Pakistan striving to rebound strongly from current economic challenges: SBP chief
- SBP chief briefs investors, fund managers on current challenges, way forward.
- Says challenges largely driven by “adverse global shocks, domestic developments”.
- Inflation expected to ease in coming months; financing uncertainty to end after IMF deal.
State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Jameel Ahmad has said that the country was striving to rebound strongly from the current economic challenges, including external financing woes and record inflation.
He stressed that Pakistan’s economy had “always rebounded strongly after undergoing severe shocks”.
“No doubt, this time, we have faced not one but a series of domestic and global shocks. But we strive to rebound strongly from the current challenges as well.”
He made the remarks while addressing international investors and fund managers at an event organised by Barclays in Washington, United States on Pakistan’s economic challenges and the way forward.
A statement issued by the central bank said Ahmad briefed the attendees about the challenges Pakistan is facing, the policy responses and the way forward.
The SBP chief noted that the economic challenges, including high inflation and balance of payments pressures, were largely driven by “adverse global shocks and domestic developments”.
Even though global commodity prices had fallen from the peak reached in 2022, they were still “significantly high” and thus, were taking a toll on domestic inflation and the current account, he elaborated. The rupee has depreciated sharply over the last few months, which has increased the cost of living for consumers in the heavily import-dependent country.
At the same time, the SBP chief said, tightening global financial conditions have made it harder for emerging markets such as Pakistan to access international financial markets. Consequently, this put stress on the country’s foreign exchange reserves, which have fallen to critically low levels in recent months, and the exchange rate. The devastating floods of 2022, which caused damages of $30 billion, had worsened the country’s economic distress, he pointed out.
Ahmad also spoke about the country’s external balance of payments situation, noting that Pakistan had met all its obligations in a timely manner contrary to earlier market expectations.
“The country’s debt repayments have been rather front-loaded, whereas inflows have been gradual,” he explained.
He said the country was receiving fresh financing in addition to loan rollovers ahead of the expected revival of a loan programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Elaborating on the central bank’s policy measures, the SBP chief said it had raised the benchmark interest rate by 1,400 points to 21% in the last 18 months and tightened regulations to rein in inflation and reduce the current account deficit.
In addition, the exchange rate had adjusted over the last few months, which he termed the “first line of defence against emerging external imbalances”.
The fiscal deficit had reduced due to the government’s contractionary fiscal policy, despite flood rehabilitation-related expenditure. The primary balance was also in surplus so far compared to a deficit last year, he noted.
“The country is on its way to achieving macroeconomic stability, as the impact of policy measures is already playing out in the economy. The current account deficit has narrowed and foreign exchange reserves, albeit low, are increasing,” he remarked.
Inflation was expected to decrease in the coming months while the revival of the IMF programme would remove uncertainties regarding external financing, Ahmad added.
Gold rate declines for second consecutive day
- Rate of gold reaches Rs232,800 per tola.
- International rate up by $11 per ounce.
- The silver price remains unchanged.
Despite an increase in the international rate, gold’s value declined in Pakistan for the second consecutive day Tuesday.
Data provided by the All Pakistan Sarafa Gems and Jewellers Association (APSGJA) showed the price of gold (24 carats) decreased by Rs1,700 per tola and Rs1,458 per 10 grams to reach Rs232,800 and Rs199,588, respectively.
The gold rate cumulatively lost Rs1,100 per tola last week, and a further Rs1,700 on the opening day this week.
Meanwhile, the international price went up $11 to settle at $1,956 per ounce.
The safe-haven bullion’s value has remained volatile in the international market recently. However, it bounced back from its lowest level in over two months Tuesday after the US dollar’s value declined from a high and investors remained anxious about negotiations on the US debt ceiling.
If the debt ceiling — which is currently capped at $31.4 trillion — is not raised in the next few days, it would trigger the first-ever US default.
Investors also remained wary about a possible hike in the interest rate, which would negatively affect gold’s value.
Meanwhile, the gold rate has been volatile in Pakistan recently amid continued political and economic uncertainty, high inflation, and currency depreciation. People prefer to buy the yellow metal in such times as a safe investment and a hedge.
The rupee gained Re0.07 or 0.02% against the US dollar in the interbank market Tuesday, closing at Rs285.35, according to State Bank of Pakistan data.
Data shared by the jeweller’s body showed that the rate of silver remained unchanged at Rs2,850 per tola and Rs2,443.41 per 20 grams, respectively.
France launching electric car battery factory to dent Chinese dominance
Under a plan of reindustrialisation by President Emmanuel Macron, France is to inaugurate a factory for manufacturing batteries for electric cars Tuesday in Billy-Berclau — the first of its kind — challenging the Chinese dominance in the industry, according to an AFP report.
Battery industry buildup is a component of the plan by Macron with a clutch of factories set to emerge in the north of the country over the next three years.
The “gigafactory” is owned by Automotive Cells Company, a partnership between French energy giant TotalEnergies, Germany’s Mercedes-Benz and US-European automaker Stellantis, which produces a range of brands including Peugeot, Fiat and Chrysler.
The inauguration will be attended by French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire and the country’s energy transition and industry ministers along with German and Italian officials.
The heads of Mercedes, Stellantis and TotalEnergies will also be at the event.
The factory is as large as football pitches in which production will commence this summer.
Elected officials and business leaders intend to turn the Hauts-de-France region into “Battery Valley” — the electric car industry’s answer to Silicon Valley.
AESC-Envision — a Sino-Japanese group — is building a plant near the city of Douai which will supply French automaker Renault from early 2025.
French startup Verkor is scheduled to begin production at a facility in Dunkirk from mid-2025 while Taiwan’s ProLogium has also chosen the coastal city for its first European factory, with output to start in 2026.
Competition between US and China
As European Union (EU) has marked a deadline of 2035 to phase out fossil fuel-run cars, the countries are racing to step up the production of batteries and electric vehicles to meet the target of electric vehicles within the deadline.
In recent years, around 50 battery factory projects have been announced in the EU and the French government has set a target of producing two million electric vehicles per year by 2030, as per the economy ministry.
The ministry said that “the ACC plant will supply 500,000 vehicles per year by then.”
China is the world leader in electric car battery production and also dominates the production of the raw materials needed to make them.
Europe also faces stiff competition from the United States, which is heavily subsidising the sector through the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $370 billion in clean energy incentives.
Govt mulls slashing duty on mobile phones in budget
ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is mulling options to reduce the duty on mobile phones in the federal budget for the fiscal year 2023-24 — which is expected to be unveiled on June 9 — keeping in view the suggestions of Pakistan Mobile Phone Traders, The News reported Monday.
Previously, the government was obliged to raise the duty on mobile phones by 100% to 150%, and resultantly, only Rs5 billion to Rs10 billion were being deposited in the national exchequer instead of Rs85 billion.
The number of mobile phone users in Pakistan has exceeded 186.9 million.
In order to cope with the financial crisis of the current financial year, in the new budget, a proposal for a conspicuous reduction in the rates of duties on cellular phones is under consideration, which is about 100% to 150% at present on small and big mobile phones.
The mobile industry is on the brink of collapse due to an increase in taxes. It not only affected traders but also made the life of millions of people difficult to earn a livelihood.
It has been learnt that a delegation of the Mobile Phones Traders Association has given recommendations to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and other senior officials.
The delegation ensured that efforts would be made to include the recommendations in the budget. These proposals and recommendations are being reviewed to make them a part of the new budget.
It has been learnt that a 75% duty was imposed on cellular phones in Pakistan as compared to other countries of the region like Singapore, Bangladesh and Turkey where it is not at that level. That is the reason people are using smartphones without paying duties in connivance with FBR.
The additional 100% to 150% duty on cell phones has made it out of reach of the poor, labourers, daily wagers, students, professionals, the lawyer community, and civil society.
All Pakistan Mobile Phones Traders Association General Secretary Munir Beg Mirza said that due to the ban on the import of used mobile phones, smuggling has increased to give favour to a few companies.
Also, people are using smartphones illegally without paying heavy taxes to enjoy all functions of smartphones, which is inflicting a loss on the national kitty.
He said that not only every consumer would pay tax but also the government would get Rs100 billion instead of Rs5 billion on phones if an appropriate duty was imposed in the new financial year.
‘Acute food insecurity to rise in Pakistan over next six months’
May 9 arsonists also attacked police on March 8 outside Zaman Park: Mohsin Naqvi
PTI’s Shehryar Afridi re-arrested upon release from Adiala jail
Barwaan Khiladi: Kinza Hashmi discusses her role as Alia
Snap launches tools for parents to monitor teens’ contacts
WATCH: Pakistani traveller deported from Dubai for damaging plane mid-air
Learn First | How to Create Amazon Seller Account in Pakistan – Step by Step
Sajjad Jani Funny Mushaira | Funny Poetry On Cars🚗 | Funny Videos | Sajjad Jani Official Team
Pakistan Reaction On Huge Win Against India | Pakistani Celebs Celebrate World T20 Cricket
Tech2 days ago
Study reveals how an ancient beast failed to survive millions of years ago
Tech2 days ago
WhatsApp brings two new updates for users
Business2 days ago
Pakistan agrees to share budget details with IMF to unlock stalled programme
Business2 days ago
Govt mulls slashing duty on mobile phones in budget
Uncategorized2 days ago
Punjab forms committee to probe PTI allegations of women prisoners’ mistreatment
Pakistan2 days ago
Punjab polls case hearing adjourned indefinitely after suo motu review law ‘comes into effect’
Politics2 days ago
Imran Khan fact-checked
Pakistan2 days ago
Pakistani surgeon sets world record in robotic surgery for women