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Miftah Ismail rules out imposition of financial emergency in Pakistan

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  • Miftah Ismail says no possibility of financial emergency in country.
  • He says after two hikes in petrol price, country out of financial crisis.
  • PM Shehbaz Sharif to announce austerity measures as well, he adds.

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Miftah Ismail Monday ruled out the possibility of a financial emergency in the country after the government took steps to rectify the ongoing economic turmoil.

In a tweet, Ismail said the country was not facing a financial emergency as the price of petrol had been increased twice — and hiked up to Rs209.86, while there has also been a massive increase in other petroleum products.

The finance minister, without specifying a date, added that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would at some point announce austerity measures to save government expenditures.

In a bid to bring economic stability and revive the stalled multi-billion dollars International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, the government had increased the price of petrol by a whopping Rs60 per litre.

Moreover, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) last week raised the basic power tariff by Rs7.9078/kWh for the next fiscal year 2022-23 — increasing the burden of inflation on the people.

The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) had also last Friday approved an increase in gas prices — a hike of 45% was approved for the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) while 44% for the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC).

The finance minister had also assured last month that the government would reach a staff-level agreement with the international money lender by June, without specifying the exact date.

Separately, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said the government and the central bank were taking all necessary measures to ensure macroeconomic stability in the country.

The recent difficult decisions taken by the government — including the reduction of subsidies on petroleum products — are expected to pave the way to reaching an agreement with the IMF and release of the tranche and financial assistance from other multilateral agencies and friendly countries.

“We are confident that these measures will relieve the temporary stress being faced due to elevated global commodity prices and geopolitical tensions, and eliminate uncertainty in the economy,” the central bank said.

Freezing foreign current accounts?

In another tweet, the finance minister also said there was “absolutely no plan” to freeze foreign currency accounts, Roshan Digital Accounts, or take over people’s private lockers.

“We have never even contemplated these steps. Nor will we ever do it. Speculation on social media about this is wrong and coming from biased quarters,” he said.

Prior to the finance minister’s clarification, the SBP, in a statement, had rebutted rumours of imposing restrictions on foreign currency accounts, Roshan Digital Accounts, and safety deposit lockers.

In a statement, the central bank assured all account holders in Pakistan that their accounts and lockers are completely safe and that there is no proposal under consideration to put any restriction on them.

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Tourism boom: During Eidul Azha, more than 400,000 people travel to KP

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Over 400,000 people travelled to several beautiful locations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa between June 17 and June 19, celebrating the recently ended Eidul Azha festivities.

With over 174,000 visitors in one day, Naran Kaghan emerged as the most popular location. Visitors looking for a getaway from the city are still drawn to Naran Kaghan’s calm scenery and charming valleys.

A total of 162,000 visitors to Galiyat took in the city’s rich history at its cultural institutions and historical landmarks. In addition, more than 46,000 people visited Malam Jabba in Swat, and 23,000 people visited Upper Dir to take in its stunning surroundings.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is becoming a popular domestic vacation destination due to its unique combination of natural beauty, cultural legacy, and adventure options, as seen by the rise in visitor numbers.

Businesses and local government agencies have been collaborating to make sure tourists have an unforgettable time while appropriately handling the inflow.

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Pakistan currently has $14.41 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

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In a statement, the central bank stated that as of June 14, 2024, Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) stood at $9.135 billion, following the increase.

The announcement also stated, “SBP reserves increased by US$ 31 million to US$ 9,134.7 million during the week ended on June 14, 2024.”

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) stated that the nation had $14.415 billion in total liquid foreign reserves. Commercial banks own $5.28 billion of the total in net foreign reserves.

It was announced earlier on June 13 that Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves reached US$14.38 billion, up US$168 million in the first week of June.

Pakistan’s reserves held by commercial banks rose by US$174 million to $5.28 billion for the week that ended on June 7, according to a statement released by the central bank.

The SBP now has US$9.10 billion in reserves, down US$6.2 million from before. The central bank did not provide an explanation for why its reserves fell.

“SBP reserves decreased by US$ 6 million to US$ 9,103.3 million during the week ended on July 7, 2024,” the SBP said in a statement.

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In a first for history, PSX crosses the 77,000 milestone.

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At 77,213.31, the benchmark KSE-100 hit an all-time high, up 1,005.15, or 1.32%, from the previous close of 76,208.16.

The government’s readiness to seal an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following the budget was cited by analysts as the reason for the upward trend.

Experts anticipate that in an attempt to bolster its position for a fresh bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the budget for the fiscal year ending in June 2025 would set aggressive fiscal goals.

Budget for Pakistan, 2024–2025
Pakistan’s budget for the fiscal year 2024–25, with a total expenditure of Rs18.877 trillion, was presented on Wednesday by Minister of Finance and Revenue Muhammad Aurangzeb.

The Finance Minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, outlined the budget highlights. He stated that the GDP growth target for the fiscal year 2024–25 is set at 3.6 percent, while the inflation rate is anticipated to stay at 12 percent.

He stated that while the primary surplus is anticipated to be 1.0 percent of GDP during the review period, the budget deficit to GDP is forecast to be 6.9 percent over the period under review.

According to the minister, tax income collection increased by 38% in the current fiscal year, and the province will receive Rs7,438 billion. The Federal Board of income expects to earn Rs12,970 billion in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year.

In contrast to the federal government’s projected net income of Rs9,119 billion, he stated that the federation’s non-tax revenue projections are set at Rs3,587 billion.

The federal government’s total outlays are projected to be Rs18,877 billion, with interest payments accounting for the remaining Rs9,775 billion.

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