to 3 pages. Finance Minister appreciated the progress of computerized mode of payment and processing of all new cases through DCS. He directed that rest of the pensioners drawing pension through the conventional mode may be converted to Direct Credit System in a prompt manner.

The meeting was informed that following Finance Minister's directions to facilitate the pensioners, especially widows, all ministries/divisions have appointed pensioner welfare officers as focal persons. Finance Minister further directed that pensioner welfare officers may be provided training by AGPR offices and that the banks may further improve pensioner’s facilitation by making proper seating arrangements as well as dedicated timeframe for attending the pensioners.

Additional Auditor-General and Accountant General of Pakistan Revenues and as well as other officials the Auditor General Department and Finance Division attended the meeting.

 
February 01, 2017 (PR No. 2011)

Country Director World Bank called on the Finance Minister

Country Director World Bank Mr. Patchamuthu Illangovan called on the Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here at the Ministry of Finance today.

The Country Director thanked the Finance Minister for extending his hospitality to the Chief Executive Officer of World Bank, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, during her recent visit to Pakistan. He conveyed the CEO’s appreciation to the Finance Minister and highlighted that the trip had provided her an opportunity to witness firsthand, the progress Pakistan has made in different sectors. He said that she was particularly impressed to see the Tarbela Hydropower Expansion Project, Restoration of historic Walled city in Lahore and Sindh Education Program. He further conveyed that she felt encouraged by the government’s efforts for strengthening the prospects of inclusive growth, particularly with a focus on energy reforms, financial inclusion, human development and social services.

   The Finance Minster expressed his best wishes for the CEO and appreciated the cooperation and support extended by the World Bank to the Government of Pakistan in achieving the objectives of socio-economic development.

 
 
 
 

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