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Forex firms advise govt to fix higher dollar rate to boost remittances

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  • ECAP believes the move will place curbs on illegal channels. 
  • Says it will eventually eliminate the prevailing grey market.
  • Rupee in the grey market has reached 267/270 against the dollar.

KARACHI: The Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan (ECAP) has advised the government to “fix” the dollar rate to reduce the volatility in the currency market as the country grapples with a severe economic crisis amid depleting forex reserves, reported The News.

“It is advised to fix the rupee/dollar exchange rate for export-import bills and remittances,” said Zafar Paracha, the general secretary of ECAP in a statement on Monday. These remittance proceeds could be brought in by banks and money changers at a fixed rate of 240 per dollar, he added.

The local currency ended at 228.34 per dollar, compared with the previous close of 228.15 in the interbank market. In the open market, the rupee was trading at 238.75 against the dollar. It was available at 238.50 on Friday.

Paracha suggested to the government to offer a rate of Rs240 per dollar to overseas Pakistanis and for inward remittance. He believes the move would help increase remittances, reduce Hundi/Hawala, strengthen the official channel, and eventually eliminate the grey market.

The rate of the dollar in the grey market has reached 267/270 versus the local unit, according to Paracha. For the purpose of getting the exporters’ proceeds, the offer could be made at 228 rupees to the dollar. And the rate for importers would be based on the weighted average of home remittance and exporter rates. It would benefit exporters and remittances, he explained.

“It will encourage exporters to bring dollars into the country, enhance the foreign exchange reserve, and strengthen the remittances segment of the exchange firms.”

Remittances from Pakistanis working abroad dropped 19% to $2.0 billion in December. 

During the first six months (July-December) of the current fiscal year, the nation received $14.1 billion in remittances, which is a decrease of 11.1% from a year earlier.

Pakistan’s forex reserves held with the State Bank of Pakistan dropped by $1.2 billion to $4.3 billion as of January 6 — enough to cover barely three weeks’ worth of imports.

The country is currently experiencing a balance of payments crisis due to large foreign debt repayments and a lack of external finance, which have severely depleted Pakistan’s foreign reserves and led to persistent dollar shortages.

The government has restricted several imports to save dollars, and some businesses have shut down as a result of being unable to import machinery or parts.

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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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