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IMF sees ‘tentative signs’ of Pakistan’s economic activity picking up

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  • IMF sees inflation at 18.5% by end-June 2024.
  • Says current account deficit to rise to 1.5% of GDP in FY24.
  • Market-determined exchange rate urged to buffer external shocks.

With the approval by the Executive Board for the release of the second tranche under the Stand-By Arrangement (SBA), the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Deputy Managing Director Antoinette Sayeh commented that the economy is showing “tentative signs of activity picking-up and external pressures easing” for cash strapped Pakistan.

Sayeh noted that the country’s performance under the SBA has supported significant progress in stabilising the economy following the significant shocks of the last fiscal year.

“There are now tentative signs of activity picking-up and external pressures easing. Continued strong ownership remains critical to ensure the current momentum continues and stabilisation of Pakistan’s economy becomes entrenched,” said the deputy MD who was also the chair of the board meeting that approved the release of $700 million. The release means total disbursements under the SBA stand at close to $1.9 billion.

“The authorities’ strong revenue performance in FY24Q1 as well as federal spending restraint have helped to achieve a primary surplus in line with quarterly program targets. However, in the context of pressures, including from provincial spending, efforts at mobilising revenues and ongoing non-priority spending discipline need to continue to ensure that the budgeted primary surplus and debt goals remain achievable,” said the deputy MD.

The IMF official advised the authorities in Pakistan to go for broad-based reforms to improve the fiscal framework by mobilising additional revenues specifically from non-filers and under-taxed sectors and improving public financial management. She believes these actions would give Pakistan fiscal space to further social and development spending.

“Inflation remains high, affecting particularly the more vulnerable, and it is appropriate that the State Bank of Pakistan maintains a tight stance to ensure that inflation returns to more moderate levels. Pakistan also needs a market-determined exchange rate to buffer external shocks, continue rebuilding foreign reserves, and support competitiveness and growth. In parallel, further action to address undercapitalized financial institutions and, more broadly, vigilance over the financial sector is necessary to support financial stability,” said Sayeh.

IMF expects 2% growth

The lender in its statement also stated that macroeconomic conditions have generally improved in the country and expects 2% growth in ongoing fiscal year as the “nascent recovery expands in the second half of the year”.

“The fiscal position also strengthened in FY24Q1 achieving a primary surplus of 0.4% of GDP driven by overall strong revenues. Inflation remains elevated, although with appropriately tight policy, this could decline to 18.5% by end-June 2024,” said the IMF.

The lender forecasts that the current account deficit may increase to around 1.5% of GDP in FY24 as the recovery takes hold.

“Assuming sustained sound macroeconomic policy and structural reform implementation, inflation should return to the SBP target and growth continue to strengthen over the medium term,” said the IMF.

Pakistan was nearing a default when the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government (PDM) was about to end its term last year. However, entering the SBA with the IMF helped the South Asian nation stave off the sovereign default.

The forex reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), as of January 5, stand at $8.1 billion, while the country’s total reserves have reached $13.2 billion after a debt of $66 million was repaid.

With the addition of the latest tranche, Pakistan’s forex reserves will reach a six-month-high — as on July 14, the SBP reserves were around $8.73 billion.

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April FDI in Pakistan increased to $358.8 million, according to SBP

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The inflow for April was $358.8 million, up 177% from $132 million in April FY23. Still, that was 39% more than the $258 million from March.

China was the largest investor, with $439.3 million in FDI from the nation between July and April of FY24—the greatest amount—as opposed to $604 million during the same period of FY23. In April, China accounted for $177 million of the total investment.

With $51.93 and 51.89 million invested in Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Canada came in second and third, respectively.

The power industry was the main draw for foreign investors in FY24, which ran from July to April. This period’s FDI in the power industry was $637.5 million, compared to $776.2 million the previous year. From $338 million to $460 million this year, Hydel Power garnered more attention.

Continue reading: In FY23–24, Pakistan’s per capita income increased to $1680.

According to a separate data released on Wednesday, Pakistanis’ per capita income increased to $1680 in FY2023–2024.

The size of the national economy grew from $341 billion to $375 billion in the current fiscal year, according to figures made public by PBS.

Throughout this fiscal year, Pakistanis’ yearly per capita income increased by Rs 90,534; the monthly rise was Rs 7,544.

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OGRA forbids the purchase or sale of inferior LPG cylinders.

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The 313 LPG marketing and 19 cylinder-producing companies received notices from the OGRA, which described the act of refilling inferior LPGO cylinders as harmful.

Avoid supplying LPG to unlicensed distributors, the OGRA has cautioned LPG marketing companies. Only approved distributors will be able to sell and buy LPG going forward, per the notification, which states that new SOPs have been developed for the LPG industry.

Additionally, the warning said that the decision was made in an effort to preserve both lives and the business in response to an increase in cylinder blast occurrences.

Price reductions of Rs 20 per kilogramme for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) were implemented in Quetta on May 3.

There is a reduction of Rs 20 on LPG prices, which means that the price per kilogramme drops from Rs 280 to Rs 260.

The costs of LPG were reduced by Rs 20 per kilogramme earlier, bringing the total decrease to Rs 40 per kilogramme over a few weeks. This is something worth noticing.

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PIA announces a significant student discount.

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According to an airline spokesman, the national flag carrier has recently raised the baggage allowance to 60 kg.

Currently, PIA flies one flight per week on Sundays between Islamabad and Beijing.

The discount may be useful to students who intend to spend their summer vacations in Pakistan or who wish to return home after earning their degrees.

Before, students who wanted to visit China could now receive a 27% reduction on their fares through PIA.

On Eid ul Fitr, the national flag airline also reduced the cost of domestic flights by 20% for both economy and executive economy classes.

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