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Rupee continues to strengthen against dollar as Dar takes charge of finance ministry

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  • Rupee continues gaining ground against dollar.
  • Rupee gains 1.76, closes at 232.12 per dollar.
  • Analysts cite return of Dar as reason behind increase.

KARACHI: The Pakistani rupee continued Wednesday to gain ground for the fourth consecutive session as the dollar’s slide persisted after federal minister Senator Ishaq Dar took charge of the finance ministry.

In the interbank market, the rupee gained 1.79 to close at 232.12 per dollar, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) after it increased its value by 7.53 in the ongoing week.

Currency dealers and analysts have cited that the return of Dar — a close aide of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif — to Pakistan to take charge as the finance minister has helped improve sentiment and the fall in international commodity prices boosted the rupee’s rise.

The current account deficit — fortunately — will likely remain in check on account of declining international commodity prices and administrative measures taken by the government.

Inflation, too, has most likely peaked and is expected to come down over the coming months, The News reported.

Talking to Geo.tv, economist and former adviser to the federal ministry of finance Dr Khaqan Hassan Najeeb said the first aspect is a change in market sentiment driven by a leadership change at the finance ministry.

“The new team is regarded to be more conscious of rupee movement and thus leaning to more orderly movement,” the former adviser said.

Secondly, he noted that some fundamentals have improved, especially a decline in oil prices as well as other key commodity prices, which may help reduce the quantum of imports.

“Thirdly, the confirmation by multilateral lenders to extend flood support is a market supporting development,” Dr Najeeb said.

Lastly, a bit farfetched but the possibility of reconsideration and leniency in some conditions by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) due to flood impact is driving a positive sentiment toward the rupee, Najeeb added.

Alfalah’s head of research Fahad Irfan said Dar would not have the kind of free hand he had in his previous term.

“The IMF, in general, has been much stricter in terms of policy implementation. Most importantly, Pakistan now has a free exchange rate regime, even otherwise, the country has record low forex reserves with no room to burn them to control the exchange rate,” he said.

“However, administrative curbs and stronger checks on manipulation and the smuggling of dollars out of Pakistan are still possible,” Irfan added.

He said the rupee was expected to regain some lost ground. However, with the fear of Dar, the pace of appreciation has accelerated.

He noted that changes in key positions, at times of catastrophic floods and an extremely fragile economic environment, might help Dar regain some lost popularity; however, this might slow down policymaking.

Dar maintained the rupee at a parity of 100 per dollar for his entire term (2013-2017) and kept the policy rate at its historic low of 5.75% from May 2016 to December 2017.

This lethal combo was the main reason why Pakistan posted a historic high current account deficit of $19.2 billion or 6.3% of the gross domestic product in FY2018 and eroded foreign exchange reserves to just 2 months of import cover, according to Irfan.

Dar seeks ‘time’ to stabilise Pakistan’s economy

Senator Dar has defended former finance minister Miftah Ismail’s policies as he sought time to stabilise Pakistan’s economy.

In a press conference outside an accountability court, Dar said Miftah is part of the government’s team and his efforts helped save the country from a looming default threat.

“Miftah put in all his efforts and through them, he saved Pakistan from default. The mess that was made in the last three to four years could not be cleared in four months,” he said.

Miftah had to take unpopular decisions, including raising power tariffs and rates of petroleum products, to restart the stalled International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.

The belt-tightening measures invited criticism from the coalition rulers and Miftah received flak from his party as well.

In a separate conversation with journalists upon his arrival Dar said that he needed time to fix Pakistan’s economy. 

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Tourism boom: During Eidul Azha, more than 400,000 people travel to KP

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Over 400,000 people travelled to several beautiful locations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa between June 17 and June 19, celebrating the recently ended Eidul Azha festivities.

With over 174,000 visitors in one day, Naran Kaghan emerged as the most popular location. Visitors looking for a getaway from the city are still drawn to Naran Kaghan’s calm scenery and charming valleys.

A total of 162,000 visitors to Galiyat took in the city’s rich history at its cultural institutions and historical landmarks. In addition, more than 46,000 people visited Malam Jabba in Swat, and 23,000 people visited Upper Dir to take in its stunning surroundings.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is becoming a popular domestic vacation destination due to its unique combination of natural beauty, cultural legacy, and adventure options, as seen by the rise in visitor numbers.

Businesses and local government agencies have been collaborating to make sure tourists have an unforgettable time while appropriately handling the inflow.

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Pakistan currently has $14.41 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

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In a statement, the central bank stated that as of June 14, 2024, Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) stood at $9.135 billion, following the increase.

The announcement also stated, “SBP reserves increased by US$ 31 million to US$ 9,134.7 million during the week ended on June 14, 2024.”

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) stated that the nation had $14.415 billion in total liquid foreign reserves. Commercial banks own $5.28 billion of the total in net foreign reserves.

It was announced earlier on June 13 that Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves reached US$14.38 billion, up US$168 million in the first week of June.

Pakistan’s reserves held by commercial banks rose by US$174 million to $5.28 billion for the week that ended on June 7, according to a statement released by the central bank.

The SBP now has US$9.10 billion in reserves, down US$6.2 million from before. The central bank did not provide an explanation for why its reserves fell.

“SBP reserves decreased by US$ 6 million to US$ 9,103.3 million during the week ended on July 7, 2024,” the SBP said in a statement.

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In a first for history, PSX crosses the 77,000 milestone.

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At 77,213.31, the benchmark KSE-100 hit an all-time high, up 1,005.15, or 1.32%, from the previous close of 76,208.16.

The government’s readiness to seal an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following the budget was cited by analysts as the reason for the upward trend.

Experts anticipate that in an attempt to bolster its position for a fresh bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the budget for the fiscal year ending in June 2025 would set aggressive fiscal goals.

Budget for Pakistan, 2024–2025
Pakistan’s budget for the fiscal year 2024–25, with a total expenditure of Rs18.877 trillion, was presented on Wednesday by Minister of Finance and Revenue Muhammad Aurangzeb.

The Finance Minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, outlined the budget highlights. He stated that the GDP growth target for the fiscal year 2024–25 is set at 3.6 percent, while the inflation rate is anticipated to stay at 12 percent.

He stated that while the primary surplus is anticipated to be 1.0 percent of GDP during the review period, the budget deficit to GDP is forecast to be 6.9 percent over the period under review.

According to the minister, tax income collection increased by 38% in the current fiscal year, and the province will receive Rs7,438 billion. The Federal Board of income expects to earn Rs12,970 billion in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year.

In contrast to the federal government’s projected net income of Rs9,119 billion, he stated that the federation’s non-tax revenue projections are set at Rs3,587 billion.

The federal government’s total outlays are projected to be Rs18,877 billion, with interest payments accounting for the remaining Rs9,775 billion.

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