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Last update: Sun, 07 Feb 2016 08am

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There is little disagreement among Pakistan's tax experts that tax collection efforts have to be increased manifold - not by WHT-isation of the economy but by widening tax base and effective enforcement and on-demand collection. Yet, if the latest central banks State of Economy report (for 1QFY16) is any guide, the situation has only been worsening for many years.
Despite being much awaited, nothing in fine fettle was being expected from the gas utiities financial announcements. The gas distribution company for northern part of the country - Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (KSE:SNGPL) - eventually announced the disappointing financial performance for FY14 along with financial performance for the first, second and the third quarters of FY14.
As if the crude oil prices weren down enough, the commodity slipped below $28 to 2003 low as Iran sanctions were lifted a couple of days ago. However, the widening slump in the crude oil prices with Iranian supply comeback was not a total surprise; the aura was building up with the unfolding of events in global politics, and hence a lot of the anticipation has already been factored in the ongoing crude oil prices.
The performance of stocks may be choppy but the operational and financial performance of the countrys cement manufacturers has been about as sure footed as can be in recent months. Thanks to booming domestic demand which continues to exhibit double-digit growth rate, dispatches and top line growth for the sector persists despite lower exports.
Global markets have lately been jittery again over the health of Chinese economy. The Middle Kingdom is in the midst of a transition to an economy that is driven more by internal forces (domestic consumption and private investment) than external factors (exports and FDI). But since the journey will be long, and as it appears a bit wobbly too, it might fray nerves in the outside world of fickle investors and brokers.
Turn of the year has been rather worrisome for equity investors as the negative sentiment reached a new high in January. For the first time since March-end last year, the benchmark index sneaked under 30,000 points on Monday. In the three consecutive sessions (to Monday), the market has tanked 1,525 points - or nearly five percent. This recent rout (in global equity markets) has been spurred by the persistent scare regarding global growth and plunging oil prices.
Its been reported in this newspaper as well, a fact that is rather difficult to digest; the richest 62 people in the world now own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's population, according to Oxfams annual report on the menace of inequality, released yesterday.