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July 25, 2016 (PR No. 1710)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting at State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)

Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Federal Minister for Finance held a meeting with the Governor, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) at the Governor House, Karachi Monday morning. Deputy Governors of SBP and other senior officials participated in the meeting.

During the meeting the performance and achievement of the targets set under the IMF program were discussed in detail in connection with the forthcoming 12th IMF Review Meeting. The Governor SBP briefed the Minister about various targets related to the SBP such as Net International Reserves, and Net Domestic Assets.

Governor SBP also updated the Minister on the role of banks in implementation of AML laws and reporting mechanism. The role of Financial Monitoring Unit, in this regard was also discussed in detail. The Finance Minister emphasized that SBP, SECP, and FBR should adhere to internationally recognized monitoring and enforcement standards and practices to apprehend malpractices in the country. He emphasized upon updating laws, if required, to eradicate undesirable practices. He said that best possible coordination among all the relevant authorities should be ensured to effectively combat financing of terrorism activities. He said that we must all ensure compliance with FATF rules, so as to maintain our position as a responsible nation in the international community.

 
July 25, 2016 (PR No. 1709)

Press Release - International Conference on Population Census

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar said here on Monday that it was the PML(N) government which conducted the last census in the country in 1998 and the 6th population census would also be held by the PML(N) government. It would be ensured that the whole process of census is credible to all, he added.

The Minister stated this while addressing International Conference on Population Census being organized by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics in coordination with UNFPA.

The Minister went on to say it was in March last year that the Government took the decision to go ahead with the holding of the 6th Census in March 2016. It was also decided that the 1998 model would be followed and the Pakistan Army would be deployed to ensure the security of census men and materials as well as to provide credibility to the data collection operation. He said resources were allocated and made available to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and preparations were on. However, the necessary army strength required for the task could not be made available on the proposed dates due to its commitments in the Zarb-e-Azb operation against terrorists. The issue he said has since been reviewed and it has been decided to postpone the census to a date when the required force could be made available.

Minister said that ever since assuming responsibilities, the present government has fully focused on improving health of the economy. It is imperative to have a correct number of the total population of the country which gives the government the right idea of the economic needs of the people and the resources required to meet them.

Minister Dar giving a brief overview of the economy said the government after assuming responsibilities embarked on a stabilization program and now the country is firmly on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth. All economic indicators have been showing robust growth over the past three years, he added. In the past three years, growth has remained above 4% and during FY2015-16 was recorded at 4.71% which is highest in the previous eight years. Inflation had averaged around 12% during the period FY2008-13 before our government. In the period Jul-May FY2016, the average inflation was recorded at 2.82%, the lowest in a decade. FBR Revenues had recorded an increase of merely 3.38% in FY2012-13 when collections stood at Rs.1,946 billion. For the FY2015-16 a target of Rs.3,104 billion was fixed which was, by the grace of Allah, achieved through a collection of Rs.3,112 billion. Finance Minister said Foreign Exchange Reserves were at a level of $6 billion with the SBP in June 2013, that after payment of past liabilities and swaps were reduced to worrying some level of $2.8 billion. These increased to $18.07 billion by end FY2015-16. Including reserves with commercial banks of $5.01 billion, the reserves stand at level of $23.08 billion which is a new historic record. The Minister said he had no doubt that a firm population number obtained through a transparent census will further support the government's policies and plans to achieve a sustained growth trajectory.

The Minister stated census is a huge exercise. Presently, the country has over 166,000 census blocks which require posting and training of nearly 200,000 enumerators and supervisors. It has been estimated that the census exercise will cost around Rs 14 billion. This is in addition to the support being provided by country's development partners, especially the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), who have long supplemented government's efforts through financial, material and technical support. In order to successfully carry out this exercise, all available resources will have to be mobilized, the Finance Minister remarked. He congratulated the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) for organizing this conference and bringing together experts and stakeholders from within Pakistan as well as abroad to discuss and share their views on an issue that is of considerable importance for the general public. He thanked all development partners for their continued support to PBS and hoped that the support would continue in future also. He also thanked the foreign delegates for taking time out to visit Pakistan to share their experiences. The efforts of the Statistics Division and the PBS as well as the UNDP to make this conference a success are appreciable, the Minister said.

Earlier, the Chief Statistician Mr. Asif Bajwa in his remarks outlined the history of population census in Pakistan and also briefly touched upon the objectives of holding the international conference. He also apprised the participants about the ongoing preparations for the 6th Population Census.

Country Director, UNFPA, Dr. Hassan Motashami in his address reiterated full support from his organisation in the conduct of Population Census in Pakistan.

 
July 25, 2016 (PR No. 1708)

Finance Minister's Speech at International Conference on Population Census

Download Finance Minister Speech at
International Conference on Population Census

 
July 23, 2016 (PR No. 1707)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting at State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting at the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) at Karachi.

The meeting reviewed the macroeconomic situation with special reference to the monetary side for the year ending 30th June 2016

The meeting noted that the performance of monetary side during the quarter that ended June, 2016 remained satisfactory. The forex reserves reached the highest ever level of $23 billion.

Finance Minister expressed satisfaction on the macroeconomic situation and stated that all the national institutions needed to continue the reform process in order to consolidate the economic gains of last 3 years. He also desired for enhanced efforts on firming up the strategy for the current fiscal year that would be discussed in a follow up meeting.

Acting Governor SBP, Saeed Ahmed, Deputy Governor Riaz Riazuddin, Heads of various departments & other senior officials of SBP attended the meeting.

Shortly after the meeting the Finance Minister left for Dubai on a day's personal visit. He would return home Sunday and hold a review meeting with State Bank officials Monday morning.

 
July 21, 2016 (PR No. 1706)

FBR forms committee to valuate real estate property in 18 cities

ISLAMABAD, Jul 21 (APP): Minister for Finance, Muhammad Ishaq Dar on Thursday said that in a bid to resolve the issue of real estate builders and association with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), a 13-member committee was constituted for fair valuation of the immoveable property in 18 major cities of the country.

Addressing mediamen here after conclusion of third round of talks between the real estate agents and FBR here, the minister said that in the next meeting to be held on July 27 (Wednesday), the two parties would reach a consensus as the things are going towards positive direction.

He said the government had been listening to the genuine issues of the business community and this time too it would accommodate them.

On the occasion, Abdul Rauf Alam, President Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) said that government is responding to their issues positively and it is hoped that in the next meeting, "we would reach to a consensus".

He said the government understands the issues of the business community.

He clarified that this issue was not only the issue of real estate and builders associations but it was the issue of every businessmen in the country.

 
July 21, 2016 (PR No. 1705)

Pak - USA Business Forum Meeting

A delegation of Pak - USA Business Forum led by Mr. Hafeez Khan called on Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here at the Ministry of Finance today.

Finance Minister welcomed the delegation and apprised it of the state of country's economy. He said that the government had been able to acheive an economic turnaround in the country within the last three years. The situation was now conducive for investment, as the government was focused on promoting economic growth. He invited Pakistani American businessmen to come forward and invest in the country.

He said that the businessmen of Pakistan origin could take advantage of the tremendous opportunities being offered in the country. Members of the delegation complemented the Finance Minister on the achieving macroeconomic stability. They expressed interest in investment opportunities in the small and medium enterprises and suggested that foreign investors of Pakistan origin should be facilitated for making investment in the country.

Finance Minister directed Chairman BOI to provide all possible facilitation to the members of the business forum in their efforts for attracting investment in Pakistan.

Chairman BoI and senior officials of Ministries of Finance and Commerce attended the meeting.

 
July 21, 2016 (PR No. 1704)

Finance Minister chaired meeting of the Laws Review Committee

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Thursday chaired meeting of the Laws Review Committee.

The Committee discussed the Anti-Honour Killing Laws (Amendment) Bill and Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill.   

It was noted that there was broad consensus on the Bills among the political parties . It was decided that the bills will be taken up for legislation in the Joint Session of Parliament  in the first half of August 2016. 

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar stated that the government had taken serious notice of incidents of honour killings and desecration of women and wanted to purge the society of these evils. Enactment of the laws would help achieve this objective, he said.

 
July 19, 2016 (PR No. 1703)

CEO MIGA called on Finance Minister

The Chief Executive Officer of Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the World Bank, Keiko Honda led a delegation for a meeting with Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Tuesday.

The Minister welcomed the visiting delegation and thanked Ms Keiko for accepting the invitation to visit Pakistan. He gave a brief overview of Pakistan’s current economic profile and said that Pakistan had made visible strides in terms of improvement in the economy over the last three years. He said that the forex reserves were at the highest ever level of US $ 23 billion while revenue collection of Rs.3112 billion showing 60% increase compared to three years ago is also unprecedented. Economic growth of 4.71% is highest in the last 8 years. International rating institutions has recognized these achievements and improved country's credit rating. He said the government has complete focus on growth and the policies are geared towards that objective. A number of measures have been included in the budget 2016-17 to encourage exports, agriculture and industry, which are likely to facilitate government’s endeavour to achieve higher inclusive growth. He also mentioned projects in the energy sector including Dassu and Diamer Bhasha that would help generate electricity and store water for irrigation. He said government has taken series of reforms in different sectors which have helped attain macro-economic stability. The reform process he said would continue in the next two years.

Ms Keiko Honda said that MIGA is supporting a number of projects in Pakistan and is deeply interested to expand the portfolio. She said that it was the first ever visit of MIGA CEO to Pakistan, which is an indication of the increasing interest the Agency in Pakistan. She said She said the agency could consider expanding scale of its coverage for Pakistan and actively play its role in accordance with the country partnership framework that the World Bank Group has committed with the Government of Pakistan. Ms Honda said that MIGA is keen to meet and engage with private sector also to raise its profile, increase awareness of MIGA products and look for opportunities to facilitate foreign direct investment in Pakistan.

He said Pakistan considered World Bank group as its longtime economic partner and cooperation between the two would further grow with this visit by CEO, MIGA.

MIGA, as key institution of the World Bank Group, offers Political Risk insurance products. The agency works with investors across manufacturing, services, transportation/logistics, infrastructures as well as power sector.

 
July 19, 2016 (PR No. 1702)

Delegation of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) called on Finance Minister

The delegation of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) led by Mr. Houlin Zhao, Secretary General ITU called on Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Tuesday. Minister of State for IT Ms Anusha Rehman Khan was also present during the meeting.

The Finance Minister welcomed the guest and congratulated him on being elected as the Secretary General of ITU. The Minister also acknowledged the services of ITU as specialized agency of the United Nations for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to standardize and regulate international radio and telecommunications and ITU’s special services to Pakistan in managing disaster relief communications in the wake of natural disasters.

Mr. Houlin Zhao, the Secretary General of ITU, appreciated the efforts of the government in the development of IT sector in the country. He also said that it is the agenda of ITU to support and further increase the presence of small and medium size entrepreneurs in the IT sector for the development of the industry and attracting further investment in the sector particularly in application development. He suggested that Pakistan should develop strategies to become more involved in such projects which promote regional connectivity through the use of fiber optic cable.

The Finance Minister said that telecommunication industry has thrived in Pakistan during the last decade and has significantly contributed to the GDP of the country. He also said that “it is the vision of the government to make maximum efforts for the development of the IT sector and for technical inclusion of the population of Pakistan in the World of telecommunication services.”  The Minister specially recognized the services of the Minister of State for IT Ms. Anusha Rehman Khan who has played a key role in the promotion of IT sector and related infrastructure in Pakistan.

The Minster assured the Secretary General of his full cooperation for the expansion of IT services not only in Pakistan but the whole region and reiterated that his visit has provided Pakistan an opportunity to strengthen its existing ties with ITU and opened new horizons of cooperation in ICTs.

 
July 19, 2016 (PR No. 1671)

Finance Minister had a phone conversation with Chief Justice Sindh High Court

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Tuesday evening had a phone conversation with Chief Justice Sindh High Court, Mr. Justice Sajjad Ali Shah.

He congratulated him on recovery of his son and prayed for his well being.

 
July 19, 2016 (PR No. 1670)

Finance Minister offers condolences to French Ambassador over tragedy in Nice

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday visited the French Embassy and met Ambassador Martine Dorance to offer condolences over the loss of precious lives in an act of terror in Nice last week.

Minister while recording his impressions in the visitors' book at the Embassy said he was shocked and deeply grieved to learn about the horrific events at Nice that led to loss of many precious lives, including children who had gathered to celebrate the Republic Day. "My thoughts and prayers are with the grieving families that tragically lost their loved ones", the Minister wrote.

He further stated that the government and people of Pakistan express their solidarity with the French people in their hour of grief.

Ambassador Dorance thanked the Finance Minister for his kind sentiments and feelings for the bereaved families.

 
July 18, 2016 (PR No. 1699)

Finance Minister held a meeting with Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and other SECP officials

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar held a meeting with Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and other SECP officials here on Monday.

The meeting was briefed on the progress made in the draft Companies Bill, 2016. The Chairman SECP on the occasion said that a detailed consultative process has been undertaken with respect to the draft Companies Bill, 2016 in the light of Finance Minister’s direction. Subsequently keeping in view valuable comments by stakeholders, the draft Companies Bill has been duly amended.

The Minister advised that the draft bill may be formally submitted to the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Law for legal vetting and initiating the legislative process with the respect to the bill.

Certain new concepts were also discussed including the provisions to ensure corporate transparency and facilitate meaningful due diligence whereby key officers and beneficial owner of the company will be required to disclose their Beneficial Ownership in local and foreign companies. Such information as reported by the company will be maintained in the Companies’ Global Register. Furthermore, for prevention of fraud and money laundering every officer of the company shall be required to take necessary measures to prevent the commission of fraud and money laundering in the respective Company. Any failure on the part of such officer shall be an offence.

The SECP, it may be mentioned is also proposing to introduce provisions regarding certain specialized companies including Free Zone companies and Agricultural Promotion Companies . The free zone companies will cater for carrying out business in Export Processing Zones notified by the Federal Government. The introduction of Free Zone Companies will cater for Pakistan’s future export needs especially in the wake of CPEC which will potentially change the economic landscape of the Country. The Agriculture Promotion Company shall provide impetus and support to the rural economy and induce increase in agricultural produce and its management through facilitation of warehousing, issuance of credible warehouse receipts for agricultural commodity, stock and audit verification.

The Minister directed that the new concepts should be shared with the stakeholders and only after exhaustive and broad based consultation the same may be included in the proposed companies’ bill at a later stage.

 
July 18, 2016 (PR No. 1698)

Pakistan is hosting the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC)

Pakistan is hosting the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) and related events from 19-20 July, 2016 in Islamabad. About 80-100 participants from member countries and multilateral institutions will be attending senior officers meeting.

The SOM will be chaired by Ms. Anjum Assad Amin, Additional Secretary, Economic Affairs Division who is the National Focal Person of Pakistan for CAREC. Updates and key issues in the four priority sectors of CAREC (transport, energy, trade facilitation, and trade policy) will be presented. This will be followed by discussion of the Senior Officials. On 20th July, the meeting of the Governing Council will take place.

Pakistan will also host 15th CAREC Ministerial Conference schedule to be held on 26th October, 2016.

CAREC program, it may be added, is a consultative forum of Asian Development Bank (ADB). It consists of 10 member countries (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, People’s Republic of China, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) Georgia an Observer supported by 6 multilateral institutions (Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), Islamic Development Bank (IDB)and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). All  members work together with the aim to promote development through cooperation, leading to accelerated growth and poverty reduction in the four priority areas of transport, trade facilitation, trade policy and energy.

 
July 18, 2016 (PR No. 1697)

Progress on operationalization of PDF, other initiatives reviewed

Finance Minister, Senator Ishaq Dar here on Monday held a meeting with senior officials of the Ministry of Finance to review progress on operationalization of Pakistan Development Fund and Pakistan Micro finance Investment Company (PMIC) as well as other initiatives introduced in Budget 2016-17.

The Minister was briefed on the progress made to-date for the initiation of various schemes. The Minister directed that the formalities of operationalisation and launching of these initiatives be completed at the earliest to make them functional within the first quarter of the fiscal year. He said that the Government is pursuing the objective of economic growth and these initiatives can contribute in achieving this objective.

The Minister was also briefed about the visit of CEO of Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), who is currently visiting Pakistan and will be meeting the Finance Minister on Tuesday.

 
July 18, 2016 (PR No. 1696)

Ambassador of Argentina called on Finance Minister

The newly appointed Ambassador of Argentina, Ivan Ivanissevich called on Finance Minister, Senator Ishaq Dar here on Monday.

Finance Minister welcomed Mr. Ivan Ivanissevich on assuming his responsibilities as Ambassador to Pakistan. 

The visiting envoy shared with the Finance Minister, the current profile of Argentinean economy and the challenges faced by the government, particularly those relating to the economic situation. He said that the challenges were similar to the ones faced by Pakistan a few years ago. He lauded Pakistan Government’s economic achievements in the last three years and said that achieving an economic turnaround was a remarkable feat.

Minister Dar said that it was with dedication and continued process of reforms in different sectors that Pakistan has achieved macro-economic stability and is now treading on the path of growth, infrastructure development and employment generation. He said Pakistan would be happy to share its experience in economic and financial management with Argentina.  He also assured the Argentine Ambassador of his full support and cooperation in the latter's efforts for development of economic and trade relations between the two countries.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance attended the meeting.

 
July 17, 2016 (PR No. 1695)

FBR to hold meetings with stakeholders on immovable property valuation

As directed by Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, FBR will soon hold meetings with stakeholders regarding the modalities for determination of fair market value of immovable property vide Finance Act, 2016.

The Minister, it may be mentioned earlier this week had asked Chairman FBR to liaise with different associations, builders/developers and other stakeholders seeking their point of view in the matter, with a view to address the apprehensions & misconceptions. In a short statement issued here the Finance Minister referred to his last meeting with FBR officials and stated that Government was open to suggestions from different quarters in this matter in the same spirit which it had exhibited, accommodating proposals for the budget 2016-17. He emphasized that the matter would be amicably addressed through mutual consultations.

Meanwhile, Minister Dar has also directed officials of the Ministry of Finance to actively pursue implementation of new budgetary measures within the given timelines. He said the government is avidly pursuing the objective of economic growth and has allowed a number of incentives to different sectors including agriculture and industry. Implementation of measures announced in the budget 2016-17 would largely help achieve the goal of inclusive growth, he added.

 
July 15, 2016 (PR No. 1694)

Finance Minister Spokesman statement

It is a matter of grave concern that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has kept pending an anonymous complaint against Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar for 15 years. For a long time, the complaint despite having been processed for closure since 2001 was deliberately not disposed off as per law and was instead left pending and used for political victimization and harassment.

Anonymous complaints have no legal value. This fact is well known to officials of National Accountability Bureau. However, in this particular instance, the anonymous complaint was maliciously kept pending instead of disposing it off as per law.

In all this time no evidence was produced to substantiate the unfounded allegations, precisely because all his assets are lawful, fully documented and duly declared to the tax authorities as well as to the Election Commission of Pakistan as required.

The said complaint was deliberately and mischievously activated on different occasions in the past in the Musharraf era and later,  with the sole purpose of tarnishing his image. Most recently in year 2015 NAB reported to the Supreme Court list of pending cases under process with the Bureau and despite the fact and knowing well that the case was processed for closure since 2001, NAB still chose to list it as one out of 252 pending cases. Senator Dar instantly reacted publicly that if there was anything irregular against him, it should be proceeded against him accordingly and if there is no irregularity then the matter should be disposed off as per law.

It is shocking to learn now from media reports, that the said complaint was formally recommended for closure a number of times during the last many years being devoid of any substance or evidence, but was not closed. It is therefore clear that the matter was kept active only for ulterior motives.

The damage caused to his personal and professional reputation in last 15 years due to this wilful irresponsible behaviour of NAB is immeasurable. Once he is free from the responsibilities as holder of public office, he will consider taking appropriate legal action against all those who have caused him and his family mental agony and injury to reputation for 15 long years from Gen Musharraf era till date.

 
July 14, 2016 (PR No. 1693)

Finance Minister attended French National Day Reception

The Embassy of France hosted a grand reception here Thursday evening, commemorating the National Day of France.

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar who was the Guest of Honour , cut the ceremonial cake along with Ambassador Martin Dorrance to mark the occasion.

Minister for Law, Zahid Hamid was also present. Minister Dar extended felicitations to the Government and People of France on the joyous occasion of their National Day.

H.E Martin Dorrance said that Pakistan and France enjoyed exemplary relations and their economic cooperation was also growing.

A large number of guests including diplomats, prominent political leaders, socialites and media attended the reception.

 
July 14, 2016 (PR No. 1692)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCOP)

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Thursday chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCOP) which considered proposals regarding divestment of Pakistan Steel Mills, PIA, KAPCO and Power Sector Entities. 

CCOP held detailed deliberations on financial and administrative situation prevailing in the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). It was observed that despite massive efforts, there had been no serious engagement by the Sindh government on the offer made by the Federal Government to acquire the PSM. The CCOP therefore allowed Privatization Commission to go ahead with the plan for divestment of PSM following due process.

The Committee had discussion on the proposal regarding restructuring of Pakistan International Airlines Corporation Limited (PIACL) and desired that its decision of 7th May 2016 may be fully implemented. The decision called for completing the corporatization process of PIACL and finalizing the matter regarding separation of core and non-core business.

The Committee allowed Privatization Commission to initiate process for listing of shares of qualified Discos on the stock exchange through IPO, starting with FESCO and IESCO. It was decided that Government would retain the control of companies as well as management.

CCOP also approved divestment of Government’s residual share holding in Kot Addu Power Company Ltd (KAPCO). Accordingly all of GoP’s stake in KAPCO held via WAPDA will be divested which comes to 40.25% of issued share capital, amounting to 354,311,133 shares. Further, the transaction will be executed as a strategic sale to the qualified bidder. 

Finance Minister on this occasion directed that principle of transparency must be ensured in the divestment process.

 
July 14, 2016 (PR No. 1691)

Progress of Dasu Power Project reviewed

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting on Thursday to review implementation status of the Dasu Hydro Power Project. Country Director, World Bank,  Patchamuthu Illangovan was also present.

Finance Minister highlighted that early implementation of Dasu Hydropower Project Stage-I was a national priority to make affordable power available. He reaffirmed commitment of the present government to resolve implementation issues and move fast to achieve project completion timeline. The Country Director World Bank expressed appreciation for the Government for undertaking this project with strong commitment and assured full support for the financing arrangement of the project.

Ministry of Water & Power and WAPDA officials apprised the meeting that as a result of facilitation by the Ministry of Finance, the issue of provincial tax on land acquisition has been resolved. Thus the land acquisition process will now be expedited. On the issue of security, the meeting was informed that the Ministry of Interior had been approached and the issue of deployment of FC in the area would be finalized soon.

The meeting was informed that six contracts have so far been awarded while the bidding process of the 7th contract for main works has been completed. The bids have been opened and are currently under evaluation. The meeting was further updated on the progress of financing arrangement, both domestic and external. The Finance Minister directed early evaluation of the bids while following due process and ensuring transparency. He directed all stakeholders to ensure expeditious resolution of implementation related issues.

The Country Director World Bank appreciated the Finance Minister for his continuous support for resolving operational issues of the Dasu Hydropower Project on fast track basis. He reiterated World Bank’s resolve for early Implementation of Dasu Hydropower Project.

Senior Officials of Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Water & Power, WAPDA and World Bank attended the meeting.

 
July 13, 2016 (PR No. 1690)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review management, financial matters of PIA

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday chaired a meeting to review management and financial matters of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in the light of the revamping plan envisaged by the government.  

Secretary Aviation Division, Muhammad Irfan Elahi, briefed the meeting in detail about the current financial profile of PIA and the recent improvement achieved in its operating performance.

Chief Executive Officer, PIACL, Mr. Bernd Hildenbrand shared with the meeting efforts to refurbish different aircrafts and informed about the plan to acquire new aircrafts. He also briefed the meeting on measures to upgrade in-flight services for comfort and facilitation of passengers both on domestic and international flights. He informed that over 90% of PIA’s flights were on-time which was praised by all.

Chairman PIACL, Muhammad Azam Saigol informed the meeting that efforts are afoot to improve the service delivery and overall working of the airline to bring it to international standards.

The meeting noted with satisfaction, efforts by the PIA administration for improving service delivery.

The Finance Minister said that as  national airline it was desired of PIA to offer travel and cargo services in line with international standards. He said financial discipline along with quality management would help get the desired service levels.

The Minister added that the government was fully prepared to support all efforts aimed at improvement in PIA’s services. He called for continued efforts to enable PIA to regain its lost glory.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, Aviations Division and PIACL attended the meeting.

 
July 13, 2016 (PR No. 1689)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of the Laws Review Committee

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday chaired meeting of the Laws Review Committee.

The meeting had detailed discussion on the legislation which is to be placed before the Parliament. Proposals regarding pending legislation in the pipeline were also discussed and finalized. The committee also discussed the possibility of holding of joint session of parliament for finalizing outstanding legislative business.

Minister Dar on this occasion  shared with members of the Committee the progress with regard to appointment of the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan.  He also apprised the members of the progress of deliberations on electoral reforms and stated that the proposals in that regard would be finalized soon.

Minister for Law, Zahid Hamid, Minister for Information Technology, Anusha Rehman, Special Assistant to Prime Minister, Khwaja Zaheer Ahmed, Special Assistant to Prime Minister, Barrister Zafarullah and Secretary to Prime Minister, Fawad Hasan Fawad attended the meeting.

 
July 12, 2016 (PR No. 1688)

Abhu Dhabi Group delegation met with Finance Minister

A delegation of the Abu Dhabi Group, led by Group Chairman Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, called on Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here today. Mr. Jean Yves Charlier, CEO VimpelCom, accompanied the delegation. Minister of State for Information Technology, Anusha Rehman Khan, was also present in the meeting.

Minister Dar, while talking to members of the delegation, said the government had embarked upon the journey of achieving sustainable and inclusive economic growth as well as employment generation after achieving macro-economic stability. The government welcomes foreign investment in Pakistan which, he said, would facilitate achievement of the objective of higher sustainable economic growth. He said that foreign investors are taking interest in acquisitions and mergers, which is a positive development.  

The Minister also welcomed the merger of Pakistan Mobile Communications Limited (the "PMCL") and Warid Telecom (Pvt.) Ltd which is likely to be finalized soon. The two companies, it may be recalled, entered into an Acquisition Agreement on 26 November 2015. Pursuant to the Acquisition Agreement, PMCL and Warid shall merge subject to all regulatory approvals and compliance with legal and procedural formalities. The Minister said the merger was proof of the strength gained by Pakistan’s economy and the business opportunities provided by Pakistan to prospective investors.

Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan on this occasion expressed gratitude for the facilitation extended by all stakeholders regarding the Mobilink – Warid merger. He said that Pakistan had become an attractive investment destination due to the turnaround in its economy during the last three years as a result of far reaching and comprehensive reforms. He added that with the merger the telecom service in Pakistan would improve in quality and outreach thereby helping people in remote areas. He added that integrating network assets will help introduce new products and services like mobile financial services, mobile apps and other value added services at scale. The merger would also result in superior customer experience as well as easier access and availability due to wider distribution network.

Chairman Abu Dhabi Group added that the merger would also encourage other foreign investors to take up commercial activities in Pakistan. He thanked the Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar and his team for receiving the delegation and extending their support and facilitation for the new venture.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Minister of Information Technology also attended the meeting.

 
July 12, 2016 (PR No. 1687)

Finance Minister met with Khursheed Shah

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar held a meeting with Leader of the Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah here Tuesday morning.

Finance Minister discussed with Mr. Khursheed Shah matters related to appointment of members of Election Commission and shared with him the proposed names from the Government side. Mr. Khursheed Shah said that he would provide opposition's position in the matter after consultations with other opposition colleagues, by Thursday. 

The Finance Minister and the Leader of Opposition reiterated their resolve to complete the due process of appointment of members of the Election Commission by 25th July 2016, before the expiry of the constitutional limit of 45 days.

 
July 12, 2016 (PR No. 1686)

Finance Minister has expressed deep sense of sorrow and grief over the sad demise of Agha Nasir

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has expressed deep sense of sorrow and grief over the sad demise of Agha Nasir, and also sympathized with the bereaved family.

Minister Dar in a message lauded services of late Agha Nasir in the field of broadcasting, saying that in his death we have lost a great personality who would be remembered for his long association with PTV and Radio Pakistan.

 
July 11, 2016 (PR No. 1685)

Process of reforms to continue in next two years - Finance Minister

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has said that the process of economic reforms initiated under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad ​ Nawaz Sharif three years ago would continue with the same vigour during the next two years.

In a statement issued here, the Minister said that the economic reforms carried out so far had paid dividends and economic conditions had shown marked improvement. He said that the government had to take many tough and unpopular decisions in the process, but the results have demonstrated the benefits of these reforms to macro economic stability that the country has achieved within a span of three years.

He said that reforms had been introduced ​to strengthen institutions including the State Bank of Pakistan, Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Federal Board of Revenue which have contributed to the strengthening of these institutions as well as positive results in the fiscal side of the economy.

Finance Minister added that the continuity of the implementation of reforms as per the agenda of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Muslim League (N) would ensure consolidation of economic gains so far achieved and will provide for setting the country on a higher growth trajectory in order to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth, jobs creation and reduction in poverty.

 
July 08, 2016 (PR No. 1684)

Strong foundation for achieving overall inclusive growth has been laid in the budget 2016 - Finance Minister

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar said here Friday that strong foundation for for achieving overall inclusive growth has been laid in the budget 2016 through strong incentives for all sectors of economy including agriculture and industry.

Finance Minister while reiterating government's resolve for uplift of agriculture sector said it announced special agricultural package in last fiscal year and keeping up the spirit to help out the farmers community has also announced a number of measures in the 2016-17 budget.

Top of all, he said there has been significant reduction in prices of fertilizers. Prices of fertilizer were brought down by 250 rupee a bag during the last few months and are now further reduced by 400 rupees a bag. Prices of DAP have also been reduced by three hundred rupee a bag with effect from July 2016. Finance Minister said 7% duty on pesticides has been withdrawn while off-peak rate of electricity for agricultural tube wells has been lowered from 8.85 rupee a unit to 5.35 rupee a unit.

Further more, the agricultural delivery chain, which includes warehousing facilities for storage of produce, would get a three-year tax holiday. The companies that set up ‘halal’ meat production plants and obtain ‘halal’ certification by Dec 31, 2016, will be exempted from income tax for four years.

In order to promote farm mechanisation and raise productivity, it has been decided that non-adjustable sales tax at a reduced rate of 7 per cent, instead of the existing 17pc, may be charged on the local supply and import of certain agricultural equipment used in tillage and seed-bed preparation, seeding or planting, irrigation, drainage and agro-chemical application.Customs duty, sales tax and withholding tax on import of agricultural machinery will be reduced to 9pc from the current aggregate of 28pc to 43pc. Farmers with landholdings up to 12.5 acres will receive interest-free loans for setting up solar tubewells.

Minister Dar added that we shall actively pursue the objective of economic growth and development under leaderdhip of Prime minister Nawaz Sharif with renewed vigour.

Ishaq Dar added that functionalization of Pakistsn Development Fund and Exim Bank of Pakistan would be among his priorities in the first quarter of 2016-17.

He hoped these two institutions would help spur infrastructure development and promote exports. Ishaq Dar also hinted at next phase of reforms aimed at improvement in the financial sector.

He said that the way people throughout the country have participated in eid celebrations and the economic activity that has been generated manifests enhanced economic prosperity with marked improvement in security situation.

Ministet Dar added that complete focus on ecnomic uplift of people and country should be the priority as it would pay more dividends in future

 
July 05, 2016 (PR No. 1683)

Mr. Patchamuthu Illangovan Country Director, World Bank met with Finance Minister

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar held a meeting with the Country Director, World Bank, Patchamuthu Illangovan here.

Mr. Illongovan on the occasion extended felicitations to the Finance Minister on achieving record level of tax revenue as well as all time high forex reserves at the close of the financial year 2016. He said these commendable achievements had been possible due to the commitment of the government to the economic reform program.

He also referred to the recent agreement between GoP and World Bank for financing of the reform porgram for competitiveness and growth and said that these reforms would also help spur growth, which was the focus of the government. He assured the Minister of World Bank's full support for the economic reforms being carried out by the government and said that the mutual collaboration between the Government of Pakistan and the World Bank had been at its best during the outgoing financial year.

Finance Minister said the government had embarked on the much-needed economic structural reforms three years ago and was fully committed to take it forward. He said that the results of the reforms carried out so far are very encouraging and all economic indicators have shown substantial progress. He appreciated the support of the World Bank in the process.

Finance Minister also shared with Mr. Illangovan the plans for the next level of reforms to be carried out in the area of finance. The Country Director expressed keen interest in the reforms and assured that the World Bank will fully support the program.

Senior officials of Ministry of Finance were present in the meeting.

 
July 03, 2016 (PR No. 1682)

Finance Minister invited South Asian Finance Ministers to attend the 8th SAARC Meeting

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has extended invitation to his counterparts in South Asian countries to attend the 8th Finance Ministers Meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), scheduled to be held in Islamabad on 26th August 2016.

In letters addressed to the Finance Ministers of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, the Minster stated that since the last meeting held in Kathmandu in August last year, considerable progress had been achieved in finance and investment related areas. At the same time certain other areas related to SAARC Development Fund (SDF) required further deliberations and follow up action.

          The Minister hoped that participation of all the members will be helpful in achieving the objectives for which SAARC has been striving since its creation.

         It may be recalled that the SAARC Summit is scheduled to be held in Pakistan in November 2016. The Finance Minister's meeting will precede the Summit and lay the ground work for progress on regional cooperation agenda in the areas of finance and investment to be subsequently endorsed by heads of states and government at the Summit.

 
July 02, 2016 (PR No. 1681)

US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Olson called on Finance Minister

US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Olson called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Saturday morning.

The US Special Rep on the occasion exchanged views with the Finance Minister on the issue of Afghan Refugees and efforts by Pakistan to streamline movement of goods and people across Pak-Afghan border.

Ambassador Olson extended felicitations to Minister Dar on the recent economic achievements, including record tax revenue collection and highest level of Forex reserves. He said these accomplishments had become possible due to the commitment and hard work of the Finance Minister and his team for strengthening the economy.

Ambassador Olson while discussing matters relating to the Afghan Refugees and said that Pakistan's contribution in hosting the Afghan refugees was acknowledged and commended by the international community. He said that safe, early and permanent repatriation of refugees to their homeland was a priority. He expressed support for efforts aimed at strengthening Pak-Afghan bilateral relations.

Minister Dar said that it was imperative to agree on a detailed roadmap for safe and honourable repatriation of Afghan Refugees. He apprised the US official of his detailed interaction with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on the issue. He said that performance benchmarks needed to be put in place to ensure that the agreed timelines for repatriation can be met.

 
July 02, 2016 (PR No. 1680)

Chairman, SECP presented an update to the Finance Minister

The Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) along with Chairman PSX, Mr. Muneer Kamal, today presented an update to the Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, on the progress made with respect to the divestment of shares of Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX)

The Minister was briefed on expression of interest (EOIs) received from various national and international prospective buyers in relation to divestment of 40% shares of the PSX lying in the blocked account to be sold to Strategic Investor(s) (SIs), and local financial institutions as required under the Stock Exchanges (Corporatization, Demutualization and Integration) Act, 2012. Recently, the Divestment Committee of PSX’s shareholders mandated to carry out the divestment had extended the timeline for submission of EOIs till August 15, 2016 in view of recent changes including British decision to exit from the European Union, Pakistan’s inclusion in MSCI emerging markets and various important reforms witnessed by our capital market. In the interim PSX is formulating a marketing strategy, to be implemented soon after Eid holiday, to present its case to local and foreign prospective investors.

The Minster reiterated that the divestment should be speeded up and executed keeping the view the best national interest and development of the Pakistan capital market.

Chairman SECP also briefed Finance Minister on the progress made on draft Companies Bill, 2016. The Chairman SECP apprised the honorable Minister regarding the extensive consultative process undertaken by the SECP on advice of the honorable Minister and the quantum of feedback received from the general public, the professional bodies and the experts and the status of incorporation of the suggestions and the new concepts. The provisions added in draft Companies Bill were discussed in detail by Finance Minister with team of SECP and appreciated the work done so far by the Commission. Especially the concepts including exemptions to companies with lesser capital and inactive companies regarding  audit and filing requirements were appreciated by him.  He expressed hope that these concepts will go long way for documentation of economy. Finance Minister advised to place updated draft of the draft Bill again on website for further feedback by stakeholders.

Finance Minister advised Chairmen SECP to also add necessary provisions in draft Bill to facilitate agriculture sector growth and the regulation of real estate business. He further advised to strengthen law to deal with the situation arising with reference to off shore investments issues to  preventfrauds and money laundering in corporate sector.  He said that companies should be required to provide information to the Commission of beneficial ownership of securities and properties abroad. The Commission is to maintain a global register of beneficial ownership in this respect. He advised that in the changing economic land scape in the back drop of CPEC and theestablishment of free zones be kept in view to attract maximum investment in the Country and necessary provisions to support such endeavors may be provided in the new draft company law.

The Minister while appreciating the efforts of SECP, advised that the draft Bill along with the changes introduced post consultation, may be posted on the website of SECP for further feedback. He also stated that another meeting shall be conducted after Eid holidays to deliberate and come up with a way forward with respect to the draft Bill.

 
July 01, 2016 (PR No. 1679)

New Forex Reserve Record

Finance Minister, Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar has stated that FBR has achieved the revenue target for the fiscal year 2015-16. The Minister has extended felicitations to Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on this occasion. He also facilitated the entire nation and the FBR team for this historic achievement.

Finance Minister making an announcement before media Friday morning, stated that it was significant that the original target of Rs.3104 billion set in Budget 2015-16 had been maintained and no downward revision was made during the year, which had been a common practice in the past. He said that it was a stiff target and FBR deserved appreciation for achieving it. The revenue collection showed 20% annual growth and an overall 60% growth compared to revenue collection in 2013 when the present government assumed responsibilities.

The Minister said that revenue collection of Rs 3104 billion would mean that the provinces would be receiving around Rs.700 billion more from the divisible pool compared to what they received in 2012-13. This significant increase allows the provinces to carry out projects and programs of public benefit and interest.

Minister Dar added that as another remarkable development, the country’s foreign exchange reserves had surpassed US $ 23 billion which was another landmark achievement and a new national record. The Minister said out of this amount over US$ 18 billion were held by the State Bank of Pakistan while the net foreign reserves held by commercial banks were around $ 4.9 billion. The Minister said the whole Pakistani nation deserved felicitations over these accomplishments.

 
July 01, 2016 (PR No. 1678)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECC

The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) in its meeting Chaired by Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Friday considered proposals from Ministry of Water & Power, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources and Revenue Division. 

On a proposal submitted by Ministry of Water and Power, the ECC accorded approval in principle for transfer of all hydropower projects (based on BOOT model) being implemented under 2002 Power Policy, to the respective Provincial/AJK/Gilgit-Baltistan Governments after expiry of the term of the Implementation Agreement.  The ECC also approved enhancement of Water use charges (WUC) from Rs. 0.15/kwh to Rs. 0.425/kwh for all upcoming private sector hydropower projects being implemented under the 2002 Power Policy which have not yet achieved Financial Close. It was also decided that the WUC would be reviewed every five years to determine if an increase is required.

On another proposal from the Ministry of Water and Power, the ECC granted approval for authorizing CPPA to sign amendment to the modified and re-stated power purchase agreement with Fauji Kabirwala Power Company.

ECC on a proposal put up by Ministry of Water and Power, approved grant of GoP sovereign guarantee against financing facility of PKR 10.40 billion from local banks for interconnection of imported coal based 1320 MW power plants at Bin Qasim (near Karachi).

Considering the proposal submitted by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, the ECC allowed allocation of up to 9.5MMCFD gas from Badar-2 gas field to M/s SNGPL. The price of gas would be as per the applicable Petroleum Policy. The decision has been taken keeping in view request of SNGPL for allocation of gas from Badar-2 owing to increasing demand and supply gap on their system.

ECC also approved proposal of Revenue Division for extending reduced withholding tax rate of 0.4% for non-filers up to 31st July 2016.

 
June 30, 2016 (PR No. 1677)

PoL Prices For July 2016

In line with Prime Minister's policy of providing maximum relief to the public, it has been decided to maintain the prices of Petrol, HOBC, High Speed Diesel and Kerosene for the month of July 2016.

The price of Light Diesel Oil is being increased as per OGRA's recommendation. 

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar made announcement to this effect Thursday evening. He said maintaining PoL prices for July is a gift from the Government to people on occasion of Eid ul Fitr. The Minister said that the decision to maintain the prices at current level will mean a financial impact of around Rs.3 billion. The government will fully absorb this impact, he added.

Details are given as under: (Approved prices shown in last column)

POL PRICES (Rs./Litre)

Product

Existing prices
w.e.f.
01-06-2016

OGRA proposed Increase/ Rs.

OGRA
proposed prices for
July, 2016

Approved Prices w.e.f
1.7.16

MS (Petrol)

64.27

1.93

66.20

64.27

HOBC

72.68

3.53

76.21

72.68

Kerosene (SKO)

43.25

8.62

51.87

43.25

High Speed Diesel

72.52

3.75

76.27

72.52

Light Diesel Oil

37.97

5.38

43.35

43.35

 

 
June 30, 2016 (PR No. 1676)

Saudi Ambassador called on Finance Minister

The Ambassador of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Marzouk Al-Zahrani called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Thursday morning.

The Ambassador exchanged greetings with the Finance Minister for the upcoming Eid ul Fitr and also discussed matters of mutual interest.

The Saudi Envoy on the occasion said that undoubtedly Pakistan had made significant economic headway under the present Government and that strong foundation has been laid for growth and development in future. He said economic stability in the country was a strong stimulus for foreign investment. He wished the Minister and his team all success in their efforts for consolidating the economic achievements made thus far.

Minister Dar expressed his satisfaction at the continued bilateral cooperation between the two brotherly countries. He said Saudi Arabia has been a great partner of Pakistan in its quest for economic prosperity and peace and development in the region. People of Pakistan hold the brotherly country of Saudi Arabia in high esteem. He also conveyed greetings for the Saudi Government and people from the Government and People of Pakistan on Eid ul Fitr.

 
June 29, 2016 (PR No. 1675)

ADB Country Director met with Finance Minister

Country Director, Asian Development Bank, Mr. Werner Leipach called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday.

During the meeting matters relating to Pakistan Development Fund (PDF) were discussed.

Finance Minister said that Pakistan has a huge appetite for infrastructure development and the government is looking at innovative ways of financing these infrastructure needs. PDF was one such initiative and it is government's priority to operationalize the Fund in the first quarter of the next financial year. He said that various bilateral and multilateral partners are likely to join the PDF. He also invited the Asian Development Bank to join PDF as an equity partner. The Fund will act as a DFI and operate on commercial basis. It will be completely independent in its working, the Minister added.

Mr. Leipach stated that ADB was keen to assist Pakistan in regard to PDF and could offer its technical expertise in the development of a commercial business plan with strategies and timelines to operationalize and run Pakistan Development Finance Company.

PDF it may be added has been established by the government to finance infrastructure development projects in the country.

 
June 29, 2016 (PR No. 1674)

Afghan Ambassador met with Finance Minister

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar received Ambassador of Afghanistan, Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal for a meeting here Wednesday morning.

The Finance Minister welcomed the Ambassador and extended him greetings of the holy month of Ramazan.

Afghan Ambassador on the occasion described the recent incidents at the Pak-Afghan border as unfortunate and expressed that the two countries would continue to maintain close contacts with a view to prevent such happenings.

Minister Dar reiterated Pakistan Government’s resolve to forge cordial bilateral relations with the brotherly Islamic country with particular focus on building up economic cooperation, enhancing trade and promoting communication linkages. He said that both countries could play their due role in developing regional connectivity which would help open up the way to greater economic opportunities. The Minister emphasized the need to streamline movement of people across the border saying it would in turn facilitate trade and economic activities.

During the meeting both sides expressed the mutual desire for working together for peace and development in the region and for making efforts for well being of people of both countries.

 
June 29, 2016 (PR No. 1673)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Energy here on Wednesday. The meeting reviewed the progress of on-going power sector projects in the country.

Federal Minister for Water and Power, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Federal Minister for Petroleum & Natural Resources, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Secretary to Prime Minister and senior officials of the relevant ministries attended the meeting.

The meeting reviewed progress on the ongoing power projects to see whether the timelines of the schedule of activities were being observed. The meeting also reviewed the status of energy projects which are in the pipeline.

Secretary Water & Power gave the meeting an update on the energy projects and also dilated on arrangements for evacuation of the electricity to be produced in future. Secretary Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources gave an overview of the supply of natural gas and fuel that would be needed to facilitate the upcoming power projects.

Secretary Water and Power later also briefed the meeting about the current state of power generation in the country. He said that in line with the Prime Minister’s instructions, maximum facilitation has been provided to general public during the holy month of Ramadan by ensuring smooth and uninterrupted supply of electricity at the time of Sehar and Iiftar. A proper mechanism has been in place to address complaints of any breakdown. Despite severe heat wave experienced in early May and the resultant increased power usage, load management has been carried out with due care. Furthermore no power unit suffered any shut down this summer which helped maintain supply of electricity to the optimum possible level.  

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on this occasion said that the Prime Minister had desired a detailed update on the progress of ongoing projects and emphasized expediting work on these projects. He directed the Ministry of Water & Power to ensure completion of on-going projects as per schedule. A detailed report containing up-to-date progress would be submitted to the Prime Minister.

 
June 28, 2016 (PR No. 1672)

Two Months salaries for PSM employees approved

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday.

 ECC at the outset considered and approved the proposal submitted by Privatization Division for provision of two months’ salaries to the employees of Pak Steel Mills in view of Eid ul Fitr.

On a proposal submitted by the Ministry of Water & Power, ECC approved amendments in agreement between CPPA and M/S Rousch, FKPCL and Davis Energen pertaining to revised payment mechanism, aiming to facilitate payments of imported RLNG by IPPs to Gas Suppliers.

ECC on a proposal submitted by Ministry of Interior, Narcotics Control Division, granted Tax exemption on scanning equipment donated by the Government of Saudi Arabia to Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) to enhance its capabilities in eradicating narcotics/ drugs. The Chair directed that in all such cases in future, advance approval for exemptions may be sought by the ministries/divisions concerned . The Economic Affairs Division was also directed to issue a circular to all the Ministries/Divisions in this regard.

ECC also approved the Draft Implementation Agreement for Imported R-LNG based power projects in the public sector.

After deliberation over the proposal submitted by the Ministry of Water & Power regarding Term Finance Facility for Power Holding (PVT) Ltd. the ECC accorded approval to extend repayment period under the facility from fifteen (15) months to five(5) years including extension in grace period from 03 months to 24 months, while other terms and conditions would remain the same.

 
June 23, 2016 (PR No. 1671)

US$ 500 million IDA Development Policy Credit (DPC)Financing Agreement signed

Government of Pakistan and World Bank signed Financing Agreement of US$ 500 million IDA Development Policy Credit for “Competitiveness and Growth” here on Thursday.

Mr. Tariq Bajwa, Secretary Economic Affairs Division signed the agreement on behalf of Government of Pakistan while Mr. Anthony Cholst, Acting Country Director, signed on behalf of the World Bank.

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar who witnessed the ceremony, welcomed signing of the agreement and said that the Government had embarked upon the much needed economic structural reforms three years ago and had made substantial progress in this regard.

Referring to the Competitiveness and Growth DPC, he said that the financial support provided by the World Bank, is meant to improve the business environment and enhance fiscal management; it focuses on simplification and streamlining of the payment of taxes; improvement in governance and transparency of policies to attract private sector investment; and remove entry barriers in the insurance sector. In terms of Enhancing Fiscal Management the focus is on withdrawal of discriminatory concessions granted through SROs in the past; improving debt management; and strengthening of social safety net programs, Finance Minister added.

He said that the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank team had been working together on the DPC for quite sometime and most of the agreed reform measures had already been completed. These reforms would enhance the competitiveness and promote ease of doing business in the country.

Mr. Anthony Cholst in his remarks on the occasion congratulated the Government of Pakistan for making significant progress in stabilizing the economy and initiating reforms for greater revenue mobilization and private sector growth.

“I would like to particularly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of Minister Dar and the economic leadership team for their efforts in continuing reform momentum”, Cholst said. This operation recognizes Pakistan’s stepped up reform efforts in the business environment, revenue generation, State Owned Enterprises, debt management and making public spending more pro-poor, he added.

The World Bank Board which met on 20th June, lauded Pakistan for pursuing a reform agenda and supported continuation of support to the Government in its endeavours. Board members appreciated the progress made in the past three years by the Government and highlighted the financial innovation presented by this operation through combining IDA credit and IBRD Policy Based Guarantee.

 
June 22, 2016 (PR No. 1670)

Finance Minister Grieved over death of Amjad Sabri

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has expressed deep sense of sorrow and grief over the death of famous qawali maestro, Amjad Sabri in an armed attack in Karachi.

The Minister said late Amjad Sabri's death is a great loss to the art of Qawali recital. Amjad, the Minister said ably carried forward the legacy of his elders who were an icon of traditional art of Qawali with their unique style of rendition.

Minister Dar offered heartfelt condolences to the family of late Amjad Sabri and prayed for eternal peace to the departed soul.

 
June 22, 2016 (PR No. 1669)

UN High Commissioner for Refugees called on Finance Minister

Mr. Fillippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, called on the Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday. Minister for States and Frontier Regions Lt. Gen. (R) Abdul Quadir Baloch was also present during the meeting.

Mr. Grandi conveyed his best wishes for speedy recovery of the Prime Minister to the Finance Minister. The Finance Minister thanked the High Commissioner and assured him that his best wishes would be conveyed to the Prime Minister.

The Finance Minister welcomed the guest and appreciated the continued support of the UNHCR in handling the refugee situation in the presence of around 2.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan for over three decades now.

Mr. Grandi stated that the purpose of his visit at the time of World Refugee Day was to highlight the significance and contribution of Pakistan to the refugee issue, which is a global concern. He discussed with the Finance Minister the recent World Refugee situation and stated that Afghan Refugees are an unresolved issue for the government of Pakistan for a long time and UNHCR has continued to extend support to the Government of Pakistan in this regard. He apprised the Minister of his discussions with Afghan and Iranian officials with a view to chalk out a plan for the repatriation of the displaced Afghan people. He also stated that UNHCR had doubled the amount of cash assistance for voluntarily returning Afghans.

The Finance Minister, stated that Pakistan had borne the brunt of the global war on terrorism and the economy had suffered huge losses during the last many years. Pakistan had also hosted more than 3 million refugees for more than 3 decades. The country is also single-handidly managing the resources for operation Zarb-e-Azb against the militants as well as meeting the financial requirements of the internally displaced families.

He said that with the presence of an elected government in Afghanistan, the situation for repatriation of Afghan refugees should improve. The international community also needs to play its due role in ensuring that conducive atmosphere is created in Afghanistan for voluntary return of Afghan refugees. Government of Pakistan is fully committed to a solution strategy for Afghan Refugees which we want UNHCR to help implement.

The participants of the meeting agreed that a time bound action plan agreed by Afghanistan, UN and the International community for the safe return of the Afghan population needed to be chalked out. The action plan should link disbursement of financial resources with clearly stated performance benchmarks. The international community must play its due role, as peace and prosperity in Afghanistan is in the interest of everyone.

The UN High commissioner assured the Finance Minister of his continued support on the issue of Afghan Refugees and also invited Pakistan to participate in “Migrant and Refugee Summit” to be held in September this year.

 
June 20, 2016 (PR No. 1668)

Vice President ADB met with Finance Minister

The Vice President of Asian Development Bank, Wencai Zhang had a meeting with Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Monday.

Finance Minister welcomed Mr. Zhang on his visit to Pakistan shared with him the details of the current state of national economy. He stated that the economic reforms were on track and had started to pay dividends. Referring to recent upgrade by MSCI, he said that the marked improvement in economic conditions in the country are being acknowledged globally. He said the Government has presented a budget which will provide stimulus to agriculture and industrial sectors besides encouraging foreign investment. This will all help in achieving the goal of inclusive growth, the Minister said. He added the Government has in focus activation of the Pakistan Macro finance Investment Company in the first quarter of this fiscal year. He also hinted at operationalization of Pakistan Development Fund and invited ADB to participate in the Fund.

The ADB Vice President lauded the economic achievements of the present government and said that the country has undoubtedly made noticeable progress in achieving macro-economic stability. "There is significant increase in forex reserves, inflation is down considerably compared to the situation in early 2013. Given the global situation, the GDP growth is also quite satisfactory", Zhang added. The ADB Vice Chief who was accompanied by Country Director, Werner Liepach said that financing for reforms in public sector enterprises has been enhanced from USD 150 million to USD 300 million. He added that ADB was extremely pleased to finance the M-4 Shorkot - Khanewal Section Project and wished to see it completed as early as possible. He assured of ADB’s support for taking measures to revamp the existing transport and trade infrastructure for improved connectivity to steer the process of development in Pakistan. He evinced keen interest in possible financing in the Pak-China Economic Corridor Project as well as developing connectivity between Gwadar Port and other areas in Pakistan as well as the region. He said Pakistan now needed to focus on attracting foreign investment and enhancing exports to achieve the objective of growth. Wencai added that both sides could identify new areas for possible ADB financing including agriculture and development of ports.

Earlier Finance Minister Dar and ADB Vice President witnessed the signing ceremony between the Government of Pakistan (GOP) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) for a Loan agreement of US $ 100 million for National Motorway M-4 Shorkot - Khanewal Section Project. Department of International Development (DFID), United Kingdom also extended the grant of £ 23,480,000 (US $ 34 million) for the same project.

The loan and grant agreement was signed by the Secretary, Economic Affairs Division (EAD) Mr. Tariq Bajwa and Country Director, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Werner E. Liepach.

 
June 18, 2016 (PR No. 1667)

Finance Minister has cancelled his visit to Beijing, China

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has cancelled his visit to Beijing, China scheduled for the next week. The decision has been taken in view of the fact that the Prime Minister is still recovering from his open heart surgery abroad & Finance Minister's presence in the country is essential.

The spokesman of the Ministry of Finance said here Saturday that the Minister was scheduled to attend the 1st Annual Meeting of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) at Beijing on 25-26 June 2016. The Minister was also scheduled to speak at a seminar, besides holding certain other meetings during the visit.

In a letter addressed to the President AIIB, the Minister has expressed regrets over his inability to attend the annual meeting.

Secretary, Economic Affairs Division Tariq Bajwa would now represent Pakistan at the event.

 
June 18, 2016 (PR No. 1666)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to discuss the implementation of relief measures for agriculture sector

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting to discuss the modalities for implementation of relief measures for agriculture sector announced in the Budget 2016-17. Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Provincial Finance and Agriculture Ministers of Punjab and Sindh and senior officials of relevant ministries participated in the meeting.

The Finance Minister stated that the government had given due priority to the agriculture sector in the budget. He hoped that the measures announced by the Federal Government will be complemented by the Provincial Governments with a view to ensure that the decline in agricultural growth is reversed and the sector achieves a healthy growth rate in accordance with its potential. He referred to the decrease in fertilizer prices by the industry and stated that it was made possible after lengthy negotiations with the manufacturers. He urged on the Provincial governments to continue with a spirit of cooperation for the promotion of the vital agriculture sector.

Provincial Ministers welcomed the measures announced by the Federal Government and stated that the Provincial governments were equally keen to provide support to the farmers who had been facing a difficult situation due to falling commodity prices and high cost of inputs.

The meeting discussed in detail the subsidy on fertilizers announced in the budget and the mechanism for its disbursement. The detailed modalities in this regard were discussed and agreed. It was decided that the subsidy would be provided through a joint Federal & Provincial package for farmers. The meeting also discussed other agriculture related measures and decided to continue close liaison and coordination for country wide impact on the agriculture sector.

 
June 14, 2016 (PR No. 1665)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECC

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet at the Prime Minister’s Office Tuesday.

ECC considered and approved the proposal for transfer of Heavy Mechanical Complex to Strategic Plans Division (SPD)/PAEC. While giving approval the Committee emphasized that the said transfer would take place by ensuring the due process and that the rights of HMC’s employees would be fully protected. An amount of Rs.500 million was also approved to cover essential expenditure of the company /salaries till June 2016. Out of this amount, Rs. 253 million will be adjusted on account of salaries already paid to the HMC employees as per approval given by the ECC. The SPD/PAEC officials on the occasion assured the Committee that all efforts would be made to revive HMC to its maximum potential.

On a proposal submitted by the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, ECC accorded approval for the Gwadar Port Authority to proceed with the procurement of one of the three listed Chinese Companies through bidding process as well as preference for the use of the Chinese equipment, in accordance with the Framework Agreement, under section 21 of PPRA Ordinance 2002 and Rule 5 of the PPRA Rules 2004.

The ECC had detailed deliberations on the recommendations/report submitted by the Committee constituted under its directive last year to review the pricing mechanism for RLNG. The Committee comprised of Secretary Finance Division (Convener), Secretary Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Secretary Ministry of Water and Power and Secretary Law. The ECC approved the recommendations/report of the Committee and also gave consent for formally conveying them to OGRA as policy guidelines under section 21 of the OGRA Ordinance 2002.

 
June 13, 2016 (PR No. 1664)

Country Director, Asian Development Bank (ADB) called on Finance Minister

The Country Director, Asian Development Bank(ADB), Werner Liepach called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Monday.

Mr. Liepach briefed the Minister regarding the visit of ADB Vice President to Pakistan from 15th to 20th June 2016. He informed that the Vice President among other official engagements would also participate in the signing ceremony for additional financing for M-4, Shorkot-Khanewal highway Project.

Minister Dar said that he looked forward to receiving the ADB Vice President.

Mr. Liepach also discussed matters relating to the upcoming Ministerial meeting of the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC), to be held in Islamabad later this year. It was noted that the arrangements for the meetings were progressing smoothly. Pakistan has been actively participating in the CAREC activities, since joining the group in 2010. ADB is supporting development of trade and transportation corridors in Central & South Asian region, promoting regional connectivity.

The ADB’s current portfolio for Pakistan also came under discussion. Mr. Liepach informed the Minister that most of the projects were progressing as per the timelines. He also stated that ADB’s financing programme in Pakistan for the next three years was presently being discussed with the Economic Affairs Division.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar appreciated the continued support of Asian Development Bank for the socio-economic development of Pakistan. Senior officials of Ministry of Finance attended the meeting.

 
June 13, 2016 (PR No. 1663)

Additional District Judge summons ARY CEO, Anchors for a hearing

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Finance said here Monday that Additional District Judge, Islamabad-West has summoned ARY Chief Executive Officer, Salman Iqbal, anchors Arshad Sharif and Assad Kharal to appear for a hearing on 17th June 2016 on suits filed by the Finance Minister.

The Spokesperson recalled that taking strong exception to the slanderous telecasts and publications against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar by ARY News through its Programme "News @ 3 with Maria Memon" aired on 16th April 2016, legal notices were served on ARY Chief Executive Officer, Salman Iqbal and anchors Arshad Sharif and Assad Kharal for airing libelous content and alleging that Finance Minister held a meeting with Panamian Deputy Minister for Economy, Ivan Zarak in Washington, without seeking any confirmation.

As per the legal notices, the respondents were  called upon to publish apology in reputed Urdu and English dailies and also broadcast the same with prominence within fifteen days of the legal notices. In addition, each of them also had been asked to pay a sum of rupees one billion to the Finance Minister in damages failing which legal proceedings against them would be initiated. 

The spokesperson added that the Panamian Deputy Minister, Ivan Zarak had denied such a meeting was ever held with Finance Minister. Furthermore the Panamian Government also  sent a message of apology to Finance Minister over the incorrect statement given by their Deputy Minister.

Now the honourable Additional District Judge Islamabad-West has issued summons to the three respondents in this case for a hearing on 17th June 2016.

 
June 11, 2016 (PR No. 1662)

Chinese Ambassador, Mr. Sun Weidong called on Finance Minister

The Chinese Ambassador,  Mr. Sun Weidong called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here.

The Ambassador greeted the Minister on completion of 65 years of Pak-China relations. He said that friendship between the two countries would be further strengthened in future with more and more focus being laid on economic cooperation.

Ambassador Sun referred to the visit of Chinese President to Pakistan last year. He said that 2016 was the year of implementation on the decisions taken by the leadership of the two countries during that visit. He cited the recent handing over of equipment by the Chinese government to security and health institutions in Pakistan as part of the implementation programme.  

Minister Dar on this occasion said that Pakistan highly valued Chinese support for various development projects in Pakistan.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Federal Bureau of Revenue attended the meeting.

 
June 11, 2016 (PR No. 1661)

German Ambassador called on Finance Minister

The German Ambassador  Ms Ina Lepel called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here.

The Envoy informed the Minister about leading German companies’ plan to invest in telecom and energy sectors in Pakistan. She added that she looked forward to the Government particularly the Finance Minister’s support for facilitating these companies.

Minister Dar welcomed the investment programme of the German companies and said that Government fully encourages foreign investment which is the key component of the growth policy it was now pursuing with full vigour. He said the government has announced a business friendly budget which offers incentives for industry. The German companies should make full use of the liberal investment regime that Pakistan offers, the Minister said.

Ms Ina Lepel thanked the Minister for the encouragement and support offered for investment by German companies.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Federal Bureau of Revenue attended the meeting.

 
June 11, 2016 (PR No. 1660)

Delegation of reputed Royal Friesland Company (RFC) of Netherlandscalled on Finance Minister

A delegation of reputed Royal Friesland Company (RFC) of Netherlands led by its Global Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Mr. Hein Schumacher called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Saturday morning.

The delegation informed the Minister about RFC’s plan to invest in the dairy/food sector in Pakistan. Mr. Schumacher also shared with the Minister, the international investment portfolio of the company. He added that RFC had a profound desire to undertake investment in Pakistan because of the attractive business environment. He said there are “positive prospects in Pakistan not just in the dairy and food sector but in other sectors as well”.

Minister Dar welcomed the delegation and gave them an overview of the investment policy of the government and the opportunities that were offered to foreign companies in Pakistan. He said a number of multinational companies had been engaged in business ventures in Pakistan and RFC would also be offered maximum possible facilitation in undertaking investment here. He said that Government has full focus on achieving economic growth and foreign investment was a major tool to help achieve this objective.

Members of the visiting delegation commented that they were eagerly looking forward to implement the RFC’s investment plan which was in the final stages of approval and that the company would be pleased to contribute to economic progress in Pakistan.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Federal Bureau of Revenue attended the meeting.

 
June 10, 2016 (PR No. 1659)

Ambassador of Switzerland, Mr. Marc George and Charge d' Affaires, Embassy of Netherlands, Renate Pors called on Finance Minister

Ambassador of Switzerland, Mr. Marc George and Charge d’ Affaires, Embassy of Netherlands, Renate Pors called on Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Friday.

They discussed with the Finance Minister the current investment portfolio as well as future investment plans of Swiss and Netherlands companies in Pakistan. They opined that overall improvement in security environment and improved economic stability in the country was attracting foreign investors to Pakistan.

Finance Minister apprised the two envoys about the liberal investment regime and a level playing field that Pakistan offered to international companies and said investors from both the countries should fully avail the opportunities offered by Pakistan for investment in different spheres.

The Minister assured Mr. Marc George and Mrs. Renate Pors all possible support for facilitating the companies from Netherlands and Switzerland in setting up their business ventures and investment in Pakistan.

Head of Economic Section, Netherlands Embassy, Mr. Rick Slettenhaar and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance were also present on the occasion.

 
June 10, 2016 (PR No. 1658)

Finance Minister held a meeting with senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Federal Bureau of Revenue(FBR)

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar held a meeting with senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Federal Bureau of Revenue(FBR) here on Friday.

The meeting discussed post-budget proposals and suggestions made during the course of budget debate in the Parliament.

Secretary Finance and Chairman FBR briefed the meeting on all the proposals made by the members of Parliament in the two houses as well as in the respective Standing Committees on Finance. The two officials also submitted their respective recommendations with regard to these proposals. 

Finance Minister said that government has presented a business and consumer friendly budget which has been widely acclaimed by different segments of the society. He said measures announced by the government for upkeep of the farmers’ community and agriculture sector are specially being lauded. Appreciation has also specially been received on government interventions for promotion of exports as well as development of industry. He said government has placed due focus on inclusive growth and the budget 2016-17 will help achieve this objective.

The Minister stated that the government is open to suggestions and any changes/improvements in the budget proposals would reflect Government’s will to facilitate different sectors of the economy to the maximum extent possible. 

The Minister directed the Ministry of Finance and FBR teams to continue to take guidance from the Parliamentary budget debate and make recommendations for adoption of positive and forward looking proposals. 

 
June 09, 2016 (PR No. 1657)

Chinese Equipment handed over to Pakistan

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has said Pakistan highly values China’s continued support on issues of its national security, territorial integrity and the war on terror.  Chinese commitment to Pakistan’s infrastructural development, capacity building and emergency relief operations is unmatched and commendable.

The Minister here on Thursday was addressing the signing ceremony of documents for handing over capacity building equipment to Pakistan provided by the Chinese Government.

 Secretary, Economic Affairs Division, Tariq Bajwa and Mr. Sun Weidong Ambassador of China signed the documents.

With a view to enhancing the capacity of law enforcement and health intuitions, the Government of China has provided 425 police pickups and 80 ambulances, apart from other office equipment, worth Chinese Yuan 95 million. The equipment would be used in all the four provinces, GB, FATA, AJK and Islamabad Capital Territory.

Ambassador of China, Sun Weidong said that provision of this equipment was carried out under the Letter of Exchange (LoE) signed between China and Pakistan during the visit of Chinese President to Pakistan. He said this is the 65th year of Pak-China relations and this time tested friendship would be further strengthened in future.

 
June 08, 2016 (PR No. 1656)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review the progress of draft Companies Bill 2016

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here on Wednesday to review the progress of draft Companies Bill 2016.

Chairman SECP, Mr. Zafar-ul-Haq Hijazi briefed the meeting on the consultative process carried out by the Commission for making the bill a comprehensive law covering all aspects of corporate governance. He said that SECP had held extensive consultations with all stakeholders and had also held seminars to disseminate information regarding the new bill as well as to solicit recommendations for the various sectors. The suggestions and recommendations received during the process had been analyzed by SECP and those found to be logical and feasible had been incorporated in the draft.

The Minister on the occasion said that the proposed law carries due significance for efficient and effective regulation of corporate sector. He said the proposed bill must reflect the international best practices. He also gave instructions for further improvements and finalization of the draft bill so that it could then be placed before the Cabinet before introduction in the Parliament for enactment.

Senior officials of the SECP, Ministry of Finance and FBR participated in the meeting.

 
June 07, 2016 (PR No. 1655)

Finance Ministermet with Ms Justine Greening, UK Secretary Of State for International Development

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Tuesday received Ms Justine Greening, UK Secretary Of State for International Development for a meeting at the PM House.

Matters pertaining to Pak-UK economic cooperation were discussed on the occasion.The two leaders also exchanged views on different aspects of international development.

The Finance Minister apprised Ms. Greening of the efforts made by the present government for revival of economy and the consequent improvement in economic indicators during the last three years. He also acknowledged the support of development partners including the the UK Department for International Development (DFID) for economic reform initiatives of the government.

Finance Minister also on this occasion shared with Ms Greening the success achieved in Zarb e-Azb. He said that gains made against militancy and extremism are now being consolidated through rehabilitation of these areas as well as through introduction of administrative and governance reforms.

Ms Greening stated that the UK is a long-time partner of Pakistan and would continue to support the reform initiatives aimed at enhancing economic growth and development. She said that "the Government of Pakistan had risen to the challenge in the last three years". She complimented the Minister on his able handling of the economy and said that the visible improvements in economic conditions are a "tribute to your leadership". She said that the improvements in security situation are also visible and encouraging.

Both sides agreed, during the meeting, to commence formal discussions for finalizing a new Development Partnership Agreement (DPA) between the two countries for the next ten years, incorporating mutually agreed areas of cooperation. The current DPA (2006-6) is due to expire in September, 2016.

Senior officials of Finance Division, Economic Affairs Division and UK High Commission attended the meeting.

 
June 06, 2016 (PR No. 1654)

Budget acclaimed as consumer and business friendly

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Monday held a meeting with senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and FBR.

The meeting noted with satisfaction that the budget has been widely acclaimed as consumer and business friendly. The focused interventions proposed in the budget for agriculture, exports and industrial sectors are particularly being appreciated.

Finance Minister said that the government would welcome and consider suggestions made during the budget debate in the parliament.

The Minister stated that the federal government has endeavoured to provide maximum relief to the general public. The budget 2016-17 does not include any steps that would negatively impact prices of items of daily use by the common man, the Minister added.

The Minister directed officials concerned to keep close liaison with all the stakeholders and prepare a report on post budget proposals for his consideration.

 
June 06, 2016 (PR No. 1653)

Finance Minister for measures to keep prices stable

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Monday addressed letters to all the Chief Ministers, calling upon them to take steps to ensure that prices of various commodities remain stable in the month of Ramadan and that no price hike is allowed under any pretext.

The Minister went on to say that the Federal Government would also closely monitor prices of different commodities in areas under its jurisdiction.

Finance Minister stated that the government has announced a consumer and business friendly budget. It has not announced any measures in the budget that could negatively impact prices of items of daily use by the common man. Furthermore prices of petroleum products as per announcement on May 31 have also not been enhanced for the month of June as an effort to maintain price stability in the holy month of Ramadan.

Given this fact, there is no question that anyone should indulge in profiteering, the Minister remarked.

 
June 06, 2016 (PR No. 1652)

Finance Minister takes serious view of price hike in poultry meat

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, taking serious view of price escalation in poultry meat, has called upon Pakistan Poultry Association to ensure that prices of poultry meat remain stable in the month of Ramadan. He asked for urgent measures in this regard.

The Pakistan Poultry Association assured the Minister that as they had pledged in a pre-budget meeting with him last month, they would ensure that prices of poultry meat are maintained at an appropriate level. They said the prices of poultry meat would be normalized within two days.

 
June 06, 2016 (PR No. 1651)

Major Revenue and Relief Measures - Budget 2016-17

Relief Measures

  • Tariff slabs reduced from existing 5 to 4 by merging 2% slab and 5% slab in new 3% slab. Corporate tax rate has been reduced to 31% for Tax Year 2017. In sales tax turnover threshold for cottage industry has been increased to 10 million. Introduction of optional regime for Tier-1 Retailers according to which sales tax at fixed rate of 2% of their total turnover without any input tax adjustments is proposed.
  • Exemption of sales tax on pesticides and 5% sales tax on fertilizers. Exemption to machinery and equipment for the development of grain handling and storage facilities to include silos  as well. Relief in customs duty for Cool Chain Machinery.
  • Income Tax, Customs And Sales Tax exemptions under Gwadar Port Concession Agreement for operation and development of Gwadar Port and Gwadar Free Zone.
  • Zero-rating of five export oriented sectors. specified items for these sectors and the purchase of energy i.e. electricity, gas, furnace oil and coal by the five export-oriented, have been subjected to zero-rate of sales tax.
  • Various tax credits including tax credits under section 65B, 65D and 65E and enhancement of tax credit for employment generation are proposed to be increased. Period for these credits are also proposed to be extended. Deductable allowance for education and tax credit for health insurance is also proposed to be introduced.
  • Concessions of CD for Dairy, Livestock & Poultry Sectors from 5% to 2%.
  • Concessions of CD for Fish Farming, fish feed pellet (floating type) machines from 5% to 2%, fish / shrimp feed 10% & 20% to 0%.
  • Exemption of sales tax on import of Laptops and PCs.
  • Exclusion of Second hand and Worn Clothing from further tax levy.

Revenue Measures

  • Super tax was levied for the tax year 2015 to meet revenue needs for certain unforeseen expenditure by the government. Since the circumstances still persist, it is being extended for tax year 2016.
  • A final tax is being imposed on builders and land developers on the basis of per unit area.
  • It is proposed to extend the holding period for taxation of capital gain on sale of immovable property from two years to five years to be charged at uniform rate of tax of 10%.
  • For persons registered with provincial sales tax authorities , it is proposed that an advance tax at 3% of turnover of non-filer service providers be collected by provincial ST authorities along with their sales tax returns.
  • It is proposed to withdraw zero-rating on milk and fat filled milk. Zero-rating on preparations for infant use proposed to be retained.
  • In order to maintain neutrality it is proposed that Minimum tax may be charged on companies declaring gross loss.
  • It is proposed that minimum tax @ 1% of turnover may be made payable by Individuals and AOPs having turnover exceeding ten million rupees.
  • It is proposed to withdraw zero-rating on stationery items and their inputs.
  • Continuing with the policy of differential taxation for filer and non-filer, various sections are included with higher withholding tax rates for those not filing income tax returns
  • Enhancement of rates of Federal Excise Duty on cigarettes. The rates of FED on cigarettes are proposed to be increased on a bi-annual basis
  • Enhancement of Federal Excise Duty on Aerated Waters to 11.5% of retail price.
  • It is proposed to replace the current regime with fixed rate basis and to charge FED on cement on fixed rate basis @ Rs. 1/ kg.
  • It is proposed to replace this Federal Excise Duty on sugar with levy of sales tax at reduced sales tax rate of 8%.
  • Inclusion of mineral/bottled water in the Third Schedule to the Sales Tax Act, 1990, so that the tax is charged on the basis of retail price.
  • Enhancement of fixed rate basis on steel sector, ship breakers and steel melters.
  • Increase in the rate of sales tax on import of Mobile Phones.
 
June 01, 2016 (PR No. 1650)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review Urea prices in the country

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting on Wednesday to take stock of Urea prices in the country. The meeting discussed measures aimed at reduction in Urea prices in line with instructions given by the Prime Minister.

The Finance Minister highlighted the challenges that the agricultural sector, particularly small farmers are facing presently in the context of decline in international prices of commodities and higher cost of production. The Finance Minister impressed upon the Urea Industry to reduce their prices in line with the reduction in price of imported Urea. The price reduction will increase off take of Urea in the country leading to enhancement in farm productivity and higher growth of agricultural sector. He assured that the Government is considering to provide relief to farmers in Urea prices and the fertilizer industry is also required to contribute to this end in larger national interest.  The representatives of the Urea Industry agreed to consider Government’s request.

The meeting among others was attended by Federal Minister for National Food Security &Research, Mr. Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, Secretaries of Ministries concerned, senior officials of provincial agriculture departments  and  senior executives of  fertilizer industry.

 
June 01, 2016 (PR No. 1649)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting of ECC

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet this afternoon at the Prime Minister’s Office.

ECC considered and approved the payment of salaries for 7 months’ (November to May 2016) to the employees of Heavy Mechanical Complex. The amount was approved by the Committee on humanitarian grounds as the Holy month of Ramadan is approaching.

Ministry of Water and Power also presented the Pakistan Energy Sector Reform-Quarterly Progress Report of Development Policy Operations from January to March 2016 for the formal approval by the ECC. The purpose of this report is to detail the steps being taken to attain the overall objectives and goals of the GoP set under National Energy Policy 2013 and to develop an efficient and consumer oriented electric power system that meets the needs of its people and is sustainable and affordable.  The Report highlights that the company wise T&D losses during the period of July–March 2015-16 have reduced to 16.3% as compared to 17.6% during the same period last year, indicting 1.3% decrease. Company wise overall recovery ratio has been 94.3% as compared to 88.5% during the same period last year showing an overall improvement of 6%. There was a substantial decrease in customers’ complaints of wrong reading and over-billing. Meter readers are compelled to record 100% reading due to image printing. Excess charging at the will of the meter reader will no more be possible now. The ECC was also briefed that the Report has been uploaded on the website of the Ministry of W&P.

ECC also extended the date for reduced withholding tax rate of 0.4% for non-filers under section 236p of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001, up to 30th June 2016.

 
June 01, 2016 (PR No. 1648)

15th General Assembly Meeting of COMSTECH, Islamabad - Finance Minister's Speech

Ambassador M. Naeem Khan, Assistant Secretary General, OIC

Excellency   Mr. Iyad Ameen Madani,
Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation;

Your Excellency Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali,
President of Islamic Development Bank;

Rana Tanvir Hussain, Federal Minister for Science & Technology;

Diplomats/Excellencies;

Dr. Shaukat Hameed Khan, Coordinator General, COMSTECH;

 Rapporteur General;

Distinguished Delegates;

Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen;

Media Friends

Assalam-O-Alaikum and Good Afternoon!

It is indeed a pleasure for me to be part of the Concluding  session of the  15th - General Assembly of the OIC Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH). Your good wishes for successful surgery and speedy recovery for Prime Minister of Pakistan, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif were conveyed to him who asked me to convey his sincere thanks to you all.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

We are living in an era where new scientific discoveries and technological advancement continue to transform our lives, in ways not  known before, both in terms of their speed and import.  From the industrial revolution we have moved to the information revolution, which among other aspects, brought with itself unprecedented levels of connectivity between people and nations. This has completely  transformed the way people organize their work and interact with each other. Today, we stand at the threshold of yet another defining era, where we are experimenting with artificial intelligence, new materials, nano-technologies, 3-D printing, new transportation systems, inter-stellar travel and new treatments based on stem cells and the decoding of individual genomes. These technological breakthroughs are anticipated to have a profound impact on the socio-economic scenario. This, therefore, is the age of both opportunities and challenges.

With the benefit of hindsight, one can say with a fair degree of confidence that nations at the forefront of these scientific and technological breakthroughs would be playing a leading role in the comity of nations, both in the political as well as the economic spheres. Unfortunately, the Muslim world has lagged behind discernibly in contributing to these scientific advancements. It is, therefore,  imperative that we take collective cognizance of this situation and come out with innovative solutions to bridge this deficit. We need to adopt  a multi-disciplinary approach for this purpose, where besides laying more emphasis on research and innovation per se, we also need to have a fresh look on the legal frameworks and  institutional structures that are responsible for the promotion  of science, technology and innovation, in our respective countries.

Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates!

 In this backdrop, the deliberations held in this Session of the  General Assembly assume special significance.  It is, therefore satisfying to note that  COMSTECH has presented the 10 year Plan of Action, for the Development of Science and Technology in the member states, in this forum. I have been told that this Plan has been prepared in close consultation with eminent scientists from several member states. The Plan  envisages undertaking  collaborative efforts towards building Scientific and Technological capabilities in member states for meeting basic needs such as clean drinking water, health technologies, energy, agricultural productivity as well as some “big” science projects which are critical for the future advancement of Science and Technology in Member States. I congratulate COMSTECH on the preparation of this comprehensive document, which also includes a strategy for its implementation, through mutual collaboration amongst member states.

I am pleased to note that under the Ibne-Haitham Programme, named after the great Muslim scientist, whose pioneer work laid the foundations of modern optics, an endeavor is being made to increase the mobility of  scientists between OIC member states, through offering  scholarships and research grants to young scientists, who wish to study in Centers of Excellence in OIC states. This programme is expected to build closer ties and better relationships between our people in general and the scientific community in particular and would lead to knowledge transfer and capacity building of less developed states. With a view to supplement  this positive initiative by COMSTECH, I would like to announce here the award of 100 scholarships per year for students  of least developed states for graduate studies in Pakistan in the fields of science, agriculture, engineering and medicine. Pakistan would  further offer  scholarships for training of technicians from  least developed OIC states in our training Institutes.

I would like to share with this august forum that currently we are planning to set up a Synchrotron facility for multidisciplinary research. In addition, we will be pleased to facilitate the establishment of a medium size astronomical telescope in Pakistan for common use of OIC scientists. It is my firm belief that the only way forward for us is to work together as a cohesive team and pool our intellectual and physical resources to build collective competence and capabilities in advanced fields of science and technology. We need to resolve to tap all available financial and human resources to execute the comprehensive 10 year S&T plan, formulated by COMSTECH, for the future progress and prosperity of our nations. This is a strategic imperative for our survival and  progress.  I would avail this opportunity to re-iterate Pakistan’s commitment to support COMSTECH in coordinating the collective efforts of the Muslim Ummah to pursue this goal. This would also help us in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals agreed upon by member countries of the United Nations.

In the end I wish to thank all the delegates, especially those from abroad who have travelled to Islamabad to participate in the Conference to make valuable contributions. We are indeed grateful to all of you. Heartfelt facilitation to Federal Minister for Science & Technology, Secretary, Science & Technology and their team

I wish our honorable guests a safe journey back home and all the success in their future endeavours.

 
 
 
 
 

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