12042016Sun
Last update: Sun, 04 Dec 2016 07pm

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Dar and company may want to keep the rupee flat. But the open market has a mind of its own. By the time of writing this note, PKR-USD parity had hit nearly about 108 in the open market; nearly 3 percent up from its inter-bank rate. For comparisons sake, the differential between open and interbank rates has ranged between 0.5 to 1.5 percent in the calendar year to-date.
Much of the construction boom that Pakistan will see is coming from CPEC-based infrastructure projects that include roads, railway networks and highways as well as power projects that require cement and steel. But while the local cement sector is poised for phenomenal growth in the next few years, the verdict is still out on local steel.
The headline inflation for November stood at 3.81 percent - whereas, on a monthly basis, CPI inched up by just 0.2 percent. The July-November average CPI came in at 3.92, as the CPI slowly but surely continues its journey upwards, although, things still appear manageable and within target.
The era of double-digit quarterly growth in the branchless banking (BB) segment seems to have come to a close, for now. But the promise is still reflected in the growing usage of mobile wallets (m-wallets) in the overall transaction mix. The State Bank of Pakistans recent BB newsletter has some interesting bits in that context.
Another bombshell has been dropped silently, but the media failed to pick it as one, as it has been dropped on the countrys fiscal side and not the masses. That the government is in a precarious situation is no secret - and that populist decisions must prevail over economically rationale ones is a no-brainer. The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has approved reduction in gas tariffs for industrial users to the tune of Rs200/mmbtu - from Rs600 to Rs400/mmbtu.
Pakistans civil society community is brewing with optimism. The reason: Ishaq Dars decision to voluntarily become a signatory to Open Government Partnership (OGP). The OGP is an international, voluntary effort to improve government performance, encourage civic participation and enhance government responsiveness to people - all aimed at securing commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and strengthen governance.
In the quest for facilitating energy efficiency and conservation, governments at both the federal and provincial level are taking various initiatives. As this column has previously mentioned, the federal body created for energy conservation, Enercon, has gotten an upgrade and become an authority. The National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, Neeca as it is called, has an increased scope when it comes to taking energy conservation measures. In a welcome change, it now also carries enforcement powers where previously it acted merely in an advisory capacity.