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Pakistan to brief IMF mission on additional taxation measures today

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  • Pakistan, IMF will kick-start toughest ever parleys from today.
  • IMF is asking govt to fill Rs600bn on fiscal front.
  • National Austerity Committee suggests all ministries slash expenditures.

ISLAMABAD: In order to break the deadlock with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and pave the way for striking a staff-level agreement, the government is expected to share its plan with the visiting review mission for taking additional taxation measures, The News reported Tuesday.

The discussion will revolve around Pakistan’s plan for taking additional taxation measures to fetch over Rs200 billion through the Presidential Ordinance, rationalising expenditure, and hiking both electricity and gas tariffs for erasing the monster of the circular debt.

The IMF’s review mission led by Nathen Porter arrived in Islamabad on Monday and now both sides would kick-start toughest ever parleys from today (Tuesday) for making renewed efforts to accomplish the pending ninth review under the $7 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

The Washington-based lender is suggesting the toughest prescriptions on all fronts of the economy at a time when the foreign exchange reserves are persistently on the decline and touched the lowest ebb of $3.6 billion.

Although, the government had already implemented two major conditions including allowing adjustment of the rupee against the dollar and hiking record levels of a surge in petroleum prices ahead of kick-starting parleys with the IMF.

The IMF is asking the government to fill the yawning gap of Rs600 billion on the fiscal front through additional taxation measures or cutting down on expenditures in order to restrict the budget deficit and primary deficit within the desired limits.

Differences persisted over the exact fiscal gap and both sides will hold parleys to evolve consensus over the exact estimates for taking additional taxation measures through the upcoming mini-budget.

Pakistan and the IMF will hold technical-level talks from today to Friday and then the policy-level talks will commence finalising the Memorandum of Financial and Economic Policies (MEFP) document.

The IMF further demanded an increase in electricity tariff within the range of Rs12.50 per unit as Islamabad seemed to agree to hike the electricity tariff of Rs7.50 per unit in a staggered manner. 

The government may be agreed to withdraw the un-targeted power sector subsidies of the electricity and gas sector to powerful groups during the upcoming parleys with the IMF. The gas tariff will also be hiked in the range of 74% for consumers.

“We will have to swallow bitter pills because the gap widened so much that now the economy cannot run with the approach of status quo. The country’s middle class will have to face the burden. 

“We have made a plan to protect vulnerable and poor segments of the society while implementing the IMF conditions” top official sources stated while talking to a select group of reporters on Monday night.

The senior officials in a background discussion stated that the government wanted to insulate the poorest of the poor from swallowing bitter pills as the government would make all-out efforts to focus on two areas including introducing reforms and protecting poor and vulnerable segments from arising inflationary pressures.

The official said that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was trying to secure $4-5 billion from bilateral friends for engaging the IMF with the point of strength but it could not be materialised so there was no other option but to make renewed efforts to revive the stalled IMF programme.

The Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) high-ups are estimating that the recent devaluation of the exchange rate will help tax authorities jack up its revenue collection by Rs100 billion in the remaining period of the current fiscal year.

While referring to recommendations given by the National Austerity Committee to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the committee finalised recommendations to suggest all ministries including the Ministry of Defence slash expenditures by 15%.

The committee asks for surrendering all plots obtained by influential segments to more than one. In all, the committee’s recommendations if implemented could be Rs600-700 billion on a per annum basis. But there are big ifs and buts that who is going to implement these bold decisions which are now necessary to undertake for averting crisis situations.

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Pakistan’s gold price increases by an additional Rs. 800 per tola.

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The price of yellow metal in the local market hit Rs247,300 on the first working day of the week, following a rise of Rs800 in a single day.

The cost of ten grams of 24-karat gold increased by Rs686 on Monday, making the current price Rs212,020.

In addition, the cost of 10 grams of 22-karat gold increased significantly, trading at Rs194,351.

These fluctuations are strongly correlated with shifts in the US dollar’s value, demonstrating the tight connection between gold prices and exchange rates. This emphasizes how local gold markets are impacted by variables related to the global economy.

The price of the precious metal dropped $16 on the international market on Monday, hitting $2,348 per ounce.

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A delegation from Pakistan travels to the US to bargain with the IMF for a new loan.

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The Pakistani delegation consists of the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, the Secretary of Finance, the Additional Secretary, and other individuals.

The Finance Minister was greeted at the airport by Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Masood Khan, and Embassy staff.

The Finance Minister will meet with representatives of the World Bank and IMF while he is in the US.

The IMF and Pakistan are expected to negotiate next week, according to sources.

Sources claim that Islamabad will apply for a new credit package from the IMF.

The Finance Minister’s itinerary also includes meetings with members of think tanks and the world press.

Last month, Pakistan and the IMF came to a staff-level agreement over the third and final review of the $3 billion stand-by arrangement. Should the board of the global lender approve this deal, Pakistan will get approximately $1.1 billion.

Although a specific date has not been determined, the IMF board is anticipated to evaluate the case in late April, according to a spokeswoman.

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Pakistan’s petrol prices are anticipated to rise.

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The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) will not disclose the anticipated increase in fuel prices until its work is finished, according to sources.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will receive the summary of the petrol price, and sources further stated that the new pricing will be revealed following his approval today.

Noteworthy to highlight is that Pakistan was previously ordered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to impose an 18% General Sales Tax (GST) on gasoline.

Details indicate that Pakistan was requested by the Monetary Fund to stop reducing sales tax on all goods, including gasoline.

To boost tax revenue, Pakistan’s recently elected government should impose a sales tax on petroleum items in addition to a Rs 60 charge.

High-speed diesel (HSD) was reduced by Rs3.32 per litre on March 31 but petrol prices increased by Rs9.66 per litre by the government.

In contrast to the reduction in the price of high-speed diesel (HSD) to Rs282.24 from Rs278.92, the price of gasoline jumped to Rs289.41 per litre.

The adjustments were brought about by a commensurate increase in the price of gasoline and a decline in the price of HSD on the global market, according to a statement released by the Finance Ministry.

According to the statement, the adjustment was made in accordance with government policy, which transfers pricing differences from the foreign market to the home market.

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