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Will the PML(N) government show the spine and ensure that the law of the land is implemented in letter and in spirit? And, non-filers of income tax returns are charged 0.6 percent on banking transactions of more than Rs 50,000 in a day. Now that it is law of the land - banks will need to comply with. However, the ground reality is that there are operational problems with the new tax that need to be recognised and time given to banks to put in place systems that are geared for distinguishing a filer from a non-filer - account holder. Different banks have different systems - which may be unique. Some have centralised systems. Foreign banks have their servers, situated abroad and may need to line-up in a queue to have the system tweaked to conform to the new law introduced a few weeks ago. They may need some time to have a new system operational. Thus, FBR would be well advised to give them additional time to make the change. At present, the system installed in banks takes care of cash withdrawals only - wherein 0.3 percent tax is deducted from filers and 0.6 percent from non-filers.

Having successfully cleared the Tirah valley and its adjoining areas of the anti-state militants the military has lobbed the ball into the civilians' court to do their part. The military is expected to do only this much; how to preserve the military gains it is now up to the civilian authorities. It was probably the hardest fought campaign, carried out since March this year as the Operation Khyber-2, as it cost the forces disproportionately more in terms of casualties. The ground under their feet was mined meter by meter as militants stood the ground to fight back. And this was not new to the place with its peculiar history - the Tirahis had successfully resisted the army of Mughal emperor Jahangir and they also defied the British Empire by refusing to surrender the abductor of Miss Ellis, Ajab Khan Afridi. But the latest contest of power in rugged, mountainous Tirah valley was not between the locals and the Pakistan military; it was between the armed forces and a mixture of foreigners of the al Qaeda brand and those driven out of Swat by an earlier military operation. The ground and air operation in Tirah was all the more challenging also because the otherwise rival militant leaders had joined hands to take what they perceived as their last chance to stand up to the government forces and fight back. Some of them like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had fled military operation in North Waziristan and reached the safe haven of Tirah, while others like the Jamaatul Ahrar had come to share the burden of depleting strength of Mangal Bagh's Lashker-e-Islam. But they lost - by the end of Khyber-2 the military has taken control of all three important mountain passes that connect Afghanistan with the Tirah valley - Mazatal, Kando Gharibi and Dramudrad. The toughest fight was for the control of the Kidney Ridge where military lost about a dozen men including a major. Two small pockets that remain to be cleared, Kachkol and Rajgal, are being now subjected to precision targeting.
The Commerce Ministry has expressed legitimate fears that a fall in country's exports by nearly 5.5 percent could have adverse consequences on economy. The reasons for the decline are attributed to the monetary policy, tariff and tax regime and poor synergy between industrial and investment policy or on poor infrastructure and lack of labour productivity. These reasons, however, are not sufficient or adequate to convey the complete picture. Traditional exporters, on the other hand, point towards an unrealistic exchange parity, high utility costs or lack thereof and non-refund of taxes collected by the FBR on time as real causes behind their lack of competitiveness and poor performance. They argue if their refunds are disbursed and PKR is depreciated by at least 10 percent, the forex earnings would be several times higher than the handout we receive from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which is tied with conditions detrimental to improving the business climate.
The Pakistan People's Party suffered its first major organisational setback on Wednesday when a number of prominent members, including former minister of state for information and a senior vice president of the party in Punjab, Samsam Bokhari, and former MPAs Ashraf Sohna and Ikramullah announced their decision to leave the PPP and join the PTI. The development comes as no surprise, though. In fact, more people are expected to follow suit in the days to come. There have been rumblings of discontent in the party for quite some time because of the leadership's policies and style of functioning. Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari's policy of reconciliation, which essentially meant making compromises to stay in power without a thought about what once used to be seen as an issues-oriented progressive liberal party, did considerable harm. If that created a sense of alienation among the usual PPP jiyalas, like Ashraf Sohna has been, the co-Chairman hardly ever bothered to stay in touch with the party's traditional support base in the province. Most of the leaders and their workers found themselves to be elbowed aside by outsiders, which generated a lot of resentment. Hence, the most recent party meeting Zardari presided over in Lahore last winter after a long absence ended up in a fight between the old and new factions of the party.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) uploaded the seventh review under the Extended Fund Facility on 2nd July - nearly a month after the budget was announced and one day after the commencement of Pakistan's new fiscal year 2015-16. To dispel any impression that the government did not share the budget documents with the Fund staff the press release dated 26th June, the day the executive board of the Fund approved the eighth tranche release, states that "the planned fiscal adjustment in the context of the fiscal year 2015/16 budget is appropriate." Be that as it may, based on lessons learned by the Fund in its engagement with Pakistan over decades - Pakistan has been labeled as a perennial Fund borrower - the seventh review highlights the statement that "the authorities have identified contingent measures in case the expected fiscal adjustment falls short of objectives." Or, in other words, failure to meet the revenue targets for any reason, including in the event that the international oil price decline continues, the government would impose higher taxes or impose new taxes as it did in February prior to the sixth review.
The new Class VIII geography book published by the Punjab Textbook Board carries a map showing Pakistan as comprising six rather than four provinces - the two non-existent provinces being 'Saraikistan' and 'Hazara'. Who did it and why, so far is a mystery. What is known is that the draft of the book went through four levels of scrutiny before going into print, yet no one noticed the blunder until one of the authors saw it and brought it to the notice of the Board through a letter earlier this month. Whosoever is responsible committed two offenses: one of misinforming the students; and the other of treading into sensitive political territory. To give the person(s) the benefit of doubt, it is possible that the text mentioned that there are demands for two new provinces, and hence thought it right to identify those areas in the map. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif though wouldn't want to hear any of it; he reacted furiously.
Greeks will vote in a referendum today to accept or reject the plan made by Greece's principal creditors - the IMF and the European Union - on June 25th amid a sense of crisis fuelled by cash rationing and burgeoning protests. On the eve of this referendum, Yanis Varoufakis, has accused the country's creditors of 'terrorism'. Greece as a nation appears to be divided with the young wanting to say 'Yes'. And, the old would like to say 'No' as it entails a further cut in their pensions and they would be experiencing more austerity along with additional pain that they would need to undergo for the rest of their lives. As such, it would not be an easy decision to make. The present Syriza government, led by Prime Minister Tsipras, has done well to ask people to express their views since it could strengthen its hands in negotiations and also help the parliamentarians to see for themselves what their constituents want.


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Banking Review 2014

Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-1.894 bln
Exports $1.953 bln
Imports $3.847 bln
WeeklyJuly 06, 2015
Reserves $18.201 bln