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Mini-budget likely to be passed in National Assembly today

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  • State minister says virtual talks with IMF to also take place today.
  • Pasha rejects further delay in agreement with IMF.
  • Mini-budget has already been passed in Senate.

State Minister for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha Monday said the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2023 is likely to be approved today by the National Assembly.

The minister added that the government has decided to get the mini-budget approved by the lower house today. It should be noted that it has already been approved by the Senate by a thin margin.

“Virtual discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are ongoing and talks will also take place today,” the minister said while speaking to journalists in Islamabad.

Pasha hoped for a staff-level agreement to materialise with the IMF soon. “Matters with the IMF are progressing in a positive direction. A further delay in the agreement is unlikely.”

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar tabled the bill in the National Assembly and Senate on February 15 with budget proposals presented seeking to fulfil the prerequisites for unlocking the crucial $1.1 billion IMF loan tranche which will help cushion the country’s dwindling economy.

A session of the lower house, to debate over the finance bill, was held on Friday (February 17); however, it was adjourned without voting after a brief debate on the budget proposals.

“The NA session has been adjourned to meet again on Monday, the 20th February 2023 at 5:00 pm,” it was announced on the official Twitter handle of the lower house.

Dar, while speaking to reporters after the session, said that he expects the bill to be passed in both houses by Monday or Tuesday as Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani has “given us till Friday”.

Pakistan is in dire need of funds as it battles a wrenching economic crisis as the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)-held foreign exchange reserves barely cover one month of imports.

Finance bill proposals

  • Increase in GST on luxury items from 17% to 25%
  • FED on business and first-class air tickets be increased to Rs20,000 or 50% — whichever is higher
  • 10% withholding adjustable advance income tax to be imposed on marriage halls
  • Increase in FED on cigarettes, soft and sugary drinks
  • FED on cement to be raised from Rs1.5 kg to Rs2 kg
  • Increase in GST from standard 17% to 18%
  • GST to not be imposed on essential goods — wheat, rice, milk, pulses, vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs, meat
  • BISP stipend to be increased; govt to allocate Rs400 billion for programme

Business

The KSE-100 Index rises following a sharp decline in the previous session.

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The government is considering filing a treason case under Article 6 against PTI founder Imran Khan, former president Arif Alvi, and former deputy speaker Qasim Suri. On Tuesday, the KSE-100 Index was up more than 1.3% during early trading, following a day of roughly a 2 percent loss due to growing political unrest and the potential banning of the party.

However, the benchmark index of the Pakistan Stock Exchange was trading at 79,074.63 by 11:49 a.m., having gained 535.45 points, or 0.68 percent, after reaching an intraday high of 79,578.04.

Market analysts said that political tensions were the primary cause of the KSE-100’s earlier Monday decline of 1578.71 points, or 1.97 percent.

They did point out, though, that a correction was a reasonable reaction to the protracted upswing that allowed the benchmark mark index to reach 81,839.86 on July 18.

As a result of interest rate cuts and the possibility of another IMF program, the Pakistan Stock Exchange has gained 22.97 percent so far this year. The cycle began on June 10 with a 1.5 percent decrease in borrowing costs.

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In interbank trade, the US dollar crushes the Pakistani rupee.

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During interbank trade on Tuesday, the US dollar’s value increased by 15 paisas, reaching Rs 278.45.

It is important to remember that Fitch Business Monitor International expressed concern about the possibility that Pakistan’s economic stability may be jeopardized by the ongoing political unrest.

The fragile situation of Pakistan’s economic recovery was emphasized by Fitch in its most recent Pakistan Country Risk Report, which also noted that economic activity has been impeded by urban protests.

(PTI),In spite of multiple successful judicial appeals, the founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) is expected to stay behind bars, the article notes, underscoring the fragile political environment.

With no urgent plans for new elections, this scenario suggests that the coalition administration will remain in office for the next 18 months.

Fitch also described an eventuality in which the government could change and be replaced by a technocratic administration. This suggests that the government of Pakistan would carry out the reforms demanded by the IMF, contributing to the 3.2% GDP growth expected in 2024–2025.

The policy rate has stabilized above projections, while the research predicted it may reach 16 percent this fiscal year and 14 percent the following year.

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Pakistan’s gold prices per kilogram dropped.

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When 24-karat gold dropped by Rs. 500 to Rs. 250,500 per tola on Tuesday, the price of gold fell once again on both the local and international gold markets.

By Rs429 to Rs214,763, 10 grams of gold cost less, according to the Gold Sellers Association.

Gold’s price per ounce dropped to $2391 on the international market by $11.

At Rs2920 per tola, the price of silver did not change.

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