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Pakistan

Govt to lift ban on certain imports in coming days: Miftah Ismail

  • Finance minister says petroleum levy will be increased in a phased manner
Published July 27, 2022

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Wednesday said that the government would lift a ban on the import of certain goods in a “couple of weeks” while addressing a seminar on 'Improving the Corporate Governance and Performance of SOEs' organised by the Finance Division.

“We placed an official ban on a lot of items, which caused a lot of difficulty to a lot of people. Thus, in a couple of weeks we will try to get rid of these bans,” said Miftah.

“We put some prior approval conditions on the import of certain raw materials and new machines. Along with these measures, lower oil prices and consumption have reduced our imports,” he told the audience.

The finance minister said that the country has adequate supplies of petroleum products. "Hence, import of these items would go down. We expect import figures for the month of July to be around $4.3-4.4 billion, which is a remarkable contraction,” he said.

Economy: Miftah stays optimistic

“From the next month onwards, incoming dollars in Pakistan by way of exports and remittance will be more than the outgoing dollars by the way of imports and debt servicing. Therefore, pressure on the rupee would subside and the currency would appreciate,” said Miftah.

He said multiple factors including the US dollar reaching historic highs internationally, interest rate hikes, worldwide inflation and supply chain disruption have led to rupee depreciation.

Talking about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, Miftah said that the government reached a staff-level agreement with the Fund authorities earlier this month, stressing that its prior conditions have been met for loan disbursal.

Mentioning petroleum levy, stated to be a key condition, Miftah said the increase would happen in a phased manner.

Miftah said the government also rebased the power tariff, whereas the rates of interest and Long Term Financing Facility (LTFF) and Export Financing Scheme (EFS) were also raised.

“We have met the prior conditions to be able to get the IMF tranche,” he said.

He said the government is in talks with friendly countries about selling shares in state-owned enterprises, and is currently amending the law to manage the transactions.

“We are only selling shares in listed companies. We are also not selling a majority or management stake. The shares will be sold on a buyback basis,” he said.

Miftah was of the view that this would help the country meet its funding requirements.

“There are other countries that want to buy or power plants including Balloki power plant and Haveli Bahadur Shah Power Plant. These federal government power plants have been on the auction list for some time,” he said.

The minister informed the seminar that the government, in consultation with the IMF, would constitute a commission of experts from around the world, including Singapore, to curb corruption.

Pressure will ease as imports have gone down: Miftah Ismail

Miftah said that Pakistan has a persistent issue with its SOEs. “Some of them are badly managed, some are not providing quality services and are causing a lot of issues in the budget,” said Miftah, adding that the government's privatisation policy has unfortunately not succeeded.

Citing examples of government assets, Miftah commented that “perhaps the privatisation law is not the right law, and has not allowed privatisation of these entities."

Miftah said that the government needs to come up with better laws and methods to enhance the pace of privatisation.

Comments

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Rebirth Jul 28, 2022 12:40am
There are a very few examples present in sane human beings of selling fixed, viable assets only to pay for their annual or monthly expenses, as opposed to investing the funds to increase revenue and income. The reason this practice isn’t as common in sane people is because of certain useful things like common sense and rational thinking. The anomalies in this particular demographic would either have been deceived or they would need to move to the lower, irrational or insane category. Let’s try and figure out which category the honorable minister has selected for himself in this case.
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