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December 30, 2014 (PR No. 939)

Finance Minister chaired meeting of the sub-committee recommend ways and means to choke finances for terrorists and terrorist organizations

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday chaired meeting of the sub-committee formed by the Prime Minister to recommend ways and means to choke finances for terrorists and terrorist organizations. 

The participants including representatives of Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, FBR, SBP, SECP, NACTA, security agencies and legal consultants discussed all relevant issues and impediments with regard to investigation, information gathering about funding of terrorist activities. These impediments, they said in turn negatively impacted the process for award of exemplary sentences to terrorists. The meeting specially discussed the aspect of terrorist funding under the garb of charities, emphasizing fresh registration and fool proof monitoring of all such organizations. The meeting expressed deep concern on narco-trafficking which it thought was a potent source of terror funding. There was also emphasis laid on coordination with international agencies to curb financing for acts of terror. 

It was the consensus view that under the prevalent legal system, investigators i.e. police, FIA etc, rarely invoked specific provisions/clauses relating to funding of terrorism as contained in the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Anti Money Laundering law. The focus of security agencies is on nabbing the terrorist instead of looking for the sponsor which was the root cause of the problem. The meeting also observed that in fact the law enforcing personnel lacked proper training and knowledge to track /investigate terrorist financing channels. Further, there was no system to maintain consolidated data on prosecutions carried out by the law enforcing agencies which could be shared by these agencies, helping their investigation. The absence of proper legislation to regulate and monitor INGOs working in the country added to the problems faced by the security agencies and investigators, the participants noted. 

The Finance Minister at this juncture said, “Most importantly we need coordination between the federal and provincial governments and agencies to deal with the problem of terrorist financing. We also need cooperation from the general public to put and end to this problem.”  The Minister said there was also need to promote legal channels for transfer of money within and from outside the country and added “it will help us to completely discourage hawala and hundi system”. 

The Minister remarked that in the current scenario NACTA should assume the leading role in gathering and consolidation of data for use by law enforcing agencies. He said NACTA should be pro-active in countering terrorism and clearly state the help it requires in undertaking its official obligations. He also asked the participants to peruse international best practices and laws while finalizing their proposal on combating financing for terrorists and terrorist organizations.

The participants of the meeting put forth remedial measures to check and prevent financing for terrorism, also describing mechanism for their effective implementation. The Minister appreciated fruitful deliberations by the sub-committee and urged it to finalize recommendations which were practicable and could prove decisive in rooting out terrorist funding.  These recommendations will be presented to the Prime Minister along with proposals of other sub-committees for consideration.

 
December 29, 2014 (PR No. 937)

Dar shooting N's troubles from the front - The Nation

ISLAMABAD - When Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of 2008 Mumbai attacks, was granted bail by a local court earlier this month, western diplomats reached out to two top Pakistani officials to express their dismay. One call was made, inevitably, to Sartaj Aziz, the national security adviser. The second phone call went to Ishaq Dar, the federal finance minister. On the face of it, Dar would seem an unlikely figure for such a diplomatic outreach but so much is the influence and power of the finance minister that he is practically involved in every firefighting effort and power-brokering exercise of the government.

Whenever Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has to constitute a committee, whether it deals with issues of finance or politics, Dar is the first and only choice to lead. Dar spearheaded the prickly political negotiations with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf earlier in the summer when Imran Khan and his supporters staged a protest outside the parliament. Dar remained at the forefront of talks with political party heads after the Dec 16 attack on the Peshawar army school. Dar was present in Peshawar, alongside the premier, as political leaders huddled together in the immediate aftermath of the most brutal terror attack in the country’s history.

Ruling party leaders say Dar remains indispensable to the prime minister as he is not only the main architect of the government’s economic master-plan but has now emerged as the chief political negotiator of the ruling party. The rise of Dar on the political horizon has eclipsed the stature and diminished the utility of Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the interior minister, whose fortunes have been wavering in recent months as the government has stumbled from one crisis to another.

Dar proved his economic prowess when earlier this year, he managed to bring the exchange rate of dollar below Rs 100, making critics like Sheikh Rashid Ahmed eat a humble pie.

The finance minister is currently heading 60 committees, many of which are very important. He chairs the committee reviewing the situation on the import of LNG and the Spectrum Auction Advisory Committee for 3G/4G telecom licences. When the government decided to review the performance of officers posted abroad, Dar was asked to lead the scrutiny committee. He chairs the committee on allotments in New Secretariat Block. Dar also heads the committee reviewing the construction work at Bari Imam shrine in Islamabad. He also makes arrangements for the annual ‘urs’ at Data Darbar in Lahore. Dar even chairs the board of governors of Nawaz Sharif Kidney Hospital in Swat.

The wide tentacles of Dar have earned him many admirers and resulted in envy and resentment of some. Dar owes his prominence both to his ability and personality, according to interviews with his friends, acquaintances and government officials. Affable and warm, he manages to disarm even the harshest of critics.

“He is not stubborn, like some other party stalwarts. He is very flexible and accommodative,” said a PML-N leader. “This is the reason Ch Nisar and other leaders like Raja Zafarul Haq have slipped into the background.”

Even opposition politicians are not reluctant to express their confidence in the finance minister. Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the senior PTI leader, during one of his speeches to the protest sit-in had declared that the electoral reforms committee headed by Ishaq Dar can achieve the desired results.

“I would not comment on who is more able and who isn’t in PML-N but I must say that Ishaq Dar has a versatile nature, unlike others,” said Senator Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa. “I remember him as a technocrat but now he has learnt many things and acts like a seasoned politician.”
Dar has been running the finance ministry with the zeal of a reformer and stamina of a long-distance marathon runner. In the 38-member cabinet, Dar is the only minister who is seen working 16 to 18 hours a day. Media savvy and charming, he is not shy to attend to media queries about issues related to his ministry or of the government.

Critics say Dar, despite his warm demeanour and apparently accommodative overtures, remains fiercely territorial. Some party members have expressed frustration with Dar’s constant ‘interventions’ in other government ministries and departments. According to official sources, Enver Baig, the former chairman of Benazir Income Support Programme, threw in the towel due to irreconcilable differences with the finance minister over how to run the programme.
Dar has successfully leveraged his stronghold over the finance ministry and its pivotal role in connection with other ministries to strengthen himself. Most of the government projects get approval after a nod by the finance minister, officials say.

“Dar is the face of the prime minister,” said a senior politician. “Several issues of other political parties are resolved by the finance minister himself.”

“I think he should be given the title of deputy prime minister,” he said.

 
December 29, 2014 (PR No. 938)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting at the Federal Board of Revenue

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting this Monday evening with the FBR Officials.

Chairman FBR presented a detailed report as directed by the Finance Minister in the meeting held on Sunday evening regarding the benefit passed on to the general public on the petroleum products.

Chairman FBR in his briefing told the Minister that the government had incurred a revenue loss of 70 billion Rupees by this exercise.

FBR has been preparing a summary to be presented to the Prime Minister on the start of the New year stating what further benefit could be passed on to the consumer while creating a little fiscal space for the federal government to carry on with its funding for other PSDP programs.

The Finance Minister said “It does not mean that we will over charge the consumer; the benefit of the people of this country will still be our first priority but along with the consumer we are only trying to partially recoup the losses of revenue so far incurred. We hope that we will not disappoint the people and will also be successful in finding a little fiscal comfort for the federal Government and this finance will also be used in the best possible interest of the public”.

 
December 29, 2014 (PR No. 936)

US Ambassador Mr. Richard G. Olson called on Finance Minister

US Ambassador to Pakistan Mr. Richard G. Olson called on the Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar at the Finance Ministry this Monday.

Mr. Olson expressed grief and offered condolences to the Minister on the recent incident in Peshawar in which many precious and innocent lives were lost. The Minister said that this is one of the saddest incidents in the history of Pakistan but the Government has made a firm resolve that the issue of terrorism will be dealt with utmost force and on this issue the whole nation and political leadership has a consensus.

The US Ambassador also congratulated the Minister on the successful completion of 4th and 5th IMF review and taking the reserve to $15billion which has availed the Government the opportunity to become a member of IBRD and enjoy better Financial Packages.

Mr. Olson discussed with the Minister the Civilian assistance package under the Kerry Lugar Act. The Ambassador said that the congress has notified a $532m assistance package for Pakistan with its break up being given for different sectors like energy, defense against terrorism, economic growth, community building, education and health. The Finance Minister remarked that the government of Pakistan should spend a large amount of this assistance for the rehabilitation of the TDPs of North Waziristan Agency.

Mr. Olson also discussed the agenda for the expected visit of Secretary Kerry to Pakistan in January 2015.

The Finance Minister discussed with the Ambassador the speedy delivery of Boeing aircrafts which the PIA has to acquire to upgrade its fleet as restructuring the state asset is one of the important agenda items in the priority list of the Government.

The Minister told the ambassador that they are preparing for giving a briefing to the donors about the rehabilitation work being carried out for restoring the life of the Temporarily Displaced People of NWA and the Flood affectees.  The Minister said that the floods were unforeseen calamity that will surely have an impact on our growth projections but still we are hoping to recoup under the current circumstances.

The meeting was attended by Rana Assad Amin, Advisor to the Finance Division and Mr. Shahid Mahmood Khan, SA to Finance Minister and other members of the US team.

 
December 28, 2014 (PR No. 935)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting at the Federal Board of Revenue

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting at the Federal Board of Revenue this Sunday.

The Minister in the meeting directed the FBR officials to present an exact report on the relief so far been offered to general public on petroleum products, the revenue loss being incurred on this account, its impact on the budget and divisible pool and what measures they suggest to partially recover the losses.

FBR will submit a detailed product wise report on reductions so far being given to the consumers by tomorrow.

 
December 27, 2014 (PR No. 934)

Chairperson of CCP called on Finance Minister

The Chairperson of Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) Ms. Vadiyya Khalil called on the Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar this Saturday at the Finance Ministry.

The Finance Minister congratulated Ms. Khalil on her appointment as the new head of CCP and said that with her experience and extent of knowledge she will make valuable additions to the achievements of the Institute .

Ms. Khalil thanked the Finance Minister and sought guidance from him which could help her getting better results of the work done by CCP.

 
December 27, 2014 (PR No. 933)

Director General Strategic Plans Division (SPD) Lieutenant General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, called on Finance Minister

Director General Strategic Plans Division (SPD) Lieutenant General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, called on the Federal Minister for Finance this Saturday afternoon to discuss the financing mechanism of K2-K3 nuclear energy projects.

Secretary EAD and DG SPD gave a joint briefing to the Minister about the status of the project and what is the future plan to take this project ahead. The aforementioned energy projects will be a part of Pak-China Energy Corridor and will be jointly financed by China (EXIM Bank) and Pakistan in a ratio 82 and 18% respectively.

On a question made by the Finance Minister Gen. Hayat told the Minister that the project when completed will be the cheapest source of energy. This project will help a long way in overcoming the energy crunch which is experienced now by the country. It was also briefed to the Minister that the project will use very secure and highly efficient third generation equipment to make cheapest electricity.

The Minister appreciating the efforts of EAD and Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission in making a plan for this project said that” InshAllah we will take Pakistan where the rest of the developed world stands now. When we planned to build the Motorway it was considered ahead of time but now it has increased its value many-fold and if these energy projects are pursued as per planned we shall be able to meet the future energy requirements of Pakistan”.

The Minister directed that another meeting will be held in on the same projects next week in which all the relevant stake holders from EAD, Finance, SPD and PAEC will be invited to make presentations of the project details and what steps are to betaken by the GoP to help make this project a reality.

 
December 24, 2014 (PR No. 932)

ECC lifts duty on potato export, also allows sugar export

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday chaired meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet at the Prime Minister’s Office.

In supersession of its earlier decision (allowing export of 500,000 MT of sugar on 12th November 2014) the ECC approved export of increased quota of 650,000 MT of Sugar till 15th of May 2015. The ECC was informed that there are ample stocks of sugar available in the country (1,050,000 MT). These stocks are sufficient to meet the domestic requirements at consumption rate of 390,000 MT per month till March 15th 2015. In order to improve the liquidity position of the sugar mills, the ECC allowed inland freight subsidy @Rs.2/kg and cash subsidy @ Rs. 8/Kg on sugar exports. The total amount of subsidy will be Rs.6.5 billion which will be paid equally by centre and provinces. The ECC also imposed 20% regulatory duty on the import of raw and beet sugar and fixed minimum price for export to Afghanistan and Central Asian States at 450$ MT.  The chair directed that the notification to this effect may be issued immediately and also directed the concerned authorities that they should ensure that the Mills make timely payments to the sugarcane farmers.

On a proposal from the Ministry of National Food Security & Research the ECC lifted the 25% regulatory duty on the export of potato paving way for its export. The chair was informed that farmers had planted the crop on ten percent larger area this year and abundant yield was on the cards, surely creating a surplus. The decision would come into force w.e.f from 20th of December. The chair while allowing lifting of duty, with consensus of the house directed for formation of a committee comprising Secretary Commerce and Secretary National Food Security to closely monitor the market situation and keep the ECC updated regularly. “Interest of the local consumers is also to be kept in view”, Finance Minister remarked.

The ECC approved Ministry of Water and Power’s proposal regarding Modified Policy Framework for on-site private power projects based on interim gas supply with amendments as highlighted by Ministry of P&NR and FBR. The Federal Board of Revenue made it clear that no new SRO will be issued to facilitate the on-site power projects, however they may avail benefits under existing provisions. It was also agreed that to secure payment of gas supplies, sellers will provide a Bank Guarantee or standby letter of credit, equal to mutually agreed period’s payment of fuel component tariff, issued by a scheduled bank.

On a proposal moved by the Ministry of Water and Power, the ECC approved the proposed agreement between TPS Guddu (GENCO- II) and M/s Engro for use of 60MMCFD gas from Mari shallow by M/s Engro till December 2015 in lieu of gas booster compressors to be installed by Engro for GENCO-II.

On another proposal brought to the ECC by Ministry of W&P, the ECC approved public disclosure of “Pakistan Energy sector Reform-Quarterly Progress Report of Development Policy Operations”. ADB, Asian Development Bank, JICA and WB supported GOP’s initiative and developed a sectoral reform program through the Government of Pakistan. The plan covers tariff management, improvement of sectoral performance, incentivizing private sector participation and improvement of accountability and transparency. The program is spread over 5 years. The first quarter review of the program was presented to the ECC and the progress report was discussed in detail. ECC was informed that all tasks required under the program in first year have been successfully completed.

Earlier at the outset of the meeting, Secretary Cabinet informed that an Implementation Cell had been established at the Cabinet Division in line with the instructions of the Chair to ensure implementation of the decisions taken by the esteemed forum. The Finance Minister would be given an update on the implementation status at every ECC meeting, the Cabinet Secretary said.

 
December 24, 2014 (PR No. 931)

Finance Minister met with Banks Representatives

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday met senior representatives of leading Commercial Banks. Governor State Bank, Ashraf Wathra, Advisor Finance Division, Rana Asad Amin, Additional Secretaries of both Internal and External Finance and other senior officials were also present.

The meeting had a detailed overview of the PRI (Pakistan Remittances Initiative) expressing satisfaction on the steady increase in foreign remittances, specially eulogizing the contribution of overseas Pakistanis who were increasingly adopting banking channels to send remittances to Pakistan.  

The Finance Minister on the occasion said that transfer charges for remittances amounting to Rs 12 billion, accrued up to June 2014, would be paid to the Commercial Banks in accordance with their due share by July 2015. Out of this amount Rs 6 billion will be paid by January 2015 while 3 billion each would be paid in April and July 2015 respectively, clearing the backlog till June 2014. The Minister on this occasion also shared with the Banks officials, efforts of the government to boost the economy. He made special mention of achieving the USD 15 billion forex reserves target which makes Pakistan qualify as an IBRD member and becoming eligible for better financial packages.

Governor State Bank on the occasion impressed upon the banks to provide loans to private sector specially to SMEs. He expressed satisfaction on the growth of agricultural credit.

All the representatives attending the meeting thanked the Minister for facilitating payment of their shares in the transfer charges and giving a clear cut time line in this regard. They assured him of all out support in government’s efforts for economic development. They also congratulated the Minister on achieving the target of 15 billion dollar forex reserves.

PRI, it may be mentioned, is a joint venture of the Ministry of Finance and State Bank of Pakistan launched in 2009 offering incentives to overseas Pakistanis to remit their money through banking channels. Under the scheme, the Federal Government undertakes to pay transfer charges for remittances above 100 dollars sent through authorized banks and exchange companies as listed in the State Bank of  Pakistan. Ever since the launch of this scheme, the trend of sending remittances through hundi and havala has diminished and growth and improvement in banking services has been on the rise.

 
December 23, 2014 (PR No. 930)

Tajik delegation discusses wheat, sugar import with Finance Minister

A 5-member Tajikistan delegation led by Nurmahmad Akhmedov, Minister/Chairman Agency on State Material Reserves of Tajikistan, held a meeting with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, discussing matters on enhancement of bilateral trade relations, particularly immediate import of sugar and wheat from Pakistan. Nurmahmad Akhmedov also informed the Finance Minister that they had plans to import crude oil from Kuwait and avail refinery facilities of Pakistan before onward supply to Tajikistan.

Welcoming the delegation Ishaq Dar said the Tajik side could discuss modalities for wheat and sugar import with private sector trading companies/exporters. The government would provide all possible facilitation in this regard, he said, adding that the private exporters could export sugar or wheat with prior permission of the government. The Finance Minister said that the proposal regarding use of Pakistan’s refineries by Tajikistan for refinement of crude oil could be duly considered. Ishaq Dar also on this occasion mentioned the CASA-1000 project and hoped for its speedy progress which would  help resolve the energy issues of Pakistan.

Nurmahmad Akhmedov further said that Pakistan’s private sector companies were very active in Tajikistan and there were bright prospects of growth in trade and business linkages between the two countries. He said Tajikistan is a landlocked country which needs better connectivity in the region. Bulk of Tajikistan’s trade takes place through railways and partly by road through Afghanistan, Nurmahmad said and told the Finance Minister that Tajikistan looked to Pakistan for facilitation in transportation. Tajikistan also had plans to avail the facilities at Karachi and Gawadar Ports for trade, he said. He added that Tajikistan has been purchasing wheat, fertilizer and sugar from Pakistan and wished to continue that in future. The Tajik Minister said that with the realization of the Pak-Afghan-Tajikistan transit trade agreement, trade between these countries and in the region would flourish.

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar assured Mr. Nurmahmad Akhmedov of all possible support in the realm of furtherance of bilateral trade. He asked the Tajik Minister to send official proposal regarding import of wheat and sugar, stating all the requirements.

Prior to the start of discussion, the Tajik Minister and members of his delegation expressed heartfelt condolences over the tragic incident in Peshawar. Finance Minister, Isahq Dar thanked Nurmahmad Akhmedov and others members on this kind gesture.

 
December 23, 2014 (PR No. 929)

Finance Minister chaired the first meeting of the PDFL

The first meeting of the PDFL (Pakistan Development Fund Ltd), Board of Directors was held here on Tuesday with Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar presiding over the meeting as Chairman of the Company.

The inaugural meeting inter alia considered appointment of the first Chief Executive Officer of the company. The Board agreed on nomination of Dr. Waqar Masood, Secretary Finance as CEO of PDFL as an interim arrangement. The Board approved Rana Asad Amin, Advisor Finance Division as Director of the Company.

The Board also considered appointment of first statutory auditors to comply with the provision of Company Ordinance 1984.

The PDFL is a non-banking finance company which would provide financing for long term projects that are carried out on public-private partnership basis. Previously IPFF (Infrastructure Project Financing Facility) was established under Ministry of Finance which is now being re-activated in the form of PDFL. Like the previous facility, PDFL would endeavour to raise capital from capital markets to augment private sector financing.

The meeting was attended by Justice Mohammad Reza, Secretary Law & Justice, Secretary Planning and Development, Mr. Hasan Nawaz Tarar, Secretary Finance, Dr. Waqar Masood, Advisor Finance Division, Rana Asad Amin, Additional Secretary (IF) Mr. Abdul Akbar Sharifzada, Additional Secretary (EF), Shahid Mehmood and other senior officials.

 
December 22, 2014 (PR No. 928)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting On Drug Pricing Policy

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here on Monday chaired a meeting regarding the Drug Pricing Policy. The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Health Services, Ministry of Finance and Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan. The meeting was intended to take all stakeholders on board including Ministry of Finance so that a balanced policy could be framed.

Secretary National Health Services briefed the Minister about salient features of the draft policy apprising him about various formulas for price fixation including cost plus pricing, reference pricing, market based pricing and freezing of prices at existing approved level. He said prices of medicines in Pakistan on average are economical compared to other countries in the region including India and Bangladesh. He said the new policy meant to encourage the local pharmaceuticals and chalk out a mechanism that would ultimately link pricing of medicines with changes in CPI.

The Minister emphasized that pricing mechanism should be so devised that it ensures adequate supply of all essential drugs, protects interest of the customers while also taking cognizance of the requirements of pharmaceutical industry. “The pricing policy should maintain a balance between the interests of the industry and the customers”, the Minister remarked. The meeting expressed broad agreement on the silent features of the policy. Finance Minister said that improvements suggested during the meeting may be placed before Policy Board for its consideration.

 
December 22, 2014 (PR No. 927)

Finance Minister briefed on follow up action about decisions taken in Donors conference

The Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here on Monday asked EAD to firm up plans in consultation with relevant stake holders for rehabilitation of flood affectees as well as the TDPs.

The Secretary EAD along with other officials briefed the Minister regarding follow up activities with regard to the Donors conference held on November 11. He apprised the Minister that during the 2nd Donors conference it was agreed that for rehabilitation /assistance of TDPs, the existing MDTF(multi-donors trust fund) mechanism would be utilized and secondly, the ADB would come up with the plan  not only to address the current issues faced by flood affectees but also cater for the future requirements, specially flood prevention measures.

The Minister was informed that accordingly the MDTF meeting was convened on 8th December co-chaired by the Secretary EAD and the Country Head of World Bank. All the donors including the EU attended the meeting. There was also representation from the KP. The donors re-pledged their support for the TDPs and the meeting confirmed the use of MDTF as the mechanism for support to the TDPs. The Minister was further told that during this meeting, the donors were apprised about the estimated amount required for the TDPs. The donors while reaffirming their support said they would evaluate the estimates and return to the forum in due course. The next meeting in this regard is scheduled after the short winter break, Secretary EAD told Dar. The Finance Minister said that the estimates needed to be reviewed before being shared with the donors in the next meeting and the future course of action for rehabilitation of the TDPs be decided keeping in view the revised estimates which were around 1 billion dollars.

Regarding matters pertaining to flood affectees, the Minister was informed that ADB at the Donors conference last month had volunteered to suggest mechanism for the rehabilitation of  affectees and also emphasized developing future course of action, specially focusing on flood prevention measures. He said the ADB and World Bank’s combined team had visited flood affected areas in AJK and Punjab and conveyed estimates on rehab work to the Government of Punjab which had forwarded the same to EAD. The information was today shared with the Finance Minister, apprising him that ADB had accordingly been asked to take initiatives with regard to the Pakistan Fund for Disaster Management. The Minister said ADB should be made Trustee of this fund and it should lead the efforts for support to flood affectees. The focus of this fund is on measures for flood prevention and strengthening 
infrastructure for the same objective.

A high level meeting is to be held soon where all stake holders, donors would be invited and further steps for support to TDPs and the flood affectees would be decided, Secretary EAD informed the Finance Minister.

 
December 22, 2014 (PR No. 926)

As per directions of Finance Minister, EAD organized a special ceremony to commemorate the National Working Women's Day

As directed by the Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, the Economic Affairs Division here on Monday organized a special ceremony to commemorate the National Working Women’s Day.

In his message read out on the occasion, the Finance Minister said, “On National Working Day for Women, I would like to appreciate the efforts made by women for development and prosperity of the country and the nation. The role of women is now ever more imperative in all societies of the world”. The Minister said our Government is trying to ensure equal opportunities to women to excel in all fields of human endeavor. Our socio-economic development programs are designed in a way that women have equal representation in them and are also equal beneficiaries of these programs. PM youth Loan scheme and Qarz-e-Hasana scheme have equal provisions for women, the Minister added.

Earlier, Secretary EAD along with other participants cut a cake to mark the Day’s celebrations. He thanked all the guests for their active participation in the festivities. The participants among others included Ms Nargis Sethi, Ms Fauzia Saleem, Maleeha Lodhi, UN representatives and working women from different professions.

 
December 19, 2014 (PR No. 925)

Pakistan declared "Issuer of the Year" by IFR, Asia

Pakistan has been declared as the “Issuer of the Year” by the International Financing Review Asia (IFR Asia) in its Roll of Honour for the year 2014.

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar said that based on its successful return to international capital markets, Pakistan has been honoured with the title by the prestigious publication, IFR, Asia.

Pakistan re-entered the international equity capital markets through issuance of sovereign paper as well as divestment of shares. Pakistan tapped the international debt market twice during the year. In April, Eurobonds worth US $2 billion (US$ 1 billion of 5-year tenor with a markup of 7.24% and US$ 1 billion of 10-year tenor with a markup of 8.25%) were issued (after a gap of 7 years) while, in November 2014, Pakistan issued International Sukuk (after a gap of 9 years) worth US$1 billion with a tenor of 5 years and markup of 6.75%. Pakistan also successfully tapped the international and domestic equity markets by divesting government shares in United Bank Limited, Pakistan Petroleum Limited and Allied Bank Limited.

Established in 1997, IFR Asia is Asia’s most authoritative capital markets magazine and maintains the largest editorial team of any Asia capital markets publication, with analysts and journalists based in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo. While including Pakistan in its Roll of Honour, IFR Asia Review 2014 states that “Many Asian issuers raised funds with ease in 2014, but only one capped a remarkable turnaround with offerings in both the debt and equity capital markets. For putting itself firmly back on the global markets map, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is IFR Asia’s Issuer of the Year”.

The IFR Asia 2014 Awards ceremony is scheduled in February 2014 in Hong Kong, details of which are awaited.

 
December 19, 2014 (PR No. 924)

ECC approves $ 65 million to NBP, Bangladesh

The ECC here on Friday accorded approval for provision of $ 65 million worth of fresh funds to NBP, Bangladesh by NBP, Pakistan to rectify its capital shortfall. The amount in two tranches is to be remitted to NBP, Bangladesh till 31st January 2015.  Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar Chaired the meeting.

It may be added that the State Bank evaluated the proposal and recommended that NBP may be allowed to remit $ 65 million to NBP, Bangladesh from interbank market against regulatory capital shortfall of NBP, Bangladesh operations due to operating losses. SBP also recommended that provision of funds may be approved in two tranches. Accordingly the ECC has taken the decision.

The ECC on a proposal by the Ministry of Water & Power also approved the exemption from tax on profits/gains to Hubco Power Company’s Hubco Narowal Power Plant after its demerger as a new wholly owned subsidiary wherein all assets and liabilities related to the Narowal plant will be transferred to the new company under sections 284-287 of the Companies’ ordinance 1984.  

The chair during the meeting directed Secretary Cabinet to form a monitoring cell to pursue the status of implementation of all ECC decisions. The Finance Minister said,“it is in line with the policy of the PML-N government to expedite the process of economic development and that could only be possible if we implement what we approve.”

 
December 18, 2014 (PR No. 923)

Mitsubishi Delegation met with Finance Minister

A 4-member delegation of the Mitsubishi Corporation, led by Kimihide Ando, Chief Executive for Pakistan here on Thursday discussed with Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar matters pertaining to possible export of LNG to Pakistan besides enhanced Mitsubishi investment in Pakistan. Other members of the delegation included Mr. Kunihiko Sakaki, Mr. Hideki Matsubara and Mr. Kenzo Lijima. Mr. Imran Mirza Assistant General Manager, Mitsubishi Islamabad and Jawad Majeed, Manager Mitsubishi Karachi accompanied the delegation. 

The delegation at the outset conveyed heartfelt grief and sorrow on behalf of the Mitsubishi Corp. Japan over the tragic incident in Peshawar in which lives of innocent children were lost. The Minister thanked the delegation for the kind gesture saying the incident had only reinforced Pakistan’s resolve to eliminate terrorism and the whole nation stands united to put an end to this menace.  

Kimihide Ando informed the Minister that his visit to Japan next month was eagerly awaited as it would open new avenues of bilateral cooperation. He also hinted at increased Mitsubishi investment in Pakistan in future. Ishaq Dar said Pakistan appreciated Japan’s continued economic cooperation and hoped he would meet the Japanese leadership, senior government officials and top executives of prominent Japanese concerns including Mitsubishi with a view to enhancing all round economic cooperation, specially seeking investment in Pakistan.

The delegation also discussed possibilities of export of LNG to Pakistan by Mitsubishi’s subsidiary, Diamond Gas International. Finance Minister welcomed the proposal saying that Pakistan was facing energy shortage and already had plans to import LNG. He said the proposal from the Diamond Group would be accorded due consideration.

 
December 18, 2014 (PR No. 922)

Finance Minister chaired a high level meeting regarding recovery of outstanding electricity bills

As directed by the Prime Minister to resolve the issue regarding recovery of outstanding electricity bills, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar here on Thursday chaired a high level meeting asking NAB to resume the recovery exercise on fast track basis.

Chairman NAB, Ch. Qamar Zaman, Secretary Finance, Dr. Waqar Masood, Secretary Water and Power, Younus Dhaga, Advisor Finance Division, Rana Asad Amin and other senior officials attended the meeting.

The meeting observed that billions of rupees of electricity bills were unpaid to date, placing the national economy under tremendous strain. Both private as well as public sector entities and domestic consumers were among the defaulters. This situation could not be allowed to go on any further, the meeting agreed.

The Finance Minister asked the Chairman NAB and Secretary Water & Power to devise a well coordinated strategy for recovery of all outstanding bills in minimum time possible. The Discos would provide all relevant details to NAB through the Ministry of Water and Power. The Minister said instead of outsourcing recovery of bills to private companies, it was better to utilize the services of a well-established organization like NAB which previously was doing this exercise.

 
December 16, 2014 (PR No. 921)

Finance Minister Addressed Tax Reforms Commission Meeting

The Tax Reforms Commission’s second meeting concluded here on Tuesday with Finance Minister, Senator Ishaq Dar addressing the closing session.

The Minister at the outset said that he wanted the commission to bring forth an interim report on its deliberations and outline important proposals for consideration of the Government. He emphasized that significant recommendations by the commission would be reflected in the budget 2015-16 and therefore it was imperative for the commission to finalize its report before deliberations for the budget start.

Briefing the Minister, the Chairman Tax Reforms Commission, Masood Naqvi, said that the Commission had detailed deliberations on various aspects of the tax collection , public facilitation matters and administrative / structural changes required to revamp the  tax collection system as a whole. Six specialized committees, he said dedicatedly worked and held a number of meetings, maintaining close liaison and interaction in putting forth proposals for tax reforms. The areas the committees covered included tax policy, indirect and direct tax collection, border security/anti-smuggling measures, expansion of tax base and tax facilitation of tax payers. The Commission, Naqvi said met important business house, chambers of commerce, Pak Business Council, professionals, briefly speaking, all major stake holders. Mr. Naqvi said the next meeting would be held on 17th January and a week afterwards, recommendations of the Commission would be finalized. He said all the members of the commission take this opportunity to recognize the support offered by the Finance Minister and Chairman FBR, Tariq Bajwa in facilitating the commission in its routine work. “Our discussions have been very constructive”, Naqvi remarked.  He said there were a number of suggestions on the financial side. There are suggestions to decrease the overall number of taxes also, Naqvi added, saying these would be given consideration.

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar on this occasion gave a brief review of the government’s measures to set the economy on the right track, a fact which has been internationally acknowledged. He said, enhancement in revenue collection was also part of government’s vision for an economically strong Pakistan and reforms were meant to help achieve the objective. The Minister also added that the government had passed on the full benefit of the fall in oil prices to the consumers staving off the strong urge to use this benefit to lessen fiscal deficit or retiring circular debt. He wished the Commission well for formulating recommendations for reforms in the tax system.

 
December 16, 2014 (PR No. 920)

Finance Minister met with the delegation of K-Electric

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday met the 4-member delegation of the K-Electric (formerly KESC) which was led by Mr. Tabish Gauhar, Chairman. The Minister was briefed on the occasion about KE’s extensive USD 2 billion – 3 year Investment plan  envisaging expansion in power generation, transmission and distribution businesses.

The delegation apprised the Minister that KE was taking this initiative in the energy sector in line with the present government’s resolve to end energy shortage in the country. Unfolding key features of the plan, Tabish Gauhar said that USD 1 billion is earmarked for construction of a new 660 MW Coal-fired power plant. Its commissioning is expected for 2018, the Minister was informed. Similarly, USD 400 million shall be spent for conversion of 400 MW of existing “furnace oil” capacity into coal-fired plants. This plan is expected to be completed by June 2017. Another USD 100 million are to be incurred for conversion of 2 existing fully operational open cycle plants (220 MW and 180 MW GE JB) to combined cycle. Distribution plans include, in first phase, USD 270 million for 1,000 MVA transmission enhancement and rehabilitation project.

Ishaq Dar was also apprised that after years of incurring losses, the KE had earned profits and had plans for distribution of dividend of up to 15% to minority shareholders. This is the first dividend to KE shareholders after 20 years, the delegation apprised the Minister.

The delegation expressed the confidence that with the appointment of Mr. Tariq Sadozai, as Chairman NEPRA, Power Sector challenges will be addressed with a professional finesse. The delegation sought the Minister’s attention for resolution of various KE issues with NEPRA.

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar appreciated KE’s initiative in power generation, transmission and distribution sector. He said in view of the energy shortage, such an initiative was much required and the government fully supported this programme. He assured the delegation all possible support on resolving various issues faced by the KE.

Finance Secretary, Dr. Waqar Masood, Advisor Finance Division, Rana Assad Amin,  Additional Secretary, Azra Mujtaba, Additional Secretary, Tariq Pasha, Additional Secretary(EF) Shahid Mehmood and other senior officials attended the meeting.

 
December 16, 2014 (PR No. 919)

Death of School children in militants ambush, a national tragedy! Meeting of all political parties in Peshawar called! -- Ishaq Dar

Talking to media after the addressing the Tax Reforms Commission meeting here on Tuesday, the Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar expressed heartfelt grief and sorrow over the death of school children and staff in Peshawar. Terming the incident “a national tragedy”, he said it was time for the nation to unite under one banner and ward off the challenge posed by the militants.

The Minister said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was already in Peshawar and had assigned him the task to contact leaders of all the political parties for an emergent meeting in Peshawar on Wednesday. Dar said he had already initiated contacts in this regard. He said PTI Chief Imran Khan is also invited to attend the meeting. “This is a time for us to show unanimity on the nation’s cause to root out militancy”, the Minister said.  To a question he said that talks with PTI have been postponed in view of this tragedy.

Dar added when we took over reins of power, economy, energy and extremism were the main problems that stared us in the face. “We have taken reformatory steps to accord the economy the right direction. Prime Minister himself is leading the way forward to solving the energy issue. It is the challenge of extremism that we have to meet now. I take this opportunity to invite all the political leaders to the conference in Peshawar tomorrow”, Dar remarked. 

 
December 15, 2014 (PR No. 918)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review the strategy measures being devised by the M/o Commerce and M/o National Food Security for agricultural exports to Russia

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar here on Monday chaired a meeting to review the strategy measures being devised by the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of National Food Security for agricultural exports to Russia, tapping a sizeable chunk for Pakistan in the 16 billion dollar space created due to sanctions on food imports from European countries.

The Minister, it may be recalled last week had issued instructions to both these ministries to come up with a plan for agricultural exports.

The Minister today was briefed about the possible food products and the quarantine procedures available for these products to qualify for export.  The Minister in today’s meeting reiterated that quality assurance must be kept in mind before venturing into any plan for such exports. He said, “this is an opportunity that we must not miss to enhance overall exports and lessen our current account deficit.”  Dar added that he was highly encouraged after recent Pak-Russia IGC session where a number of Russian companies evinced keen interest to have business and trade with Pakistan. “We should properly inform our business people and traders about the vast opportunities available in the Russian market. Pakistani traders can diversify their export destinations, taking advantage of the opportunities for agri-exports to Russia”, Dar said.

 
December 14, 2014 (PR No. 917)

Finance Minister instructed newly constituted committee on sugar producers issues to finalize recommendations within three days

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar has given instructions to the newly constituted committee on issues facing sugar producers to have detailed deliberations on the problems faced by the sugar producers and formulate recommendations for consideration at the appropriate forum.

The Minister further directed the Committee to finalize its suggestions within three days in view of the difficulties faced by sugar millers. He said, the government watches for the interest of both the consumers and the producers while also attaching due importance to the sugarcane growers. A balance has to be maintained while formulating any proposal for alleviating the problems of the sugar millers, the Minister added.

The Minister, it may be mentioned ordered constitution of the said committee after meeting a high level delegation of Pakistan Sugar Mills Association at Lahore Saturday evening.

The committee comprises of senior representatives of the Ministry of National Food Security, Ministry of Commerce, FBR and the PSMA. The committee under instructions from the Minister is set to hold meetings from Monday.
 
December 13, 2014 (PR No. 916)

PSMA delegation met with the Finance Minister

A delegation of the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association led by its chairman, Mr. Sikandar Khan met Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Chief Minister, Punjab, Mr. Shahbaz Sahrif here on Saturday.

The delegation apprised the Finance Minister of the issues faced by the sugar millers in the country due to low prices of sugar in the local and the international market and the high cost of production.

The delegation requested the Finance Minister to help and facilitate the sugar producers for export of surplus sugar stock.

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar constituted a committee comprising representatives of Ministry of National Food Security, Ministry of Commerce, FBR and PSMA to discuss the issues in detail and suggest remedial measures for consideration at the appropriate forum.

The delegation thanked the Finance Minister for his due care and hoped that their issues would be accorded due consideration for finding remedies.
 
December 13, 2014 (PR No. 915)

Finance Minister stressed the need for early completion of Nawaz Sharif Kidney Hospital Swat, KPK

LAHORE, Dec 13 (APP): Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Saturday stressed the need for early completion of Nawaz Sharif Kidney Hospital Swat, KPK, to ensure better health services to kidney patients of Swat and catchment areas as early as possible.

Chairing a meeting of Technical and Finance Committee of the hospital project here at Model Town, Ishaq Dar said all the quarters concerned must put in their best efforts to make the hospital operational within four to five weeks.

The minister said state-of-the-art Nawaz Sharif Kidney Hospital was a splendid gift for people of Swat and adjoining districts of Khyber Pakhtun Khuwah.

Appreciating the project's stakeholders, he said the NSKH Swat was a welfare project and people donating generously for this cause were doing a great public service, adding that full transparency, quality and high standards were being maintained in the execution of the project.

Ishaq Dar, who is also chairman of the hospital's Board of Trustees (BoT), said that he would chair the BoT meeting on December 21, and asked all the departments concerned to get well-prepared so that a detailed report of the project could be put forth in that meeting.

Later, briefing the media, the Planning and Development Department Punjab, Chairman Irfan Elahi and Punjab Health Secretary Jawad Rafique Malik said that meeting discussed at length the construction, purchases of the equipment and other infrastructures of the project.

The P&D Chairman said that construction and finishing of the hospital building had been completed, while, all relevant surgical and IT equipment had been transported to the project site. He added that all the remaining equipment and fixtures would be installed soon after connectivity and supply of electricity to the hospital, which would be done within next two to three days.

To a question, Punjab Health Secretary said that best of best quality medical and surgical equipment and machines had transparently been purchased on the recommendations of a two-member senior doctors committee that was constituted for this purpose.

Jawad Rafique Malik said that the Project Rector appointed by the KPK government was well on board with all the relevant quarters.

To another question, he said that state-of-the-art 150-bed Nawaz Sharif Kidney Hospital Swat had adequate space for transforming it into a teaching hospital or construction of research center in future.

To a question, the Punjab P&D Chairman Irfan Elahi said that Punjab Hospitals Trust would bear all operational expenses and staff salaries of the hospital for first year and later, the KPK government would look after these affairs.
 
December 12, 2014 (PR No. 914)

CCOP approves strike price of Rs. 110 per share for divestment of ABL shares

The Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCOP) in its meeting chaired by Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar, here on Friday unanimously approved strike price of Rs. 110/- per share for divestment of GoP residual shares in Allied Bank Ltd. and also allocation of shares to successful bidders.  

Earlier PC Board in its meeting held on December 11, 2014 recommended the ‘Strike Price of Rs.110/- and allocation of GOP Shares to the successful bidders as specified in the Offer for Sale Document (OFSD). The CCOP consequently considered the recommendations of the PC Board early Friday and approved the ‘Strike Price’.

A total of 131 million shares were offered for divestment in the stock market. Against this, orders for 185 million shares have been placed, reflecting overwhelming interest of the investors.

Chairman Privatization Commission Mohammad Zubair informed the meeting that there has been a fine mix of local and foreign exchange component in the orders placed for shares. Against the strike price of Rs.110/- the orders placed are worth Rs. 14.4 billion inclusive of $ 20 million foreign exchange component. There has been encouraging response from home and abroad and the transaction has been completed in a record 19 working days, Zubair added. He further said that strike price of Rs.110/- per share translates into a discount of only Rs.2.76 per share to the closing price of Rs.112.76 on December 11, 2014, i.e. a minimal discount of 2.76% to the closing price on December 11, 2014. This is one of the lowest discounts offered for similar transactions anywhere in Asia over the last several years, Zubair remarked.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting on video link from Lahore which was attended by Khurram Dastgir, Minister for Commerce, Pervaiz Rashid, Information Minister, Chairman Privatization Commission, Muhammad Zubair, Secretary Privatization Commission, Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera, Secretary Finance.

 
December 11, 2014 (PR No. 913)

Finance Minister Lays wreath at shrine of Daata Ganj Bakhsh (R.A)

The 971st “Urs” celebrations of of Syed Ali Hajveri, Hazrat Daata Ganj Bakhsh (RA), commenced in Lahore on Thursday. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar attended inaugural ceremony of the 3-day celebrations, laying floral wreath at the shrine of Hazrat Daata Ganj Bakhsh and offering dua for the well being of Pakistan. He also inaugurated the traditional milk sabeel.

Punjab Minister for Auqaf and Religious Affairs, Ata Muhammad Manika, Punjab Food Minister Bilal Yaseen, senior officials of the Auqaf Department were also present.

Finance Minister on the occasion said our success lies in following the teachings of the sufis who played a great role in spreading Islam in the sub-continent.

Thousands of devotees from all over the country are participating in the celebrations with traditional zeal and fervour.

Hadrat Daata Ganj Bakhsh, the great sufi of the sub-continent was born at Hajver, a town of Ghazni in Afghanistan, in 1000 AD (400 H) and passed away in Lahore in 1063 or 1071 AD.

 
December 10, 2014 (PR No. 912)

Finance Minister urges Ministries of Commerce, Food Security to prepare strategy for agricultural exports to Russia

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar urged senior officials of Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Food Security and TDAP to urgently come up with plan for export of agricultural products to Russia aiming to enhance overall exports volume of the country and lessen current account deficit. He also called upon prospective exporters to take advantage of the ban imposed by the Russian government on agricultural imports from European countries.

Secretary, National Food Security and Secretary Commerce briefed the Minister on ways and means to enhance volume of agricultural trade with Russia and said they had already initiated measures to have export destinations in Russia for Pakistani food products. Finance Minister said Russia has been importing food items worth 35 billion dollars from around the world, particularly European countries and the ban on imports is creating a space of $16 billion which should be captured and “certainly we would like to have a share in this available market”, he remarked. Pakistan has a sturdy agriculture sector which contributes 21% share to the GDP. We can provide incentives to this sector to further prosper if we find new export destinations for our products, Dar remarked. 

Ishaq Dar directed the Ministries of Commerce and National Food security to coordinate and prepare a comprehensive plan identifying exportable food products, keeping in view whether surplus quantities and requisite quarantine arrangements were available. The Minister observed that quality standards should be considered in advance to ensure the success of the export plan. He emphasized that exports enhancement should not come at the cost of shortage for domestic consumers. Secretary Food responded that the export plan would take due cognizance of this factor. He also mentioned about a detailed programme for growth in agriculture with a view to enhancing agri. exports. He said surge in agricultural exports will encourage investment in the agriculture sector. The Minister said such a programme would be extended due consideration. 

Ishaq Dar further directed the Ministries concerned to prepare for the World Food Exhibition 2015 in Moscow and also arrange single country exhibitions to allure foreign exporters. Secretary Commerce at this juncture informed the Minister that Commerce Ministry was organizing seminars in Lahore highlighting export opportunities to prospective businessmen and traders.

 
December 09, 2014 (PR No. 911)

CCOP approves Floor Price of GoP shares in ABL

The Cabinet Committee on Privatization in its meeting chaired by Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday unanimously approved the floor price for divestment of GoP shares in ABL at the rate of Rs. 105/- per share.

The Privatization Commission Board, it may be added here met earlier today and considered the ABL pricing Benchmarks as presented by the LM & BR and recommended a Floor Price of Rs.105 per share to the CCOP which translates into a discount of Rs.9.69 per share to the closing price of Rs.113.69 on December 9, 2014, i.e. at a discount of approx 7.6% to the closing price of December 9, 2014.

The ‘Strike price’, i.e. price of ABL share determined/discovered on the basis of book-building, and at which price ABL share will be offered to successful bidders, will be determined after the completion of the Book-building exercise on Thursday December 11, 2014 at 1900 Hours and the same will be presented to the PC Board for consideration and approval. The decision/recommendations of the PC Board will subsequently be presented before the CCOP for consideration/approval.

Among others, Ministers for Information & Broadcasting, Pervaiz Rashid, Commerce, Khurram Dastgir, Petroleum and Natural Resources, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Chairman Privatization Commission, Muhammad Zubair, Secretary Finance, Dr. Waqar Masood and Advisor Finance Division, Rana Asad Amin attended the meeting.

 
December 09, 2014 (PR No. 910)

Finance Minister Addresses at SDPI Conference

Speaking at the 3-day Sustainable Development Conference with the theme "Pathways to Sustainable Development" held under the auspices of SDPI here on Tuesday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said Pakistan has undergone a remarkable economic recovery over a short period of time, which is widely acknowledged by independent analysts, particularly international financial institutions.

Talking about the key achievements in a short period of eighteen months of the government, the Minister said that economic growth which had averaged around 3% in the five years before our government has been estimated at 4.14% during 2013-14 as per the provisional estimates, compared to 3.7% in 2012-13.This is the highest growth in the last six years. Similarly per capita income which stood at US$ 1340 in 2012-13 increased to US$ 1386, showing a growth of 3.5%. He said inflation which had averaged around 12% in the five years before our government, was recorded at 8.6% for 2013-14, despite undertaking significant fiscal adjustment and enhanced tax effort; during October 2014, CPI recorded at 5.8% and during November 2014, it stood at 4.0% - the lowest level in 11 years. Dar said that FBR revenues which had registered one of the poorest performances in the recent past of a meagre 3% growth in 2012-13, were up by 16.44% in 2013-14. During July-November 2014-15, FBR revenue registered a growth of 12.7% over last year. The FBR revenue during this period recorded Rs. 901.55 billion as compared to Rs. 799.87 billion last year. Remittances were recorded at US$ 6.078 billion during July-October 2014-15 against US$ 5.276 billion in 2013-14, showing an increase of 15.21%.

The Minister added that the government had made other important achievements also  These include raising of US$ 2 billion through Eurobond after 7 years; raising of US$ 1 billion through International Sukuk after 9 years; successful auction of 3G-4G licenses. Nearly US$ 1.2 billion were raised and two more licenses are still available for auction. Then there has been  resumption of program lending by World Bank and ADB, that has enabled us to access some US$ 1.5 billion from these institutions during the year. He also hinted at construction of terminal at Port Qasim to import LNG, which will likely receive LNG soon.

The Minister said international think tanks and research groups have recognized Pakistan’s impressive economic turnaround in these past eighteen months. JETRO declared Pakistan as likely to be the 2nd choicest place for FDI; Goldman Sachs forecasted that Pakistan which is currently at 44th position would be world’s 18th largest economy by 2050; OICCI raised Pakistan’s index from negative 34 to positive 2; Moody’s raised our economic outlook from negative to positive; and in Neilsen’s Global Survey of Consumer Confidence, Pakistan’s index rose to 99 in the 1st Quarter of 2014 from the lowest level of 86 in the 3rd Quarter of 2011, Dar added.

The Minister said economic recovery and prosperity of Pakistan will play an important role in the region. We are keen to settle our disputes with India so that the two countries can focus on building economic relations. We are expanding our economic ties with China by building the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (CPEC) that will link Gawadar to Kashgar, both through railways as well as highways. In addition, MoUs have been signed with China for energy projects. In Afghanistan, we have supported the process of elections and welcomed the resolution of election dispute between the presidential candidates and eventual transition of power to new democratic government. We have also welcomed the signing of the US-Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) which, we believe, will contribute to stability in the wake of withdrawal of International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) from Afghanistan. Dar said likewise, Iran is a very important neighbour with whom we not only share a very long border but also like Afghanistan, strong cultural and religious ties. Pakistan will benefit immensely as it will pave the way for the construction of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, where India can also join eventually. We have concluded the 19th session of the Pakistan-Iran Joint Economic Commission and took a number of decisions aimed at closer bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

The Minister said apart from contributing to regional economy through cooperation with its neighbours and regional countries, Pakistan is actively promoting a number of projects that would enhance regional connectivity and joint exploitation of regional resources. Three projects are notable in this regard.  He said first, the CASA-1000 is the Central Asia South Asia electric power transmission project that will transmit already available surplus power to deficient countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The 1222 km transmission line, costing nearly US$ 1 billion will originate in Kyrgyz Republic and pass through Tajikistan and Afghanistan and terminate in Pakistan. It will supply 1300 MW of power, 300 MW for Afghanistan and 1000 MW for Pakistan. Second, he said we are the central part of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, which will supply natural gas from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Third, he said is the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) which is a partnership of 10 countries (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, China, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), supported by 6 multilateral institutions, working together to promote development through cooperation, leading to accelerated growth and poverty reduction. The priority areas of cooperation are transport; trade facilitation; energy and trade policy. Just a few months back, CAREC Ministers approved a US$ 23 billion Action Plan for undertaking regional connectivity projects in the priority areas in member countries, Dar remarked.

The Minister concluded by saying that given our strategic location and improved economic outlook, I have no doubt that Pakistan will play its due role in the region in furthering peace and prosperity.

 
December 08, 2014 (PR No. 909)

Finance Minister met with AJK Prime Minister

The Prime Minister of AJK, Chaudhry Abdul Majeed paid a courtesy call on Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here on Monday.

During the meeting matters pertaining to development projects in the AJK were discussed in detail.

Ishaq Dar on the occasion reiterated the government’s resolve to provide all out support for economic progress in AJK. The Minister also praised the programmes being undertaken by the AJK government for public welfare.

Prime Minister AJK acknowledged the keen interest evinced by the Pakistan government in the development works initiated in AJK. He also wished the Minister well for the outcome of Pak-Iran JEC meeting currently in progress in Islamabad.  

Advisor Finance Division, Rana Assad Amin and AS (EF), Shahid Mehmood Khan were also present in the meeting.

 
December 08, 2014 (PR No. 908)

Second Biannual Meeting of 7th NFC Award was held under the chairmanship of Finance Minister

The meeting of NFC was convened here on Monday to monitor the implementation for 2nd bi-annual period (January-June 2014) of Financial Year 2013-14. Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting.

The draft report was presented before participants of the meeting including provincial Finance Ministers, finance secretaries, respective provincial members and other senior officials. During the discussion after presentation of the report, meeting reiterated the need to broaden the tax base to increase the overall collection and also increase the tax to GDP ratio.

All the members after detailed deliberations unanimously approved the report for presentation to the Parliament & Provincial Assemblies.

According to the report, during the FY 2013-14, FBR reported a collection of Rs 2254.5 billion. The meeting was informed that out of this amount the shares given to the provinces are: Punjab (Rs. 637 billion), Sindh (Rs. 302 billion), KP (Rs. 202 billion) and Baluchistan (Rs.123 billion). In addition to this, the shares on account of royalties and grants provided to provinces are: Punjab (Rs 8.8 billion), Sindh (Rs 82.6 billion), KP (Rs 29.97 billion) and Baluchistan (Rs 14.9 billion).

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Finance Minister also announced that as per commitment of the Federal Government with provinces at the forum of CCI, Federal Government is providing Rs.999.922 million to Punjab, Rs.18.021 million to Sindh, Rs.1,015.976 million to KP and Rs.533.725 million to Baluchistan for the cash surpluses maintained with SBP by the provinces during the first quarter of current financial year 2014-15.

The meeting also had detailed deliberations on the reporting mechanism of the FBR. The Minister remarked that members were welcome to put forth suggestions and comments for modification in the system. There could be further discussion in this regard in future, he said.

 
December 08, 2014 (PR No. 907)

19th meeting of the Pakistan-Iran Joint Economic Commission

The 19th meeting of the Pakistan-Iran Joint Economic Commission commenceda here on Monday with Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar and the Iranian Minister for Economic Affairs & Finance, Dr. Ali Taieb Nia chairing the inaugural session. The meeting shall conclude tomorrow.

Before the formal inauguration of the session, both the Ministers had a meeting along with their respective delegations and resolved to take the economic relations a step further particularly focusing on trade promotion.

In his formal inaugural speech, the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said, “the top leadership of both the countries is serious in taking the relationship to a new level; we have endeavored to materialize what our leadership feels. We will not only try to expand the existing trade, economic and bilateral ties in other areas but also make efforts to stabilize them.”

Regarding the sanctions against the brotherly Islamic country, Finance Minister Dar said we support Iran on the International fora and argue with the world community to open trade with Iran on humanitarian goods. “At least export of food items to the friendly country should be on till the sanctions are relaxed”, the Minister added.

The Iranian Minister for Finance reciprocated the feelings and said that he was pleased to be in Pakistan to lead his side at the 19th JEC. He once again reiterated expansion in volume of trade between the countries in his address. He also expressed resolve to cooperate with Pakistan in the areas of energy import, transport and communication, mining, agriculture, health and banking sector development, through a comprehensive framework agreement.

During the technical session that started soon after adoption of agenda in the presence of both the Ministers, is set to take up the main items for discussion including review of the bilateral trade and proposals for its enhancement, review of tariff and non-tariff barriers hampering bilateral trade, opening of bank branches, revitalization of joint business council, visa facilitation for businessmen of Pakistan and lifting of ban on the import of fruits from Pakistan.

The JEC shall also consider the issue of banking problems with Iran due to sanctions imposed by US and UN etc. Discussion will be held on Iran Pakistan gas pipeline project( to expedite its implementation), up gradation of Quetta-Taftan railway track and improvement of Noshki-Dalbandin section of N-40 Highway.

On the Import of Energy from Iran, both the sides will discuss:

  • the import of 74MW power  from Iran for Makran Division, Balochistan,
  • Import of 100 MW from Iran to Gwadar,
  • Import of 1000MW of electricity from Iran for Balochistan and the national grid.

Discussion will also be held on pending MOUs and it is expected that out of the 12 MOUs under consideration four will be signed between the two countries during the current JEC.

Both sides have decided that a press briefing will be arranged on 9th of December after conclusion of the 19th JEC to announce the decisions taken in the meeting.

 
December 07, 2014 (PR No. 906)

Finance Minister reiterated that government was serious in talks with PTI

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here on Sunday reiterated that government was serious in talks with PTI and that he had called upon PTI leadership to defer its programme of public meetings but Imran Khan seemingly has decided to go ahead with the protests. The Minister said the talks could have begun on Sunday but added that how can both protests and talks go hand in hand. He was talking to media after addressing APNS meeting.

The government he said, is sincere as ever in its invitation to PTI for talks. The government duly cares for the process of economic consolidation in the country. It doesn’t want the people to suffer due to political unrest, he said.

To a question Dar said, the government had focused on foreign investment which is a key to economic development. Countries like China, India, Singapore have made great economic strides due to foreign investment. The sit-ins damaged the economic march forward. It has to be kept in mind that investors lose confidence if there is political commotion. We have to restore investors’ confidence which has been shaken due to the politics of dharnas, the Minister lamented. Further political unrest would be harmful to the economy, the Minister said.

Replying to another question, the Minister said, international observers had monitored the 2013 general elections and declared them free and fair. He said Judicial Commission can be formed in accordance with provisions of constitution. He said the Government already had the programme in mind to bring reforms in the electoral system as part of its manifesto, but has taken it up as a priority now.

On a question that Imran claims it is PTI's pressure that Government has decreased oil prices, the Minister said the government has decreased oil prices aiming at the good of the common man. The benefit of fall in prices of petroleum products, internationally has been extended to the people, it is nothing to do with PTI.   On a question that how the government looks at PTI's continued protests in Fasialabad and elsewhere despite invitation for talks, the Minister said we wanted that they defer the protests and come to the table of negotiation but PTI did otherwise. We stand by our invitation to PTI for talks, the Minister added.

Earlier addressing the APNS  meeting, the Minister outlined the priorities of the present government for economic development in the country. He said we took over reins of power in mid- 2013 amid echoes of predictions by analysts that Pakistan was nearing default and economic failure. International financial institutions had stopped business with Pakistan. We did not lose heart, the Minister said and by the grace of God led Pakistan through a period of turmoil and Pakistan is now considered the second choicest place for investment. Successful IMF 4th and 5th review along with fruitful launch of sukuk have added to our economic credentials. We are set to achieve the target of 15 billion dollar reserves by year end, the Minister added.

The Minister said on one hand we are doing all this for the country and on the other there is continued leg pulling which then nullifies all the hard work for economic progress. The media has an obligation to highlight the importance of economic development and emphasize that other considerations should be set aside. The Minister said all political parties should agree on a charter of economy and adhere to the cause of economic way forward.

The Minister specially said despite rapid advancement in electronic media, print media still enjoys its special place in the society and must play its role in its betterment.

On the issue of outstanding payments of advertisements to newspapers, the Minister said, there should be no laxity for clearance of outstanding bills. The Minister said even if certain dues related to a period of previous regime, the government in power has an obligation to look into the matter and resolve the issue. Every government should hand over a clean slate to the incoming government, Dar said.

The Minister received a standing ovation after his address and was requested by the APNS to make such a talk on economic issues a monthly feature.

 
December 07, 2014 (PR No. 905)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of all the economic ministries and related departments to review preparations for the Pak-Iran Joint Economic Commission Meeting

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here chaired meeting of all the economic ministries and related departments to review preparations for the Pak-Iran Joint Economic Commission Meeting on 8-9 December. Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar and Iranian Minister for Finance are the co-chair of the JEC.

The proposed agenda of the meeting was also discussed in detail. The Plenary session of the JEC will be held on Monday. A meeting between Finance Ministers of the two countries shall precede the JEC session setting the momentum for the two day discourse between Pakistan and Iran on enhancing cooperation in a broad range of areas including trade, economy, investment, industries, education, culture and tourism. Most importantly, Pakistan intends to explore possibilities for taking the trade cooperation to still greater heights.

The Minister directed the concerned Ministries to finalize their proposals for discussion encompassing all related aspects.

Pak-Iran economic relations, it may be added were formalized in 1984 with the establishment of JEC which to date has held 18 meetings while the 19th session is scheduled to be held on 8-9 December in Islamabad.

 
December 06, 2014 (PR No. 904)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review the situation on the import of RLNG

The Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting at the Finance Ministry on Saturday to review the situation on the import of RLNG.

The meeting took a detailed view of the availability of RLNG, its pricing for the power sector, costing and the mechanism for making the payments for the imported fuel.

The chair was briefed that about 400MMcfd of RLNG will be available to the country from April 2015. This import will help generating 1000MW of additional electricity and will provide stable system of base load for another 2000MW. On the other hand this will help reduce the price of electricity in the country along with saving $200 to $400 million annually from the import bill.

The Minister directed that the amount involved be ring fenced and proper mechanism for seamless payment be ensured.

The Minister, it may be added had been assigned the task by the Prime Minister to look into the matter regarding pricing of LNG and other related issues. According a meeting was held today to review the matter. Further discussion on this issue will take place in due course.
 
December 06, 2014 (PR No. 903)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to settled all necessary matters regarding import of solar power panels and related equipment

A meeting chaired by Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here on Saturday settled all necessary matters regarding import of solar power panels and related equipment.

Senior representatives of the Ministry of Industries & Production, Engineering Development Board, FBR and Ministry of Finance had detailed deliberations on the matter. The Minister was informed that the EDB under the aegis of the Ministry of Industries met local manufacturers and importers ascertaining their views on the issue of import duty and sales tax.

The EDB was of the view that the local manufacturing is limited and lacks the required international certification and standards. The use of solar panels has just started picking up and it is in the interest of reducing the extraordinary load on existing supply of power and reduction in the load shedding to promote the use of solar panels as an alternate source of electricity. Accordingly it was decided that the duty and sales tax regime applicable to an industry that does not have local production will be applicable to solar panels.

The Prime Minister, it may be added had assigned the Finance Minister the special task to look into the matter and settle all issues concerning import of solar panels. Accordingly, the Minister called an urgent meeting of related departments today to settle all issues.

 
December 06, 2014 (PR No. 902)

Finance Minister chaired ECC

The Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet on Saturday at the Prime Minister’s Office.

ECC on a proposal moved by the Aviation Division, approved in principle release of first tranche of $ 16.46 million for December out of the total $ 52 million requested by Pakistan International Air Lines for the induction of 15 aircrafts in its fleet on dry lease. This amount will be injected as equity by the GOP. PIA shall complete all codal formalities in this regard, fully adhering to the procurement rules. ECC has constituted a committee comprising Secretary Finance, Chairman SECP and Secretary P&NR to analyze financial statements/projections before the second tranche is released. PIA will revert to ECC after 20th December when the amount granted has been fully exhausted for the fresh installments which will be paid on monthly basis as per requirement.

The chair directed PIA authorities to inform the forum at least 2 weeks before the actual payments are due so that the timely release of funds is made possible.

The Committee also approved the establishment of Inland Container Terminal in Sialkot under the Customs Act 1969. The addition of one more inland container terminal in Sialkot would not only provide facilitation to exporters but will also improve services because of healthy competition, the ECC was informed.

ECC also approved the allocation of gas from existing and new gas fields as requested by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources. According to the approved plan 30MMcfd additional Adhi gas is to be allocated to SNGPL enabling it to meet its existing contractual obligations. 01 MMCFD Gopang gas & 02 MMCFD Nim-01 gas respectively is allocated to SSGCL. The consistent decline in the level of gas production from the existing fields has triggered a huge gap between demand and supply of gas on natural gas distribution system. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources is vigorously pursuing LNG import and transnational gas pipeline projects which will help sustain supplies to the system.

Finance Minister on this occasion reiterated that proposals submitted to the ECC must properly reflect the financial implications of the projects and encompass all related aspects.

 
December 05, 2014 (PR No. 901)

Finance Minister addressed at "Seminar to Mark World Competition Day"

Chairman Competition Commission of Pakistan,
Distinguished participants and guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Assalam Alaikum and Good afternoon,

Let me at the outset congratulate the Competition Commission of Pakistan for organizing this seminar to mark the occasion of the World Competition Day. I am happy to see representatives from the government, regulators and various sectors of the economy gathered under one roof. Your presence in this seminar shows the significance of the occasion.

On this day, our effort should be to spread awareness among the public on the benefits of a competitive market structure as well as the harmful effects of anti-competitive behaviour at all levels - national as well as international.

I took part in preparation of the Competition Law in 2007. I am impressed by the progress that the new organization has made creating a pro-competition environment in the country and the Competition Commission of Pakistan needs to be congratulated for this. Given that the Competition law is still new in Pakistan, it is very important to create awareness about this law and the benefits of competitive markets to the economy as a whole.

This day is marked annually to create awareness on the importance of competition for our economy. I have observed from the seminar programme that you have discussed two very relevant topics today - "Unfair trade practices and loss to consumer welfare" and "Public restraints and its impact on competition" are very relevant to the occasion.

As to the second topic, let me apprise you that the Government has initiated a project to review all SROs and to phase them out gradually. The Government is fully cognizant that certain SROs, whereby preferential and/or concessionary rate of duty on imports and other regulatory duties are given to certain parties, create an uneven playing field and distort competition. Loss to the industry through such preferential treatment is far graver than the benefit to any individual.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In this globalized world, where nation states are interdependent, both politically and economically, it is not possible to survive and sustain without cooperation with other nation states. Promulgation and effective enforcement of competition laws is Pakistan's international obligation under GATS, SAFTA, UNCTAD and a host of other bilateral trade agreements.

The aim of our Government's economic policies is to generate economic growth and to ultimately enhance consumer welfare. One of the tools for achieving this is a healthy competition regime. Such a regime ensures that certain unscrupulous elements do not take advantage of consumers.

To achieve the goal of accelerated GDP growth, the present Government is clearly focused on providing economic and development opportunities to grass-root level segments while ensuring equal opportunities for all. These segments include youth, women, farmers, and small entrepreneurs. In past, these segments have not been fairly compensated for their hard-work and commitment due to lack of sufficient opportunities. 

The Government’s initiatives to improve market structure and efficiency through modern infrastructure (i.e. energy generation, roads, hospitals) and innovative technologies (licensing 3G/4G spectrum) are aimed to address the constraints to growth and create a conducive and competitive environment for investments. This growth will create jobs for lower income people, facilitate poverty alleviation, and promote human capital development. Eventually this will benefit all the sectors of the economy including the marginalized segments whose participation and ownership in the country’s economy is critical in achieving sustainable development.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Competition results in lower prices and more choices for consumers, it fosters innovation, promotes entrepreneurship and helps prepare domestic firms for international competition. There is no doubt that our products cannot be competitive in the international market without free and fair competition domestically.

Competition also sends a positive signal to foreign investors. When foreign investors observe that the government is serious in implementing the competition regime, meaning that it will not be providing domestic entities with preferential treatment over others, they will be confident about investing in Pakistan.

Under the Competition Act 2010, the Competition Commission of Pakistan is mandated to ensure free competition in all spheres of commercial and economic activity; enhancing economic efficiency and protecting consumers from anti-competitive behaviour.

A difficult task indeed and one that it cannot fulfill without the support of the government. Government support would mean ensuring the independent functioning and autonomy of the Competition Commission of Pakistan.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Enhancing consumer welfare and poverty reduction requires a holistic approach. For example, our monetary policy may aim to manage the rate of inflation, however, the efficacy of this policy can be thwarted by cartelization in certain sectors which would artificially raise prices for consumers. Therefore, it is imperative that the competition watchdog is empowered to fulfill its statutory role.

Bringing government policies in line with the competition law is also important and we must work with the Competition Commission of Pakistan to ensure that our policies are pro-competitive or at least competitive-neutral. CCP has been active in informing Government as to the adverse effects of certain Government policies not conducive to competitive environment and the Government has reacted affirmatively and speedily wherever possible.

Our government has resolved that there will be supremacy of law. In all its functioning, the government is endeavouring to ensure merit, transparency and competition. The provisions of various relevant laws and rules, including those related to procurement, are being strictly adhered too. We are aware that proper functioning of public procurement enhances the economy of the country by generating demand and consumption.

Efficient procurement means to procure best possible goods and services at the lowest prices. Thus, vigorous competition amongst suppliers helps this objective. Conversely, anti-competitive activities cause adverse economic implications such as loss of efficiency and diversion of money away from development programmes.

In the end, let me reiterate the resolve of the Government to work towards an economically stable Pakistan by adhering to the tenets of transparency, good governance and open competition. The role of Competition Commission of Pakistan is very important in achieving the Government’s aim and we support CCP and its leadership in the discharge of their statutory mandate.

Thank you all!

Pakistan Paindabad!

 
December 05, 2014 (PR No. 900)

Member European Parliament met with Finance Minister

Member European Parliament, Mr. Nirj Deva and Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here on Friday discussed avenues for furtherance of bilateral economic cooperation, particularly focusing on development of energy and social sectors in Pakistan.

Ishaq Dar apprised Mr. Nirj Deva about the economic measures taken by the government to achieve sustained economic development and acknowledged EU’s assistance for Pakistan, making special mention of the award of GSP plus status which he said would help enhance the country’s exports. He said the present government attaches due significance to overall economic development with focus on infrastructure development, women empowerment, youth welfare and promotion of education as key areas of the social sector. He said he has been advocating his proposal for a charter of economy which calls for according priority to economic development in the country over all other considerations.

The Minister welcomed proposal from Mr. Nirj Deva for financing of projects in Pakistan by the European Investment Bank which specially offers finances on energy sector development, an area where Pakistan is totally focused presently.  Both sides also agreed to work on the proposal for having a Pakistan-EU Joint Chamber of Commerce. Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar said that the idea would be beneficial for enhanced Pak-EU trade and business relations. Mr. Nirj Deva suggested to send a team to take up with the EAD officials, proposals for possible cooperation.

 
December 05, 2014 (PR No. 899)

Finance Minister addressed the participants of the 16th National Security Workshop on the topic "Economic Policy of Pakistan" at NDU

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar addressed the participants of the 16th National Security Workshop on the topic “Economic Policy of Pakistan” at the National Defense University on Friday.

Addressing the participants the Finance Minister said that fiscal consolidation, Power Sector Reforms, Gas Sector Reforms, Privatization Programme, Debt Management Strategy and Monetary Management are our top priorities. Discussing the macro-economic stability plan for the next three years the Minister said, we have clearly set our targets. We shall take the GDP growth rate to 7%, industrial growth to 8%, fixed investment to GDP ratio to 22%, fiscal deficit(as % age of GDP) 4%, public debt(% of GDP) under 57% ,and inflation under 8%. We will also bring tax to GDP ratio to 15%, exports to$32 billion, foreign direct investment to $5.5billion and we have a commitment to take the foreign exchange reserves to $ 20 billion by the year 2017-18, the Minister added.

Deliberating on how these targets would be achieved, the Minister said the above can be achieved through democratic governance which requires supremacy of the Constitution and rule of law in order to reduce corruption, avoiding tax evasion, wasteful expenditure and misuse of power. We wish to follow sound macroeconomic policies to reduce fiscal and current account deficits, curb inflationary pressures and increase foreign exchange reserves. The Minister emphasized full exploitation of the technological potential in industry, agriculture and information technology and optimum utilization of the country’s physical and economic resources for a better economic future of the country.

Ishaq Dar made special mention of National Power Policy 2013-18. He said it focuses on improved governance structure, supportive legal framework, financial sustainability, supply-demand side management and promoting private sector participation in the sector. He said implementation of this policy will help improve the governance and financial viability of power sector.

Concluding his address, the Minister said Pakistan is a nation of 180 million strong, hard-working and intelligent people capable of occupying a respectable position in the comity of nations. However, Pakistan has had many failed attempts to break out from the vicious cycles of on-and-off process of economic development in the last 67 years. The first and primary element of our vision is to permanently break the vicious cycle, and to put the economy on a sustainable path of economic prosperity.

A large number of guests including parliamentarians, senior civil and military officials, business leaders and members of the civil society attended the work shop.

 
December 05, 2014 (PR No. 898)

WB Director met with Finance Minister and felicitates him on successful launch of Sukuk

A delegation of the World Bank led by Ms Satu Kristina Kahkonon, Director, met Finance Minister Ishaq Dar here on Friday.

Welcoming the delegation, the Minister Finance Minister Ishaq Dar thanked the World Bank for approving Country Partnership Strategy (CPS 2015-19) which is aligned with the Government’s economic development agenda/priorities i.e. transforming the energy sector; supporting private sector development; reaching out to the vulnerable/poor; and leveraging regional markets. He also appreciated the Bank for approving financing of CASA-1000 and Dasu Hydro Power Projects for Pakistan, which will help reduce electricity shortages and play a vital role in economic growth of the country. The Minister acknowledged Bank’s support of US$1 billion for Development Policy Credits for Fiscally Sustainable and Inclusive Growth and Pakistan’s First Power Sector Reform Development Policy Financing.

The Minister on this occasion expressed commitment for continuous reforms in the areas of energy; taxation and revenue mobilization; private and financial sector development; financial inclusion; secured transactions framework; and expansion of social protection. He also appreciated effective administration of Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa/FATA and Balochistan. The Minister said Pakistan looked to WB’s support on energy sector development and construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam.

The visiting delegation felicitated Finance Minster Dar and his whole economic team on the successful 4th -5th review with the IMF and launch of Sukuk, Islamic Bonds, bringing strength to the national economy. The delegation also congratulated Ishaq Dar on the headway made regarding the CASA-1000 during his visit to the USA. Director, Satu Kristina said it is all a reflection of the effective economic policies adopted by the present government. “Its indeed a tribute to the government’s commitment to reform”, remarked Rachid Benmassoud, Country Director, World Bank who accompanied Satu Kiristina on the occasion. He said it sends a positive signal to the economic market.

Satu Kahkonon at this juncture remarked that with Pakistan achieving the 15 billion dollar forex reserves mark, Pakistan will become IBRD partner. She also referred to the meeting between MD World Bank, Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif where the former delivered a WB President’s letter to PM Nawaz Shairf reiterating  support to Pakistan with regard to flood affectees and IDPs besides offering assistance for polio and other immunization programmes in Pakistan.

Director Satu Kahkonon hoped for active interaction between Pakistan and the WB aiming at future cooperation.

 
December 04, 2014 (PR No. 897)

Finance Minister met with the visiting delegation of Asia-Pacific Regional Review Group (AP-RRG) of FATF

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar met the visiting delegation of Asia-Pacific Regional Review Group (AP-RRG) of FATF here on Thursday. The delegation which was led by Mr. Gordon Philip Hook, Executive Secretary Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APGML) is currently undertaking onsite visit to Pakistan to assess the implementation level of anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime of Pakistan. Other members of the delegation included Kate Emma MacuMullan, Financial Crime Section/Criminal Law Enforcement, Australian Government’s Attorney General’s Deptt, Sabina Minjung Kook, Policy Advisor US Deptt of Treasury and Kristen Alma, Senior Policy Analyst, Deptt of Finance, Canada.

The Minister welcoming the delegation said Pakistan is fully committed to continue interaction with the international and regional bodies on AML/CFT and implement all recommendations of FATF through a continuous and efficient process. Pakistan, he said has taken a number of steps aiming to fully comply with RRG Action Plan as agreed in June 2010(revised in 2011).

He said Anti-money laundering Ordinance (AMLO) was promulgated with subsequent amendments and finally the law was enacted as an Act of Parliament in the form of AML Act 2010. The Minister said it is being reviewed and revised to further align with international standards. He added that in accordance with the FATF requirements, serious fiscal offences are being identified for inclusion as Predicate Offences under AML Act 2010. Further, to meet FATF requirements on Terrorism, amendments have been enacted in Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 in March 2013 and June 2014. The Minister made a special mention of financial management unit (FMU) which is fully functional and performing its core functions of receipt, analysis and dissemination of financial intelligence reports to relevant agencies. The delegation was also informed that to identify and mitigate risks and vulnerabilities on ML/TF, Pakistan has agreed for carrying out National Risk Assessment with the assistance of World Bank in 2015.

Ishaq Dar also briefed the delegation about Operation Zarb e Azb in North Waziristan which he said manifested Pakistan’s resolve to eliminate terrorism. He said that elimination of terrorist activities would help curb financing of terrorism.

Mr. Gordon Philip on this occasion said that the delegation had a fruitful meetings with a number of senior officials so far, receiving feedback on implementation regarding RRG Action Plan and steps taken by Pakistan to combat financing of terrorist activities and counter money laundering. In the Asia-Pacific region, Pakistan has done the best as far as formulation and promulgation of laws on anti-money laundering were considered, he added. Implementation on Action Plan is very also very effective, he said. Mr. Gordon said his team would prepare report regarding implementation on action plan which would be shared with Pakistan before submission to the Financial Action Task Force in Paris in February 2015. 

Secretary, Finance Dr. Waqar Masood, Advisor Finance Division, Rana Assad Amin, AS(EF) Shahid Mehmood and other senior officials attended the meeting.

 
December 04, 2014 (PR No. 896)

High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Pakistan, Air Chief Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody called on Finance Minister

The High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Pakistan, Air Chief Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody called on the Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Thursday.

The Finance Minister welcomed the High Commissioner and said that the feeling of friendship is shared by both the sides and we would like to expand it further.

The Sri Lankan Envoy while talking to the Minister put forth a proposal for Pakistan to invest in housing and infrastructure Projects in Sri-Lanka as many other regional investors are also making investment in this sphere. The Minister said was a proposal worth consideration and he would like Pakistani investors to expand their horizons.

Mr.Weerakkody also discussed the current political situation of the country with the Finance Minister and said that the diplomatic community supports democracy in Pakistan.

Finance Minister extended to Mr. Weerakkody his best wishes for the upcoming presidential elections in Sri Lanka and said Paksitan would continue to work with Sri Lanka in future to promote mutual goodwill and cooperation.

The meeting was attended by Rana Assad Amin, Advisor Finance Division, Shahid Mehmood Khan, SA to Finance Minister besides Senior Officials of Economic Affairs Division.

 
December 04, 2014 (PR No. 895)

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

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) here on Thursday.

ECNEC considered and approved two energy generation projects with the combined capacity of 75 MW on a proposal moved by Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and GB. The 40 MW Dowarian Hydro Power Project and 35MW Nagdar Hydropower project will be located in district Neelum, AJK and will be executed and operated by AJK Hydroelectric Board. The first project has total cost of Rs.5973.390 million and will be completed in 3 years. It is expected that the project shall generate  annual income of 1258.95 million after its completion. The Hydropower project will be connected by laying 45km, 132 kv transmission line from Dowarian to 35 MW Nagdar hydro power project. The second one has the total cost of 6845.055 million rupees  which will be completed in  4 years and shall yield  annual income of Rs 1076 million after its completion. Both these projects will generate electricity on economic rates for the uplift of the area.

The proposal by Pakistan Audit Department on a project for improvement of financial reporting and auditing (PIFRA) Phase II, 2nd revised project was approved by ECNEC after detailed deliberations. The project has an estimated cost of Rs.10335.367 million including FEC of Rs. 8930 million a world bank/IDA loan. The project has the scope of modernizing government’s audit procedures and adopts internationally accepted auditing standards, which completed in Dec, 2014.

The Livestock and Access to Markets Project ( LAMP) Punjab was also approved by ECNEC. The Project has will cost Rs.3852.863million. It will be sponsored by Livestock and Dairy Development Department, Punjab. This project will strengthen the beneficiary communities including vulnerable women, private sector players and live stock and dairy development Department. After execution, the project will bring 50% increase in the net income of the targeted households and cause 50% and 33% decrease in mortality of cows/buffaloes and small ruminants respectively by the end of the project.

ECNEC also approved in principle the Construction of Havelian-Thakot (120.12km) road as phase I of Islamabad –Raikot section of China-Pak Economic Corridor. Ministry of Communication had moved the proposal for this project which has a total cost of Rs 95410 million. The project’s execution agency is NHA. The construction of the project will significantly enhance the potential for increased international trade between the neighboring countries and the central Asian developing countries.

ECNEC considered and approved Green Line Bus Rapid Transit System from Municipal Park Saddar to KESC power House Chowrangi Surjani, Karachi at a total cost of Rs. 16085.10 million. The project by Ministry of Communication, envisages construction of 17.80 km long 2-lane dedicated signal free Bus Rapid Transit system at Karachi. JICA has conducted a detailed feasibility of the project and this corridor, after completion, shall benefit 400,000 passengers per day. Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar said, the project was a gift from the Prime Minister to the people of Karachi as it was being undertaken on his initiative.

The proposal by Ministry of Defense for procurement of six Maritime Patrol Vessels (MPVs) for Pakistan Maritime security Agency at Karachi ship yard & Engineering Works/ foreign builders Shipyard with the total cost of Rs.13871 million was also approved by ECNEC with the condition that the boats will be procured on concessional credit with prior approval of terms and conditions of loan by the Ministry of Finance.

Another proposal by Ministry of Railways for the Special Repair of 100 diesel Electric Locomotives (DELs) was approved by ECNEC which will cost Rs. 4967 million. After repairs the locomotives would further improve freight and passenger service of Pakistan Railways.

 
December 04, 2014 (PR No. 894)

Parliamentary Committee on appointment of CEC sends its recommendations to Prime Minister

The meeting of the parliamentary committee on the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner has held here Thursday with Senator Malik Muhammad Rafiq Rijwana in the chair. The meeting was attended by the elected members of all political parties barring PTI.

The meeting had a detailed discussion on the panel of three names, i.e. Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan, Justice Tariq Pervez Khan and Justic Tanveer Ahmad Khan, sent to the committee by Secretary National Assembly to be considered for the slot of Chief Election Commissioner. These names it may be added have been finalized with due efforts by the Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and on his behalf by Senator Mohamamd Ishaq Dar, Minister for Finance in consultation with Leader of Opposition Syed Khursheed Ahmad Shah. The Finance Minister later had consultations with all political parties in government and in opposition including PTI regarding proposed panel of names. There was agreement on these names.

The committee after detailed deliberations recommended the name of Sarder Mohammad Raza Khan for appointment as Chief Election Commissioner and forwarded its recommendation to Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif for further due process. The Prime Minister is to issue advice to the President in this regard and later a notification to this effect will be issued.

Senator Malik Mohamamd Rafiq Rijwana on this occasion lauded the efforts of leader of the opposition Syed Khursheed Shah and Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar in taking into confidence and actively seeking opinion from various political parties to develop consensus. He said that the Prime Minister had desired that both the opposition as well as the government should present a common list of nominees. He further said that recommendations of the parliamentary committee augur well for future of democratic institutions in the country. He hoped that with the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner, the Election Commission would actively undertake its constitutional responsibility and other related functions.

 
December 03, 2014 (PR No. 893)

Ambassador of Iran called on Finance Minister

Ambassador of Iran, Ali Reza Haghighian called on the Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday.

Mr. Haghighian discussed with the Finance Minister the upcoming visit of the Iranian Minister of Economy and Finance, taking place on 8th and 9th of December. Both sides also discussed the tentative agenda of the meetings scheduled during the visit.

Finance Minister talking to the Ambassador said that the visit will help in enhancing economic cooperation between the two countries. He added that we welcome any suggestion and proposal from the Iranian side to enhance bilateral trade and economic relations. Any pending issue which needs resolution will be handled on priority basis, remarked the minister.

Finance Minister also said that he was very positive about success of the Joint Economic Commission as leadership of both the countries is serious in resolving issues and taking steps for better cooperation. “We would like to support Iran on International fora in a bid that there is greater interaction between the international community and the brotherly Islamic country. This could go a long way in facilitating energy imports by the energy crunched world”, added the Minister.

Meanwhile the Finance Minister has called a meeting of all relevant ministries and departments on Saturday to prepare for the upcoming visit of the Iranian Finance Minister.

The meeting today was also attended by Secretary Economic Affairs Division, Mr. Saleem Sethi, Advisor Finance Division, Rana Assad Amin and SA to Finance Minister, Shahid Mehmood Khan.

 
December 03, 2014 (PR No. 892)

Executive Secretary, APGML met with Finance Minister

The 5-Member Asia-Pacific Regional Review Group (AP-RRG) is visiting Pakistan to assess the implementation level of anti money laundering and combating financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime of Pakistan.

In this regard, Executive Secretary, APGML (Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering) Mr. Gordon Hook had a preliminary meeting with Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday. They had general discussion on AML/CFT regime of Pakistan.

Finance Minister on this occasion said that Pakistan has undergone mutual evaluation by APG in 2009 and made all out efforts to align its anti-money laundering & combating financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime with international standards. Pakistan has fully complied with the FATF Action Plan agreed in June 2010 (Revised in 2011) and shared its progress on the Action Plan on regular basis to the satisfaction of the international body. He said Pakistan is fully committed to continue productive interaction with the relevant international and regional bodies on AML/CFT and implement all recommendations of FATF (Financial Action Task Force) through a continuous and efficient process.

Mr. Gordon Hook appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in countering money laundering and combating financing of terrorism and said that among SAARC countries, Pakistan’s performance in this realm was the most praiseworthy. He said he was looking forward to the regional review group meeting on Thursday where Pakistan’s efforts and role in AML/CFT would be discussed at length. 

Secretary Finance, Dr. Waqar Masood, Advisor Finance Division, Rana Asad Amin and AS(EF) Shahid Mehmood attended the meeting.

 
December 02, 2014 (PR No. 891)

Finance Minister Press Briefing Handout

Download Finance Minister Press Briefing Handout

 
December 01, 2014 (PR No. 890)

Finance Minister for elaborate arrangements on Data Gunj Bukhsh Urs

Federal Minister for Finance and Chairman Religious Affairs Committee Data Darbar Senator Ishaq Dar has directed the police and Auqaf department to make elaborate arrangements during three days of Urs of Hazrat Data

Gunj Bukhsh (R.A) from December 11 to 13.

He was presiding over a high level meeting of Religious Affairs Committee of Hazrat Data Gunj Bukhsh shrine here on Monday.

Punjab Minister for Auqaf and Religious Affairs Ata Muhammad Manika, Secretary Auqaf Hassan Muhammad Rizvi, Zonal Administrator Auqaf Rashid Ahmad Khan, Khateeb of Data mosque Mufti Ramzan Sialvi, senior police officers, representatives of city district government, Sui Gas, LESCO, Lahore Waste Management Company, Health and other departments were also present. 

The minister was briefed about the schedule of programmes and other related arrangements for three days of Urs.    He reviewed the agenda of Auqaf department and issued necessary directions to ensure fool proof security and safety at the premises of shrine. 

He directed the Police, Auqaf and Rescue 1122 to revise Emergency Plan including entry and exit points to counter any untoward incident. Dar directed the Auqaf officials to install modern security system at various points of the shrine besides a control room which will work round the clock under the supervision of Police personnel. 

He also directed the police authorities to deploy additional force at the control room and across the shrine during three days. 

He said that transparency should be ensured at every cost in the expenses and maximum facilities should be provided to the visitors.

 
 
 
 
 

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