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No objection to Pakistan’s decision to import oil from Russia: US State Dept

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  • “Each country is going to make its own sovereign decisions,” US State Dept says.
  • It says US never tried to keep Russian energy off the market.
  • Last week, Pakistan placed its first order for Russian crude oil.

WASHINGTON: Days after Islamabad placed its first order for Russian crude oil, the United States confirmed that it has no objection to Pakistan’s decision to import oil from Moscow.

“Each country is going to make its own sovereign decisions as it relates to its energy supply,” US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said during its weekly briefing.

Last week, Pakistan placed its first order for Russian crude oil under a deal between Islamabad and Moscow with one cargo to dock at Karachi port in May.

Pakistan’s purchase gave Russia a new outlet, adding to Moscow’s growing sales to India and China, as it redirects oil from Western markets because of the Ukraine conflict.

“One of the reasons that the United States, through the G7, has been a big proponent of the price cap is to ensure that steps are not being taken to keep Russian energy off the market because we understand that there is a demand for supply,” he said.

The spokesperson emphasised that steps need to be taken to ensure that “Russian energy markets are not turning out to be a windfall for Putin’s war machine”.

The spokesperson maintained that countries will make their own sovereign decisions. “We have never tried to keep Russian energy off the market,” he reiterated.

The Group of Seven (G7) coalition, last week, decided to keep a $60 per barrel price cap on seaborne Russian oil, despite rising global crude prices and calls by some countries for a lower price cap to restrict Moscow’s revenues.

The G7 and Australia made the decision to maintain the cap over the past few weeks after a review of the $60 price — set in December last year with an aim to reduce Moscow’s ability to finance its war in Ukraine.

The oil price cap bans G7 and European Union companies from providing transportation, insurance and financing services for Russian oil and oil products if they are sold above the cap.

The US and Britain have also imposed restrictions on Russian oil imports.

Since Europe and the United States no longer import crude oil from Russia, the controlled purchase would only affect third countries, like Pakistan. Islamabad has not yet signed the accord, mainly because Pakistan does not import oil from Russia.

Details of Pakistan-Russia deal

Under the deal signed by the officials from Islamabad and Moscow, Pakistan will buy only crude, not refined fuels, State Minister for Petroleum Musadik Malik told Reuters.

Imports are expected to reach 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) if the first transaction goes through smoothly, he said.

“Our orders are in, we have placed that already,” he said, confirming source-based information that the country would not buy refined products.

A source in Moscow who is familiar with the negotiations told the foreign news agency that the final deal was reached in recent days.

The Russian government did not respond to a request for comment.

Major Russian oil companies have discussed the possible supply of oil to Pakistan over recent months, two trading sources familiar with the talks said, but declined to disclose the names of possible suppliers. One of the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Russia plans to supply Urals crude to Pakistan.

Islamabad imported 154,000 bpd of oil in 2022, around steady with the previous year, data from analytics firm Kpler showed.

The crude was predominantly supplied by the world’s top exporter Saudi Arabia followed by the United Arab Emirates. The 100,000 bpd from Russia in theory greatly reduces Pakistan’s need for Middle Eastern fuel.

The US dollar historically has been the currency of oil trade, but the Ukraine war has eroded its dominance as Russia avoids receiving a currency it has been largely blocked from using by Western sanctions.

Pakistan’s economic crisis meanwhile means it is desperately short of hard currency.

Malik declined to say whether Chinese yuan and the UAE dirham would be used for transactions. He also did not comment on the rate of imports.

“I will not disclose anything about the commercial side of the deal,” he said.

Pakistan’s Refinery Limited (PRL) will initially refine the Russian crude in a trial run, followed by Pak-Arab Refinery Limited (PARCO) and other refineries, Malik said.

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In four months, FBR found Rs 800 billion in fraudulent tax refunds.

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Over the last four months, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has discovered a Rs800 billion tax refund scam.

The Inland Revenue and Customs reforms were considered at a review meeting that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif convened. During this time, the board allegedly discovered the Rs800 billion tax refund fraud.

According to the conference, there are 83,579 outstanding tax cases totaling Rs3.2 trillion, of which about 63 cases, or Rs44 billion, have been settled as a consequence of various government measures.

In an effort to speed up the resolution of tax issues, the prime minister also ordered the creation of 100 tribunals.

The gathering also featured the identification of around five million new taxpayers, of whom fifteen thousand retailers have enrolled since April 1, 2024.

View more:More than 46,000 traders have signed up for the Tajir Dost Scheme: FBR.

The prime minister has instructed the tax authorities to promptly include the five billion tax evaders in the tax system and has placed a strong emphasis on working with merchants to improve system efficiency.

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PM Gives FBR Instructions To Speed Up Digitization Work: An investigation revealed a Rs. 800 billion tax refund scam.

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Noting favorable results of FBR’s digitization efforts, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif revealed an 800 billion rupee tax refund scam discovered in the last four months.

Shehbaz Sharif stressed improving the tax refund system further while presiding over an important meeting on FBR reforms and digitization in Islamabad.

Regretting the delays in putting various reform programs into action, he emphasized that FBR changes had the potential to increase income.

There is a total of 3.2 trillion rupees worth of ongoing tax cases in various courts and tribunals, according to the briefing given to the conference. With 63 lawsuits worth 44 billion rupees resolved in the last four months, the current government has taken action to resolve these outstanding matters.

The prime minister has directed that efforts be made to attract as many of the 4.9 million potential taxpayers who are wealthy into the tax system as possible without putting undue strain on the impoverished.

Fifty thousand merchants have enrolled so far for the mobile phone retailer registration effort, which began in April.

He also emphasized the necessity for a consolidated approach for continuing reform initiatives and the complete digitization of FBR’s fraud detection and investigation department.

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Mining in Balochistan: Mari Pvt Ltd Secures Exploration License

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Licenses for mineral prospecting in the Chagai District of Balochistan have been obtained by Mari Mining Company Private Limited.

501 square kilometers and 513 square kilometers, respectively, are covered by the licenses that the Directorate General Mines and Minerals Balochistan awarded.

Mari Petroleum Company Limited has formed Mari Mining Company as a subsidiary. Major player in Pakistan’s natural gas sector, Mari Petroleum manages the country’s largest gas deposits in Sindh’s Dakhri Gas Field.

With a success record of 70%, which is much greater than many of its peers both domestically and internationally, Mari Petroleum is a major oil and gas exploration and production business.

Because of the efforts of organizations like the International Monetary Fund, Balochistan, a region rich in minerals and natural resources, is developing quickly.

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