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KARACHI: State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Jameel Ahmad Tuesday said the country is facing two key challenges of inflation and external payments and after the announcement of IMF’s SBA, it will be easy to tackle these challenges.

Talking to media men, at a ceremony held to unveil a new banknote of Rs75 denomination to celebrate 75 years of central bank’s founding, he said that the IMF’s program will also help to clear the path for stuck up inflows from the other international financial institutions and friendly countries. He said that higher foreign inflows will reduce the pressure on external accounts and improve the ability to pay off external debt.

He said that SBP is making efforts to bring down the inflation through the tight monetary policy and SBP is likely to achieve a 5 to 7 percent inflation target in the next two years under the medium-term strategy.

Governor SBP said there is no cartelization of the dollar and the ban on imports has been lifted to support the industry. He said that the gap between interbank and open market exchange rates has been narrowed and this will help to increase the remittances inflows through legal channels.

Following the launch, he spoke about the past achievements of the SBP, specifically focusing on its engagement with commercial banks regarding supervision, and the developments therein over the years.

He also highlighted the initiatives of the SBP in recent years, with special mention of micro-payment gateway Raast, Roshan Digital Accounts for overseas Pakistanis, encouragement and facilitation of commercial banks for providing digital banking solutions, and development of inclusive policies for different segments of the society, including women, youth and agriculturists.

The Governor also spoke about the Strategic Plan SBP Vision 2028, outlining key areas that SBP will focus on during this period. These include bringing inflation to the target level in the medium term, promoting fairness in the banking system, propagating gender inclusive policies, encouraging green financing, providing a conducive environment for Shariah compliant banking in line with the directives of the Federal Shariah Court, and transforming the SBP into a high-tech, people centric institution.

He expressed hope that the whole banking industry would work with the SBP in realizing these goals. At the end of his speech, he appreciated the hard work put into the SBP commemorative banknote, and congratulated the team members on the successful launch of the banknote.

Other notable guests at the ceremony were the Deputy Governors, Executive Directors, Managing Directors of the SBP subsidiaries, Chief Executive Officers/Presidents of commercial banks, officers of the SBP and Sibtain Naqvi, grand-nephew of the renowned calligrapher Sadequain Naqvi, who attended the occasion on special invitation of the SBP. Jameel Ahmed unveiled the Rs. 75 Commemorative Banknote to the applause of the guests.

Addressing on the occasion Deputy Governor, Ms. Sima Kamil, discussed the positive consequences of women’s participation in the financial sphere, and its effects on the quality of financial decisions in the society. Recognizing the gap in financial inclusion between men and women, she highlighted the steps taken by the SBP in collaboration with commercial banks to address this shortcoming.

She lauded the results of the Banking on Equality policy spearheaded by the SBP in 2021, and expressed the hope that the future would witness a more equitable participation of the society in all spheres of life.

The Executive Director-Finance & Risk Management, Muhammad Haroon Rasheed spoke about the evolution of the banknote, from design to printing, and appreciated the hard work put into the endeavor by team members. He also elaborated the philosophy behind the colour and design elements of the banknote, and highlighted the legal tender status of the banknote.

On the occasion, Director Finance, Qader Bakhsh gave an interesting talk about the history behind the establishment of the SBP, the challenges faced by the SBP following its establishment, and made special mention of the people who were instrumental in establishing the SBP as a mature central bank.

The Banknote is predominantly blue which has been chosen to impart a sense of stability associated with a central bank. A distinctive feature of this new banknote is the inclusion of a stylized sketch of the State Bank building by the renowned calligrapher and artist, Syed Sadequain Ahmed Naqvi, which shares space with the traditional portrait of the Quaid on the front of the banknote.

The reverse of the banknote is dedicated to the SBP’s drive of ‘Banking on Equality’, represented on the banknote by the portrait of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah. The reverse also highlights our national commitment to address climate change through depiction of alternative and sustainable energy sources, including wind turbines and solar panels.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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