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IMF ‘satisfied’ with Pakistan but no deal this week

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  • Finance minister says Pakistan “very close” to signing SLA with IMF.
  • Says Pakistan “absolutely committed” to completing IMF programme.
  • Calls for correcting mistakes made on the economic front in the last four years. 

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was “satisfied” with Pakistan’s actions but the staff-level agreement could not be signed this week.

“We seem to be very close to signing the staff-level agreement hopefully in the next few days,” Dar said in his address during a seminar titled “Reviving Economic Stability through the Strengthening of Public Financial Management” in the federal capital. 

However, the finance minister, while citing his experience of completing 12 reviews of the “one and only” IMF programme Pakistan completed, shared that “it has taken longer than it should have” for Islamabad to complete the pending ninth review.

“I think we owe to this nation that we show seriousness, we deliver and we demonstrate to the world that we can honour the sovereign commitments no matter who made those,” said Dar. He also assured that his team was “absolutely committed” to completing the programme to the “best” of their ability.  

While berating the Imran Khan-led government, Dar shared the situation of the economy when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government left in 2018.

The minister said that it pained him to see the economy fall to the rank of 47 in 2022 after it was predicted that Pakistan would join G20 by the end of 2030. 

The finance czar also highlighted that the Pakistan Stock Exchange’s (PSX) market capitalisation was over $100 billion but dropped to $26 billion in the last few years.  

“Another serious issue that we should be pondering about is the debt sustainability of Pakistan,” said the finance minister. He added that it was under $30 trillion in 2018 and has now climbed to $55 trillion in 2022. 

“As a consequence, this country which used to have debt servicing of less than $2 trillion per annum in the fiscal year 2016-17 has risen to over $5 trillion,” said Dar.

“I think in the last few years, we should see what mistakes we have made on the economic front and we should try to correct those as soon as possible,” said the finance minister.

‘IMF deal not to be signed this week’

Later, to a question by a journalist, the finance minister said the agreement will not be finalised this week.

“Staff-level agreement with IMF is unlikely this week,” said the finance minister, adding that the Fund was “satisfied” with the actions taken by Pakistan.

When pressed that he had assured of striking the SLA by this week, Dar responded: “I said a few days, not this week.”

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The inaugural flight of Azerbaijan Airlines is between Baku and Karachi.

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The national airline of Azerbaijan launched direct flights from Baku to Karachi today. There will be two weekly flights on this route, on Thursdays and Sundays.

The first flight will land in Karachi, and Azerbaijan’s ambassador, Khazar Farhadov, will be there to greet it.

This evening also marks the departure of the inaugural flight from Karachi to Baku, in addition to the arrival of the flight from Baku.

Azerbaijan Airlines said last month that it would be growing its network and flight operations in Pakistan.

Aviation insiders have verified that Azerbaijan Airlines is preparing to launch service to Karachi in the coming month of April.

In addition to its current services in Islamabad and Lahore, the airline plans to launch its Karachi route on April 18, with the inaugural flight anticipated to depart on that date.

Azerbaijan Airlines has been given permission to operate flights on the Karachi route, according to sources within the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Following a bilateral agreement between the two nations, Azerbaijan Airlines has been given permission to extend its operations in Pakistan.

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Fly Jinnah opens a new route internationally.

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Two weekly flights will be the starting frequency of the new route, which will connect the two cities.

According to a representative for Fly Jinnah, the company is pleased to announce the opening of a third international route from Islamabad to Muscat, the capital city of Oman, marking another significant milestone after the successful debut of flights from Islamabad and Lahore to Sharjah.

According to him, this development is in line with our goal of giving our clients more options for reasonably priced, value-driven local and international air travel.

The airline serves five main cities in Pakistan: Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, and Quetta. Its fleet consists of five Airbus A320 aircraft, all of which are contemporary.

In addition to the current flight path to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, this new route expands Fly Jinnah’s network of foreign destinations.

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Tajir Dost app: traders don’t seem interested in registering

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To tax retailers in Pakistan, the Tajir Dost app was released. The sources stated that the government hopes to tax 3.5 million merchants through the app.

Ajmal Baloch, the president of All-Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran, stated that he made reservations with FBR on the SRO within a week.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), according to him, cannot be a “Tajir Dost” because of its unethical actions.

Baloch believed that since electricity bills allow traders to pay a predetermined advance income tax, further taxes are unnecessary.

The trader, according to him, is already paying thirteen different kinds of taxes on the commercial meter. “A trader already pays between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 20,000 in taxes annually, but you are requesting Rs. 1,200 per month in taxes.”

Mr. Ajmal summoned representatives of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to a meeting with the trade associations to talk about the indirect taxes that the merchants are paying.

Additionally, he claimed that FBR officers are charging the traders, the majority of whom are less educated, “monthly charges.”

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