Pakistani rupee continues to take a hammering amid political uncertainty
- Rupee hits all time low, depreciates to 226 against US dollar in interbank market.
- Pakistan Stock Exchange witnesses negative trend.
- KSE-100 index falls 248 points to 40,140 points.
After shattering all previous records, the Pakistani rupee on Wednesday further depreciated to Rs226 after losing 4.1 against the US dollar in the interbank market.
The Pakistani rupee had hit an all time low on Tuesday as well of 224 against the dollar in the afternoon interbank trade, before closing at 221.99.
It was the highest day-on-day depreciation after June 26, 2019 when the currency fell by Rs6.80.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Stock Exchange witnessed a negative trend as the KSE-100 index fell 248 points to 40,140 points.
PML-N’s thumping in the Punjab by-elections triggers political uncertainty
The ruling PML-N’s thumping in the Punjab by-elections has triggered political uncertainty along with import pressure taking the Pakistani rupee on a downward trajectory.
Analysts believe, however, that the domestic political and economic situation are not the only factors at play.
“The dollar is getting stronger in the global market almost against all the world currencies and the Pakistani rupee is not the exception,” said Alpha Beta Core CEO Khurram Schezad.
‘IMF is yet to be on board’: Khurram Schezad
Speaking of Pakistan’s financial situation, Schezad said that the country’s external account issues “are not settled as yet, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) is yet to be on board, and the flows are yet to materialise”.
“Global rating agencies have put a negative outlook on the economy, so that is an additional burden that is weighing on the financial markets in general and foreign exchange market in particular,” he added.
Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan (ECAP) Chairperson Malik Bostan Malik Bostan told Geo.tv that there were three reasons behind the constant devaluation of the local unit.
The forex expert said that investors are jittery at the moment as the Opposition PTI has bagged more seats than the PML-N in the Punjab by-polls — creating uncertainty over the future of the current set-up.
Bostan said that the speculations that the IMF’s Executive Board approval would take time and the money lender’s statement of being ready to negotiate with a caretaker government have exacerbated the devaluation.
He also pointed out that since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, Pakistan has provided them trade relief, resulting in additional pressure on the rupee.
The currency trader said that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) cannot intervene in the rising rupee-dollar parity as the country has agreed that the central bank will not intervene in the matter.
“…but even if it wishes to intervene, the SBP does not have enough dollars to inject into the market,” he said, adding that if the government wants to save the rupee, it will have to curtail the imports.
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.
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