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PM Shehbaz unveils Mangla dam’s refurbishment electricity project

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  • PM says Pakistan can not bear the high cost of energy import bills.
  • He reveals that energy import bill has swelled to $27 billion.
  • Total project cost is $483m, of which $150m was provided by US

MANGLA: Stressing the need for cheaper electricity generation, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that Pakistan, which is already facing immense challenges of economic stability, could not bear the high costs of energy import bills.

The premier made the remarks while addressing the inaugural ceremony of the refurbishment project of Units 5 and 6 of the Mangla Dam Hydroelectric Power Plant on Monday, carried out with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

He said that the energy import bill has swelled to $27 billion and underscored the need to utilise alternative sources of electricity production.

“Had the water reservoirs built on time, the country’s energy import bill would not have swelled to $27 billion,” he said, pointing out that “powerful lobbies and cartels” did not let materialise the construction of dams and launch of solar power projects.

PM Shehbaz regretted that in 75 years, both democratic and military rulers were responsible for not building sufficient dams to meet the energy needs.

Referring to the recent flash floods in the country, he said, dams are crucial to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The prime minister termed the assistance of USAID for the refurbishment of the units of Mangla dam as a “wonderful example of cooperation” between Pakistan and the United States.

He lauded the valuable grant of $150 million by USAID along with the financial support by the Development Agency of France amounting to 90 million euros besides another pledge of 65 million euros. Also, WAPDA [Water and Power Development Authority] contributed $178 million (approximately Rs20 billion) from its own resources, he said.

He expressed satisfaction over the interest of the US to carry out an extension programme of the country’s largest Tarbela dam.

He also said the 75-year-old friendship and bilateral relationship between Pakistan and the US had further strengthened at the levels of trade and investment.

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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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