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IMF agreement to be inked next week: Rana Sanaullah

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  • “Govt has fulfilled all requirements of IMF,” the interior minister says.
  • He adds after agreement relief could be passed on to the public.
  • Pakistan and IMF are engaged in tough talks since late January.

ISLAMABAD: With all eyes on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for their final nod, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has said the agreement with the lender would be inked formally during next week, Radio Pakistan reported on Tuesday.

The two sides are engaged in tough talks to reach a consensus on multiple conditions since late January before signing the deal which also includes external financing from friendly countries.

Sanaullah, addressing a public gathering in Faisalabad, said that the government has fulfilled its all requirements and after the agreement relief could be passed on to the public.

A day earlier, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told Geo News that Pakistan has “fulfilled all the conditions” of the IMF and hoped that the Fund will soon sign the staff-level agreement, paving the way for the release of the $1.1 billion tranche.

Dar said both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have informed the IMF about their commitments to provide $3 billion to Pakistan.

Riyadh will provide $2 billion while Abu Dhabi has promised $1 billion to Pakistan, Dar said, adding that the Washington-based lender has also been informed in this regard.

The finance minister said all the conditions for the staff-level agreement between Pakistan and IMF have been fulfilled.

“Pakistan is hopeful that IMF will soon sign the SLA and get it approved by its Executive Board,” Dar added.

The country’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen to cover barely a month of imports after the IMF funding stalled in November, hit by snags over fiscal policy adjustments after officials of the lender visited Islamabad in February for talks.

They formed part of a ninth review exercise on a bailout package of $6.5 billion agreed upon in 2019 whose resumption is critical for Pakistan to avoid risking default on external payment obligations.

Pakistan had to complete actions demanded by the IMF, such as reversing subsidies in its power, export and farming sectors, hikes in the prices of energy and fuel, and a permanent power surcharge, among other measures.

These steps included jacking up its key policy rate to an all-time high of 21%, a market-based exchange rate, arranging for external financing, and raising more than Rs170 billion ($613 million) in new taxes.

The fiscal adjustments have already fuelled Pakistan’s highest inflation ever, which climbed in March to more than 35% on the year.

The IMF programme will disburse another tranche of $1.4 billion to Pakistan before it concludes in June.

Funds from the lender will also unlock other bilateral and multilateral financings for the cash-strapped country.

Neighbouring China has rolled over $2 billion and refinanced another $1.3 billion in recent weeks.

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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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