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Great things sometimes come in small packages. The Planning Commission (PC) boss Ahsan Iqbal may not be able to exact needed "Reforms" by changing the Planning Ministrys nomenclature or publishing long-term visions. But a recent, small PC initiative may lead to some governance solutions.
Internet and mobile banking have gained a lot of traction lately. As per SBP data, last year, in FY14, internet banking (IB) transactions grew by 80 percent in volume and 37 percent in value. Whereas mobile banking (MB) transaction jumped by 49 percent in volume and 148 percent in value. Some 17 million IB transactions yielded Rs684 billion; 6 million MB transactions gave Rs67 billion. Thats huge, right? Now in the first quarter of FY15, there is more growth on a quarter-on-quarter basis, as per SBP data. MB transactions grew by 15 percent in volume and 16 percent in value to reach Rs24.3 billion. IB transactions grew by 8 percent in volume and 4 percent in value to reach Rs191.1 billion. It seems like another year of solid growth in these two virtual delivery channels is in the offing.
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler", Pakistans power sector regulators and operators must learn from this famous Einstein quote to determine power tariffs and in turn be able to resolve power woes. As the calculations to determine the electricity tariffs are as complex as the issue of resolution of circular debt and cutting distribution losses while the naïve political statements and commitments are rather too simple.
The SBPs 2013-14 Annual Report is perhaps the most comprehensive report by the central bank to date. The special focus on energy underlines the acuteness of problems, Pakistan faces at this front. The recommendations made are mostly sound, although with some exceptions. The report highlights the loopholes in Pakistans natural gas pricing and allocation, most of which have also been talked about in these columns earlier but warrant another mention, with a different perspective.
The public sector development programme (PSDP) has seen up tick in second quarter this fiscal, following a slow first-quarter spending on account of slowdowns related to Ramazan in July and political protests in August and September. As per the Planning Commission data, about 27 percent of the budgeted FY15 federal PSDP amount had been released as of December 12. Nearly Rs141 billion has been disbursed against the federal PSDP budget of Rs525 billion.
Cement sector could not have asked for more, at least not in the immediate term! One after another, external dynamics are taking good turns for this sector. Subsequent to the drastic fall in international coal prices, reduction in power tariffs is yet another treat in the series for cement players.
It was a treat to read comprehensive analysis of recently-published SBP annual report which includes highlights of anomalies and shortcomings in documenting the economy. The essence of central bank’s analysis is to ponder on the sustainability of the nascent economic recovery.


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ICT 2014

Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-2.309 bln
Exports $1.957 bln
Imports $4.266 bln
WeeklyDecember 18, 2014
Reserves $14.04 bln