- Advises banks to provide one-time facilitation to all those importers who can either extend their payment terms to 180 days (or beyond) or arrange funds from abroad to settle their pending import payments
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Monday withdrew the requirement of prior approval of imports and instead has asked banks to prioritise the import of certain essential items like food, pharmaceutical and energy, in order to facilitate businesses.
In a statement released on Monday, the SBP said that the business community, including various trade bodies and chambers of commerce, have highlighted that a large number of shipping containers carrying imported goods are stuck at the ports, due to delays in release of shipping documents by banks.
“SBP has advised banks to provide a one-time facilitation to all those importers who could either extend their payment terms to 180 days (or beyond) or arrange funds from abroad to settle their pending import payments.
It added that until March 31, 2023, banks have been advised to process and release documents of shipments/ goods that have already arrived at a port in Pakistan or have been shipped on or before January 18, 2023.
The SBP also wants customers to inform their banks prior to the initiation of any import transaction to “avoid any complications in the future.”
Low levels of foreign exchange reserves was the reason behind the SBP placing restrictions on imports last year, much to the dismay of several importers and businesses in Pakistan that cited these curbs as the reason behind shutting down or scaling back operations.
Last week, the country’s business community severely criticised the role of the SBP in the crisis with regards to difficulty in opening letters of credit (LCs).
“At least tell the banks to open LCs for wheat and pulses so that people have something to eat,” one businessman pleaded to Jameel Ahmad, the SBP governor, during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.