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Pakistan hopeful of positive response from Qatar, Saudi Arabia soon, says finance minister

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  • Pakistan is seeking financial assistance from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE, says Miftah Ismail.
  • Saudi Arabia, hopefully, will reload [deposit money in Pakistan’s central bank] before December, he says.
  • Pakistan is also finalising a bailout package with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Pakistan is seeking financial assistance from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to stabilise the economy and is hopeful for a positive result, revealed Finance Minister Miftah Ismail.

Speaking on Geo News programme Jirga, the finance minister announced that Pakistan had reached out to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE to help the cash-strapped country.

“Saudi Arabia, hopefully, will reload [deposit money in Pakistan’s central bank] before December,” the minister told Jirga’s host, “Also, the Kingdom may extend Pakistan’s limit to buy oil on credit.”

The government has also sought support from Qatar, the minister said. “We are talking to Qatar to let us buy Liquefied natural gas (LNG) on loan. We are also talking to the UAE [for financial assistance],” he added.

Separately, Ismail explained that $2.4 billion loan will be received from China in two or three days, as all the formalities related to the loan have been completed after a recent visit by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Pakistan is also finalising a bailout package with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), prior to which the government hiked up the price of petrol and removed subsidies put in place by the previous government, as demanded by the international lending body.

“If we did not make these decisions [with the IMF] it would have been difficult for Pakistan,” Ismail said on the show, “I am being honest here. We had to save Pakistan from defaulting.” He added that a further increase in petrol prices cannot be ruled out as it was a “moving target”, meaning it depended on the price of petrol in the international market.

Under a new agreement with the IMF, the price of electricity could also be boosted, revealed the minister.

“In March [former prime minister] Imran Khan reduced the price of electricity by Rs.5 per unit,” Miftah Ismail explained, “That will have to be removed at some point.”

On rolling power outages in the country this summer, the minister said Pakistan has a power generation capacity of 28,000 MW, excluding the capacity of the Karachi Electric, while the demand for electricity is close to 19,000 MW.

Through repair work at power plants, and providing fuel to the plants, the capacity would be increased, he added. “Before Eid, the capacity will be increased to 36,000 MW,” he said, which would reduce load shedding in the country.

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Significant surge in the price of gold in Pakistan

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On Friday, the price of gold in Pakistan continued to increase.

According to the All-Pakistan Gems and Jewellers Sarafa Association, the price of 24-karat gold per tola has risen by Rs2,200, reaching Rs249,000.

The price of 10-gram 24-karat gold increased by Rs1,886, reaching a total of Rs213,477. On Thursday, the cost of 10 grammes of 22-karat gold was Rs195,687.

The global gold market likewise had a rising trajectory. As per APGJSA, the worldwide rate was $2,404 per ounce, showing a decline of $24 during the course of the trading day.

The local market witnessed constant silver prices at Rs2,900 per tola.

Market observers attribute the increase in gold prices to other variables, such as volatility in the global market, currency exchange rates, and economic conditions. The ongoing surge in gold prices is likely to impact investment choices and consumer behaviour in the near future.

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Gold prices in Pakistan have risen by Rs 1,200 per tola.

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The price of one tola of 24 carat gold rose by Rs1,200 and reached Rs246,800 on Thursday, compared to its previous sale price of Rs245,600 on the last trading day.

According to the All Sindh Sarafa Jewellers Association, the cost of 10 grammes of 24 karat gold rose by Rs1,029 to reach Rs211,591, compared to the previous price of Rs210,562. Similarly, the price of 10 grammes of 22 carat gold jumped from Rs193,016 to Rs193,959.

The price of silver remained unchanged at Rs2,900 per tola and Rs2,486.28 per ten grammes.

According to the association, the international market price of gold rose by $10, reaching $2,382 from $2,372.

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The federal government has declared wage and pension increments for its employees.

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The Ministry of Finance has formally declared a rise in the remuneration and retirement benefits of personnel working for the federal government, offering substantial economic alleviation.

According to the notification, personnel in grades 1 to 16 will experience a 25% increment in their salaries, while officials in grades 17 to 22 will be granted a 20% rise. The implementation of this modification will commence on July 1, 2024, and will be applicable to the employees’ fundamental remuneration.

In addition, retired federal government employees would receive a 15% rise in their pension payments. This increase is applicable to retirees from both the civilian and military sectors. It is important to mention that employees who retire on or after July 1, 2024, will also qualify for this pension rise.

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The 15% increase in pension will be computed based on the amount of pension received by retired employees after deductions. Nevertheless, the letter specifies that ad hoc aid will not be factored into the calculations for pension and gratuity.

Moreover, this increment will have no effect on the calculation of housing rent allowances for employees.

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