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Gold Price Reaches All-Time High

Despite price decline in international market, the price of 24 karat per tola gold witnessed an increase of Rs 800 and reached all time high of Rs132,800 as compared to its sale at Rs132,000 in the local market the previous day. The price of 10 gram 24 karat gold also increased by Rs 686 to Rs113,855 from Rs113,169 whereas that of 10 gram 22 karat went up to Rs104,367 from Rs103,738, All Sindh Sarafa Jewellers Association reported. The price of per tola and ten gram silver remained constant at Rs 1520 and Rs1303.15 respectively. The price of gold in international market decreased by $2 and was traded at $1926 against its sale at $1928, the association reported.
 

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Turkmenistan Keen To Promote Trade Ties With Pakistan

Atadjan N. Movlamov, Dean of Diplomatic Corps and Ambassador of Turkmenistan, Tuesday said that his country was keen to promote trade ties with Pakistan as both countries have good potential to do trade in many items.
He said this while talking to Muhammad Shakeel Munir, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), during his visit to Embassy of Turkmenistan. Muhammad Naveed Malik, former Senior Vice President ICCI, also accompanied him at the occasion.
The Dean of Diplomatic Corps said that his embassy was ready to organize an online business opportunities conference between ICCI and Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Turkmenistan so that business communities of both countries could interact and explore potential areas of mutual cooperation. He said that his Embassy would give a presentation in its premises to ICCI members about exportable products of Turkmenistan and potential areas of trade cooperation between the two countries. He said that Turkmenistan could supply LPG to Pakistan to meet its energy needs. He exchanged ideas with president ICCI on a range of topics to improve bilateral trade and economic relations between Pakistan and Turkmenistan.
Speaking at the occasion, Muhammad Shakeel Munir, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry, appreciated the offers of Ambassador of Turkmenistan for online conference between ICCI & CCI Turkmenistan and presentation to ICCI members that would help in exploring new opportunities of trade promotion between Pakistan and Turkmenistan. He said that being a landlocked country, Turkmenistan could promote its trade and exports through Gwadar and Karachi ports to many countries. He said that Central Asia was an attractive market for Pakistan and close cooperation with Turkmenistan would help Pakistan in getting better access to Central Asian markets. He also discussed various proposals with the Ambassador of Turkmenistan to promote business linkages between the private sectors of both countries in order to explore all untapped areas of bilateral cooperation.
 

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Exchange rate of Pak rupee recovered by Rs1.76 against the US dollar in the interbank trading on Monday and closed at Rs182.92 against the previous day’s closing of Rs184.68.
According to the Forex Association of Pakistan (FAP), the buying and selling rates of dollar in the open market were recorded at Rs185 and Rs186.6 respectively.
Similarly, the price of the euro was depreciated by Rs1.29 and closed at Rs199.47 against the previous day’s closing of Rs 200.76
 

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Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have agreed, in principle, to extend the stalled bailout programme by up to one year and increase the loan size to $8 billion, giving markets the much-needed stability and a breathing space to the new government.
The understanding has been reached between Finance Minister Dr Miftah Ismail and IMF Deputy Managing Director Antoinette Sayeh in Washington, sources told The Express Tribune on Sunday.
 

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Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail has said the government will devise a policy to increase petroleum prices, adding that the "elite class having big vehicles could not be given subsidy, however, those using less petrol such as motorcyclists would be given relief".
Talking to a private news channel on Monday, Miftah – who took office this month after the previous government lost a no-confidence vote – said the present government would bring administrative improvement in the next few months. "Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has advised him that no economic pressure should be put on the common people," he added.
He said that the government would make all-out efforts to reduce the budget deficit which had increased during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) regime. “We will collect more tax than our predecessors without levying any new tax.”
 

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Pakistan, Japan to cooperate in telecommunication, IT fields

In a meeting with Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunications Syed Amin Ul Haque, Japan Ambassador to Pakistan Mitsuhiro Wada pledged to promote cooperation in the telecommunications and information technology (IT) fields, news sources reported on April 26.

Minister Amin stated that the government’s IT-related uplift programmes are beneficial to the IT industry and would have a favourable impact on bilateral IT cooperation. According to the minister, Japanese firms may profit from Pakistani IT talent and expertise. He also assured the ambassador of the government’s support for Japanese companies.

Both parties agreed to increase investment in IT-related infrastructure development. When it comes to current innovations in the IT sector, Pakistan has made great strides in recent years. Under the Special Technology Zone Authority (STZA), Pakistan has developed several IT-related infrastructure projects, including special IT zones. Pakistan is also constructing an IT park in Islamabad with the assistance of the Republic of Korea to promote IT talent.
 

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Pak, Azerbaijan to strengthen trade, economic cooperation


In a meeting chaired by Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) President Hasnain Khurshid Ahmed at the Chamber’s house, Ambassador of Azerbaijan Khazar Farhadove emphasised the need to strengthen economic and trade cooperation with Pakistan, according to a news story published on April 26.

The meeting was attended by Executive Members Tameotah Khalilov, Pervez Khattak, Muhammad Aurangzeb, and Shoaib Khan from the Azerbaijan embassy in Pakistan, exporters, traders, and importers. During the meeting, the ambassador invited the businessmen from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) to invest in different sectors in Azerbaijan.

Moreover, SCCI President Ahmed, speaking at the meeting, stressed the fact that joint ventures and initiatives should be launched to boost trade volumes between both countries. He highlighted that immense opportunities were available for foreign investors to invest in various sectors in KP such as gas, hydel power generation, handicrafts, minerals, oil, precious stones, furniture, and others.

Reportedly, the SCCI President disclosed that the province is safe for investment so investors should invest without any fear. The ambassador informed that several working groups have been formed, which are working to eliminate problems and hurdles faced by the business community in both countries.
 

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ADB disburses over USD 1 bn in loans, aid

In the fiscal year (FY) 2020-2021, the Asia Development Bank (ADB) disbursed a total of USD 1.31 billion to Pakistan in the form of loans and grants, news sources reported. As of December 31, 2021, ADB has USD 441.3 million in outstanding balance and undisbursed funds to Pakistan, representing 3.14% of the overall private sector portfolio.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) committed a total of USD 22.8 billion to assist Asia and the Pacific in dealing with the immediate effects of the Covid-19, including loans and guarantees, grants, equity investments, and technical assistance to governments and the private sector, according to a report released on Monday (April 25).

Aside from the USD 22.8 billion, the ADB also mobilised USD 12.9 billion in co-financing. ADB designed a loan and grant programme for Pakistan to help with economic management, resilience, competitiveness, and private sector growth. This comprised funds for rural-urban connectivity infrastructure, healthcare infrastructure development, macroeconomic management, digital transformation through policy changes, public institution strengthening, and associated infrastructure investments.

It is also worth noting that the IMF proposed a special drawing rights (SDR) effort for both developing and developed countries in order to mitigate the adverse economic effects of COVID-19.
 

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Miftah briefs global bond investors on discussions with IMF

Federal Minister for Finance & Revenue Miftah Ismail briefed global bond investors on the discussions with International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to media reports published on April 26.

A meeting was organised by JP Morgan in London with the investors, which was attended by over 30 global investors in global debt markets representing hedge funds, asset managers, and sovereign wealth funds from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. State Bank Governor Reza Baqir and Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK) Moazzam Ahmad were also present for the meeting.

During the meeting, the finance minister informed the investors about the discussions with IMF. The meeting also discussed the efforts being made to complete the 7th review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) program. Moreover, Finance Minister Miftah emphasised the need for a responsible and prudent fiscal policy. He notified the investors that the government wants to extend the duration of the programme till June 2023 as a sign of Pakistan’s commitment to reform. Reportedly, the investors lauded the efforts of the government to attain fiscal sustainability and showed interest in investing in Pakistan.
 

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Islamabad, and Riyadh will discuss the possibility of augmenting the kingdom's $3 billion deposit in the State Bank of Pakistan by extending its term or through other options, a joint statement said on Sunday.

The official statement came following Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Saudi Arabia, where he performed Umrah and called on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia deposited $3 billion in the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) last year to help support its foreign reserves. Meanwhile, Pakistani officials hailed the Kingdom’s decision to extend an agreement to finance exports of crude oil products and oil derivatives.
Both Islamic countries also agreed to strengthen cooperation in investment, industrial and mining sectors.
Re-kindling partnerships and enabling investment integration opportunities between private sectors were discussed while the two sides also stressed the importance of strengthening work through the Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council, for diversifying trade.
Media cooperation, exploring opportunities to develop cooperation in the fields of radio, television, and news agencies, and exchanging experiences in order to develop the joint media work were also discussed, per reports.
 

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The prices of various essential food items at the utility stores witnessed an increase as the relief package the government put in place during Ramazan expired.
Following the withdrawal of subsidies, rates of various lentils have gone up by Rs10 per kg. The price of black gram lentils has gone up from Rs268 to Rs278 per kg.
Similarly, the price of green gram lentils increased to Rs170 from Rs160 per kg.
According to the new rate list issued by the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) on Saturday, the price of basin rose by Rs20 per kg, taking it from Rs170 to Rs190 per kg. The price of 950g tea spiked by Rs67, whereas, the price of 500g dates was increased by Rs10.
 

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CDNS issues Rs955b worth of fresh bonds

The Central Directorate of National Savings (CDNS) on Saturday got closer to its annual target by issuing Rs955 billion fresh bonds in the last 10 months of current fiscal year 2021-22 from July 1 to May 5.

CDNS has set the annual gross receipt target at Rs980 billion for the full fiscal year to promote savings in the country, said a senior CDNS official. It had set Rs250 billion annual collection target for 2020- 21 as compared to Rs352 billion for the previous year (2019-20), the official added. In response to a question, he said that CDNS had decided to start Islamic financing and would begin procedural work next month to provide the Shariah-compliant facility. “In this regard, prize bonds and savings certificates will be issued for investment in accordance with the Shariah principles.”

Moreover, the CDNS will provide Islamic investment opportunities to its customers like the private and public-sector banks, where the Islamic banking share has reached 20%. Responding to a question, the official said that CDNS had initiated steps to increase investment opportunities and promote digital investments through new projects. “CDNS in collaboration with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is developing digital prize bonds, which will be available through electronic channels,” he said.


 

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PM expresses desire to further enhance Pak-EU ties

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday expressed the desire to further strengthen the multi-faceted relationship in diverse sectors, including climate change and legal migration, with the European Union (EU)

The prime minister's resolve came during a meeting with the Charge d' Affaires of the EU to Pakistan Thomas Seiler who called on him in Islamabad.

The PM highlighted the strong economic, trade and investment ties between Pakistan and the EU.

PM Shehbaz also underscored the importance of regular high-level exchanges between the two sides to deepen bilateral collaboration and enhance mutual cooperation on issues of peace and stability in the regional and international context.

Seiler congratulated PM Shehbaz on assuming the new office and conveyed the best wishes of the European Council president and the president of the EU Commission.

 

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The gold price in Pakistan soared to a record high at Rs135,700 per tola (11.66 grams) in Pakistan on Wednesday.

The surge was contrary to a downtrend in the commodity in global markets.

Gold has emerged as a safe asset in these challenging times of the economic crisis. People were aggressively buying gold to protect their cash from deflation.
 

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Monthly remittances from overseas workers crossed $3 billion for the first time in Pakistan's history, as inflows of $3.125 billion were recorded during April 2022, revealed data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Friday.
In terms of growth, remittances increased 11.2% on a month-on-month basis, and 11.9% on a year-on-year basis.
Cumulatively, at $26.1 billion, remittances grew by 7.6% during 10 months of FY22 compared to the same period last year. Saudi Arabia was the largest contributor to workers’ remittances with $6.517 billion during July-April FY22, up from $6.412 billion in same period last fiscal year. From the UAE, remittances amounted to $4.898 billion, while an inflow of $3.671 billion was recorded from the UK, and another $2.556 billion from the US.
On a monthly basis, inflows were mainly sourced from Saudi Arabia ($707 million), United Arab Emirates ($614 million), United Kingdom ($484 million) and the United States of America ($346 million).
The development comes at a crucial time for Pakistan, which has seen its foreign exchange reserves deplete due to external debt servicing and lower inflow of dollars. According to the latest data, reserves held by the SBP decreased another $190 million to $10.31 billion, said the central bank on Thursday, with the level staying at less than 1.5 months of import cover.
 

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Dollar reached another high against the rupee on Monday, climbing past Rs194 in the interbank market, as analysts continue to express concern over the country's rising import bill.

According to the Forex Association of Pakistan (FAP), the greenback gained Rs1.30 from Friday's close to reach Rs194.30 around 11:30am in the interbank trade.

This development comes after a week of the rupee hitting new lows, mainly due to the country's rising import bill.

Previous week's data from the FAP showed that the dollar had risen to record highs against the rupee for five consecutive days, with the international currency hitting a high of Rs188.66 in the interbank market last Tuesday, then soaring to Rs190.90 on Wednesday, rising past Rs192 on Thursday and reaching Rs193.10 on Friday.
 

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A mixed trend in prices of essential food commodities —— including live chicken/meat, flour, pulses, milk, fruits, vegetables, and sugar —— has generally been witnessed in the retail markets here.

However, a weekly survey conducted by Business Recorder here on Sunday revealed that prices of almost all items of daily use remained on the higher side.


The prices of flour have increased amid a reported ban on movement of the commodity from Punjab. A 20-kg bag of fine flour was being sold at Rs 1,400 while mixed fine flour was available at Rs 1,300-1,350 per 20-kg sack. Bronze coloured flour was being sold at Rs 1,200 per 20-kg bag.

On the other hand, the provincial government is claiming that a 20-kg flour bag is available at Rs 800 in the open market. It has also rejected claims of shortage of flour in the market.

An increase of Rs 5-10 per litre was noticed in the price of packed milk of different brands, while the price of fresh milk remained unchanged in the local market. Milk containing high fat was available at Rs 150-160 per litre while low-fat fresh milk was being sold at Rs 100-120 per litre. Yogurt was being sold at Rs 160 per kg.

An increase of Rs 5-10 per litre/kg was witnessed in the prices of cooking oil and ghee of different brands and quality in the local market.

Confectionery items were being sold at high prices as bakers charged self-imposed rates, claiming that prices had increased owing to escalating rates of Maida, ghee, and other materials.
 

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The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) has demanded of the new government to generate revenue by increasing tobacco taxes.

It has recommended increasing Federal Excise Duty (FED) on Tobacco Products by 30pc to generate additional revenue that can be used for the well-being of people since the budget is a crucial challenge for the government.

Sparc Programme Manager Khalil Ahmed Dogar stated that tobacco taxes were the most cost-effective tobacco control measure.

“The use of tobacco causes an annual economic burden of Rs615 billion, which was 1.6pc of Pakistan’s GDP, which leads to high healthcare costs and productivity loss,” he said.

He stressed that the health and economic costs of tobacco use were more than five times the tax receipts, even though the tobacco industry was a major taxpayer in absolute terms, the tax contribution of the tobacco industry was a small fraction of what tobacco consumption costs the government and society. “Since taxes on tobacco didn’t interest the previous government, it’s an opportunity for the sitting govt. to generate revenue by increasing taxes on tobacco and tame the deficit,” he said.

Former technical head Tobacco Control Cell (TCC) Ministry of Health Dr Ziauddin Islam said the tobacco industry misguides government over illicit trade.

“According to Tobacco Industry data in January 2021 illegal cigarette costs Rs40 billion to the economy, and in February 2021 they quoted Rs77 billion without any justification, whereas according to an independent report illicit cigarette market is only 10-15pc,” he said.

He further said that tobacco use had direct and indirect effects on children’s health. “Daily 1,200 children initiate smoking. Increasing tobacco taxes will bring this number down. Raising taxation on tobacco is the most suitable measure of reducing tobacco use and associated health risks, especially among low-income populations,” he said.

CEO of Chromatic Trust Shariq Mahmood Khan said the tobacco hazard can be controlled by increasing taxes and creating awareness. Recently tobacco and related industries have increasingly preyed on children and adolescents, engaging in advertising tactics like sponsorships and influencer marketing to target them directly that threatens their health.

He appealed to the new government to raise awareness and help the directorate of health to implement tobacco control laws and increase tobacco taxes to reduce consumption and generate additional income.
 

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Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Amin ul Haque on Tuesday said the telecommunication industry had attracted about 6.1 billion dollars Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from first July 2018 to 30 March, 2022.

In his message on the occasion of ‘World Telecommunication and Information Society Day’, The minister said that revolutionary steps were taken in IT and Telecommunication sector in last three years which had made it most attractive sector for the local and foreign investors.

The number of active mobile SIMs have reached 193 million by March 2022 due to reforms in Telecom sector and the number of mobile and fixed Broadband witnessed 39.4 percent increase, he said.

The federal minister said that projects were started through Universal Service Fund (USF), the attached department of Ministry of IT and Telecom, for the provision of broadband services across the country. Over 37 projects of worth Rs 31 billion were launched by June 2021 and up to 50 to 75 percent work has been completed on most of these projects, he added.

The minister said that Rs 6.47 billion were being spent on nine different projects of optical fiber and broadband services in Punjab and nine projects of worth over Rs 8.48 billion were also underway in Sindh for provision of high speed internet and laying of fiber optical in the province. The number of projects for the 14 districts of Balochistan is 11 costing Rs 8.43 billion. Over 7.08 billion rupees are being spent on 8 different projects of broadband services and optical fiber in fourteen districts of KPK, he noted.

Syed Amin ul Haque said that Rs 29 billion were also being spent on 28 projects for provision of broadband services in far-flung areas during current financial year.
 

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While Pakistan's economy continues to scare away foreign investments, data suggests the country's super-rich owns over 38,000 properties worth $10.6 billion in Dubai's offshore real estate market, which is more than Pakistan's State Bank dollar reserves

Pakistan’s central bank reserves have fallen to a 23-month low, decreasing by $190 million to $10.308 billion.

Whereas the country’s foreign exchange reserves decreased by $178 million or 1.1 per cent in the week ended May 6, standing at $16.376 billion.

The decline was attributed to outflows related to external debt repayments. Analysts estimate the central bank’s latest reserves can cover imports for 1.54 months.

The report cited the bank’s data and reported that inflows clocked in at $16.4 billion from $16.5 billion a week earlier.

The falling reserves put pressure on the currency as it plunged to an all-time low of Rs199.25 per dollar in the interbank market.

The main owners of Dubai real estate in absolute terms are large neighboring countries such as India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia, and several large, often English-speaking economies like the UK, US, Canada, China, Germany, and France.

The paper notes that offshore real estate in Dubai is massive, with at least $146 billion in foreign wealth invested in the property market.
 
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