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Commercial banks refuse to issue letters of credit to edible oil importers

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  • Edible oil importers, ghee manufacturers told their LoCs can’t be opened at interbank exchange rates.
  • Banks willing to do business if importers open letters at Rs250 per dollar.
  • PVMA chairman requests SBP to address issue immediately.

LAHORE: Commercial banks are refusing to issue letters of credit for edible oil imports despite the exclusion of the sector from the condition of prior permission from the central bank, The News reported Friday. 

Edible oil importers and ghee manufacturers have been informed unofficially that their letters of credit cannot be opened at the interbank exchange rates. However, the commercial banks were very much willing to do business with these importers if they were willing to open credit letters at Rs250 and above the exchange rate against a dollar.

Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA) Chairman Sheikh Abdul Razzaq in a letter to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor said that “the ‘Commercial Banks’ are conveying to the importers-cum-manufacturers of edible oil that with immediate effect the edible oil has been excluded from the list of ‘Essential Items’ and hence turning down the requests for opening of L/Cs/retirement of documents”.

He further mentioned that the un-hindered opening of letters of credit/retirement of documents was inevitable. It should be given priority as accorded by SBP earlier vide EPD circular letter no. 20 of 2022 dated December 27, 2022 to avoid any crisis in the country, which could lead to increase in prices of cooking oil/ghee and shortage due to non-availability of the raw material (edible oil).

Pakistan imports 90% of its edible oil demand to meet the national requirement of over 4.5 million metric tonnes per annum. The existing domestic stocks are sufficient to meet the demand for only three to four weeks. However, the interruption in opening letters of credit could disrupt the smooth supply line and result in market disruption.

PVMA chairman requested the SBP to address the issue immediately and set aside the likely panic in the market, which might translate into a price hike, hoarding or retarded imports resulting in shortages.

“The industry is experiencing a unique and unprecedented kind of challenge wherein despite of sufficient stocks discharged in custom bonded warehouses at Karachi, it is unable to lift them due to refusal by banks to retire the documents,” he said. 

Razzaq urged the SBP to direct the ‘commercial banks’ to honour the edible oil importers requests for credit letters and further inform the general public through media campaigns.

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Pakistan’s gold price increases by an additional Rs. 800 per tola.

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The price of yellow metal in the local market hit Rs247,300 on the first working day of the week, following a rise of Rs800 in a single day.

The cost of ten grams of 24-karat gold increased by Rs686 on Monday, making the current price Rs212,020.

In addition, the cost of 10 grams of 22-karat gold increased significantly, trading at Rs194,351.

These fluctuations are strongly correlated with shifts in the US dollar’s value, demonstrating the tight connection between gold prices and exchange rates. This emphasizes how local gold markets are impacted by variables related to the global economy.

The price of the precious metal dropped $16 on the international market on Monday, hitting $2,348 per ounce.

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A delegation from Pakistan travels to the US to bargain with the IMF for a new loan.

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The Pakistani delegation consists of the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, the Secretary of Finance, the Additional Secretary, and other individuals.

The Finance Minister was greeted at the airport by Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Masood Khan, and Embassy staff.

The Finance Minister will meet with representatives of the World Bank and IMF while he is in the US.

The IMF and Pakistan are expected to negotiate next week, according to sources.

Sources claim that Islamabad will apply for a new credit package from the IMF.

The Finance Minister’s itinerary also includes meetings with members of think tanks and the world press.

Last month, Pakistan and the IMF came to a staff-level agreement over the third and final review of the $3 billion stand-by arrangement. Should the board of the global lender approve this deal, Pakistan will get approximately $1.1 billion.

Although a specific date has not been determined, the IMF board is anticipated to evaluate the case in late April, according to a spokeswoman.

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Pakistan’s petrol prices are anticipated to rise.

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The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) will not disclose the anticipated increase in fuel prices until its work is finished, according to sources.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will receive the summary of the petrol price, and sources further stated that the new pricing will be revealed following his approval today.

Noteworthy to highlight is that Pakistan was previously ordered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to impose an 18% General Sales Tax (GST) on gasoline.

Details indicate that Pakistan was requested by the Monetary Fund to stop reducing sales tax on all goods, including gasoline.

To boost tax revenue, Pakistan’s recently elected government should impose a sales tax on petroleum items in addition to a Rs 60 charge.

High-speed diesel (HSD) was reduced by Rs3.32 per litre on March 31 but petrol prices increased by Rs9.66 per litre by the government.

In contrast to the reduction in the price of high-speed diesel (HSD) to Rs282.24 from Rs278.92, the price of gasoline jumped to Rs289.41 per litre.

The adjustments were brought about by a commensurate increase in the price of gasoline and a decline in the price of HSD on the global market, according to a statement released by the Finance Ministry.

According to the statement, the adjustment was made in accordance with government policy, which transfers pricing differences from the foreign market to the home market.

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