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Pakistan, Saudi Arabia ink agreement to finance $1bn oil derivatives

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Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia inked an agreement on Thursday to finance oil derivatives worth $1 billion, Economic Affairs Ministry confirmed.

The development comes amid news reports that Saudi Arabia is augmenting plans to increase the amount of investment and deposit in cash-strapped Pakistan which is struggling with a worsening currency crisis.

According to an official statement, the agreement was inked by Economic Affairs Secretary Dr Kazem Niaz, and Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sultan bin Abdulrahman Al-Murshed.

Dr Niaz, speaking on the occasion, revealed that the pact was an extension of previously signed agreements in 2019 and 2021 valued at $4.44 billion to finance oil derivatives in Pakistan.

Since its establishment, he said, the SFD had supported more than 40 projects and programmes in different development sectors valued at approximately $1.4 billion.

‘All the programmes were aimed at helping the country achieve its sustainable development goals and build a prosperous future,” he added.

For his part, SFD CEO said that the agreement emphasised the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to continue supporting the brotherly Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia mulls increasing Pakistan deposit 

Islamabad’s efforts to shore up the country’s forex reserves with the help of Saudi Arabia — amid a worsening currency crisis — have started paying off as Riyadh is considering ‘beefing up’ its deposit in the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) from $3 billion to $5 billion.

According to Saudi media, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman earlier this week directed his financial officials to study increasing the Pakistan deposit by $2 billion.

The development came after the Saudi crown prince’s meeting with Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir, who was on his first overseas official visit to the kingdom.

Last month, the SFD extended its term for the $3 billion deposit in the SBP which was set to mature on December 5.

The SBP had signed an agreement with the SFD in November 2022 to receive $3 billion, to be placed in the central bank’s account with an aim to improve its foreign exchange reserves.

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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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