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Japan to reopen to foreign tourists after two-year pandemic closure

Japan will allow the entry of people on tours with fixed schedules

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Japan to reopen to foreign tourists after two-year pandemic closure
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Tokyo: Japan will open its borders to foreign tourists in June for the first time since imposing tight pandemic travel restrictions about two years ago, but only for package tours for now.

Beginning June 10, Japan will allow the entry of people on tours with fixed schedules and guides, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.

Japanese government has announced it will end a two-year pandemic closure and reopen to tourists from 98 countries and regions – including Britain, the US, France, Spain, Canada and Malaysia – next month, but travelers will only be allowed in as part of the tour groups.

The decision comes after the government last week said it would test allowing small group tours with visitors from the US, Australia, Thailand and Singapore from this month.

Japan will also expand the number of airports that accept international flights to seven, adding Naha in its southern Okinawa prefecture and New Chitose near Sapporo in northern Hokkaido.

For most of the pandemic Japan has barred all tourists and allowed only citizens and foreign residents entry, though even the latter have periodically been shut out.

All arrivals have to test negative for Covid before traveling to Japan and many must be tested again on arrival, though triple-vaccinated people coming from certain countries can skip the additional test as well as a three-day quarantine required for others.

Tour groups are expected to take responsibility for ensuring visitors respect Japan’s near-universal mask-wearing and other measures that have helped keep the toll from Covid comparatively low.

Just how many people will be able to take advantage of the careful reopening is unclear as Japan is planning to double a daily entry cap, but only to 20,000.

The Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, has said he wants to ease border control measures, but moves are expected to proceed slowly, with strong public support for the current restrictions.

Japan welcomed a record 31.9 million foreign visitors in 2019 and had been on track to achieve its goal of 40 million in 2020 before the pandemic hit.

SOURCE: AFP

Business

Nepra notifies Rs7.90 per unit hike in electricity tariff

The people will be burdened with more than Rs 113 billion

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Nepra notifies Rs7.90 per unit hike in electricity tariff

Islamabad: The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) on Thursday notified Rs7.90 per unit increase in power tariff.

The increase in electricity prices by NEPRA was made in the context of the fuel adjustment for the month of May which will be collected in next month's bills. The people will be burdened with more than Rs 113 billion.

The increase will put an additional burden of Rs113 billion on the consumers of 10 power distribution companies. 

However, the notification will not apply to lifeline and Karachi-Electric (KE) consumers.  

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Pakistan

Pakistan Railways announces 30% reduction in train fares on Eid

Passengers facing difficulties due to late arrival of trains can fully refund their tickets from the nearest reservation offices. 

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Pakistan Railways announces 30% reduction in train fares on Eid

Islamabad: Pakistan Railways has announced a thirty percent reduction in the fares of all trains on the eve of Eid-ul-Adha.

According to the notification issued by Pakistan Railways, the passengers will be able to get benefit from this facility during the three days of Eid in all classes of trains including economy, standard AC, Business and AC Sleeper. 

Meanwhile, Pakistan Railways has also announced that passengers facing difficulties due to late arrival of trains can fully refund their tickets from the nearest reservation offices. 

The passengers having E-Tickets can also refund their tickets through mobile application. 

 

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Pakistan

SBP increases intertest rate by 125bps to 15pc

Acting Governor Dr Murtaza Syed says the "most important" objective behind the move is to control spiraling inflation

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SBP increases intertest rate by 125bps to 15pc

Karachi: The State Bank of Pakistan Thursday increased the interest rate by 125 basis points (bps) to 15 per cent.

After chairing the monetary policy committee (MPC) on the policy rate, the central bank's Acting Governor Dr Murtaza Syed addressed a press conference, saying the "most important" objective behind the move was to control spiraling inflation.

He attributed the rise in inflation to global reasons, such as the Russia-Ukraine war, and domestic developments, including a "very high economic growth".

Syed said that while a high economic growth rate was usually a good development, Pakistan's economy was structured in a way that it would start facing problems if the rate was six per cent for two years in a row.

 Inflation had risen because of fiscal expansion, he added.

"The environment is very complex and uncertain. We have seen this kind of inflation globally after 50-60 years."

The acting governor, however, expressed the hope that the country would get past the phase of high inflation in the same way that it had been successful in combatting the coronavirus pandemic.

Syed said that inflation would remain between 18 to 20pc in the current fiscal year, however, the SBP would try to make sure that it did not rise beyond 20pc.

If the SBP had not raised the benchmark policy rate, it could have led to a worse situation — hyperinflation and more pressure on the currency, he said.

The central bank acting chief said economic growth was expected to come in at 3 to 4pc in the current fiscal year, which would reduce the risk of a further rise in inflation.

"The inflation number will remain high but we will try that it does not increase. We will try to control month-on-month [inflation] but the year-on-year [inflation] will unfortunately remain between 18 to 20pc."

He emphasised the need to control food prices. "While the monetary policy cannot control this, the agricultural output can be increased and bottlenecks in supply distribution can be addressed."

Meanwhile, SBP Deputy Governor Sima Kamal said the Monetary Policy Committee had decided that the Export Finance Scheme (EFS) and Long-Term Finance Facility (LTFF) rates would be 5pc less compared to the interest rate.

"We want to keep supporting the exporter ... this is a very important step," she said.

The central bank earlier raised the benchmark interest rate by 150 bps to 13.75pc in May.

Later in a statement, the SBP said Pakistan was facing a large negative income shock from high inflation and necessary but difficult increases in utility prices and taxes.

"Under the MPC’s baseline outlook, headline inflation is likely to remain elevated around current levels for much of FY23 before falling sharply to the 5-7 percent target range by the end of FY24, driven by tight policies, normalisation of global commodity prices, and beneficial base effects," the statement added.

It underlined that headline inflation rose significantly from 13.8pc in May to 21.3pc in June, the highest since 2008.

"The increase was broad-based—with energy, food and core inflation all rising significantly—and more than 80 percent of the items in the CPI basket experiencing inflation of above 6 percent."

The SBP noted the three encouraging developments — the passage of budget based on "strong fiscal consolidation, $2.3bn commercial loan from China and robust economic activity — were overshadown by global inflation and other factors.

The SBP said the the current account deficit rose to $1.4bn in May, on the back of lower exports and remittances partly due to the Eid holiday. "Based on PBS data, the trade deficit rose to $4.8bn in June, more than $1.7bn higher than its February low."

It said the the current account deficit was projected to narrow to around 3pc of GDP "as imports moderate with cooling growth, while exports and remittances remain relatively resilient".

The central bank noted that expected completion of the ongoing IMF review will catalyse important additional funding from external sources that will ensure that Pakistan’s external financing needs during FY23 were met.

For fiscal sector, the SBP said the fiscal stance in FY22 was unexpectedly expansionary, with the primary deficit estimated at 2.4pc of GDP, which was "double that of the previous year and more than thrice the budgeted primary deficit of 0.7pc of GDP".

The SBP said the monitoring committee will continue to carefully monitor developments affecting medium-term prospects for inflation, financial stability, and growth and will take appropriate action to safeguard them.

 

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