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China, Saudi Arabia to provide $13bn financial package: Dar

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  • China, KSA will provide additional amount of $8.8bn and $4.2bn, respectively.
  • During PM’s recent visits, China, KSA assured to take care of Islamabad’s financial requirements till June 2023, says Dar.
  • China assured Pakistan that they would roll over $4 billion sovereign rollover deposits on all coming due dates, says Dar. 

ISLAMABAD: China and Saudi Arabia have assured Pakistan of providing a financial package of $13 billion, with the former pledging $8.8 billion and latter $4.2 billion for the current fiscal year 2022-23.

This is in addition to the rollover of sovereign loan deposits, additional rollovers, commercial loans, additional SWAPS and jacking up oil facilities on deferred payment in line with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement.

Both financial packages will ease the struggling economy of Pakistan as the foreign currency reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan stand at $8.9 billion at the moment.

“China and Saudi Arabia have given assurances to Pakistani delegations under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during recent visits that they will take care of Islamabad’s financial requirements till June 2023. Now the real effective exchange rate (REER) in terms of rupee against the US dollar has come down to Rs190 against the US dollar and no one will be allowed to play with our exchange rate,” Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told a select group of reporters in his office on Friday, The News reported.

The minister said that China assured Pakistan that they would roll over $4 billion sovereign rollover deposits on all coming due dates. The Chinese authorities, he said, also assured that the commercial loans of $3.3 billion will also be provided in due course of time. He said that China also granted a green signal for jacking up the SWAPS amount by providing an additional $1.45 billion so the total Chinese package would go up to $8.8 billion for the ongoing financial year. The Bank of China, he said, had already provided $200 million recently.

Dar said Pakistan and China agreed to resume the halted work on Mainline-1 from Karachi to Peshawar, which would be constructed at an estimated cost of $9.8 billion. He said that China also agreed to finance Karachi Circular Railway (KCR). He was of the view that the cost of ML-1 had gone up from $6.3 billion to $9.8 billion because of unwarranted delay in its execution during the tenure of PTI led regime. The minister said that China’s president and prime minister especially inquired about the health of PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif during this visit.

Sharing details about the outcome of Saudi Arabia’s visit, the minister said that they also assured to consider Pakistan’s request for additional $3 billion in deposits and jacking up the oil facility on deferred payment by an additional $1.2 billion. Besides, an additional amount of $4.2 billion would be considered by KSA authorities.

He said that KSA would also roll over existing deposits of $3 billion and their oil facility of $1.2 billion on deferred payment ($100 million on monthly basis) would continue till June 2023. Therefore, the total Saudi package is expected to touch $8.4 billion. To another query, the minister said that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman is going to visit Pakistan within the ongoing month.

He said that Saudi Arabia would also construct a Petrochemical Complex in Gwadar at an estimated investment of $11 to $12 billion. It was agreed with the KSA in 2015 that it would construct an oil refinery at an estimated cost of $6 billion and he had offered to construct that in Hub because at that time Gwadar was not ready for providing the required infrastructure.

He said the government was also considering offering potential investment opportunities to KSA, including selling RLNG-based power plants. Dar said that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was expected to approve $500 million as co-financing of ADB’s BRACE programme of $1.5 billion within the ongoing month.

He said the government would also convene a National Tax Council meeting next week for approving the GST harmonisation on goods and services among the Centre and the provinces, which is the only stumbling block in the way of approving $450 million RISE programme of the World Bank. There is another $500 million loan for Sindh, so the total disbursement of approximately $1.4 billion from WB was awaiting on harmonisation of GST for goods and services.

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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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