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Govt denies 24-hour gas supply to consumers as reserves dry up

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  • “Gas loadshedding will end during sehri and iftar,” minister says.
  • “We cannot provide gas 24 hours as our reserves have dropped.”
  • “The gas bill of the rich and poor has been separated,” he says.

KARACHI: Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik said Wednesday that the masses cannot get gas 24/7, attributing a drop in the commodity’s reserves as a major reason.

Pakistan is highly reliant on natural gas for energy, and with rising demand and insufficient supply, loadshedding has become a daily occurrence in many areas of the nation.

This scenario worsens during Ramadan when Pakistanis use more gas for cooking and other reasons, especially during sehri and iftar timings.

But the minister, in conversation with journalists in Karachi, without giving an exact time, said the gas loadshedding would end during sehri and iftar. “We cannot provide gas 24 hours as our reserves have dropped.”

The issue of gas starvation in Karachi caught Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s attention recently, and he directed relevant officials to ensure an uninterrupted supply of the commodity.

He said the process of supply of gas should be supervised and no negligence should be tolerated.

Owing to the widening gap between gas supply and demand, the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) last week announced its decision to suspend supplies to captive power plants and industries.

The gas utility said that the decision has been taken considering the low supply of gas. It stated that due to a reduction in supply, the volume of gas in pipelines has decreased.

In response, the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) called for immediate government action over the shortage of gas supply to Karachi industries, saying the industries could not function without gas and would be forced to halt production.

“It’s highly unfair to have such an attitude towards Karachi’s business community which, despite facing so many odds and challenges, contributes around 54% in terms of exports and more than 68% in terms of revenue,” KCCI president Muhammad Tariq Yousuf said.

Malik, while talking to journalists, said his visit to Karachi was based on resolving the gas supply issues that the people are facing and urged them to ensure payment of their utility bills.

“The gas bill of the rich and poor has been separated; rich people will have to pay more now,” the minister of state for petroleum said.

Business

Bulls Reenter PSX: The KSE-100 Rises More Than 886 Points

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As the market surged more than 800 points in the early morning trade, bulls grabbed control at the Pakistan Stock Exchange.

During the first trading session, the benchmark KSE-100 index increased by 886 points to 61,350.48 points.

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Pakistan’s steel prices are rising; get the latest figures here

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Another increase in steel prices has resulted in higher construction expenses in Pakistan. The economic downturn and continuous shipping delays have resulted in sharp price increases for building supplies, which has an effect on those who are planning to construct homes.

Due to increased manufacturing costs and supply chain interruptions brought on by the Middle East crisis, the price of iron, commonly known as steel rebar, has increased by Rs5,000 per ton. Local and imported steel rebar now costs between Rs240,000 and Rs260,000 per ton as a result of this most recent rise.

The cost of branded iron went from Rs255,000 to Rs260,000 per ton, while the cost of local iron climbed from Rs236,000 to Rs240,000. Furthermore, the cost of scrap or unprocessed iron has increased to Rs160,000 per ton inin the iron and steel markets.

The impact of the skyrocketing steel prices will be exacerbated by any more interruptions in the raw material supply chain. The cost of cement, on the other hand, has somewhat decreased and is at Rs 1,246 per bag.

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Up 30% to Rs 5.1 trillion by mid-February, FBR collected

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The total increase in domestic taxes has been around 40%, whilst import duties and associated levies increased by 16% between July 2023 and January 2024.

With the recovery of the GDP and increased inspection of FBR collection, the growth in revenues accelerated.

Up to mid-February, FBR receipts increased by 30% to Rs. 5.1 trillion. Nevertheless, decreases in import tariffs over time and, more recently, import license limits implemented by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to manage the country’s balance of payments in the aftermath of foreign exchange shortages, were mostly responsible for the decline in the rise of import taxes.

However, the impact of improvements in import valuation, which resulted in collections of Rs 151 billion, as well as the anti-smuggling campaign, which saw a surge of about 69% in the current fiscal year over the previous one, are also included in the income collected from imports.

The statement said that there was room to improve anti-smuggling operations by considering expanding Baluchistan’s customs force, which now only has 378 anti-smuggling employees out of 20,000 total.

The mobilization of domestic tax income, which accounted for more than 64% of all revenues received in the current fiscal year, was hailed in the statement as a welcome change.

In parallel, the percentage of import duties has decreased to 36% from over 50% just three years prior. The main drivers of this increase in revenue were the several taxes sources. From Rs. 1,751 billion to Rs. 2,447 billion, income tax receipts increased significantly—by 40%.

Banks, the petroleum and oil lubricants (POL) business, the textile industry, the electricity sector, the food industry, and a number of service industries were among the major income tax payers. Up to mid-February, FBR receipts increased by 30% to Rs. 5.1 trillion. Notable rise was also seen in sales tax receipts, which increased by 19% from Rs. 1,480 billion to Rs. 1,766 billion.

POL, the electricity sector, the food sector, the automobile sector, the iron and steel sector, and the chemical sector were important growth drivers.

The amount collected in federal excise taxes increased significantly by 61%, from Rs. 190 billion to Rs. 307 billion.

Taxes on tobacco goods, the cement industry, drinks, airlines, fertilizers, and the automobile sector were the main causes of this increase. The amount collected in customs duties increased by 14%, from Rs. 552 billion to Rs. 629 billion.

The POL, automobile, iron and steel, electronics, and food industries were among the main donors to customs duties.

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