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Rupee puts major dent in dollar on renewed bailout bets

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  • Rupee gains as investors hope inflows to bolster dollar reserves.
  • Analysts see rupee resilient if funding ensured down the line.
  • Saudi confirmation for inflows strengthens IMF bailout hopes. 

Rupee on Thursday turned tables on the US dollar, strengthening by over a percent in inter-bank trade, as hopes for the revival of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout flared up after Saudi Arabia confirmed to the multilateral lender of its financial assistance to Pakistan.

The local unit, in the interbank market, closed at 284.42 against the US dollar, up 1.2% or Rs3.43 from Wednesday’s close of 287.85, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). 

Analysts termed this recovery, which came a day after the rupee hit a new record low of 287.85 in the inter-bank market after a decline of Re.56 or 0.19%, as a positive development and see local currency resilient in days to come if inflows ensured.

The IMF has conveyed to Pakistan that it has received confirmation from Saudi Arabia on $2 billion in additional deposits, rekindling hopes of an early signing of the agreement.

Islamabad has been negotiating with the IMF since the end of January for the release of $1.1 billion from a $6.5 billion bailout package agreed upon in 2019. To unlock the funding, the government has cut back on subsidies, removed an artificial cap on the exchange rate, added taxes and raised fuel prices.

However, assurances from friendly nations for additional funds have delayed the agreement.

Sources confirmed to The News that the lender had informed the Pakistani authorities about the development and the Fund staff seemed largely satisfied with the latest confirmation. 

“Now all eyes are focused on the UAE for getting confirmation on another $1 billion deposit from them, which may pave the way for striking the staff-level agreement (SLA) with the IMF,” the sources said.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is likely to visit UAE on his way to the US where he is expected to hold talks on the release of funds.

Worldwide, the US dollar gained slightly on Thursday but hasn’t strayed too far from a recent two-month low as traders weighed how pivotal US jobs data coming out during a holiday weekend will impact Federal Reserve policy.

The list of soft economic data has added to fears of an impending recession in the world’s largest economy, putting a lid on risk appetite and sending traders in search of some safe-haven assets.

It should be noted that the foreign exchange reserves held by the SBP stand at a critical level of $4.2 billion — barely enough to cover one month’s imports.

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Bulls Reenter PSX: The KSE-100 Rises More Than 886 Points

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As the market surged more than 800 points in the early morning trade, bulls grabbed control at the Pakistan Stock Exchange.

During the first trading session, the benchmark KSE-100 index increased by 886 points to 61,350.48 points.

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Pakistan’s steel prices are rising; get the latest figures here

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Another increase in steel prices has resulted in higher construction expenses in Pakistan. The economic downturn and continuous shipping delays have resulted in sharp price increases for building supplies, which has an effect on those who are planning to construct homes.

Due to increased manufacturing costs and supply chain interruptions brought on by the Middle East crisis, the price of iron, commonly known as steel rebar, has increased by Rs5,000 per ton. Local and imported steel rebar now costs between Rs240,000 and Rs260,000 per ton as a result of this most recent rise.

The cost of branded iron went from Rs255,000 to Rs260,000 per ton, while the cost of local iron climbed from Rs236,000 to Rs240,000. Furthermore, the cost of scrap or unprocessed iron has increased to Rs160,000 per ton inin the iron and steel markets.

The impact of the skyrocketing steel prices will be exacerbated by any more interruptions in the raw material supply chain. The cost of cement, on the other hand, has somewhat decreased and is at Rs 1,246 per bag.

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Up 30% to Rs 5.1 trillion by mid-February, FBR collected

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The total increase in domestic taxes has been around 40%, whilst import duties and associated levies increased by 16% between July 2023 and January 2024.

With the recovery of the GDP and increased inspection of FBR collection, the growth in revenues accelerated.

Up to mid-February, FBR receipts increased by 30% to Rs. 5.1 trillion. Nevertheless, decreases in import tariffs over time and, more recently, import license limits implemented by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to manage the country’s balance of payments in the aftermath of foreign exchange shortages, were mostly responsible for the decline in the rise of import taxes.

However, the impact of improvements in import valuation, which resulted in collections of Rs 151 billion, as well as the anti-smuggling campaign, which saw a surge of about 69% in the current fiscal year over the previous one, are also included in the income collected from imports.

The statement said that there was room to improve anti-smuggling operations by considering expanding Baluchistan’s customs force, which now only has 378 anti-smuggling employees out of 20,000 total.

The mobilization of domestic tax income, which accounted for more than 64% of all revenues received in the current fiscal year, was hailed in the statement as a welcome change.

In parallel, the percentage of import duties has decreased to 36% from over 50% just three years prior. The main drivers of this increase in revenue were the several taxes sources. From Rs. 1,751 billion to Rs. 2,447 billion, income tax receipts increased significantly—by 40%.

Banks, the petroleum and oil lubricants (POL) business, the textile industry, the electricity sector, the food industry, and a number of service industries were among the major income tax payers. Up to mid-February, FBR receipts increased by 30% to Rs. 5.1 trillion. Notable rise was also seen in sales tax receipts, which increased by 19% from Rs. 1,480 billion to Rs. 1,766 billion.

POL, the electricity sector, the food sector, the automobile sector, the iron and steel sector, and the chemical sector were important growth drivers.

The amount collected in federal excise taxes increased significantly by 61%, from Rs. 190 billion to Rs. 307 billion.

Taxes on tobacco goods, the cement industry, drinks, airlines, fertilizers, and the automobile sector were the main causes of this increase. The amount collected in customs duties increased by 14%, from Rs. 552 billion to Rs. 629 billion.

The POL, automobile, iron and steel, electronics, and food industries were among the main donors to customs duties.

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