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‘Hard to imagine buying Russian oil’: Miftah Ismail says in CNN interview

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  • Miftah says Russia neither offered oil nor responded to former govt’s requests.
  • Says incumbent govt asked Russia and Ukraine, whoever can, to sell wheat to Pakistan.
  • Says impossible for Pakistani banks to open LCs or arrange to buy Russian oil at this point.

KARACHI: Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Tuesday said that Western sanctions have made importing oil from Moscow impossible despite the Pakistani government’s request to buy wheat from Russia and Ukraine.

“Russia has not offered us any oil either. It is difficult for me to imagine buying Russian oil,” Miftah said in a conversation with CNN.

The minister said that as Russia is facing sanctions, it hasn’t responded to the previous government’s letter seeking imports. Regardless of this, the incumbent government has again asked both Moscow and Ukraine, whoever can, to export wheat to Pakistan.

“We would be happy to buy wheat from them,” he added.

Miftah further stated that Pakistan would surely consider if Russia offers oil trade at cheaper rates as there are no restrictions on buying the supply.

He said, however, it would be not possible for Pakistani banks to open LCs or arrange to buy Russian oil at this point.

Refuting former prime minister Imran Khan’s claims, Ismail said that Russia has not offered a 30% discount on oil or wheat.

“Let’s be clear. I don’t know where Khan gets these numbers from.

“Khan just makes it up as he goes along. He is the guy who was saying we (PDM) were brought in through an American conspiracy. And now he has come up with this new thing. If Russia was selling him cheap wheat and oil then why didn’t he buy it. He did not.”

He pointed out that the incumbent government is “at least” trying to initiate talks for wheat import because food is not under sanctions, unlike oil.

To a query regarding Pakistan’s negotiations with IMF, Ismail said, the government just finished a round of talks with the IMF in Doha.

“In particular, the IMF is looking to the budget I am going to present before the parliament in the early part of June. After that I am hoping we will reach a staff-level agreement,” he added

“What the IMF is looking for us to do is reverse the subsidies on oil, petrol and diesel in particular, that the previous government had given. It’s also looking for me to reverse some power sector or electricity tariff subsidies. These subsidies were introduced by the previous government in contravention with its own agreement with the IMF. I am pretty confident we should be able to sign an agreement with the fund, but there would be some austerity measures and some increase in taxation.”

He said the previous government in its waning days did a few things to violate agreements with the IMF, including giving unsustainably high subsidies on petrol and diesel and also on power.

“Khan knew it could not be sustained. And when we came to power he started going from city to city trying to rally the people and coming up with these theories, conspiracies and all the stuff and building a political pressure on us. That’s why it was difficult, but we finally took the plunge,” Ismail said.

In response to what Miftah said, former Human Rights minister and PTI leader Shireen Mazari said that its only the “fear of US” that is stopping the finance minister from buying Russian oil as there are “no sanctions” on Russian oil import.

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An increase in tax was made on restaurant card payments.

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After 15 years, the SRB reduced the service tax that 58 hotels and restaurants in Karachi could have charged on debit and credit card purchases to 15%. This action is a part of the Sindh budget, which was designed to make eating out less expensive for customers.

Prior to this, Sindh’s tax on credit and debit card purchases was lowered from 15% to 8%.

Officials from the SRB have further stated that the service was made available for input adjustment of restaurant tax payments. With this step, businesses will be able to efficiently handle their tax responsibilities and the tax process would be made simpler.

Only a few eateries have been given authority to remove the lower tax rate, even though this tax facility has been reversed.

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The KSE-100 Index rises following a sharp decline in the previous session.

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The government is considering filing a treason case under Article 6 against PTI founder Imran Khan, former president Arif Alvi, and former deputy speaker Qasim Suri. On Tuesday, the KSE-100 Index was up more than 1.3% during early trading, following a day of roughly a 2 percent loss due to growing political unrest and the potential banning of the party.

However, the benchmark index of the Pakistan Stock Exchange was trading at 79,074.63 by 11:49 a.m., having gained 535.45 points, or 0.68 percent, after reaching an intraday high of 79,578.04.

Market analysts said that political tensions were the primary cause of the KSE-100’s earlier Monday decline of 1578.71 points, or 1.97 percent.

They did point out, though, that a correction was a reasonable reaction to the protracted upswing that allowed the benchmark mark index to reach 81,839.86 on July 18.

As a result of interest rate cuts and the possibility of another IMF program, the Pakistan Stock Exchange has gained 22.97 percent so far this year. The cycle began on June 10 with a 1.5 percent decrease in borrowing costs.

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In interbank trade, the US dollar crushes the Pakistani rupee.

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During interbank trade on Tuesday, the US dollar’s value increased by 15 paisas, reaching Rs 278.45.

It is important to remember that Fitch Business Monitor International expressed concern about the possibility that Pakistan’s economic stability may be jeopardized by the ongoing political unrest.

The fragile situation of Pakistan’s economic recovery was emphasized by Fitch in its most recent Pakistan Country Risk Report, which also noted that economic activity has been impeded by urban protests.

(PTI),In spite of multiple successful judicial appeals, the founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) is expected to stay behind bars, the article notes, underscoring the fragile political environment.

With no urgent plans for new elections, this scenario suggests that the coalition administration will remain in office for the next 18 months.

Fitch also described an eventuality in which the government could change and be replaced by a technocratic administration. This suggests that the government of Pakistan would carry out the reforms demanded by the IMF, contributing to the 3.2% GDP growth expected in 2024–2025.

The policy rate has stabilized above projections, while the research predicted it may reach 16 percent this fiscal year and 14 percent the following year.

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