Rupee’s downward spiral continues unabated, breaches 245 threshold in open market
- Rupee has lost over 8.27% in last twelve sessions.
- Local unit closes at 237.91 in interbank market.
- Analysts believe rupee is unlikely to reverse downward trend.
KARACHI: The Pakistani rupee reeled to a record low against the US dollar on Monday, breaching the critical threshold of 245 against the greenback in the open market.
With a fresh decline of Rs4.40, the local currency closed at Rs245.40 against the greenback in the open market.
Meanwhile, according to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the rupee closed at 237.91 after losing Rs1.07 (or 0.45%) as it inches closer to an all-time low of 239.94 hit on July 28.
The fall can be attributed to several factors, including the ongoing surge in dollar demand from local importers, amid the drying dollar reserves of the country and rising import bills in the wake of the worst floods, among others.
Speaking to Geo.tv, Pakistan-Kuwait Investment Company Head of Research Samiullah Tariq cited two major reasons behind the downfall of the rupee which include: import pressure and a severe liquidity crunch.
“The pressure of Peshawar foreign market — led by Afghan trade — is weighing on the local currency as the demand for greenback is more while supply is less,” he said.
In line with the massive decline of nearly Rs8 or 3.7% registered last week, other analysts also expect the local unit to hit a fresh all-time low against the US dollar this week.
Financial pundits believe that the rupee, which lost over 8.27% of its in the last twelve consecutive trading sessions, is unlikely to reverse the downward trend and may depreciate more value.
In a major economic development, the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) on Sunday confirmed the rollover of $3 billion deposits maturing on December 5, 2022, for one year, said the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Sunday.
However, analysts believe that the announcement is unlikely to alleviate pressure on the rupee, especially since there will be no material impact on the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
Commenting on this, Tariq said: “The market did not see the direct impact of the SFD development because it was just the government’s attempt to maintain foreign exchange reserves.”
The rupee has lost 13.90% of its value during the ongoing financial year of 2022-23. However, it shrank 28.81% in the calendar year 2022 as the demand for the US dollar remained high in the market.
Tariq believes that the rupee-dollar parity will improve within a month as a decline in international oil prices and prudent government policies will give the local unit a direction to move upwards.
Markets to normalise within 15 to 20 days: Miftah
A day earlier, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said that the global markets were “jittery” about Pakistan, given the economy had suffered at least $18 billion in losses after the floods, which could go as high as $30 billion.
“Yes, our credit default risk has gone up, and our bond prices have fallen. But, I think within 15 to 20 days, the market will normalise, and I think will understand that Pakistan is committed to being prudent,” he had said.
Pakistan’s next big payment — $1 billion in international bonds — is due in December, and Miftah said that payment would “absolutely” be met.
Central bank reserves stand at $8.6 billion, despite the influx of $1.12 billion in IMF funding in late August, which are only enough for about a month of imports. The end-year target was to increase the buffer up to 2.2 months.
Miftah said Pakistan will still be able to increase reserves by up to $4 billion, even if the floods hurt the current account balance by $4 billion in more imports, such as cotton, and a negative impact on exports.
However, he estimated the current account deficit will not increase by more than $2 billion following the floods.
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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