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IMF to review PM Imran Khan’s relief package in talks with Pakistan this week

IMF to review PM Imran Khan’s relief package in talks with Pakistan this week

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Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are meeting this week to review the relief package Prime Minister Imran Khan announced to lower POL and electricity prices in the face of a difficult international environment. Both sides will talk about the benefits of the package, The News reported.

The IMF team will kick-start virtual parleys with Pakistani authorities on March 4, 2022, and these talks will continue for two weeks for the completion of the 7th Review under the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) program.

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When contacted about the relief package announced by PM Imran Khan, the IMF’s Resident Chief in Pakistan, Esther Perez Ruiz, said that Pakistani authorities and the IMF would discuss during the upcoming 7th review of the EFF the merits of the recently-adopted relief package and other measures to promote macroeconomic stability amidst a challenging external environment.

This scribe also contacted the Ministry of Finance high-ups and got confirmation that the IMF team would hold virtual review talks from March 4, 2022, which would last for a two-week period.

Premier Imran Khan announced a reduction in petrol and diesel prices by Rs10 per litre and the electricity tariff by Rs5 per unit. It is estimated that the government will dole out Rs 360 billion on these two fronts of POL and electricity during the remaining four-month (March-June) period of the current fiscal year.

During the current fiscal year, the government will provide a direct subsidy of Rs200 billion on electricity and Rs160 billion on POL prices.The PTI-led government is going to replicate one old program, first introduced during the Musharraf government and later on during the PPP-led government in 2008 and 2009, which was known as Price Differential Claims (PDCs), to reduce the prices of POL products. However, these claims were largely never reimbursed to Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and the amount was still due after a 12-year period. With these measures, it seems that the government has entered into election mode. It is yet to be seen how the IMF will respond to this massive doled out package, as apparently it seems like a total reversal of the Fund-sponsored program. The initial estimates suggested that the cost of other measures such as the internship programme for almost 150,000 graduates with a monthly stipend of Rs30,000 and the doling of interest-free loans under the much-hyped Kamyab Pakistan Program were not included in the cost estimation of the relief package announced by the PM in his televised speech on Monday night.

One member of the high-profile Macro Economic Group, Dr Ashfaque Hassan Khan, told this scribe that the relief package was discussed in detail in the last two months and claimed that it would have no negative impact on the budget deficit nor the ongoing IMF program. He said that the relief package was fully financed and that savings would be utilised to finance the relief package.

The IMF provided $1 billion for COVID-19, which would be diverted towards the relief package. A second unnecessary development project-related allocation would be provided for execution of the package. Thirdly, he said that the BISP money would be fully utilised, and fourthly, the FBR’s increased collection of Rs281 billion would be utilised for this package. He said that there were some suggestions to provide targeted subsidies during the Macro Economic Group meeting, but he had asked for a general subsidy by reducing the prices for all because the government did not have the capacity to provide targeted subsidies.

When contacted, Dr. Khaqan Najeeb, former Director-General, Economic Reform Unit, Ministry of Finance, said general subsidies are less welfare-enhancing for the vulnerable, and that is the reason governments should always promote targeted subsidy regimes. Pakistan has just completed a National Socio-Economic Registry in June 2021 with a door-to-door survey of 33 million households. A good initiative indeed. This should be the right data to use for any future subsidy targeting.

Dr. Khaqan emphasised that a general subsidy on fuel and electricity can have substantive fiscal implications. Electricity consumption in the summers (March to June) is the highest during the year. The Rs5 subsidy will be used to adjust the fuel price adjustment monthly for residential and commercial consumers. In a sense, the government has temporarily abolished the fuel price adjustment for four months.

Assuming a sale of 40 billion GWh of electricity in four months, this can translate into a subsidy of Rs200 billion. If not paid for, this would be taken as a prior year adjustment in the next year’s electricity tariff, thereby increasing it further. He concluded that if there was a reduction in the price of oil, its consumption could further impact the high $7MFY22 $11.6 bn current account deficit, which the government has been trying to curtail through various measures. In the short run, the government can reduce the Petroleum Development Levy for the Rs10 reduction. However, a funded subsidy from the current budget would have to be created to fund this.

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In a first for history, PSX crosses the 77,000 milestone.

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At 77,213.31, the benchmark KSE-100 hit an all-time high, up 1,005.15, or 1.32%, from the previous close of 76,208.16.

The government’s readiness to seal an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following the budget was cited by analysts as the reason for the upward trend.

Experts anticipate that in an attempt to bolster its position for a fresh bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the budget for the fiscal year ending in June 2025 would set aggressive fiscal goals.

Budget for Pakistan, 2024–2025
Pakistan’s budget for the fiscal year 2024–25, with a total expenditure of Rs18.877 trillion, was presented on Wednesday by Minister of Finance and Revenue Muhammad Aurangzeb.

The Finance Minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, outlined the budget highlights. He stated that the GDP growth target for the fiscal year 2024–25 is set at 3.6 percent, while the inflation rate is anticipated to stay at 12 percent.

He stated that while the primary surplus is anticipated to be 1.0 percent of GDP during the review period, the budget deficit to GDP is forecast to be 6.9 percent over the period under review.

According to the minister, tax income collection increased by 38% in the current fiscal year, and the province will receive Rs7,438 billion. The Federal Board of income expects to earn Rs12,970 billion in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year.

In contrast to the federal government’s projected net income of Rs9,119 billion, he stated that the federation’s non-tax revenue projections are set at Rs3,587 billion.

The federal government’s total outlays are projected to be Rs18,877 billion, with interest payments accounting for the remaining Rs9,775 billion.

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Pakistan currently has $14.38 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

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Pakistan’s commercial banks’ reserves, which stood at $5.28 billion at the conclusion of the week ending on June 7, rose by US$174 million, according to a central bank statement.

Reserving US$6.2 million less, the SBP now has US$9.10 billion in reserves. The causes for the decline in the reserves it had were not disclosed by the central bank.

The SBP released a statement that stated, “SBP reserves decreased by US$ 6 million to US$ 9,103.3 million during the week ended on 07-June-2024.”

The State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) foreign exchange reserves were reduced by US$ 63 million as a result of repaying external debt, with the reserves standing at US$ 9.093 billion as of earlier on June 6.

The central bank spokesperson said in a statement that as of the week that concluded on May 31, the nation’s total liquid foreign reserves were $14.31 billion.

In terms of net foreign reserves, commercial banks have US$ 5.22 billion of the overall foreign reserves, according to the SBP.

SBP reserves dropped by US$ 63 million to US$ 9,093.7 million during the week that ended on May 24, 2024, according to the announcement.

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In the local market, the price of gold plummets to Rs240,700/tola.

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Gold with a 24-karat purity level has dropped by Rs1200/tola on the local market.

Each tola of 24-karat gold is now selling for Rs240,700, with a further drop of Rs1029 bringing the price of 10 kilos of gold to Rs206,361. These figures are courtesy of the All Sarafa and Jewelers Association.

Meanwhile, after a $2 decline on the global market, one ounce of gold will be valued $2315.

A tola of gold was worth Rs 600 more on Wednesday.

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