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Public relief, economic development among priorities in next budget: PM

The prime minister, chairing a meeting to discuss the budget proposals for the industrial sector, says the federal budget will also encompass the measures to enhance industrial growth as well as exports.

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Islamabad: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said the provision of maximum relief to the masses and economic development would be among the Federal Government’s priorities in the upcoming budget for fiscal 2023-24.

The prime minister, chairing a meeting to discuss the budget proposals for the industrial sector, said the federal budget would also encompass the measures to enhance industrial growth as well as exports.

He said he would personally make sure that the proposals coming for the industrial sector were incorporated into the budget.

The prime minister instructed the authorities concerned to remove all unnecessary impediments in the increase of small, medium and large-scale industrial production.

He told the meeting that the previous government deliberately obstructed the investment and industrial development in the country.

The previous government violated the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to save its rule, making 220 million of Pakistan bear its brunt, he added.

He said being a resilient nation, Pakistanis were gradually coming out of the economic difficulties.

Prime Minister Shehbaz said the government, the whole nation, industrialists and the business community were working hard to improve the country’s economic situation.

He said throughout the previous year, the miscreants inflicted damage to the country through “long or short” marches and sit-ins.

He also told the meeting that the incidents of May 9 not only created violence but also inflicted huge economic loss to the country.

He said the government would help decrease industries’ production costs by supplying low-cost energy, besides arranging easy bank loans for the small industries.

Prime Minister Shehbaz directed his Advisor Ahad Cheema to finalise the proposals from the industrial sectors and ensure their incorporation into the budget.

The meeting was joined through a video link by prominent industrialists and investors from all sectors.

Besides federal ministers Ishaq Dar, Syed Naveed Qamar, Ahsan Iqbal, Makhdoom Murtaza Mahmood and Engineer Khurram Dastgir, Minister of State Dr Musadik Malik, Advisor Ahad Cheema, Special Assistants to PM Tariq Bajwa and Jahanzeb Khan, MNA Qaiser Sheikh, State Bank governor, FBR chairman and relevant senior officers attended the meeting.

The ministries of commerce and industrial production put forward the budget proposals received from different sectors.

Besides, the industrialists and investors presented their proposals for the budget.

The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to carry out detailed work on the proposals and present a report to him.

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Business

‘Those who used to say Pakistan will default faced disappointment,’: Dar vows to take country out of economic quagmire

The Finance Minister promises to put less burden on the masses in the upcoming budget, saying that they are trying their best to provide relief to the people.

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Islamabad:  Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that all those who used to say that Pakistan would default met with disappointment, hoping that the country would soon be out of economic quagmire.

Ishaq Dar said that the government with Prime Minister Shehbaz at the top was trying its best to steer the country out of crises.

“We came out of the such tough economic situation back in 1999 and we will be out soon from the present situation,’ said the finance minister while talking to the media  at the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Tuesday.

Ishaq Dar also said that they would try their best to burden the nation as less as possible in the budget.

In his reflection, the official recalled the performance of the previous government led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) during its previous term when Pakistan was making strides as an economic powerhouse.

Taking a moment to contemplate, the minister expressed that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had entered into an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the fiscal year 2019-20 but later withdrew, resulting in damage to the reputation of the nation.

Furthermore, he remarked that the current government made decisions without considering their political repercussions.

The minister highlighted that the IMF team arrived three months behind schedule for the ninth review in Pakistan, but eventually, the review was completed on a technical level.

Regarding taxation, he mentioned that the initial tax proposal presented by the global lender amounted to Rs800 billion. However, through negotiations, the government managed to reduce it to Rs170 billion.

The minister emphasized that the government upheld its commitments to the nation, with the only pending issue being the gap in external funding. In this context, he drew a comparison to the situation following Pakistan's nuclear tests in 1998, asserting that they successfully addressed it.

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Pakistan

Undeterred Imran urges masses to take stand for Pakistan

The former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman says that any other attempt to make a new party or coalition setup will not be helpful to steer the country from the crises except a government with the public mandate.

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Lahore:  Former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan urged the masses to get rid of fear the what he believed was being spread by the incumbent government to control them, and take stand for the real freedom.

“Get rid of the fear. Take stand. They have arrested 15,000 people so far. But there are 223 million people. If we surrender before their fear then the coming generations will not forgive us,” said Imran Khan in his latest address via YouTube on Tuesday.

The former prime minister said that he was ready to sacrifice for the sake of the country, because he strongly believed in Allah Almighty for life, death, Izzat [honor] and Rizq [food and belongings].

He regretted that the coalition government was using all tactics to break his party and a new setup ‘Kings’ party’ is being establish to break the PTI but there would be no positive outcome of all such things.

“I know the public is frightened due the coercive measures. You are frightened. But look, I’m under threatened and I will not retreat. There are only two ways; one is that we surrender before these people who are spreading fear and the second is that being Ummat-e-Mohammadi [s.a.w] which believes in Kalima Tayyiba,  we take a stand,” said Khan.

He went on to say, “There are three fears; first is the death, and it is God who decides your life and death; the second is “Izzat and Zillat [respect and humiliation]”. They are making women frightened so that they could not take out to the streets and could not take part in the politics. They tried to humiliate me and my wife. Will I be humiliated? No, never. Because I believe that Izzat and Zillat is decided by God. The third fear is “Rizq” [Food and belongings]. I believe that Rizq is given by God. Why are they damaging the houses? They are attacking the “Rizq” in fact,”.

The PTI chief said, “Daraishak’s house was broken. The houses of Omar Ayub and Atif Khan were also raided. The women are being threatened,” said Imran Khan, regretting over what he said the coercive measures of the coalition government to control the people and to break the PTI.  

Imran said that in a democratic government, the Constitution guaranteed to hold peaceful protests anywhere in the country. He was of the view that he knew the superior judiciary was under pressure at this moment and all public departments were being pressurized to take action against the PTI.

He stated that the majority of the police was unhappy for what they were being forced  to do these days as many “Gullu Butts” were there. He further said that the threats were being given to damage the businesses and homes of the party leaders, workers and supporters.

“I gave tickets to such people this time who are ideologically associated with the PTI,” said the PTI chairman, adding that he received a phone call of a man whom he gave ticket that he was under the pressure.

“I asked that person to quit the PTI if he was under the pressure. That man told me that if he left the PTI the people of his area would not vote him when the elections are held,” he added.

The police and NAB, he said, were tasked to crush the PTI.

“Where are we heading towards? Is there any roadmap or solution? What I have heard that a Kings’ party is being established while the PML-N is associated with the cruelty and did not have public support. PML-N and PPP know that they cannot win the elections alone and cannot make a government alone. But, now, they are planning to make a coalition government but this is not the way to steer the country out of crises,” he argued.  

He also said that he had many times made it clear that such a government was needed which had the public mandate.

“Pakistan will not survive if we fail to ensure the rule of law,” said Imran Khan, adding that the peoples’ hope was dying with every passing as the consultants were leaving the country and similarly the professionals of all other areas were flying abroad.

Taking about the cases of the PML-N leadership, Khan said, “95 per cent cases were made against the PML-N before the PTI government. We did not make these cases. We made only Rs16b and Rs8b worth corruption cases against Shehbaz Sharif. We did not commit violence with the PML-N or other parties’ workers during our tenure. We did not raid the houses of the workers of opponent parties,” said Imran Khan, drawing a comparison between the treatment of the party workers between the PTI government and the coalition-government led by the PML-N.

 “What is the most precious thing? It is the life, and I am ready for that,” said Imran Khan, urging the people to get rid of fear and take stand otherwise the coming generations would not forgive them.

 

 

 

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Business

Gold prices decline in Pakistan for second consecutive day

All Pakistan Sarafa Gems and Jewellers Association (APSGJA) says the price of 24-carat gold dropped by Rs1,700 per tola and Rs1,458 per 10 grams, reaching Rs232,800 and Rs199,588, respectively.

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Karachi: Gold prices in Pakistan experienced a consecutive decline for the second day on Tuesday, despite an international increase in rates.

According to data provided by the All Pakistan Sarafa Gems and Jewellers Association (APSGJA), the price of 24-carat gold dropped by Rs1,700 per tola and Rs1,458 per 10 grams, reaching Rs232,800 and Rs199,588, respectively.

Last week, gold rates had witnessed a cumulative decrease of Rs1,100 per tola, followed by an additional decline of Rs1,700 on the first day of this week.

The fluctuating gold rates in Pakistan can be attributed to ongoing political and economic uncertainties, high inflation, and currency depreciation. During such times, individuals tend to invest in gold as a safe haven and a hedge against market volatility.

In the interbank market, the Pakistani rupee gained Re0.07 or 0.02% against the US dollar, closing at Rs285.35, as per data from the State Bank of Pakistan.

Data shared by the jewellers' association indicated that the silver rate remained unchanged at Rs2,850 per tola and Rs2,443.41 per 20 grams.

 

 

 

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LCCI President presents set of proposals to Finance Minister

Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that the government is utilizing all of its energy to bring the economy back on rail.

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Lahore:  Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Kashif Anwar on Tuesday presented a set of Budget Proposals to the Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

 LCCI Senior Vice President Zafar Mahmood Chaudhry, Vice President Adnan Khalid Butt, Executive Committee Members Ibrahim Sheikh, Waseem Yousaf, Mujahid Maqsood Butt, Mian Ateeq ur Rehman and Khalid Mahmood Butt were also present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that the government is utilizing all of its energy to bring the economy back on rail. He said that everyone is aware of the situation prevailing in the country. He said that all segments of society would have to join hands to get ourselves out of this difficult situation.

Ishaq Dar spoke highly about the role of LCCI saying that it is a matter of pleasure for him that he is also the former president of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He said that the LCCI is playing an important role in economic wellbeing of the country. He said that the LCCI Budget proposals would be made part of the budget document.

He said that the upcoming Federal Budget will be business friendly. He said that we should not go into the blame game but take the country forward. He said that the IMF program is taking time but all formalities for 9th review program have been done.

The Finance Minister said that it was being said a couple of months ago that Pakistan is going to default but The Almighty Allah saved the country. He said that the country was facing restrictions in 1999 but tackled. He said that on time payments are top priority of the government.

LCCI President Kashif Anwar said that since the position of foreign reserves is improving, the Govt. should take measures including trade in local currency where ever possible and barter trade mechanism to mitigate the prevailing foreign exchange crisis.

He said that for broadening of tax base and better documentation, there should be facilitation in the form of declaration scheme which must be introduced to bring undeclared foreign reserves, local assets and wealth in economic circle for injection of liquidity in economy.

To reduce the cost of doing business, Anwar emphasized the need to align Pakistan's interest rates with regional economies. He also urged the government to lower the refinance rate, introduce soft policies for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and provide special financing schemes with low markup rates and no collateral requirements. The LCCI President emphasized on the importance of reducing the cost of doing business, particularly energy costs and land expenses, to promote industrialization and private sector growth in line with regional economies.

In order to enhance tax compliance and documentation, he proposed the introduction of a declaration scheme. This scheme would encourage individuals to bring undeclared foreign reserves, local assets, and wealth into the economic system, injecting liquidity into the economy. President LCCI stressed the importance of raising awareness among non-filers about the benefits of entering the tax net.

He suggested expanding the tax base by bringing individuals with industrial or commercial electricity or gas connections into the tax net. He recommended charging a 25% income tax on the bills (electricity/gas) of non-filers and emphasized the need for a National Tax Number (NTN) for new commercial electricity/gas connections.

The LCCI President also called for the reduction of fines, penalties, and surcharges imposed on taxpayers. He suggested rationalizing penalties based on revenue loss and adjusting determined advance tax against pending refunds. He emphasized the importance of establishing a committee to clear the refund backlog promptly.

Kashif Anwar highlighted the need to expedite the resolution of tax revenue claims and proposed active engagement with the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee (ADRC). He suggested granting chambers of commerce representation in the ADRC and ensuring that its decisions are binding and not challengeable by tax forums.

Regarding tax exemptions, Anwar recommended against extending the sales tax and income tax exemptions granted to industries in the erstwhile FATA/PATA region beyond June 30, 2023. He called for simplifying the sales tax system and reducing the high sales tax rate on inputs for export-oriented industries.

Kashif Anwar suggested removing area specifications for Tier-1 retailers and exempting one-shop retailers from point-of-sale (POS) integration. He proposed using electricity consumption units as a parameter instead of the cost of electricity and reducing the import sales tax on capital goods, plant, and equipment to zero percent.

The LCCI President highlighted the high corporate tax rate in Pakistan and suggested gradually reducing it to 15%. He called for minimizing withholding taxes for active taxpayers.

President LCCI concluded by recommending automation of the process of income tax refunds under section 170 for faster processing and to address liquidity issues.

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Pakistan

Pak-Belarus agree to beneficial partnership for prosperity

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari says we are mutually agreed to undertake practical measures in transforming the profound goodwill shared between our governments and people into a tangible cooperation across various domains.

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Islamabad: Pakistan and Belarus on Tuesday  aspired to build a comprehensive and mutually beneficial partnership that contributes to the prosperity and wellbeing of the people of both the countries.

Addressing a joint press conference along with his Belarusian counterpart Sergei Aleinik, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that we are mutually agreed to undertake practical measures in transforming the profound goodwill shared between our governments and people into a tangible cooperation across various domains.

The Pakistan Foreign Minister said the long term goals for Pakistan-Belarus partnership include strengthening economic ties, expanding trade and commerce, fostering scientific collaboration, enhancing defence cooperation, promoting cultural exchanging and deepening people to people contacts.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said one key outcome of this visit is the signing of an agreement between the governments of Pakistan and Belarus on the abolition of visas for the holders of diplomatic and official passports. He said this landmark agreement will facilitate travel and exchanges between our countries. He further said that an agreement was also signed between the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad and Belarus Institute of Strategic studies.

The Pakistan Foreign Minister was of the view that such agreements facilitate exchanges and research and lay the foundation of stronger academic cooperation between the two nations.

He said Pakistan is committed to maintaining high level engagements and visits with Belarus to further strengthen our bilateral relations and building trade as economic ties remains a priority area for us. He recalled that the two countries recently held sixth ministerial commission, which explored cooperation in a number of areas, particularly industrial production and agricultural equipment and science.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the two countries continue to build on these discussions to add more substance to their relations.

He said in 2024, both Pakistan and Belarus will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and to commemorate this momentous occasion we will collaborate on the development of the comprehensive plan of actions. He said these planned events will be held in both Pakistan and Belarus, offering an opportunity to celebrate the bond between our two nations, while fostering relations in diverse spheres.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also expressed the confidence and the resolve to move forward in fostering cooperation and friendship between the people of Pakistan and Belarus

Speaking on the occasion, Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik said enhancing trade and economic cooperation is of utmost importance for both the countries. He said Pakistan has great potential for investment and business activities.

Sergei Aleinik said Belarus is committed to further develop and fortify the existing sustainable relations with Pakistan. He said Belarus is ready to extend cooperation in the agricultural sector.

He also commended Pakistan's role for peace and stability in the region. He said Pakistan is our reliable partner and this partnership will definitely grow further in future.

On the occasion, different agreements and Memorandums of Understanding, including visa exemptions for holders of diplomatic and service passports, were also signed.

Earlier, Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik during his visit to Foreign Office Islamabad planted a sopling in the garden.

 

 

 

 

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Pakistan

Pakistan, Italy agree for joint efforts to tackle climate change

The agreement was reached at the 5th meeting of the 'Pakistan-Italy Joint Economic Commission'  at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome.

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Islamabad: Pakistan and Italy on Tuesday agreed to set up a joint framework to tackle climate change and cooperation in water management.

The agreement was reached at the 5th meeting of the 'Pakistan-Italy Joint Economic Commission'  at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome.

Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman represented Pakistan side while Italian delegation was led by Italy's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Maria Tripodi.

Speaking on the occasion, Senator Sherry Rehman said we are building a common framework with Italy to tackle climate change and improve water management.

The two sides hailed the establishment of an Italian Trade Agency office in Islamabad next week.

 

 

 

 

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Pakistan

Imran Khan to face military court trial for May 9 events: Rana Sanaullah

The interior minister accuses Imran of personally orchestrating the planning of the attacks on military installations prior to his arrest.

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Islamabad: Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah stated on Tuesday that PTI Chairman Imran Khan would face a military court trial for the incidents that unfolded on May 9.

Sanaullah accused Imran of personally orchestrating the planning of the attacks on military installations prior to his arrest. He emphasized that there is evidence to substantiate this claim. When asked about Imran's trial, Sanaullah firmly responded that it was indeed a suitable case for a military court, given the program designed to target military installations and its subsequent execution. 

He made these remarks during an interview to a local private television channel. 

These remarks from Sanaullah come after Defence Minister Khawaja Asif mentioned the possibility of Imran's trial under the Army Act, stating that no final decision had been made yet. Asif expressed that he could not rule out the likelihood that Imran was the planner who had prior knowledge of the events on May 9.

Sanaullah further alleged that Imran, as the PTI chief, played a direct role in instigating the riots on May 9. He claimed that Imran was the architect of the discord and provided evidence in the form of documented tweets and messages.

Regarding Imran's communication with party leaders from jail, the interior minister revealed that the planning and strategy were decided prior to Imran's arrest, outlining the responsibilities and strategies for the party members involved.

The violence erupted following Imran's arrest and resulted in attacks on military installations.

The unrest caused eight casualties, injured approximately 290 individuals, and led to the apprehension of over 1,900 protesters nationwide. The accountability court in Islamabad had transferred Imran's custody to NAB in connection with the Al Qadir Trust case.

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