Press Releases/Media
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January 29, 2015 (PR No. 982)

Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah called on Finance Minister

Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah called on the Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar here on Thursday.

Admiral Zakaullah said that the Prime Minister has given clear instructions to spare no efforts in eliminating extremism from the country and deal with iron hand with those who disrupt peace in the country. It is the firm resolve of the Defense Forces and political leadership to work in unison to restore the feeling of security in the masses.

Admiral Zakaullah praised the efforts of the Finance Minister in building the economic standing of the country in the international markets. He further said that economic sovereignty of a nation is very important. Economically stable countries have better negotiating powers at the international fora and the current leadership is working hard to achieve this aim.

The Finance Minister said that the economic uplift of the country and its people is his top priority. He and his team had been working hard to project a better image of the country in the international markets. He said that despite problems the current leadership is making sincere efforts to remove system inefficiencies and resolve issues in best possible manner.

The Finance Minister acknowledged the services and sacrifices of the Defense Forces for the security of the country and discussed briefly other issues related with the training and capacity building of the Pakistan Navy personnel.

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

 
January 28, 2015 (PR No. 981)

Finance Minister visits Saudi Embassy to condole demise of King Abdullah

The Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar visited Embassy of Saudi Arabia Wednesday morning to condole the sad demise of King Abdullah.

In a meeting with the Saudi Charge d' affaires, Jassim Bin Mohammad Al Khaldi, the Minister expressed heart-felt grief and sorrow over the passing away of Saudi king. He said the late king was a great leader and a supporter of Pakistan. He has rendered great services for the religion, the Muslim Ummah and Pakistan. “Late King Abdullah was a great believer in inter-faith harmony and presented before the world the true picture of Islam as a religion of peace and moderation", the Minister remarked. The Minister further said that with the death of King Abdullah, Pakistan had lost a great friend. “He always helped Pakistan and provided assistance in the hour of need".

The Minister prayed that May Allah Almighty rest the departed soul in peace and grant fortitude to the bereaved family, the Saudi nation and the whole Muslim world to bear this loss. His services for the Muslim world will be written in golden words, the Minister added. The Minister also on the occasion recorded his impressions in the Condolences Book.

Saudi Charge d’ affaires, Jassim Bin Mohammad Al Khaldi thanked the Minister for the  benign gesture, expressing the hope that Pak-Saudi ties would be further bolstered in future under the new Saudi leadership.

Later in an exclusive talk with the Saudi TV, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar extended warm felicitations to the newly crowned King, Salman Bin Abdul Aziz. He said that like his predecessors, King Salman was a great statesman and a man of vision. “I am sure he would prove to be a great friend of Pakistan”. 

 
January 28, 2015 (PR No. 980)

Press Release

Finance Minister, Senator Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday said Pakistan and Japan had a long history of economic cooperation and that he was now looking forward to furtherance of this cooperation with enhanced Japanese investment in Pakistan as pledged during his visit to Japan. “The inauguration of state of the art Yamaha motorcycle plant in April, would also add another chapter to our economic cooperation”, the Minister said.

The Minister, along with Japanese Envoy, Hiroshi Inomata was talking to media after the signing of two Japanese grant agreements and exchange of notes. Under the agreements, the Japanese Government has extended a grant of Yen 1,934,000,000 (US $19 million) to the GoP for Improvement in Security Arrangements in Port Qasim, Karachi Port and Energy Saving in Water Supply System In Lahore. The Japanese Ambassador, Hiroshi Inomata and Secretary EAD, Saleem Sethi signed the two project agreements while notes containing details of the implementation of the two projects were simultaneously signed by Mr. Kawasaki, Chief Representative of JICA and Syed Mujtaba Hussain, Joint Secretary EAD.

The Minister went on to say that his visit to Japan was very productive as the senior leadership including the Japanese Deputy PM, all key institutions like JETRO, JBIC, JICA and CEOs of prominent companies resolved to have enhanced economic engagement with Pakistan. He welcomed the signing of the two agreements this morning which he said were another step towards consolidation of Pak-Japan economic ties.

Japanese Ambassador, Hiroshi Inomata said he had received positive feedback on the Finance Minister’s visit to Japan but there was need to actively follow up  on the decisions taken during his meeting with Japanese side. He said the Japanese government was extending USD 16 billion to developing countries from 2013-15 on environment related issues. The grant approved for Pakistan (Energy saving for water supply system, Lahore) today also formed part of this assistance.  The Japanese Ambassador today once again denounced acts of terror saying “they were outrageous”. He said the Japanese government also had a resolve to help Pakistan in the war on terror. He said the assistance provided today (security improvement in Karachi, Bin Qasim Ports) would help improve security clearance system at the Karachi and Bin Qasim Ports. This is part of our support to Pakistan to curb terrorism, the Ambassador added.

 
January 27, 2015 (PR No. 979)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting with EAD officials to review the State of Foreign Assistance

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday chaired a meeting of EAD officials to review the state of foreign assistance from WB, ADB, USAID, Govt. of Italy, JICA DIFID and other development partners for various projects in the spheres of energy, transport and rehabilitation of TDPs. Senior Finance Division officials were also present.

At the outset of the meeting, follow up action on decisions of the last Donors conference was discussed at length. The Minister expressed satisfaction on operationalzation measures by WB, ADB and other development partners to help out flood affectees and TDPs.

Thereafter, the Minister was apprised that World Bank and ADB had a projected 1.5 billion and 1.68 billion USD assistance respectively earmarked for Pakistan for the year 2015. Both these institution would disseminate this assistance to different sectors in line with the policy of Pakistan Government, attaching due importance to energy and infrastructure rehabilitation in the areas affected by war on terror/anti-terror operation. There would be a quarterly review of the utilization of this assistance, the Minister was informed.

A special briefing was also arranged on the occasion about the Kurram Tangi, a high priority Power Project, also in the affected areas which is part of rehab activities for TDPs, the Minister was informed. A monthly monitoring mechanism has been agreed to keep a watch on the progress of work on this project in consultation with the donors i.e World Bank, USAID and Govt. of Italy.

 
January 27, 2015 (PR No. 978)

Finance Minister apprises Japanese Envoy about outcome of his visit

Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Inomata paid a courtesy call on Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday.

The Minister shared with the Japanese Envoy, outcome of his meetings with Japanese leadership, CEOs of prominent companies and other important personalities during his just concluded visit to Japan. He mentioned about Toyota Motors plans for enhanced investment and Yamaha’s future venture for launching a modern motorcycle plant in Pakistan on 27th April. Dar at the same time also appreciated Japanese government’s intent to invest Yen equivalent of USD 850 million in the Lakhra coal power project. The Minister said, he had briefed the Japanese leaders and CEOs of various companies about the turnaround in Pakistan’s economy which had been possible through a sustained reforms agenda. He said marked recovery in its economy had enlivened the interest of Japanese companies to invest in Pakistan. He added that during meetings with their senior officials JICA and JBIC expressed renewed interest to invest in Pakistan. He thanked the Japanese Ambassador for facilitating the visit which helped in apprising Japanese leadership about the the opportunities for prospective investors.

Mr. Inomata conveyed to the Minister gratitude of the Japanese leadership for undertaking this visit, which he said would serve as a new beginning in bilateral economic cooperation. He said that invitation to the Japanese Prime Minister to visit Pakistan was being accorded active consideration. He affirmed strong interest of the Japanese side to invest in the Lakhra coal project. He also informed the Minister that on Tuesday he would be signing with EAD, grant agreements on two projects i.e Energy Saving in Water Supply System in Lahore and Improvement in security systems at Port Karachi and Port Qasim. (The ceremony would be held in the Ministry of Finance in the presence of the Finance Minister,Ishaq Dar). He hoped that the momentum for enhanced engagement that had been created with the Finance Minister’s visit to Japan would be maintained in future.

 
">January 26, 2015 (PR No. 977)

Finance Minister Addressed Customs Day Ceremony

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar while addressing World Customs Day ceremony on the theme, “Coordinated Border Management”, organized by FBR here on Monday said Pakistan Customs has made great strides in the recent years in achieving better visibility with its partners, including the international organizations, the business community, the development partners and other international trade stakeholders. Yet there is still a need, he said, for enhanced coordination between all stakeholders to facilitate trade, without compromising the security of supply chain.

The Minister expressed the confidence that, in line with this year’s theme, Pakistan Customs will strive for a better and more effective service delivery, cheaper transport costs, less waiting times, lower infrastructure improvement costs, wider sharing of information and intelligence as well as strengthened connectivity between all stakeholders.   Ishaq Dar added that being fully aware of the importance of coordinated border management, the FBR has been working proactively on the issue. “We, as a responsible member of the international community, have already established national contact points to share and disseminate relevant information for a better and coordinated management of our borders”, Ishaq Dar remarked.

He said that Pakistan is going through a critical phase. Effective management of our borders is of prime importance at this critical juncture of our history. It is high time that we take steps in the right direction to meet the challenges that we are facing today. He said that Pakistan Customs can play a vital role in the economic growth of the country, by facilitating the international trade while guarding its economic frontiers at the same time. “As Chairperson of the Steering Committee for launching Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) in Pakistan, I am pleased to share that we are doing our utmost to make the government’s vision of making Pakistan a trade hub in the region a reality”, Dar said.

The Minister remarked, “our challenges are great but our resolve is even greater.” Pakistan Customs has an important role to play in taking forward the theme of coordinated border management. In this, we also need the whole hearted cooperation from our partners and stake holders. I am confident that the desired organizational goals can be realized through improved coordination and information sharing by all the partners.

Concluding his address, the Minister congratulated the officers and officials of Pakistan Customs on International Customs Day and gave away souvenirs to retired and serving Customs officers/officials for their outstanding services.

Earlier on arrival at the venue, the Minister was received by Chairman FBR, Tariq Bajwa, Member Customs, FBR Nisar Mohammad Khan and other senior officials. He was presented guard of honour by a smartly turned out customs security contingent.

 
January 25, 2015 (PR No. 976)

Finance Minister apprised on Pak-Brunei's investment programmes

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here on Sunday chaired a briefing session by MD, Pak-Brunei Investment Company, seeking details of its present investment/financing profile and immediate future plans.

Pak Brunei Investment Company, is an Investment Finance Company established as a joint venture between Government of Pakistan and Brunei Investment Agency (BIA) that commenced operations in August 2007. The Company has active platforms for Project and Lease Finance, Corporate Finance & Advisory Services, SME Finance, Private Equity, Trust Services, Capital Market Operations, and Fixed Income Trading & Distribution activities.

MD Ayesha Aziz informed the Minister that the company started operations almost 8 years ago with a capital of Rs. 3 billion. The company has a current equity of Rs, 9 billion. In October 2014, Company’s first SME branch was inaugurated in Lahore. Pak Brunei established an independent Small and Medium Enterprise division in 2012 that provides leasing services, a viable and affordable alternative to traditional loans in the SME sector. 

Responding to query by the Finance |Minister on the Company’s future programmes, the MD said Pak-Brunei plans to increase its SME footprint across various regions of the country. She said the Company was in final stages of launching a modarba fund as its special future venture. The First Fund based on PE model will be established by March 2015. Pak-Brunei also has plans for establishment of specialized vehicles for warehousing/collateral management.

Finance Minister appreciated the company's 100% recovery ratios particularly in SME financing and handling projects facing financial distress. He hoped Pak-Brunei would continue to expand its financing and investment programmes in Pakistan.

 
January 24, 2015 (PR No. 975)

Finance Ministry Spokesman Clarifies reports on SBP Policy Rate Announcement

The spokesman of the Ministry of Finance here Saturday evening said that the decision about policy rate by SBP was taken at about 2 P.M today. It is important to note that is responsibility of the Secretary Finance to apprise the Finance Minister about the decisions of SBP Board of Directors after conclusion of its meeting.

As customary, the Secretary Finance informed the Finance Minister about the decision on policy rate after conclusion of the SBP Board of Directors meeting today.  The Minister in turn shared this information with the media at 4.00 P.M during his press conference.

Some media have reported that the Finance Minister announced the policy rate while the meeting of the SBP Board of Directors was still on which is misleading as the said meeting had already concluded at 2 P.M. The Finance Minister announced it at 4.00 P.M.

 
January 23, 2015 (PR No. 974)

IFC / World Bank Board has accorded approval for financing the 108 MW Gulpur Hydropower Project to be located at Poonch River, District Kotli, AJK

The IFC / World Bank Board has accorded approval for financing the 108 MW Gulpur Hydropower Project to be located at Poonch River, District Kotli, AJK.

A high level delegation of the IFC/World Bank here on Friday met the Finance Minister having in depth exchange of views on various WB sponsored development projects.

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar lauded the WB Board’s decision regarding the Gulpur Power project which he said was part of government’s efforts to generate affordable energy to meet the future requirements. He appreciated WB’s continued support for different projects specially the 4,200 mw Dassu Hydropower Project which he said would greatly help alleviate the energy problem. The Minister further said that as Pakistan had become eligible for IBRD economic package after achieving the 15 billion dollar forex reserves mark, there would be further expansion in WB’s project funding in Pakistan.

Another World Bank team earlier had a meeting with senior officials of the Finance Ministry Friday morning. During the meeting the performance of the National Income Support Programme was discussed. The delegation expressed satisfaction on the improved NISP performance saying fiscal discipline enforced by the present government had led to the improved functioning of NISP. The delegation hoped that with increased funding NISP would better reach out to poor segment of the population.

 
January 23, 2015 (PR No. 973)

ECC approves export of 1.2 million tons of wheat, Bans import of wheat by-products

The Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here today taking important decisions.

At the outset of the meeting, Chairman ECC, Senator Ishaq Dar expressed his deep sense of shock and grief over the sad demise of King Abdullah and along with other participants offered fateha for the departed soul. He paid rich tributes to the late King Abdullah saying that he was a great friend of Pakistan who was always there to offer support in the hour of need. “His services to the Muslim Ummah would always be remembered”, he remarked.

Taking up the regular business thereafter, ECC approved export of 1.2 million tons of wheat out of the surplus stocks available in Punjab and Sindh. Accordingly, Punjab will export 800,000 tons while Sindh has been allocated export quota of 400,000 tons of wheat. Punjab will get a subsidy of $55 per metric ton for export while for Sindh this subsidy would be $45 per metric ton. Taking notice of unhindered import of wheat byproducts, the ECC also issued instructions for immediate ban on their import.

The ECC considered a proposal moved by the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions and approved the provision of 30,000 tons of wheat to the United Nations World Food Program for distribution among Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs) of FATA and KP, catering for the period up to March 2015. The ECC also observed that in case of further requirements, SAFRON could revert to the forum with a fresh proposal.  

ECC considered and approved Ministry of W&P’s proposal on policy to attract private sector investment in transmission line projects with the inclusion of upfront tariff as an option. NEPRA is empowered to grant license authorizing the licensee to engage in the construction, ownership, maintenance and operation or specified transmission facilities on specified terms and conditions in the public interest.

The ECC also accorded approval for the extension of GSA between OGDCL and Fauji Kabirwala Power Company Limited (FKPCL) for provision of 20 mmcfd of  gas at the earliest possible but not later than 1st February till the time LNG is made available to the company for power generation. At its maximum generation capacity utilization the plant will generate157 MW of electricity.

ECC approved Issuance of Policy directive to NEPRA to build in costs incurred by the power sector into the tariff without affecting the end consumer.

ECC also approved the re-lending of the buyer credit loan to PAEC as per actual terms and conditions available to the Government of Pakistan. Based on the above approval, the revised rate comes to 9% comprising actual cost of loan and exchange rate risk.

 
January 22, 2015 (PR No. 972)

Permanent Representative Designate of Pakistan to the United Nations Dr. Maleeha Lodhi called on Finance Minister

The Permanent Representative Designate of Pakistan to the United Nations Dr. Maleeha Lodhi called on the Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar this Wednesday at the Finance Ministry.

Dr.Maleeha Lodhi informed the Minister that she will soon leave to assume charge of her new responsibilities. The Finance Minister acknowledging her services for country said that she has performed a wonderful service for the country and with her wisdom and experience she will help in building a good image of the country at the international forum.

Dr. Lodhi said that she wants his guidance and support. The Minister said that she will always get his support in her mission to represent Pakistan effectively in the international community.

 
January 21, 2015 (PR No. 971)

Finance Miniser chaired a briefing session to review the overall public debt situation in the country

Finance Miniser, Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday chaired a briefing session to review the overall public debt situation in the country.

The meeting discussed the present challenges and the future strategy regarding public debt.

The meeting also had detailed discussion on ways and means for reducing the debt to GDP ratio as well as the cost of debt retirement.

The Minister on this occasion issued instructions for revamping of the Ministry’s Debt Policy Coordination Office. He also directed for establishment of an IT based data bank containing inputs from SBP, EAD and Finance Division for better debt management.

 
January 21, 2015 (PR No. 970)

Finance Minister held a meeting with delegation of CSAIL (China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Ltd)

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar held a meeting with delegation of CSAIL (China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Ltd) in follow up of meeting with IFC delegation (on January 19) and discussed matters pertaining to enhanced engagement of CSAIL in power projects in Pakistan.

The CSAIL Board Chairman briefed the Minister about the over 6 billion dollars worth of solar, wind, wind-solar hybrid and hydro power projects, seven in all, (total 3000 MW) that his company is already undertaking in Pakistan. He said CSAIL has already taken up investment in projects on the Jhelum river and now desires to work on projects upstream on river Indus and has a plan to facilitate power generation up to 4000 megawatt in long run.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar appreciated the investment by CSAIL and said he welcomed the company’s plan to expand its operations beyond the already undertaken projects to make CSAIL a sustainable entity in power sector in Pakistan. He said Pakistan was now diversifying its energy mix and moving from furnace oil and diesel to LNG and hydro based projects with an aim to provide electricity to consumers on economical rates in future. He assured the delegation of all possible support to the company in its future ventures.

Both sides agreed to have further deliberations to pinpoint possible projects for investment by CSAIL and also to discuss conditionalities in this regard.
 
January 20, 2015 (PR No. 969)

Finance Minister chaired a briefing session on Privatization Commission

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday chaired a briefing session by the Privatization Commission  which outlined the future programme of privatization of key public entities.

Chairman Privatization Commission, Mohmmad Zubair informed the Minister that in the immediate future, Privatization Commission would focus on divestment of GoP shares in HBL and Discos besides some other SoEs. He said that codal formalities for the same including appointment of advisor for Discos are being undertaken. HBL financial advisors are already appointed, he added.

The Finance Minister said that the divestment should be carried out in a transparent manner with completion of due process. He directed the PC to reconvene in a few days for further deliberations on divestment of Discos and HBL.

 
January 19, 2015 (PR No. 968)

IFC Delegation met with Finance Minister

Executive Vice President and CEO, International Finance Corp. (IFC) Jin Yong Cai has said IFC would keep financing infrastructure and energy projects in Pakistan and also consider investment in hydropower generation.

A high level IFC delegation led by Jin Yong Cai is visiting Pakistan on the invitation of the Finance Minister which met him here on Monday discussing important matters on cooperation in various areas.

At the outset of the meeting, the visiting delegation offered heartfelt condolences on the tragic incident at Army Public School Peshawar. Minister Ishaq Dar said the incident had only added to the resolve of the Pakistani nation to wipe out the scourge of terrorism. He said Pakistan had lost thousands of lives in the war on terror and the economic losses crossed 100 billion dollars. The continued war on terror had caused displacement of a large number of people in the tribal areas and the government needed resources for resettlement of TDPs.  

While seeking IFC’s extended support mainly in energy and infrastructure sectors, Ishaq Dar reminisced the last meeting with IFC in 2013 where among other matters, launching of Pakistan’s Global Rupee Fund was also discussed. The Finance Minister said IFC had not since indicated its response on this fund and that the matter should be expedited. The Finance Minister also invited the IFC to consider providing finances for the recently launched Pakistan Development Fund which was mainly meant for infrastructure development projects.

The Minister briefed the IFC delegation about his recent visit to Japan where he had assurance from the Japanese side for enhanced investment in Pakistan.  He said a state of the art Yamaha Motorcycle plant would start production in April. He also informed the IFC delegation that Japan would provide funding worth 850 million dollars for the Lakhra Coal power project.

Mr. Jin Yong Cai apprised the Minister that IFC had an equity in CSAIL (China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Limited) which had actively taken up energy projects in Pakistan and would consider taking up hydropower projects. Mr. Cai said IFC would convey its position on the launch of Global Rupee Fund, agreeing that the matter had been pending for quite some time.

The Chairman Privatization Commission, Mohammad Zubair on this occasion briefed the IFC delegation about the privatization process undertaken by the government and apprised him about the twenty five key projects selected for privatization in future. He said the Privatization Commission would welcome IFC’s advisory support in this regard. Mr. Jin Yong Cai said IFC would certainly consider providing advisory service for the privatization process.

IFC, it may be added to date, has committed over $ 5.2 billion cumulative investment in Pakistan. IFC’s current committed investment exposure in Pakistan is about $960 million in 44 companies, of which infrastructure (energy, ports, transport) accounts for 60%, financial markets 21% and general manufacturing and services 19%. IFC’s current portfolio in the power sector amounts to some $475million in 9 projects.

 
January 16, 2015 (PR No. 967)

Finance Minister met with Yamaha Delegation

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar held a meeting with a  high level delegation of Yamaha Motor Corporation here. The delegation was led by Mr Katsuaki Watanabe, Senior Executive Officer, Motorcycle Business Operations.

Finance Minister welcomed the decision of Yamaha Motors to start business in Pakistan, taking advantage of the new-entrant policy of the government. He informed that delegation that Pakistan offered excellent business and investment opportunities with low labour costs, geographical proximity to the Middle East and Central Asian Republics and South Asia as well as incentives for foreign investors. He wished the Yamaha delegation the best in its business endeavours in Pakistan and assured that any issues faced by them would be resolved soon. He asked the Yamaha delegation to further market Pakistan by spreading the word about Pakistan's investment conditions amongst other Japanese companies.

The Yamaha delegation briefed the Finance Minister about the progress of work on its motor cycle manufacturing plant. The Finance Minister was informed that the plant would produce 31,000 units in the first year with a localization of 25 percent. He was further informed that Yamaha would achieve 55 percent localization in three years and 85 percent in five years. Yamaha delegation stated that the delegation would bring new value to Pakistani market and increase the competitiveness of its industry. Yamaha would initially focus on the domestic Pakistani market and target exports at a later stage.

It was decided that the inauguration of the Yamaha motor cycle manufacturing plant would take place in April this and that Yamaha President would visit Pakistan on the occasion.

The meeting was also attended by Chairman, Board of Investment, Ambassador of Pakistan in Tokyo and other senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and Embassy of Pakistan.

 
January 16, 2015 (PR No. 966)

Finance Minister met with Japan-Pakistan Business Cooperation Committee

The member companies of the Japan-Pakistan Business Cooperation Committee (JPBCC) had a meeting under Chairman Mr Teruo Asada with the Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here.

Welcoming the Finance Minister on behalf of the Committee members, Mr. Asada briefed him about the activities of the Committee to increase business and economic cooperation between the two countries. The Japan-Pakistan Business Cooperation Committee has held six meetings with its counterpart, the Japan-Pakistan Business Forum, since 2001. The last such meeting was held in Tokyo in March 2012.

Mr. Asada informed the Finance Minister that the member companies of the JPBCC were closely following the positive economic developments in Pakistan and were supportive of the bold economic policies of the government of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

The Finance Minister briefed the member companies of JPBCC in detail about the meetings he had during the visit with the Japanese Ministers, organizations such as JICA, JETRO, JBIC as well as corporate sector. Dilating upon the Pakistan economy, the Finance Minister informed them that the international financial institutions had re-started working with Pakistan as Pakistan now was not Pakistan of 2012. Pakistan, he said, now offered competitive incentives to foreign investors and called on the Japanese businesses to expand their business operations in the country. The Japanese companies could take advantage of the 2012 law on special economic zones while the government would also announce a new auto policy soon, he added. He also called on the Japanese companies to set up textile industry in Pakistan to take advantage of cheap labour as well as possibility to export to Europe under the GSP Plus scheme.

The Finance Minister further assured the companies that the government was seriously working to improve the energy situation and also achieve security stability. He briefed them of Pakistan's efforts at closer regional connectivity as well as divestment of shares of various state owned entities.

Mr. Asada, in the end, thanked the Finance Minister on behalf of the member companies for giving them a detailed account of Pakistan's current economic and investment situation and filling an information gap. He expressed the hope that Japanese companies would taken advantage of Pakistan's turnaround by expanding their businesses in various sectors in the country.

The meeting was also attended by Chairman, Board of Investment, Ambassador of Pakistan in Tokyo and other senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and Embassy of Pakistan.

 
January 16, 2015 (PR No. 965)

Finance Minister met with Vice President of Japan International Cooperation Agency

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar held a meeting with Mr Hideaki Domichi, Vice President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) here today and thanked him for JICA's assistance for various projects in Pakistan. JICA, he opined, was promoting inclusive growth in Pakistan which was essential for economic and social uplift.

He briefed the JICA Vice President about current government's economic reform programme and stated that Pakistan expected successful completion of 6th review under IMF's Extended Fund Facitlity (EFF) by March this year. He informed that Pakistan had already spent around US$ 400 million in the ongoing operation creating pressure on the budget. Pakistan, therefore, would appreciate support for rehabilitation of IDPs as well as energy sector reform program.

Finance Minister further stated that energy sector in Pakistan provided very good returns and informed that many Japanese companies were interested in investing in Pakistan in the sector provided they are able to obtain concessionary loans. He asked Mr Domichi to encourage the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to provide concessionary loans to such Japanese companies. He said Pakistan would welcome investment in infrastructure projects, including in the transport sector.

Mr Domichi, on his part, stated that Pakistan and JICA shared the same vision and congratulated the Finance Minister on successful completion of five reviews under IMF's EFF facility. He stated that JICA was considering to introduce phase two of program loans. He further stated that preparatory survey on Lakhra Power Project was almost complete as it was a priority project for JICA. The project, he opined, would make significant contribution to Pakistan's energy sector.  He also stated that JICA was impressed with Pakistan's economic achievements and had noted Pakistan's requests for financing further projects in infrastructure and energy sector.

The meeting was also attended by Chairman, Board of Investment, Ambassador of Pakistan in Tokyo and other senior officials.

 
January 16, 2015 (PR No. 964)

Finance Minister met with Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar held a meeting with Mr Yoichi Miyazawa, Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and investment here today. Mr Miyazawa welcome the Finance Minister in his Ministry stating that Pakistan and Japan enjoyed longstanding friendly relations which needed to be further improved.

Finance Minister congratulated Mr Miyazawa on Tokyo being selected to host the 2020 Summer Olympics and agreed that the potential for cooperation and collaboration between the two countries was far greater. He briefed Mr Miyazawa about the salient features of Pakistan's economic turnaround and stated that Pakistan wanted to expand trade and investment relations with Japan. He said that Pakistan was looking for special economic zones to be established by Japanese entrepreneurs in Pakistan.

Finance Minister also referred to the disadvantage faced by Pakistani textiles in Japan which faced stiffer tariffs as compared with similar products from competitor countries and argued that, given Pakistan's extraordinary current situation, Japan should consider some special concessions to Pakistan's textile products.

Mr Miyazawa stated that Japan fully understood Pakistan's challenges and informed that Toyota Group was considering further investments in Pakistan. He said that there was an increased interest in Pakistan amongst Japanese companies.

Both the leaders agreed that the next Joint Business Dialogue, which has been delayed for two years, will take place in Pakistan in May. Finance Minister extended an invitation to Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Investment to either visit Pakistan for the Joint Business Dialogue or at some mutually convenient time later in the year.

The meeting was also attended by Chairman, Board of Investment, Ambassador of Pakistan in Tokyo and other senior officials.

 
January 16, 2015 (PR No. 963)

Finance Minister met with Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar held a meeting with Mr Minoru Kiuchi, Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs here today. Welcoming the Finance Minister, Mr Kiuchi stated that "Japan was determined to support Pakistan". He said that Japan fully understood the challenges facing Pakistan and so fully supported the government in its efforts.

The Finance Minister thanked Mr Kiuchi for inviting him to Japan and briefed him in detail about the steps taken by the government to turn around the economy as well as to tackle terrorism and extremism. He informed Mr Kiuchi that fight against terrorism and rehabilitation of IDPs and flood affectees was an expensive on-budget exercise and Pakistan looked forward to cooperation of friendly countries for the purpose.

Referring to Pakistan's economic relations with Japan, the Finance Minister stated that he wanted closer cooperation with JICA as well as an up-scaling in the size of program loans. He also informed Mr Kiuchi that Japanese companies needed to be provided support for undertaking investments and projects in Pakistan.

On his part, Mr Kiuchi referred to the meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries in which they had decided on a "new partnership" between the two countries. He opined that not much progress had since been made and stated that "revitalization of exchanges was an important part of the new partnership". Regarding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's invitation to Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Kiuchi stated that Prime Minister Abe would like to visit at a time that would have the best possible impact on the bilateral relations.

Mr Kiuchi informed that Japan would be happy to provide Yen 100 billion, equivalent to approximately US$ 850 million, for the Lakhra Power Project. Japanese companies were interested in investing in Pakistan, he went on, but only wanted stable security situation in the country.

Finance Minister welcomed Japanese assistance for Lakhra Power Project and informed Mr Kiuchi that Pakistan would provide full support and incentives to Japanese companies in Pakistan. He assured that any problems being faced by Japanese companies in Pakistan would be looked into.

Finance Minister also briefed the Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs about the efforts made by the government to improve bilateral relations with its neighbours, particularly Afghanistan and India. He also referred to the various projects of regional connectivity, including TAPI and CASA-1000, and stated that government had already declared 2015 as the year of peace.

Mr. Kiuchi welcomed government's initiatives and stated that Japan also welcomed the holding of SAARC summit for improving regional stability and connectivity. He stated that Japan - SAAR Energy Symposium would be held in March in Islamabad. Mr Kiuchi also expressed the hope that he would Pakistan in his capacity of State Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The meeting was also attended by Ambassador of Pakistan in Tokyo and other senior officials.

 
January 16, 2015 (PR No. 962)

Finance Minister met with Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar held a meeting with Mr Minoru Kiuchi, Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs here today. Welcoming the Finance Minister, Mr Kiuchi stated that "Japan was determined to support Pakistan". He said that Japan fully understood the challenges facing Pakistan and so fully supported the government in its efforts.

The Finance Minister thanked Mr Kiuchi for inviting him to Japan and briefed him in detail about the steps taken by the government to turn around the economy as well as to tackle terrorism and extremism. He informed Mr Kiuchi that fight against terrorism and rehabilitation of IDPs and flood affectees was an expensive on-budget exercise and Pakistan looked forward to cooperation of friendly countries for the purpose.

Referring to Pakistan's economic relations with Japan, the Finance Minister stated that he wanted closer cooperation with JICA as well as an up-scaling in the size of program loans. He also informed Mr Kiuchi that Japanese companies needed to be provided support for undertaking investments and projects in Pakistan.

On his part, Mr Kiuchi referred to the meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries in which they had decided on a "new partnership" between the two countries. He opined that not much progress had since been made and stated that "revitalization of exchanges was an important part of the new partnership". Regarding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's invitation to Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Kiuchi stated that Prime Minister Abe would like to visit at a time that would have the best possible impact on the bilateral relations.

Mr Kiuchi informed that Japan would be happy to provide Yen 100 billion, equivalent to approximately US$ 850 million, for the Lakhra Power Project. Japanese companies were interested in investing in Pakistan, he went on, but only wanted stable security situation in the country.

Finance Minister welcomed Japanese assistance for Lakhra Power Project and informed Mr Kiuchi that Pakistan would provide full support and incentives to Japanese companies in Pakistan. He assured that any problems being faced by Japanese companies in Pakistan would be looked into.

Finance Minister also briefed the Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs about the efforts made by the government to improve bilateral relations with its neighbours, particularly Afghanistan and India. He also referred to the various projects of regional connectivity, including TAPI and CASA-1000, and stated that government had already declared 2015 as the year of peace.

Mr. Kiuchi welcomed government's initiatives and stated that Japan also welcomed the holding of SAARC summit for improving regional stability and connectivity. He stated that Japan - SAAR Energy Symposium would be held in March in Islamabad. Mr Kiuchi also expressed the hope that he would Pakistan in his capacity of State Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The meeting was also attended by Ambassador of Pakistan in Tokyo and other senior officials.

 
January 15, 2015 (PR No. 961)

Finance Minister met with Vice President of Japan Bank for International Cooperation

Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar met Mr Ijima, Vice President of Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) at JBIC Headquarters today and discussed with him possibility of financing Japanese companies that are interested in investing in Pakistan. He informed that his visit would have been incomplete without a meeting at JBIC and dilated upon the economic performance of the government in past nineteen months, including five successful IMF reviews under the Extended Fund Facility Program.

Finance Minister stated that Pakistan's economy was undergoing a transformation, especially in the infrastructure and industry sector and hoped that the Japanese businessmen would avail the opportunity of good returns to their investments. He informed Mr Ijima of the positive response of the Japanese businessmen to the Pakistan Investment Seminar organized by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), as well as the JETRO plans to establish a 800 square metres Japan pavilion at the Expo Pakistan being organized in Karachi in end February. This, he said, was proof that many new companies and businesses were looking to do business with Pakistan, some of whom may require financing.

The JBIC Vice President welcomed the Finance Minister and stated that it was JBIC's responsibility to support Japanese companies that invested abroad. He opined that proper information about investment and business opportunities in Pakistan was lacking. Therefore, he said, the JETRO organized Pakistan Investment Seminar was a good step to gain insight into Pakistan's economy. He said that Pakistan, being a developing economy, needed concessional loans and assured that as Pakistan's economy took-off more and more Japanese companies would be interested in Pakistan.

Mr Ijima informed the Finance Minister that JBC financed Japanese companies on need basis and had no cap on financing in a particular country. He assured that JBIC would study in-depth the economy of Pakistan so as to be ready for financing any Japanese company that may approach it.

The meeting was also attended by Chairman Board of Investment, Ambassador of Pakistan in Tokyo and other officials.

 
January 15, 2015 (PR No. 960)

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar called on Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Mr Taro Aso

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar called on Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Mr Taro Aso here on Thursday. Both the leaders discussed matters of mutual interest, including cooperation in the field of economy, trade and investment and agreed to increase economic cooperation between the two countries. Finance Minister Dar reiterated government’s resolve to root out menace of extremism from the country and briefed Mr. Aso about successes in the operation against terrorists. 

Ishaq Dar highlighted the economic reforms undertaken by the government since June 2013 and expressed his satisfaction over the performance of the economy saying that "it had taken the right direction". He apprised Mr. Aso of the successful completion of five reviews by the IMF under the Extended Fund Facility Program and expressed optimism of completion of sixth review by February.

He dilated upon some of the challenges still facing the economy including shortfall in electricity generation, requirements of rehabilitation of TDPs and countering the militants. He informed Mr. Aso that there was considerable interest in electricity generation using coal and LNG and apprised that investment in energy sector in Pakistan afforded very good returns in dollar terms. He further stated that Mitsubishi had expressed interest in energy projects in Pakistan provided financing from Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) was made available. He opined that all friendly countries should participate in energy projects in Pakistan.

Briefing Mr. Aso about some of the areas where Pakistan would welcome Japanese assistance, Finance Minister suggested that JICA may consider financing infrastructure projects, particularly in the transport sector. JICA, he opined, should also participate in phase II of energy sector reform program with possibly increased funding, while the Japanese government could also assist in the rehabilitation of TDPs. He also suggested that JBIC should study in-depth Pakistan's improved economy, particularly in view of Mitsubishi's interest in investing in Pakistan's energy sector.

He invited Mr. Aso to visit Pakistan, while also expressing the desire for a possible visit to Pakistan by the Japanese Prime Minister.

The Japanese Deputy Prime Minister assured that Japan would continue its  cooperation with Pakistan. He briefed the Finance Minister about the steps taken by Japan over the past decade to counter the unique twin problems of recession and deflation. He opined that democracy led to political stability which gave people confidence to make investments since they were assured of consistency in economic policies. This, he said, led to economic growth which was important for social stability. Poverty, he opined, resulted in discontent and extremism. He expressed his happiness over increased stability in Pakistan and stated that with patience and steadfastness all problems could be overcome.  

The meeting was also attended by Chairman Board of Investment, Ambassador of Pakistan in Tokyo and other officials.

 
January 15, 2015 (PR No. 959)

Finance Minister was invited to a luncheon hosted by Mr. Seishiro Eto, Member Lower House and President Japan Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship League (JPPFL)

January 15, 2015
Ishaq Dar interview

Finance minister wants investors to bet on Pakistan -- and feel safe doing so

TOKYO -- Pakistan's government has its hands full. The cabinet of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, formed in June 2013, is simultaneously attempting to spark economic growth, privatize state-owned companies, resolve energy shortages and deal with extremists within and around the nation's borders. As Finance Minister Ishaq Dar made clear in two wide-ranging conversations with The Nikkei, these efforts are designed to send a message to the international community: Pakistan is open for business.

But after a year and a half in power, how is the government faring? Dar, while conceding that infrastructure development and terrorism pose major challenges, stressed that the prospects for investment in Pakistan are bright.    

Q: What are your economic growth projections?

A: The economic position of Pakistan was fairly unstable [prior to the 2013 general election]. That's why many international institutions stopped working with Pakistan. But the political party headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif -- the Pakistan Muslim League -- had a very clear road map of how to make an economic recovery. That was included in our manifesto. We had four E's: economy, energy, extremism, education and health.

     Our fiscal year starts July 1. Soon after we took the oath [of office] in June 2013, we [pursued] very strong structural reforms to fix the economy. They're always painful, but I'm glad to share with you that ... all of our macroeconomic indicators have shown very good performance.

     We had almost an average [gross domestic product growth rate] of 3% in the [previous] five years. But we pushed for over 4% in our very first year. [We resolved] to make a full attempt to have GDP growth of 4%, and the next year 5%, the third year 6% and the fourth year 7%. So our projected GDP growth is 7% in the 2017 to 2018 fiscal year.

Q: Pakistan last year made a splash in the bond market.

A: We took the country back to the international bond market after seven years. We issued in April a conventional bond, a euro-dollar bond. It was heavily oversubscribed. We offered it for $500 million, and we got $7 billion [worth of orders]. By the way, we did not take $7 billion, we took only $2 billion.

     For sukuk -- Islamic bonds -- in November we went again to the international market and offered $500 million. We were offered $2.3 billion and we picked $1 billion.

Q: You are moving to unload stakes in state-owned companies. Do you have any fund-procurement targets tied to the share sales?

A: I can tell you the number of the state-owned enterprises [involved]: 31. There are three types of privatization taking place. One is pure privatization. We will be trying to sell electricity distribution companies.

     The second is what we call strategic partnerships. We want to keep 74% [stakes]. If somebody comes and says, "No, we want 51%," we can talk. Because they're so huge: Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Steel Mills. With these types of entities we want strategic partners to come and work with us. We will give them the management, and they will improve efficiency.

     The third is divestment of shares. For example, we had a certain amount of shares left in United Bank Limited, and we sold them all. UBL now is 100% private.

     There are three categories, so it's difficult to give you a figure. It depends.

Q: You are reportedly keen to introduce Japanese technology for coal-fired power plants, for example from Mitsubishi Corp. What are the prospects for doing so?

A: Unfortunately, in the last two decades, we have [relied on] power generation based on furnace oil or diesel. They have been very expensive. Our coal-based production is less than 2%. We have plans for something like a 10,000-megawatt addition in the electricity generation sector, because the supply-demand gap right now is around 4,000MW to 5,000MW.

     China has indicated that they are willing to finance coal-based generation. If Japanese companies would like to come, they are most welcome.

Q: You met with officials from Mitsubishi in December. What did you discuss?

A: I had a very useful meeting with a four-member delegation from Mitsubishi that was led by their chief executive in Pakistan, Kimihide Ando.

     Specifically, we discussed matters pertaining to possible export of [liquefied natural gas] by Mitsubishi's subsidiary, Diamond Gas International, to Pakistan, [along with] overall enhancement of Mitsubishi investment.

Q: When Japanese and other international companies consider investing in Pakistan, security tops the list of concerns. How do you intend to reassure them, especially after the horrific Peshawar school attack in December?

A: We have never compromised on our defense budget. This has always taken a top priority. That's No. 1.

     No. 2, our party, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sharif, made a very clear public commitment that we will deal with security. Primarily, the security issue is related to extremism. Post-9/11, I think many of the [militants] found an easy location at the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

     Immediately after we took the oath, we called all parties to a conference. This is something our party believes should [involve the] participation of all political parties, whether they are in government or not. It's a national issue; it must be handled collectively.

     I'm talking September 2013: A few parties suggested that we should give dialogue a last chance in the peace process. Our government agreed, we went ahead with the peace process dialogue, but it did not succeed.

     [After that], those parties -- for example, the political party of [key opposition leader] Imran Khan -- had no option but to agree with the government that we had to [take action] against the terrorists. We gave the go-ahead to the armed forces to launch the operation we call Zarb-e-Azb. That operation is very successful, and it's still on. It has eliminated the sanctuaries of the terrorists, it has destroyed their ammunition, it has killed almost 1,200 [militants, including] their high-profile leaders.

     The [attack] in Peshawar was a reaction. When you undertake any such operation, you expect a blowback. We expected a bigger blowback. But they are so weakened that these cowards chose to attack innocent children.

Q: As a minister from a major Islamic country, what is your reaction to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris?

A: The terrorists do not have religion. They neither have religion nor nationality. Islam is a peace-loving religion. Our holy book says that the killing of one human being is [akin to] killing all of humanity. ... It doesn't say killing of a Muslim, it doesn't say Christian or Buddhist or Jew -- any person.

Q: You recently signed the accord for the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. How do you envision the relationship between the AIIB and Pakistan?

A: This region, in totality -- meaning all of South Asia, Central Asia -- is getting 30% of the world's infrastructure development financing. It needs 70% if we are to bring it to par with other countries in Europe, China, Japan.

     This bank would meet the shortfall, or the extra demand, for infrastructure financing in the entire region. It will not compete: It will supplement the Asian Development Bank's efforts, it will supplement the Islamic Development Bank effort, and it will supplement the World Bank and IMF efforts.

Q: China and Pakistan are also planning an economic corridor project, estimated to cost $45 billion. What are your hopes for this endeavor?

A: Our government's preference is that as much of this package [as possible should] go into the private sector. For any infrastructure, energy and communication projects where there is no appetite in the private sector, the government of Pakistan will step in.

     The economic corridor is not going to benefit China and Pakistan alone. It's going to [bring] benefits to the entire region -- to the Central Asian states, to India, to Afghanistan, to other neighboring countries. Even Japan won't have to go to the Gulf to get things done if this economic corridor from Kashgar [in northwestern China] to Gwadar [in southwestern Pakistan] is activated.

     It's a win-win for everybody. We are quite grateful for China's support, which they announced. Now we are looking to Japan for an equal package, hopefully.

     Japan is an old friend. In Pakistan, we mostly see Japanese cars. Honda is there, Suzuki is there, Toyota, Hino. We are looking forward to the earliest [possible] visit -- it has been almost a decade now -- by the Japanese prime minister to Pakistan.

     We have a history of bilateral economic and trade relations, and I think there's a great scope to expand [the ties] further.

 
January 14, 2015 (PR No. 958)

Finance Minister met Chairman, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)

Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar held a meeting with Chairman, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Mr Hiroyuki Ishiguro here today.  They discussed matters of mutual interest, including increasing the number of Japanese companies in Pakistan, exchange of increased trade and business delegations and increasing the volume of trade between the two countries. Finance Minister stressed the need for increased market access and special tariff concessions for textile products from Pakistan. Referring to textile sector, he requested for provision of level playing field so that Japanese consumers could have access to quality products from Pakistan. He also said that JETRO may increase support for investment related seminars.

Finance Minister further said that keeping in view the history of relations between the two countries and the potential of trade, the current volume of trade was not enough and needed to be increased. He opined that there was tremendous potential for growth of Pakistan-Japan economic relations which should be exploited fully. He briefed the Chairman about various economic measures taken by the present Government to bring the economy back on track.

Finance Minister thanked JETRO for ranking Pakistan as likely to be the second choicest place for foreign direct investment. He stated that Pakistan highly valued its friendship with Japan and underlined the  need to initiate groundwork on Free Trade Agreement.

Referring to the menace of the terrorism, the Finance Minister reiterated the Government’s strong resolve to root out extremism in cooperation with all the opposition political parties and international community. He also appreciated the cooperation extended by the newly elected unified Government of Afghanistan to fight extremism jointly.

Finance Minister said that the Government is focusing on solving the energy issues on top priority and stated that the Government would welcome Japanese help and assistance through technology transfer. He assured that the Japanese entrepreneurs coming to Pakistan would be fully facilitated by the Board of Investment and called upon the Japanese companies to take advantage of the Special Economic Zones in Pakistan. Referring to the number of Japanese companies working in Pakistan, he said that 69 was not a big number and the aim should be to increase it to around 500. He assured that the Government would resolve any problems that may be faced by the Japanese companies.

Chairman JETRO, while welcoming the Finance Minister, said that JETRO would always be in the forefront in helping Pakistan boost its economy.  He said that JETRO’s support for Pakistan is unshakeable.  Referring to the terrorists attack in Peshawar, he expressed deep condolences for the bereaved families and said that JETRO will continue its support for fighting terrorism and extremism through increasing the business and economic activities in Pakistan.  He said Pakistan is a promising country in the world where middle class would be playing an active role in order to make it a better consumer market.

The meeting was also attended by Chairman Board of Investment, Ambassador of Pakistan in Tokyo and other officials. 

 
January 14, 2015 (PR No. 957)

Finance Minister was invited to a luncheon hosted by Mr. Seishiro Eto, Member Lower House and President Japan Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship League (JPPFL)

Visiting Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Minister for Finance was invited to  a luncheon hosted by Mr. Seishiro Eto, Member Lower House and President Japan Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship League (JPPFL) as well as Mr. Gemba, Member Lower House, former Foreign Minister and Secretary General JPPFL.

Mr Eto welcomed the Finance Minister's visit to Japan and appreciated the friendly and cooperative bilateral relations between the two countries. He expressed confidence in the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif towards achieving peace and progress for Pakistan. He observed that a large percentage of youths in Pakistan presented an opportunity while Pakistan's geostrategic location and size contributed to its added significance.

Mr Eto observed that the presence of Japanese companies established in Pakistan whose number currently stood at 69 needed to be increased though creating a congenial environment. He proposed to establish Japan Special Economic Zones to house Japanese companies and attract Japanese investment. Mr Eto expressed his confidence that the Japan Bank  for International Cooperation (JBIC) would support such a venture.

Mr Gemba recalled his fond memories of his interaction with his counterparts from Pakistan. He welcomed the steps taken by the current government in Islamabad in accommodating YAMAHA's return to Pakistan and solicited favorable environment to attract more Japanese companies to Pakistan.

Finance Minister thanked his hosts for their warm hospitality and the opportunity to exchange views. He explained the initiatives of the government on elimination of, education, energy and economy. He stated that 100 acres of land in Sindh Province has been allocated for Special Economic Zone from which Japanese companies should fully benefit.

The Finance Minister observed with satisfaction that two delegations from the Lower House of the Parliament of Pakistan are scheduled to visit Japan. The Finance  Minister stated that inter-parliamentary exchanges would consolidate bilateral relations and promote understanding.

 
January 14, 2015 (PR No. 956)

Mr Katsunobu Kato, Minister of State met Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar on behalf of the Japanese Prime Minister

Mr Katsunobu Kato, Minister of State met Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar on behalf of the Japanese Prime Minister in the  Prime Minister's Office here today.

Mr Kato welcomed the Finance Minister on behalf of the Government of Japan and extended appreciation to the efforts undertaken by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif towards the uplift of economy and improvement of security in Pakistan, stating that Prime Minister Abe's administration will continue to work with and  support Prime Minister Sharif in areas of economy, security, democracy and rule of law. He also offered his condolences on the loss of precious life in the Peshawar terrorist attack of 16th December 2014.

Mr Kato recalled the Summit meeting between the two Prime Ministers held in New York on 26th September 26 2013 and the desire expressed by both leaders on the occasion to develop a 'New Partnership'. Mr. Kato added that both countries may, therefore, deepen bilateral relations and cooperation at international arena.

Mr Kato stated that Pakistan's positive reviews in its IMF Program are encouraging for Japan to resume Yen loans. He added that Japan would continue assistance towards settlement of IDPs, eradication of Polio, floods mitigation and in the fight against terrorism.  

Finance Minister conveyed greetings from the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Prime Minister Abe, reiterating the invitation for bilateral visit to Pakistan. He congratulated Liberal Democratic Party for its victory in the recently held general elections.

Finance Minister underlined the efforts of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to promote peace and friendship in the region and noted with satisfaction the existing  level of trust and coordination with political and military leadership in Afghanistan.

On relations with India, the Minister regretted that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's sincere overtures for peaceful and cooperative relations with India have not received the appropriate response.

Finance Minister broached the immense human and material losses accrued to Pakistan from the ongoing war against terrorism. Underlined the challenging circumstances, he explained the strides the government has taken towards revival of Pakistan's economy, noting with satisfaction that the improved fiscal and financial forecasts has put the economy back on track, restored confidence of IFIs and regional financial institutions.

The Finance Minister expressed the desire to further deepening bilateral political relations and trade with Japan stating that Japan has historically been  a close friend.

 
January 14, 2015 (PR No. 955)

Finance Minister addressed Japanese Businessmen at Investment Seminar organized by Japan External Trade Organization JETRO, Japan

Pakistan and Japan enjoy cordial bilateral relations which have grown significantly over the years to the mutual benefit of both the countries. Japan's economic assistance has helped much in the development of Pakistan's economic and social infrastructure. This was stated by Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar while addressing Japanese businessmen at Investment Seminar organized by Japan External Trade Organization JETRO and co-sponsored by Board of Investment here Wednesday.

Dar said that though Japanese auto sector accounts for about ninety five percent in the four-wheeled vehicle market and has a great positive influence on Pakistan’s economy but bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and Japan has been stagnant for the past five years. It was also heavily in favour of Japan which needs to be addressed through initiating negotiations for Early Harvest Program of FTA. 

Finance Minister said that huge potential exists to further strengthen economic ties between Pakistan and Japan as Pakistan offers a big market for investment in energy, automobile, textile, surgical equipment, infrastructure, engineering, agriculture and SMEs. Pakistan also needs Japanese technical assistance and investment in renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, thermal and biogas. He hoped that the Japanese companies will tap the potential and will be excited to explore some of these areas for their future investments.

Pakistan is an upcoming emerging market. Many multi-national enterprises made profits in recent years. This has encouraged other enterprises to expand their investments in Pakistan. The World Bank has projected that the investment growth rate in Pakistan, which declined for several years in the past, is projected to rise during 2014-16.

Finance Minister said that Pakistan has one of the most liberal foreign investment regimes in South Asia. 100% foreign equity is permitted in the manufacture and infrastructure sectors as the country has a market-oriented economy, with a rapidly growing private sector. Pakistan has a very dynamic market and a large consumer base. There is great potential in the power, infrastructure and natural resource sectors. There is also scope for investment in hydel and coal based power projects. Furthermore, there is a need for world class education system and mechanization of industries that, if exploited efficiently, can generate wealth for foreign investors.

Finance Minister said Pakistan stands on the verge of a momentous transformation. “Our government is fully committed to harness economy through appropriate policies and strategic vision. The government has a long term development plan aimed at creating a globally competitive and prosperous country, with particular emphasis on achieving macroeconomic stability through inclusive growth” the Minister stated.

He said present government attaches top priority to enhance the performance of the economy for a better Pakistan. Improved infrastructure, good governance, uninterrupted and affordable energy, quality education and health for all are some of the priority areas we are focusing on.

The Finance Minister said the government had made other  important achievements including 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 Finance Minister said that PML (N) government would welcome the initiative of establishing Japan Specific Economic Zones and will facilitate the establishment of entrepreneurship in all respects. He assured the Japanese investors that Government of Pakistan will extend every possible help and facilitation to materialize the Investment Initiatives. He directed Board of Investment to facilitate the investors and take every possible initiative to facilitate the Japanese investors.

The Seminar was attended by over 250 Japanese businessmen, besides Mr Hiroyuki Ishige, Chairman JETRO, Mr. Miftah Ismail, Chairman Board of Investment and Pakistan Embassy officials in Tokyo.

 
January 13, 2015 (PR No. 954)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review the proposed Aviation Policy

The Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here at the Finance Ministry late Monday, chaired a meeting to review the proposed Aviation Policy.

At the outset of the meeting Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Aviation, Capt. Shujaat Azeem said that in order to encourage aviation sector in Pakistan a dynamic and forward looking draft aviation policy had been formulated on the directives of the Prime Minister after a gap of 14 years. All stake holders including airlines, flying clubs, charter operators, cargo operators, ground handling agencies and general aviation were consulted in the process, he said.

He briefed the meeting about contours of the draft Aviation Policy, emphasizing relaxation in the overall tax regime which he deemed essential to encourage growth of the aviation sector. He said that in contrast to other countries in the region, aviation sector’s contribution in Pakistan was under 0.01%. For countries like India, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand it ranged between 1.5% to 9.0%. Only 8% of the 180 million strong Pakistani population had access to air travel, he informed the meeting. The situation could change with provision of proper incentives to prospective investors, he observed.

The draft policy among other things also recommends tax free investment in aviation and calls for outsourcing all major airports (Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad); landside and international buildings to prominent foreign companies in airport business through a transparent process. The Policy emphasizes developing quality indigenous repair and maintenance facilities in the country to save huge expenses on seeking such services from abroad. The meeting was informed that investment in the aviation sector would not only generate more revenue but also create a large number of job opportunities thus helping alleviate unemployment.

Senator Ishaq Dar appreciated the initiative taken by the Aviation Division in formulation of the said Policy. He added that the Finance Ministry, specifically the FBR would study fiscal aspects of the Policy and apprise the aviation division of its standpoint as early as possible. 

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, FBR and Aviation Division attended the meeting.

 
January 12, 2015 (PR No. 953)

Finance Minister chaired ECNEC

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

ECNEC considered and approved the project for the construction of Additional Carriageway (ACW) of Torkham-Jalalabad Road Afghanistan, 73.67km at the re-rationalized cost of Rs. 7343.540 million. The funds for this project are proposed to be met out of $500 million pledged by the Government of Pakistan for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan.

ECNEC considered and approved the project brought by the Government of Balochistan for improving the standard of education in the province. Balochistan Education Project (BEP) will take 3 years for completion with the total cost of $34 million. The finance for the project is arranged in the form of a grant from Global partnership for Education under the World Bank supervision and guidelines for Baluchistan Education sector to provide access to primary education. The project will cover entire 32 Districts of Balochistan. Under this program 2000 mixed gender primary schools will be established and 60 girls’ schools will be upgraded. This program will also bring 100,000 out of school children to schools and will provide employment to 4000 teachers.

The Finance Minister congratulated Mr. Abdul Raheem Ziaratwal Minister of Balochistan for bringing in such an excellent project with far reaching implications.

The Project of Pakistan Railways for the rehabilitation, up gradation and conservation of 400 coaches also got approved by ECNEC. The Project has the revised cost of 5200 million rupees including FEC of Rs.446.432million. Pakistan Railways will also be the executing agency. Out of the total 400 coaches 250 have already been rehabilitated and 43 are in the factory for rehabilitation.

The project of Ministry of Communications for construction of Amri-Kazi Bridge over River Indus (Between Hyderabad Bypass  & Dadu Moro Bridge) connecting N-5 with N-55 was approved at the rationalized cost of Rs. 7189.108 million. The Federal government will bear 50% of the total cost for this project and the rest is to be shared by the Sindh government. The National Highway Authority is responsible for the execution of the project. The revised project envisages construction of 1320 meter long and 19.825 meter wide 4 Lane Bridge over River Indus between Amri located on N-55 and Qazi Ahmed located on N-5 in the District of Nawabshah. The scope of work includes construction of 19.345 Km long and 7.3 meter wide two lane (Single carriageway) approach roads. The scope of work also includes construction of 3.534 Km long guide banks, 75 meter long bridge over RBOD, interchange at N-55 along with ramps, loops, road furniture and allied facilities.

Indus 21 Water Sector Capacity building and Advisory Services Project with revised PCII was approved at the rationalized cost of 7659.06 million rupees. The project is fully financed through IDA credit and shall be executed by PMPIU, WAPDA, IRSA, IPDF and Water section of Planning Commission. WCAP is a highly technical nature project aiming at improvement of water resources management investment planning of water resources in the Indus River Basin in order to strengthen Pakistan’s water sector sustainability. According to Ministry of W&P the project is rated satisfactory by the World Bank.

ECNEC also considered and approved the construction of Expressway on East Bay of Gwadar Port at the rationalized cost of Rs.14062 million out of which Rs.13543 million is the FEC component. The executing agency will be Gwadar Port Authority, Ministry of Ports and Shipping, Government of Pakistan. The Project is one of the early harvest projects of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The project of New Gwadar International Airport got in principle approval at the revised cost of 26596 million rupees with the direction from the chair that the additional work (extension of runway for other planes) will also be completed in this revised cost and report will be brought on this in the next ECNEC. The project has an FEC of Rs.2751 million and the financing sources are Federal PSDP through Chinese loan/ Omani Grant $17.5 million/ CAA own funds (10% of the cost).

500KV Sub-station Faisalabad West project also got approval from ECNEC at the rationalized cost of 9379.505 million rupees with 5690.771 million rupees as the FEC. The main objective of the project is to enhance the capacity of NTDC system by construction of 500/220/132 kV substation at Faisalabad West in order to remove the transmission constraints of Faisalabad and its surrounding areas to meet the growing demand of FESCO.

 The Detail Design and Construction of Gorkin- Matiltan Hydro power project 84 MW with Revised PC I was also approved by ECNEC at the rationalized cost of Rs. 20722.94 million. The project will bring in an annual income of 3522.08 million rupees after its completion in 6 years and 8 months. The cost of the project will be met 20% by the Annual Development Program and 80% by loan from Hydel Development Fund of KP government. Pakhtunkhwa Hydel Development Organization will be responsible for the execution, operation and maintenance of the project.

 
January 10, 2015 (PR No. 952)

Finance Minister chaired 7th meeting of the Governing Council of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS)

The 7th meeting of the Governing Council of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) was held on Saturday. Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Federal Finance Minister chaired the meeting. At the outset, he welcomed the new members of the Governing Council (GC) and acknowledged the contributions of the outgoing members whose term had expired on completion of three years. The Chair dilated at length on the responsibilities of the Council to further develop an efficient and credible statistical system in the country.

After the adoption of the agenda, the Chief Statistician/Secretary of the GC briefed the meeting about the implementation status of the decisions taken in the last meeting. The chair was informed that PBS was assigned the responsibility of developing SAARCSTAT Database and Web Portal for all the Member States and that PBS has successfully achieved the target, using in house expertise.In recognition, PBS has been asked to maintain and update the same in future.  The Chair appreciated the work done by the PBS and congratulated the staff who worked on this assignment.

The meeting was informed about the developments regarding the change of base of National Accounts as well as Price Statistics to the year 2015-16. A project was got approved which envisaged a number of surveys and studies to be carried over a period of three years. The house was informed that work on three of the six surveys to be conducted during this year had already started while the rest are under preparation. On Price Statistics Rebasing, the GC was informed that a kickoff meeting has been planned for 3-4 February 2015 where all stakeholders would be invited to solicit their views on the rebasingmethodology.

The meeting thereafter discussed updating of area sampling frame for urban and rural areas of the country. The Member-Secretary briefed about the process of updation and use of GPS devices for this purpose. He explained that after completion of this exercise PBS would have an updated frame for all its census, and surveys. This would greatly facilitate the enumerators and improve the quality of their field work. This would also enable PBS to disseminate its data on digital maps. The meeting was informed that the entire urban area of the country comprising of 48052 enumeration blocks have already been updated by PBS, whereas updation of rural area frame is being planned. A PC-1 costing Rs.306 mil.has been submitted to Planning Division for approval. Meeting was informed that PBS has initiated the updating work in the rural area with the financial support of UNFPA and has updated 8718 enumeration blocks so far.  The chair appreciated the work of PBS and directed that this activity  be expedited.

Conduct of Agriculture Census was another focal item in the meeting. The Secretary/ Chief Statistician informed the meeting that in the past PBS was conducting three censuses i.e. Agriculture Census, Agriculture Machinery Census and Livestock Census with different time frame. The same segment of population was being approached thrice for similar information. This was a waste of financial and human resources as well as response burden on the respondents. It was proposed combine the three surveys into single exercise.  The house, after deliberations, approved the proposal that Agriculture Census, Agriculture Machinery Census and Livestock Census be merged into single exercise as Agriculture Census and the same may be conducted after every five years.        

Conduct of Population Census was another vital item discussed in the meeting. The Member/Secretary informed the house that summary for conduct of Population Census is on the agenda of the CCI. This needs to be prioritized as considerable time has passed since the last census and availability of census data is a dire need of the time. Other Members also mentioned the importance of the census data and asked the Chair to bring this issue in the next meeting of the CCI. The Chair desired that minutes of the last meeting of the CCI may be shown to him and since CCI is the proper forum to decide on the matter, therefore, he will take necessary steps to bring this issue in the next meeting of CCI.

The Chair was informed that PBS is conducting PSLM survey since 2003as a project and that this project will close on 30th June, 2015. The Member Secretary informed that nine rounds of the survey have been conducted so far. PSLM collects data on household income and expenditure which is used for computation of poverty indicators. It also provides data on 8 MDG Goals, 16 targets and 37 indicators. The Chair was informed that 18 officers and 245 officials are working on the project on contract basis since 1995. These staff members  have long experience in collection of data in the field and their services need to be regularized. The Member Secretary proposed that in view of the important nature of the survey, this activity may be continued as a regular activity of PBS and the staff may be regularized.

The Chair, after due discussions, decided that the PSLM survey to continue with an enhanced scope. The Chair also directed that the modalities of continuation of the survey as well as the issue of the staff may be discussed with the Secretaries Finance and EAD.

 
January 10, 2015 (PR No. 951)

ECC takes important decisions on Energy, Other Sectors

The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet in its meeting chaired by Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar. here on Saturday considered and approved the proposal put forward by the Ministry of Water and Power for “utilization of the existing available generation capacity-policy for short term independent power producers” after it was made clear before the forum that the proposed policy does not contravene the Supreme Court of Pakistan judgment of 30th March, 2012 in RPPs case. The ECC allowed the exemption of customs duty @5% for the next 3 years.

Ministry of Water and Power made it clear that the new arrangement is based on the “Take and Pay” arrangement and it will create no obligation on the Government of Pakistan for payment of capacity (or any other) charges.

In the light of CCOE consideration, ECC also gave approval in principle of the North-South gas pipeline project under G to G arrangement. The project is capable of transporting 1-2 BCFD of gas from Karachi to Mid country. The pipeline will not only help transport imported RLNG but also give transport capabilities for the Iran-Pakistan and TAPI gas pipeline projects which are expected to come on line in the next 3-5 years. It was also decided that Inter State Gas System (Pvt.) Ltd. be designated as the Executing Agency to implement the project under government to government arrangement in liaison with Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL).

On another proposal moved by the Ministry of Water and Power, the ECC approved the issuance of sovereign guarantee by Ministry of Finance in respect of syndicated term finance facility amounting to Rs.25 billion for the power sector. The above loan has been arranged on behalf of power distribution companies by power holding (Pvt.) limited through syndicated term finance facility from consortium of local commercial banks. The tenure of the facility is five years with two years grace period. The repayment of the loan shall be the responsibility of the respective distribution company.

Keeping in view natural gas demand/supply deficit on the supply network, M/o Petroleum and Natural Resources proposed the allocation of gas from Ayesha gas field to SSGC, which is the nearest transmission network. The proposal was approved by the ECC.

On the submission of the Federal Board of Revenue, ECC approved levy of regulatory duty of 15%  on steel products i.e billets, bars and wire rods, 5% on cold rolled coils and galvanized platted sheets, and Rs. 200/- set on Mobile phones. The levy of regulatory duty aims at giving a boost to the local industry and curb dumping. The local manufacturers, it may be mentioned have long been demanding tariff protection and imposition of regulatory duty. The levy of duty on Mobile phones similarly aims at discouraging the tendency of under invoicing.

Finance Division presented the review of Key Economic Indicators. Secretary Finance briefed the committee that during the period from July - December 2014-15 the average CPI stood at 6.08, WPI at 2.13 and SPI at 3.47. The year on year CPI based inflation stood at 4.3% in December 2014. Pakistan has been facing comparatively less inflationary pressure as compared to India, Bangladesh and Sri lanka,  ECC was informed. It was also briefed to the committee that the country has sufficient stocks of Wheat (6.22 Million Tons as on 6th January 2015) and Sugar (1.08 Million Tons as on December 23rd2014). As for stocks of POL products, these could meet requirements for 18 days consumptions as on January 6th 2015.

 
January 08, 2015 (PR No. 950)

Finance Minister urges FWO, NHA to complete Jalalabad-Torkham Road on priority

A meeting chaired by Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here on Thursday reviewed issues impeding work on the Additional Carriageway (73.6 KMs) from  Torkham to Jalalabad.

Secretary, Planning and Development and DG Frontier Works Organization briefed the Minister about the current status of the project and the revised cost, also giving him an update on pending payments to FWO. The NHA had entrusted the project of carriageway to FWO back in January 2007 and 58% physical progress was achieved but at that stage, FWO demobilized from the site in September 2008 owing to the payments issue.

The Minister today directed both NHA and FWO to work in close coordination to complete this project on priority as per the revised cost. He also directed them to settle the issue of payments without much ado. He said the project has been on halt for almost seven years which has led to escalation in overall cost. Further delay should be avoided, he emphasized.

The Minister on this occasion referred to his meeting with his Afghan counterpart and the visit of Afghan President where completion of Pakistan’s development projects in Afghanistan was duly emphasized. He said Pakistan has a resolve to contribute maximum for economic development in Afghanistan and this project would augment its efforts for peace and prosperity in the brotherly country.

Officials of Ministry of Planning, National Highway Authority and Finance Division attended the meeting.

 
January 08, 2015 (PR No. 949)

KPK Chamber of Commerce delegation met with Finance Minister

A delegation of KPK Chamber of Commerce and Industries held a detailed meeting with the Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here.

The delegation apprised the Minister about tax related issues faced by the business community in KPK, requesting him for special tax relief package for the province.

The Minister said, the Government attached due importance to resolving problems faced by the business community as they had an important role in economic progress of the country, especially revenue generation.

The Minister asked representatives of the KP Chamber of Commerce to submit a written proposal outlining all their tax-related issues and suggestions for the relief package which would be accorded due consideration. He also asked Chairman FBR to have a detailed review of the suggestions from the KPK Chamber of Commerce once these were received.

 
January 08, 2015 (PR No. 948)

Finance Minister chaired the meetong on Performance of Govt. Institutions

The Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Thursday chaired a meeting on improving Government’s performance through undertaking systemic reforms agenda.

It was acknowledged in the meeting that there is a need to embed a government-wide performance management system that focuses on improving service delivery capacity in the line Ministries. While the building blocks of such a system have already been provided through ‘Medium-Term Budgetary Framework’ initiative, which has been implemented since its Cabinet approval in 2009, it was recognized that the next steps are critical for demonstrating performance of the Government in shape of results. 

The Finance Minister reiterated that the present Government is keen on improving public service delivery and the time has come to introduce a reform package that enhances confidence of the citizens and improves governance. He said that a more aggressive approach towards oversight of monitoring service delivery performance is required which is based on the existing voluntary system of performance definition and measurement.

A detailed presentation was given by Mr. John Gray, who leads a team of implementation consultants that advise the Finance Division through the support of the European Union. Mr.Gray highlighted key weaknesses in the existing system, and suggested ‘Results Based Management’ reform proposal that will improve Government’s performance. In order to implement such a system, it would require changes in government’s financial management system and public administration.

The Finance Minister emphasised that improving results will require systemic change involving different stakeholders within the government. This will require changes in our planning, budgeting, and monitoring systems. The foundation of the proposed system is improved planning and definition of service delivery results that can then be monitored on a periodic basis. ‘Results Based Management’ is an international good practice, but will require contextualisation to suit the institutional setup in the Federal Government.

The meeting decided that ‘Results Based Management’ would become a fundamental reform programme, which the Federal Government will pursue in order to ensure value for money, and effective delivery of public services. The Finance Minister desired that a pilot model of few Ministries be initiated to test the working of the system before its full-scale implementation. As a next step, a roadmap will be developed that outlines key steps and a presentation will be made to the Prime Minister.

 
January 07, 2015 (PR No. 947)

Saudi Envoy met with Finance Minister

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar received Mr. Jassim M. Al-Khaldi, Charge d’affaires, Embassy of Saudi Arabia at the Ministry of Finance Wednesday morning.

At the outset of the meeting, Mr. Jassim Al-Khaldi handed over a letter from the Saudi Finance Minister to Ishaq Dar, conveying information about Saudi loan of 206 million Riyal for Chehlla Bandi road project near Muzaffarabad. The loan is repayable in 20 years at 2% charge with 5 years grace period.

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar thanked the Saudi Government, particularly his Saudi counterpart for this gesture.

The Minister inquired from the Saudi Envoy about the health of King Abdullah. He conveyed to Mr. Jassim warm sentiments of the government and people of Pakistan for Khadim Al-Haramain Al-Sharifain.The Saudi Charge d’affaires said that King Abdullah was recovering from his illness and his health was gradually improving.

The Minister also briefed the Saudi Envoy about the ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb. He said the whole Pakistani nation in unison with the armed forces had a resolve to carry this operation to a conclusive end. He said the war on terror had taken a heavy toll on Pakistan’s economy and the overall losses had already surpassed a100 billion dollars. A large number of people were displaced due to the ongoing operation and hefty resources were needed for rehabilitation of the TDPs. Mr. Jassim on this occasion said, it was not only a war for Pakistan and Saudi Arabia shared Pakistan’s strong feelings on countering terrorism. Saudi Arabia was always by Pakistan’s side to extend a helping hand.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar acknowledged Saudi support to Pakistan for success of its efforts to curb militancy.
 
January 07, 2015 (PR No. 946)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to reviews matters regarding provision of vehicles to FC, KPK

A meeting chaired by Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday proposed mechanism to resolve the longstanding issue for supply of 113 special purpose vehicles by the Dewan Group to Frontier Constabulary, KP.

The issue had been lingering on since 2008, resulting in swelling of  exchange rate, Customs duty & Sales Tax as well as penal surcharge. Further, there was also litigation by both the parties against each other which made the matter more complicated.

The Ministry of Interior had requested the Finance Minister for a settlement of the issue.

The Minister in today’s meeting directed the Dewan group to clear outstanding payments regarding re-valuation on account of appreciation in exchange rate. He also said in case of a shortfall in funds faced by FC in clearing enhanced sales tax and customs duties, necessary funds would be provided to FC to meet the shortfall. He also impressed upon both the parties to withdraw legal cases against each other. The Finance Minister adde that penal surcharge would be remitted.

The Minister directed both Dewan Group and FC, KPK as well as the FBR officials present on the occasion to sign an agreement to confirm implementation of the decisions taken in the meeting. He commented that the Government wanted to strengthen the FC to enable it tackle the scourge of militancy along with other security agencies and the provision of vehicles was a step in this direction.

Representatives of both the FC as well as Dewan group thanked the Minister for facilitating a decision for resolving the more than 6 years old dispute.
 
January 07, 2015 (PR No. 945)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on mechanism for financial management of K-2 and K-3 nuclear power plants

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday presided over a meeting deliberating on mechanism for financial management of K-2 and K-3 nuclear power plants.

The meeting attended by PAEC, SPD, SECP and senior officials of Finance Division and EAD considered mechanism for handling financial matters/utilization of funding for the two plants in a completely fool proof and transparent manner. The meeting was informed that the two plants will generate 2200MW of power helping to alleviate the problem of energy shortage.

The Exim Bank of China, it may be added is providing funding for K-2 and K-3 being established along the Karachi coast.

 
January 06, 2015 (PR No. 944)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting regarding re-verification of SIMs

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday, along with Minister of State for IT, Anusha Rehman chaired a high level meeting attended by mobile phone operators, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Ministry of IT, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Interior regarding re-verification of mobile phone SIMs in the country with particular focus on fiscal aspects of the issues faced by the telecom sector.

Representatives of various mobile phone companies apprised the meeting about difficulties they were facing regarding the re-verifications process which is part of the National Action Plan aimed at eliminating terrorism. They presented their proposals seeking concessions in taxes/charges paid to FBR and NADRA on issuance of SIMs as mandatory under the relevant laws.          The representatives also put forth proposals regarding the betterment of the telecom industry which included reduction in the overall taxes on the industry from 19.5% to 17%  in anticipation of reduction in revenue due to blockage of sims. They also requested for provision of legal cover to guard against litigation from customers, also due to possible blockage of SIMs.

The Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar agreed in principle on waiver of sales tax on replacement of SIMs during the period from 12th January to 28th February, 2015, charged by FBR provided that a proper definition of “Replacement SIM” was arrived at. The Finance Minister agreed to have further discussion on this aspect on Wednesday. It was agreed that NADRA would charge only Rs 10/- (instead of Rs 23/-) for verification purposes for the period of re-verification as agreed between the Ministry of Interior, Telcos and other stakeholders. The meeting also dilated at length on making stringent measures for provision of security to telcos.

On the issue of legal cover for telecos, Ministry of IT was assigned the task to put forth concrete proposals.

Mobile Operators and other participants of the meeting on this occasion also put forth their views on the time limit for re-verification process. There would be further deliberation in this regard on Wednesday.

The Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar said that views expressed by representatives of telecom industry on reduction of taxes would be incorporated in the budgetary proposals for consideration as the budget – making process was about to start. He said the IT/telecom industry was fortunate to have a very pro-active Minister who worked whole heartedly for promotion of the industry. He hoped under her leadership the IT industry would make further headways in time to come. He said that with concerted efforts the government had achieved over 4% GDP growth rate and had a resolve to achieve 5% growth in the current year, He said most certainly, IT sector could play a dynamic role in realizing this objective.

Minister of State for IT, Anusha Rehman at this juncture mentioned that apart from the fiscal issues, the telecom sector also needed facilitation in other areas which should be accorded due consideration. The Minister said, she always accorded due significance to resolution of problems faced by the telecom industry as it had a great role in economic development of the country.

Earlier, Secretary IT gave a presentation to the meeting regarding re-verification of SIMs and related matters. After discussion, mobile phone operators, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Ministry of IT & Telecom and Ministry of Interior expressed their views on re-verification process.

As planned, re-verification of every SIMs would be carried out in various phases. Accordingly the subscribers have been divided in two categories and a total of 103 million SIMs would be verified.

A media campaign/SMS broadcast will be carried out for customers to get their SIMs re-verified, the meeting was informed.

The meeting today concluded with the resolve that all stake holders would contribute their best for re-verification process of SIMs for the success of National Action Plan.

 
January 05, 2015 (PR No. 943)

Sub-Committee On Energy Continues Deliberations On Measures to end Energy Shortage in the Country

The Sub-committee on Energy headed by Finance Minister, Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Monday continued its deliberations on measures to meet the challenge of energy shortage in the country, focusing on establishment of power projects based on local gas supplies and RLNG.

Federal Ministers for P & NR, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Federal Minister for Water & Power, Khwaja Mohammad Asif, senior officials of Prime Minister’s Office, Ministries of W&P, P&NR, PPIB and NTDC were also present.

The meeting was given a combined presentation prepared by Ministries of Finance, Petroleum and W&P containing all relevant details about the power projects aiming to add up over 5000 MW electricity to the national grid.

 The sub-committee today specially discussed measures which could be implemented in short term i.e. within one to two years for providing relief to the common man on urgent basis. As desired by the Finance Minister at the last meeting, arrangements for evacuation of the additional power were also clearly outlined in today’s presentation. The meeting also reviewed arrangements for offloading RLNG consignments and onward supply to power plants.

 The Minister asked all concerned officials to finalize all relevant details for final round of discussion at the next session of the sub-committee on Tuesday. The meeting tomorrow in all likelihood would firm up recommendations on meeting energy shortage for submission to the Prime Minister.

 
January 03, 2015 (PR No. 942)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting on Hazrat Bari Imam Complex Project

Finance Minister, Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting on Hazrat Bari Imam Complex Project and directed members of the relevant committee, CDA, ICT administration and other related officials to see to it that construction work on the project was completed as soon as possible

The Project Director, Bari Imam Complex briefed the Minister about various issues hindering completion of work. The Minister emphasized that the ICT administration and members of the project committee had an obligation to remove the impediments affecting completion of the project.

The meeting had a detailed review of the construction work already undertaken and also considered initiation of work on the Langar Khana, Sama Hall and the demarcated area for ablution, with proper tendering and completion of codal formalities, as desired by the Minister.

The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, Member Engineering CDA, Chief Commissioner Islamabad, IGP, Islamabad and Project Director, Bari Imam Complex project.

 
January 03, 2015 (PR No. 941)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting to discuss diversification in PPAF Operations

A meeting held at the Ministry of Finance on Saturday had detailed review of achievements of PPAF (Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund) and also deliberated on possible diversification and up-scaling in its operations. Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting.

Chief Executive Officer, PPAF briefed the meeting about various functions aimed at poverty alleviation. He said PPAF had undertaken a number of activities in various districts of the country in the sphere of social welfare, education, health services, water and infrastructure projects. Outlining key accomplishments of the PPAF, he said the organization has to date, completed 33,000 health, education, water and infrastructure projects, disbursed over 7.1 million microcredit loans with 59% loans going to women and 80% financing extended to rural areas. The PPAF has similarly organized over 17,000 skill development and managerial training events for 918000 individuals (51% women trainees). Above all the Fund has facilitated over 1.8 million households affected by natural disasters under relief and early recovery projects. Not only that it has managed reconstruction of 122,000 seismically –safe houses in the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake.

The Minister appreciated the working of PPAF and said the government had regularly been providing finances to the fund for undertaking its obligations and would continue to do so in future. He said the proposal regarding diversification in operations of PPAF was worth consideration as it would help expand its outreach, thus covering the poor and needy in larger numbers. The Minister asked the CEO, PPAF to put up a detailed proposal in this regard for perusal of the Ministry of Finance.

PPAF, it may be added is the lead agency for poverty reduction in Pakistan. It embodies the spirit of public-private partnership to address the multi-dimensional issues of poverty with a view to achieving social and economic change.

 
January 01, 2015 (PR No. 940)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to resolve issues faced by the EOBI (Employees Old Age Benefit Institution)

The committee formed by the Prime Minister to resolve issues faced by the EOBI (Employees Old Age Benefit Institution), after deliberations here on Thursday agreed on formation of a Task Force for administrative and financial restructuring of the institution.

Headed by Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar, the committee was given a detailed briefing by Chairman EOBI who presented a review of the funds disbursed to pensioners in various areas across the country. He highlighted the issues faced by the institution, topped by dearth of financial resources and complications arising in the post-18th amendment scenario. The Chairman emphasized that the institution needed special financial grant from the federal government to meet its obligations.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said due to scarcity of funds it was difficult for the federal government to allow any budgetary allocation to EOBI. He emphasized that EOBI should focus on generating funds from its own resources. He said the committee would consider various options to help out EOBI. The committee would also evaluate the status of EOBI in the light of devolution process initiated after the 18th amendment.

The Minister said that mismanagement in the past had badly affected performance of the EOBI and hectic efforts were now required to reform it into an effective public welfare oriented organization.

The committee after thorough discussion on the issues faced by EOBI decided to form a Task Force, headed by Deputy Governor, State Bank of Pakistan that would put forth suggestions before the committee in due course for administrative and financial revamping of this institution.

EOBI Act, it may be mentioned was enforced with effect from April 01, 1976, to achieve the objective of Article 38 (C) of the Constitution, by providing for compulsory social insurance. It extends benefits to insured persons or their survivors in terms of Old-Age Pension, Survivor's Pension, Invalidity Pension and Old-Age Grant.

The meeting was attended by Khawaja Zaheer Ahmed, Special Assistant to Prime Minister, Mr. Salman Aslam Butt, Attorney General of Pakistan, Dr. Waqar Masood, Finance Secretary, Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & HRD, Rana Asad Amin, Advisor, Finance Division, Mr. Saeed Ahmed, Dy. Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, Mr. Sualeh Farouqui, Chairman, EOBI and other senior officials.

 
 
 
 
 

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