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Smuggling of US dollars to Afghanistan harming Pakistan’s economy: currency dealer

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  • About $2bn goes to Afghanistan in form of official, unofficial trade.
  • Both Afghan, Pakistani traders are involved in this activity.
  • Afghan transit trade, smuggling burdening Pakistan’s forex reserves.

KARACHI: The Pakistani currency is under pressure owing to the ongoing political unrest in the country and the smuggling of US dollars to Afghanistan, The News reported Tuesday citing foreign exchange dealers.

“Pakistan is currently dealing with problems on several fronts, the political crisis being the first and biggest one. The dollar crisis is also connected with it,” said Malik Bostan, the chairman of the Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan (ECAP) at a news conference.

About $2 billion goes to Afghanistan from Pakistan in the form of official and unofficial trade, misuse of Afghan transit trade, smuggling and through the borders, said Bostan, adding that these factors are burdening Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves.

Currently, Pakistan’s economy is suffering irreparable harm because of the Afghan transit trade, which has grown significantly. A significant portion of the dollars travelling from Pakistan to Afghanistan passes through the Afghan transit trade, and both Afghan and Pakistani traders are involved in this anti-national activity, he added.

To lower the import bill, the government imposed high duties on many luxury goods.

“Our traders and importers thought that why should they pay a 200% duty to the Pakistani government,” Bostan said, and added they operate a global network, accepting payments through hundi/hawala in Dubai, London, Europe, America, Saudi Arabia, and everywhere else. 

They bring their items here in the name of Afghan transit, travelling from our port to Afghanistan and then returning to Pakistan in small trucks. Numerous importers from Pakistan who participate in this atrocious practice not only fail to pay import duties, which costs the national exchequer billions of rupees, but also prevent dollars from entering the country, he said. 

When the Afghan Taliban established a transition government in August 2021, the Pakistani rupee was trading at 155, the country’s foreign exchange reserves were $22 billion, and its import bill was $4.5 billion. According to Bostan, today the rupee has fallen to almost 225 in the interbank market and 235 per dollar in the free market.

He claimed that every month, about $3 billion in remittances were sent to Pakistan. The remittance flows have now decreased to $2 billion. “Where does this monthly $1 billion go? Because we are paying remittances at 225 rupees for every dollar, this $1 billion per month has become the sight of Afghan transit. The hawala/hundi operators are giving those 270 for every dollar,” said the chairman. 

Bostan said there are just three major international companies with which the exchange companies have signed money transfer agreements at the present. “We have requested that SBP let exchange companies negotiate partnerships with at least 50 significant global money transfer firms,” Bostan said. 

“Exchange companies receive roughly $2 billion in worker remittances each year, and in terms of exporting foreign currency, these companies provided about $3 billion to Pakistani banks last year. The exchange companies are significantly contributing to the stabilisation of Pakistan’s reserve, the Pakistani rupee, and the Pakistani economy by relinquishing it in the interbank market,” he said. 

“If the government gives us an agreement with 50 international money transfers companies, the exchange companies can bring $7 to $8 billion to Pakistan annually.”

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In four months, FBR found Rs 800 billion in fraudulent tax refunds.

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Over the last four months, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has discovered a Rs800 billion tax refund scam.

The Inland Revenue and Customs reforms were considered at a review meeting that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif convened. During this time, the board allegedly discovered the Rs800 billion tax refund fraud.

According to the conference, there are 83,579 outstanding tax cases totaling Rs3.2 trillion, of which about 63 cases, or Rs44 billion, have been settled as a consequence of various government measures.

In an effort to speed up the resolution of tax issues, the prime minister also ordered the creation of 100 tribunals.

The gathering also featured the identification of around five million new taxpayers, of whom fifteen thousand retailers have enrolled since April 1, 2024.

View more:More than 46,000 traders have signed up for the Tajir Dost Scheme: FBR.

The prime minister has instructed the tax authorities to promptly include the five billion tax evaders in the tax system and has placed a strong emphasis on working with merchants to improve system efficiency.

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PM Gives FBR Instructions To Speed Up Digitization Work: An investigation revealed a Rs. 800 billion tax refund scam.

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Noting favorable results of FBR’s digitization efforts, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif revealed an 800 billion rupee tax refund scam discovered in the last four months.

Shehbaz Sharif stressed improving the tax refund system further while presiding over an important meeting on FBR reforms and digitization in Islamabad.

Regretting the delays in putting various reform programs into action, he emphasized that FBR changes had the potential to increase income.

There is a total of 3.2 trillion rupees worth of ongoing tax cases in various courts and tribunals, according to the briefing given to the conference. With 63 lawsuits worth 44 billion rupees resolved in the last four months, the current government has taken action to resolve these outstanding matters.

The prime minister has directed that efforts be made to attract as many of the 4.9 million potential taxpayers who are wealthy into the tax system as possible without putting undue strain on the impoverished.

Fifty thousand merchants have enrolled so far for the mobile phone retailer registration effort, which began in April.

He also emphasized the necessity for a consolidated approach for continuing reform initiatives and the complete digitization of FBR’s fraud detection and investigation department.

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Mining in Balochistan: Mari Pvt Ltd Secures Exploration License

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Licenses for mineral prospecting in the Chagai District of Balochistan have been obtained by Mari Mining Company Private Limited.

501 square kilometers and 513 square kilometers, respectively, are covered by the licenses that the Directorate General Mines and Minerals Balochistan awarded.

Mari Petroleum Company Limited has formed Mari Mining Company as a subsidiary. Major player in Pakistan’s natural gas sector, Mari Petroleum manages the country’s largest gas deposits in Sindh’s Dakhri Gas Field.

With a success record of 70%, which is much greater than many of its peers both domestically and internationally, Mari Petroleum is a major oil and gas exploration and production business.

Because of the efforts of organizations like the International Monetary Fund, Balochistan, a region rich in minerals and natural resources, is developing quickly.

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