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PM Shehbaz unveils Mangla dam’s refurbishment electricity project

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  • PM says Pakistan can not bear the high cost of energy import bills.
  • He reveals that energy import bill has swelled to $27 billion.
  • Total project cost is $483m, of which $150m was provided by US

MANGLA: Stressing the need for cheaper electricity generation, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that Pakistan, which is already facing immense challenges of economic stability, could not bear the high costs of energy import bills.

The premier made the remarks while addressing the inaugural ceremony of the refurbishment project of Units 5 and 6 of the Mangla Dam Hydroelectric Power Plant on Monday, carried out with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

He said that the energy import bill has swelled to $27 billion and underscored the need to utilise alternative sources of electricity production.

“Had the water reservoirs built on time, the country’s energy import bill would not have swelled to $27 billion,” he said, pointing out that “powerful lobbies and cartels” did not let materialise the construction of dams and launch of solar power projects.

PM Shehbaz regretted that in 75 years, both democratic and military rulers were responsible for not building sufficient dams to meet the energy needs.

Referring to the recent flash floods in the country, he said, dams are crucial to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The prime minister termed the assistance of USAID for the refurbishment of the units of Mangla dam as a “wonderful example of cooperation” between Pakistan and the United States.

He lauded the valuable grant of $150 million by USAID along with the financial support by the Development Agency of France amounting to 90 million euros besides another pledge of 65 million euros. Also, WAPDA [Water and Power Development Authority] contributed $178 million (approximately Rs20 billion) from its own resources, he said.

He expressed satisfaction over the interest of the US to carry out an extension programme of the country’s largest Tarbela dam.

He also said the 75-year-old friendship and bilateral relationship between Pakistan and the US had further strengthened at the levels of trade and investment.

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Over 600 points are added by PSX in intraday trading.

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Tuesday’s lunchtime trading on the Pakistan Stock Exchange saw favorable activity.

During intraday trading, the benchmark KSE-100 Index increased by 672.08 points, or 1.11%, and was trading at 61131.82 levels.

The KSE-30 Index was trading at 20,558.31 after adding 211.46 points, or 1.04%.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) had another round of discussions for the establishment of a central government the day before the rally in the local stock exchange.

In the meanwhile, Fitch Ratings has issued a warning, stating that the likelihood of default would rise in the event of a drawn-out discussion or the inability to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

According to the State Bank of Pakistan, which reported net foreign reserves of $8 billion as of February 9, 2024, up from a low of $2.9 billion on February 3, 2023, Pakistan’s external situation has improved recently.

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The smartphone app “Tajir Dost” to tax Pakistani businesses is anticipated to launch on February 22.

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The sources stated that the caretaker administration aims to include 3.5 million shops in the tax net by use of the “Tajir Dost” app.

They said that Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, the acting prime minister, has instructed the relevant authorities to conclude their engagement with the retailing bodies within a few days.

The introduction of the “Tajir Dost” smartphone app to impose taxes on several merchants was authorized earlier this month by the acting federal administration.

The smartphone application, created by Pakistan Revenue Authority Limited (PRAL), a division of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), is intended to serve as a registration tool for shops and dealers throughout the nation.

The app’s database will be updated with the traders’ information who have already registered with the FBR.

Previously, in December 2023, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) made history by collecting Rs1.021 trillion. After deducting refunds of Rs 38 billion that were given out that month, the FBR’s net collection increased to Rs 984 billion.

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SBP confirms the choice to use new currency notes was not influenced by the IMF.

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In response to recent rumours, Saleem Ullah, the deputy governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), said on Thursday that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had no influence over the decision to release new currency notes.

Saleem Ullah underlined in an interview that printing new notes is a regular procedure carried out every 15 to 20 years to maintain the currency’s integrity.

He stressed that, in contrast to rumours, the deficit is expected to decline in the next fiscal year, in line with the goals of the new monetary policy.

“Every 15 to 20 years, new notes are printed,” he clarified. The new currency’s goal is to keep the note’s integrity intact.”

The SBP assured the public earlier this week that the current banknote series will continue to be in circulation despite the introduction of new currency notes, which it intended to implement over the course of the next two years.

Regarding the latest series of currency notes, the deputy governor clarified that they were launched in 2005 and were in circulation for three years.

He admitted that the procedure was time-consuming and estimated that because of the careful preparation required, it would take around two years to issue the first note.

In addition, he guaranteed that the new banknotes will have improved security measures because they would be made using contemporary technology. He gave information regarding the SBP’s effort to get public feedback on the new currency notes’ design, highlighting the fact that recommendations were being actively sought from the populace.

“There are three prizes for each denomination, and there are a total of seven denominations, hence 21 prizes,” he disclosed, highlighting the process’ openness. First place is worth Rs 1 million, second place is worth Rs 500,000, and third place is worth Rs 300,000.

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