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Rupee plunges to new record low of 298.93

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  • Local unit falls Rs8.71 against dollar in interbank market.
  • Dollar bonds due 2031 fall to lowest since November.
  • New rate is just Re1 away from much-awaited rate of Rs300.

KARACHI: The rupee slumped to a record low of 298.93 amid political tumult in the wake of clashes that broke out in the country following the arrests of senior leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) 

The local unit fell Rs8.71, or 3%, against the dollar on Thursday closing at 298.93 in the interbank market, data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) showed.

It should be noted that the dollar bonds due 2031 fell to the lowest since November on Thursday and were indicated at 33.10 cents on the dollar. 

The new rate is just Re1 away from the much-anticipated rate of Rs300 per dollar.

The rupee depreciation has piled up foreign debt without taking new external loans, making imports further expensive for Pakistan, which faced a six-decade high inflation reading at 36.4% in April 2023.

Financial pundits believe that the rupee has been depreciating due to political and social unrest caused after the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

Moreover, the dollar demand supply gap has also widened as the exporters have stopped selling US currency on speculations that rupee would depreciated further versus the greenback. On the other hand, importers are seen rushing to buy dollars.

This gap in the demand and supply of the foreign currency in the interbank market have contributed to the rupee’s devaluation.

Political situation would improve in a day or two and help the currency stabilise around the current levels or partially recover ground against the greenback.

“Pressure had built up after a few months of stability,” Saleem Amjad, chief executive officer at Link International Exchange Company, told Bloomberg.

“Sentiment turned sour given the political turmoil, the prospect of another delay in the IMF loan and a drop in remittances.”

Dr Khaqan Najeeb, former finance ministry adviser, said that continuing political instability has taken a toll on market sentiment pushing the Pakistani rupee to hit a record low.

“The heightened political turmoil has come at a time when the economy has been in the doldrums for months largely due to an acute balance of payment crisis, with falling State Bank of Pakistan reserves barely covering a month of highly controlled imports,” he commented a day earlier.

Resilient stocks gain on IMF clarity

On the other hand, the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) held ground as investors remained surefooted in view of the clarity provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The benchmark KSE-100 was trading at 41,224.31 point at 2:09pm — up by 149.36 points (or 0.36%) despite the economic uncertainties and rupee plunge.

Earlier in the day, the index gained 1%, the most since April 20, immediately after IMF assured that it remains engaged with Pakistan for its loan programme.

“This upside can be short-lived since the political situation remains bleak”, Adnan Khan, head of international sales at Intermarket Securities, told Bloomberg.

The IMF spokesperson has said that the Fund remains engaged with Pakistan on securing funding and policy assurances with the goal of reaching an agreement on the ninth review of the $6.7 billion loan agreed in 2019.

“The IMF sees no indication that Pakistan wants to pause negotiations on disbursement from the current programme,” the spokesperson said addressing concerns that the current political situation would create more hurdles in the revival of the bailout programme.

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The inaugural flight of Azerbaijan Airlines is between Baku and Karachi.

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The national airline of Azerbaijan launched direct flights from Baku to Karachi today. There will be two weekly flights on this route, on Thursdays and Sundays.

The first flight will land in Karachi, and Azerbaijan’s ambassador, Khazar Farhadov, will be there to greet it.

This evening also marks the departure of the inaugural flight from Karachi to Baku, in addition to the arrival of the flight from Baku.

Azerbaijan Airlines said last month that it would be growing its network and flight operations in Pakistan.

Aviation insiders have verified that Azerbaijan Airlines is preparing to launch service to Karachi in the coming month of April.

In addition to its current services in Islamabad and Lahore, the airline plans to launch its Karachi route on April 18, with the inaugural flight anticipated to depart on that date.

Azerbaijan Airlines has been given permission to operate flights on the Karachi route, according to sources within the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Following a bilateral agreement between the two nations, Azerbaijan Airlines has been given permission to extend its operations in Pakistan.

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Fly Jinnah opens a new route internationally.

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Two weekly flights will be the starting frequency of the new route, which will connect the two cities.

According to a representative for Fly Jinnah, the company is pleased to announce the opening of a third international route from Islamabad to Muscat, the capital city of Oman, marking another significant milestone after the successful debut of flights from Islamabad and Lahore to Sharjah.

According to him, this development is in line with our goal of giving our clients more options for reasonably priced, value-driven local and international air travel.

The airline serves five main cities in Pakistan: Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, and Quetta. Its fleet consists of five Airbus A320 aircraft, all of which are contemporary.

In addition to the current flight path to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, this new route expands Fly Jinnah’s network of foreign destinations.

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Tajir Dost app: traders don’t seem interested in registering

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To tax retailers in Pakistan, the Tajir Dost app was released. The sources stated that the government hopes to tax 3.5 million merchants through the app.

Ajmal Baloch, the president of All-Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran, stated that he made reservations with FBR on the SRO within a week.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), according to him, cannot be a “Tajir Dost” because of its unethical actions.

Baloch believed that since electricity bills allow traders to pay a predetermined advance income tax, further taxes are unnecessary.

The trader, according to him, is already paying thirteen different kinds of taxes on the commercial meter. “A trader already pays between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 20,000 in taxes annually, but you are requesting Rs. 1,200 per month in taxes.”

Mr. Ajmal summoned representatives of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to a meeting with the trade associations to talk about the indirect taxes that the merchants are paying.

Additionally, he claimed that FBR officers are charging the traders, the majority of whom are less educated, “monthly charges.”

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