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Saudi Arabia mulls increasing Pakistan deposit amount to $5b

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  • Sigh of relief for Pakistan as Saudi Arabia announces support.
  • Riyadh vows to help Islamabad steer crisis.
  • Develoment comes after Gen Munir’s meeting with Mohammad Bin Salman.

RIYADH: In a major boost to Pakistan’s efforts to strengthen its forex reserves amid the worsening currency crisis, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Tuesday directed the authorities to study increasing the amount of the deposit by $2 billion to reach $5 billion.

Last month, the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) extended its term for the $3 billion deposit in the State Bank of Pakistan which was set to mature on December 5.

The SBP had signed an agreement with the SFD in November 2022 to receive $3bn, to be placed in the central bank’s account with an aim to improve its foreign exchange reserves.

According to a Saudi Press Agency (SPA) report today, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has directed the SDF to study increasing the amount of the deposit which has previously been extended on December 2, 2022 to hit a $5 billion ceiling, confirming the kingdom’s position supportive to Pakistan’s economy and its people.

“This came within the framework of the existing communication between HRH the Crown Prince and Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan,” the SPA added.

The state news agency added that the Saudi leader has also directed to study augmenting Riyadh’s investments in Pakistan which have previously been announced on August 25, 2022 to reach $10 billion.

The announcement comes a day after Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir’s meeting with Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman during his first overseas official visit to the country.

Pakistan is facing a currency crisis due to dwindling forex reserves which have slumped to $4.5 billion — enough for three weeks of imports.

On the other hand, Islamabad is making hectic efforts to revive the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) loan programme stalled for months.

A Pakistani delegation held a meeting with the IMF officials in Geneva on Monday on the sidelines of the donors’ conference and reiterated its commitment to completing the programme.

Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar and IMF officials “discussed challenges to regional economies in the wake of climate change,” according to a Finance Ministry statement following the meeting’s conclusion.

“(The) finance minister reiterated the commitment to complete the Fund program,” it added.

The lender is yet to approve the release of $1.1 billion originally due to be disbursed in November last year, leaving Pakistan with only enough foreign exchange reserves to cover one month’s imports.

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Significant surge in the price of gold in Pakistan

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On Friday, the price of gold in Pakistan continued to increase.

According to the All-Pakistan Gems and Jewellers Sarafa Association, the price of 24-karat gold per tola has risen by Rs2,200, reaching Rs249,000.

The price of 10-gram 24-karat gold increased by Rs1,886, reaching a total of Rs213,477. On Thursday, the cost of 10 grammes of 22-karat gold was Rs195,687.

The global gold market likewise had a rising trajectory. As per APGJSA, the worldwide rate was $2,404 per ounce, showing a decline of $24 during the course of the trading day.

The local market witnessed constant silver prices at Rs2,900 per tola.

Market observers attribute the increase in gold prices to other variables, such as volatility in the global market, currency exchange rates, and economic conditions. The ongoing surge in gold prices is likely to impact investment choices and consumer behaviour in the near future.

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Gold prices in Pakistan have risen by Rs 1,200 per tola.

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The price of one tola of 24 carat gold rose by Rs1,200 and reached Rs246,800 on Thursday, compared to its previous sale price of Rs245,600 on the last trading day.

According to the All Sindh Sarafa Jewellers Association, the cost of 10 grammes of 24 karat gold rose by Rs1,029 to reach Rs211,591, compared to the previous price of Rs210,562. Similarly, the price of 10 grammes of 22 carat gold jumped from Rs193,016 to Rs193,959.

The price of silver remained unchanged at Rs2,900 per tola and Rs2,486.28 per ten grammes.

According to the association, the international market price of gold rose by $10, reaching $2,382 from $2,372.

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The federal government has declared wage and pension increments for its employees.

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The Ministry of Finance has formally declared a rise in the remuneration and retirement benefits of personnel working for the federal government, offering substantial economic alleviation.

According to the notification, personnel in grades 1 to 16 will experience a 25% increment in their salaries, while officials in grades 17 to 22 will be granted a 20% rise. The implementation of this modification will commence on July 1, 2024, and will be applicable to the employees’ fundamental remuneration.

In addition, retired federal government employees would receive a 15% rise in their pension payments. This increase is applicable to retirees from both the civilian and military sectors. It is important to mention that employees who retire on or after July 1, 2024, will also qualify for this pension rise.

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The 15% increase in pension will be computed based on the amount of pension received by retired employees after deductions. Nevertheless, the letter specifies that ad hoc aid will not be factored into the calculations for pension and gratuity.

Moreover, this increment will have no effect on the calculation of housing rent allowances for employees.

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