Press Releases/Media
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August 31 , 2015 (PR No. 1280)

Finance Minister reviewed ITTMS

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Monday chaired the 5th meeting of the Steering Committee on Integrated Transit Trade Management System.

The Chairman FBR, Tariq Bajwa informed that the special committee which had been formed to examine the project cost has completed its study and the cost has been revised downwards to US$ 300 million.

Based on the deliberations on the subject among the stakeholders he further proposed that competitive bidding for Chamman and Torkham Border Crossing Points (BCP) may be held between NLC and FWO. For Wagha, international competitive bidding may continue as planned, the Chairman FBR added.  The Steering Committee after detailed deliberations approved these proposals.

The Minister asked the chief Coordinator, FBR to impress upon all relevant agencies to expedite work on the ITTMS project and said that proposal on the project should be submitted to the ECNEC in its forthcoming meeting for final approval.

ITTMS, it may be added aims to improve trade facilitation at key border crossing points and envisages to help Pakistan become a hub of trade activities in the region.

Commerce Minister, Khurram Dastgir Khan, Country Director, ADB Werner Liepach and senior officials of various ministries and departments attended the meeting.

 
August 31 , 2015 (PR No. 1279)

Finance Minister reviewed arrangements for PMIC

Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting today at the Finance Division to review the proposal for the establishment of Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company.

Secretary Finance Dr. Waqar Masood Khan briefed the Minister about the proposal. He said that according to estimates given by DFID, Pakistan’s micro financing needs will grow manifold by 2018 from the current Rs. 18 billion catered to by PPAF (Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund). 

Secretary Finance also briefed the Minister that DFID in collaboration with KFW is offering to contribute financial resources for microfinance operations under the proposed new Non-Bank Financial Institution under the name Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company.

The Minister for Finance said that for the development of a country a financially vibrant and active middle class is necessary. Moreover, it is the goal of the PML-N government to help the poor segments of the society in the National Financial Inclusion Strategy launched in May 2015.

The Finance Minister directed SECP and Finance Division to thoroughly examine all the details of the proposal and come up with concrete recommendations in this regard.

 
August 30 , 2015 (PR No. 1278)

ADB Country Director met with Finance Minister

Country Director, Asian Development Bank, Werner Liepach  met Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here.

He apprised the Minister about the forthcoming visit of Director General ADB, Mr. Sean O'Sullivan to Pakistan. 

He also briefed the Minister about his recent visit to ADB Headquarters at Manila and conveyed to him greetings from the President of ADB. He said ADB highly appreciated the economic achievements by Pakistan and lauded Pakistan's endeavours to consolidate the economic gains of the last two years.

There was also discussion on expediting the ADB funded Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) in view of the under-construction Torkham-Jalalabad Highway. Other ADB financed projects were also discussed.

The Finance Minister appreciated ADB's continued support for economic and infrastructure development in Pakistan and said he looked forward to the visit of ADB's Director General to Pakistan. Senior officials of the Finance Division also attended the meeting.

 
August 29 , 2015 (PR No. 1277)

Finance Minister reviewd PIA performance

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, here on Saturday chaired a high level meeting to review financial performance of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in the light of the steps taken by the new management and the drop in oil prices.

The Minister appreciated that 88% of PIA’s flights were now on time and that operational losses had been turned into operational profit through dedicated efforts. The Minister lauded PIA’s performance and advised the PIA authorities to keep up the spirit of work in future also. He said that as national flag carrier it was expected of PIA to ensure quality travel and cargo services. He said the government would support all efforts aimed at improvement in PIA’s services.

SAPM on Aviation, Capt Shujaat Azim, Secretary Finance Dr. Waqar Masood Khan and other senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, Aviation Division and PIA were present in the meeting

 
August 29 , 2015 (PR No. 1276)

Finance Minister visited AGP Office

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, has directed the National Bank of Pakistan to withdraw its court petition and prepare for an audit by the Auditor General of Pakistan.  

The Minister, who chaired a briefing session at the Auditor General’s Office on Saturday, said this audit was necessary for fulfilling the objectives of transparency and complete accountability as NBP was a fully state owned entity. The Minister specially referred to 18th amendment which had enhanced Auditor General’s powers for conducting audit and maintaining financial discipline.

The Minister also expressed concern over the reports about ghost pensioners. He ordered formation of a special committee comprising representatives from the Controller General of Accounts and the AGP Offices to review the system of pensions, point out malpractices and suggest measures for revamping it. He said the committee should also come up with proposals for simplification of pension procedures and facilitation of the pensioners. The Committee, the Minister said, has 15-days time to come up with its recommendations. “I wish to see an end to pensioners queuing up in long lines to receive pensions. They should receive pensions just like someone receives regular salary”, the Minister remarked.

The Minister in his address to the senior officers of the Auditor General's office on the occasion said that effective working of institutions like the AGP could help curb financial irregularities and ensure financial discipline among government institutions. He called upon the Auditor General to make the system of audit as effective and robust as possible.

Auditor General of Pakistan, Rana Assad Amin, briefed the Finance Minister about the current profile of the AGP Office. He said capacity building of audit and accounts personnel and elimination of corrupt practices was among the top priorities currently. He apprised the Minister that all heads of field audit offices having ill repute had been replaced and efforts were afoot to introduce quality audit practices. He said the AGP office would extend full support to the Government for maintaining financial discipline, promoting accountability and ensuring good governance. He said the uneasiness among the officers due to proposed bifurcation of Audit and Accounts services had been removed.  He also shared with the Minister information about audits conducted by the AGP in FY14-15. He said every year, through audit, the AGP effects recovery of an average of Rs. 48 billion.

He said the AGP has conducted audits of World Bank, DFID, ADB, JICA and other donor-funded projects, winning acclaim. The number of foreign funded projects audited in 2014-15 was 133, he said. He also briefly touched upon the AGP’s strategic plan 2015-19 and said an MoU between USAID and AGP for technical assistance in capacity building of human resource had been signed. Discussions with USAID and World Bank were in process for financial assistance of USD 10 million through budgetary mechanism, Rana Assad added.

The Finance Minister assured full support to the AGP for efforts in ensuring financial discipline and removal of corrupt practices.

Later, the Minister performed soft opening of the additional block at of Audit House. Revised PC-1 for this block is under process and on receipt of funds  the additional block would be duly completed with installation of all the necessary equipment and machinery. It would help accommodate various audit offices from different areas of the city.

 
August 28 , 2015 (PR No. 1275)

Finance Minister chaired Monetary and Fiscal Policies Coordination Board Meeting

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the Monetary and Fiscal Policies Coordination Board meeting here.

The Minister emphasised to have a more broad based inclusive growth and better coordination between the monetary and fiscal policies in view of rapidly changing global economic environment. He particularly emphasised on enhancing the exports and stressed importance of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Production and Exports in identifying steps and measures which would enhance exports.

He said that government is cognizant of the declining trend in exports and will take all possible measures to reverse the trend.

The Secretary Finance briefed that Macroeconomic indicators continued to show positive growth. Fiscal Year 2014-15 registered at 4.24% growth which is the highest growth in the last seven years. This is the second year that GDP growth remained above 4%. A number of measures have been taken in the budget for export promotion. 

During July 2015-16 current account deficit has narrowed to US $ 159 million as compared to $ 820 million last year. The remittances during outgoing fiscal year 2014-15 witnessed remarkable growth of above 16% as compared to last year and reached US$ 18.4 billion.

The foreign direct investment remained subdued but has started improving as in July of the current fiscal year 2015-16. This will be further supplemented through CPEC investment.

The inflation has been contained in 2014-15 at 4.53% against 8.62% of last year. During July of 2015-16 the headline inflation increased by 1.8% as compared to 7.9% of last year. The foreign exchange reserve continued its upward trend and reached to above $18 billion.

The SBP briefed the meeting about the money supply, net domestic and foreign assets as well as the decisions in July to keep the SBP target (Policy) rate unchanged at 6.5 percent. This decision was preceded by a reduction of 100 bps in ceiling rate to 7.0 percent in May, 2015.

The Finance Minister expressed the hope that improvement in electricity and gas supply as well as lower policy rate will bring further improvement in productivity and growth. “Going forward, we should put all our efforts to gear up the exports and address the issues hampering its growth”, he said.  

The meeting was attended by Minister for Commerce, Deputy Governor SBP, Secretary Finance along with renowned economists Dr. Ishrat Hussain Director IBA and Dr. Asad Zaman Vice Chancellor PIDE and on special invitation Secretaries of Ministries of Food, Security& Research and Industries attended the meeting.

 
August 28 , 2015 (PR No. 1274)

Cabinet Sub-Committee on Production & Export Meets

The second meeting of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Production and Export was held here Friday. Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting.

The Finance Minister at the outset of the meeting underscored the need for identifying and undertaking urgent measures to boost production and exports. The relevant ministries were directed to immediately finalize their short term targets with corresponding action plans for presentation to the Committee in its next meeting. In continuation of the proceedings of the previous meeting Ministry of Commerce presented the final version of the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STFP) 2015-18. The Committee was briefed that short term measures will have product and market focus to attain results in short term. The meeting was informed that the plan of action has been put into a state of readiness and as soon as the Policy is approved, its implementation will be carried out immediately. The Finance Minister while endorsing in principle, proposals included in STPF 2015-18, directed Ministry of Commerce to solicit final approval from the Prime Minister.

The meeting also took stock of the critical issues confronting the agriculture sector including production constraints, commodity pricing, regulatory framework and input costs. The Committee directed Ministry of National Food Security and Research to come up with proposals in consultation with Provincial Governments and relevant federal ministries and present to the Committee in the next meeting.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) gave a briefing to the Committee on export led growth models focusing on Malaysia, South Korea, Turkey and Singapore. It was noted that value addition, diversification, technology and Research & Development (R&D), ease of doing business were key elements to boost exports. It was also highlighted by the SBP that key constraints on this score currently being faced by Pakistan related to lack of R&D and technology initiatives, concentration in traditional products, limited resource availability, fragmentation and inadequate investment in the infrastructure etc. The Finance Minister while appreciating the SBPs presentation desired that the “Committee on Ease of Doing Business in Pakistan” may hold its meeting immediately and present recommendations at the earliest.

Members of the Committee including Minister for Commerce, Khurram Dastgir Khan, Minister for Planning & Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Bosan as well as Parliamentary Secretary for Finance attended the meeting. Secretaries of Finance, Industries and Production, Commerce, National Food Security and Research, Chief Statistician, Member FBR and other senior officers of relevant ministries were also present.

 
August 28 , 2015 (PR No. 1273)

Steering Committee meeting for Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs) Meets

A Special Steering Committee meeting for FATA Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs) Emergency Recovery Project was held today at Economic Affairs Division. Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting.

Speaking on the occasion, the Finance Minister emphasized that the success of Operation “Zarb-e-Azb” depended upon the well coordinated efforts of all stakeholders. He stated that the total cost of the operation was US$ 1.9 billion, of which the cost of rehabilitation is US$ 800 million; US$ 530 million is for Security enhancement and the operational cost is US$ 270 million of which the Government had disbursed half of the amount and would continue to support till the successful completion of the operation. Similarly Government has also spent US$300 million for wheat subsidy and other TDP related expenses.

The Minister was pleased to note that all the stakeholders which include Federal Government, FATA, SAFRON and security forces had worked diligently and in a coordinated manner in order to achieve objectives of the operation for safe return of FATA TDPs. He appreciated the efforts of World Bank for financing of US$ 75 million for cash transfer support to FATA TDPs. He directed NADRA to leave no stone unturned in preparation of software and mechanism that would pass the tests of all international standards of transparency as this was the hallmark of the Government.

Secretary, EAD informed that for rehabilitation cost of US$ 800 million, donors such as China, IDB and Italy are already forthcoming with their assistance, the modalities are being finalized. Other donors will also be mobilized in this regard.

Finance Minister also inaugurated the Operations Unit for the Temporarily Displaced Persons at the Economic Affairs Division and issued instructions that the work of return and rehabilitation of TDPs must be completed by the end of 2016 as planned.

The Minister appreciated the efforts of the World Bank for the financial support and congratulated EAD for setting up the TDPs Operation Unit with the help of Islamic Development Bank. This unit will serve as a focal body for not only implementing FATA TDPs Emergency Recovery Project but also mobilizing and coordinating other donors’ assistance.  

Senior officials of Economic Affairs Division, Finance Division, Planning & Development, SAFRON, FATA, NADRA, S&M Secretariat and Country Director World Bank attended the meeting.

 
August 28 , 2015 (PR No. 1272)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting on IT Issues

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting at the Finance Division on devising a mechanism to resolve issues of the Ministry of Information Technology regarding outstanding payments to Universal Service Fund. Minister of State for Information Technology Ms. Anusha Rehman Khan was also present in the meeting.

Auditor General of Pakistan, Rana Assad Amin briefed the Minister that on the request of the Ministry of IT the outstanding issues regarding payments to USF were taken up on emergency basis and a mechanism was devised that was fair, transparent and efficient at the same time to resolve the issue on permanent basis.

Minister of State for IT Ms. Anusha Rehman Khan thanked the Finance Minister and the new AGP Rana Assad Amin for looking into the matter that was lying unresolved since long.

The Finance Minister also directed Mr. Assad Amin to simplify procedures and processes at AGPR in order to improve the image of the institution and to restore the trust of the people in the working of this important Government department.

The meeting was also attended by Mr. Azmat Ranjha, Secretary IT, SA to Finance Minister Mr. Tariq Pasha, Joint Secretary to Finance Minister Mr. Awais Manzur Controller General of Accounts Mr. Asif Ali, AGPR Hafiz Tahir and Federal Treasury Officer Mr. Tassawar Hussain.

 
August 26 , 2015 (PR No. 1271)

Finance Minister has telephonic conversation with Deputy PM Of Turkey

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar had a telephone conversation with the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Ali Babacan Wednesday evening.

They discussed matters relating to economic cooperation in general and bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in particular. They were pleased to share their strategies for forming a joint constituency in collaboration with other member states and agreed in principle to work together in a joint constituency.

The two leaders also exchanged views on the upcoming operational policies of the new Bank and agreed to align their policy and position in this regard. They expressed satisfaction over cooperation of delegations of the two countries during the formation of AIIB.

The Finance Minister of Pakistan and the Deputy PM Turkey agreed to continue and enhance cooperation between the two countries.

 
August 26 , 2015 (PR No. 1270)

US Ambassador Richard G. Olson paid a farewell call on Finance Minister

US Ambassador Richard G. Olson paid a farewell call on Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday.

The Finance Minister lauded the services of the outgoing US envoy for promoting Pak-US relations and appreciated his positive and cooperative attitude during his tenure in Pakistan.

Ambassador Richard Olson expressed gratitude for the cooperation he received in undertaking his professional obligations in Pakistan. He especially lauded Finance Minister’s endeavours to forge broad based bilateral economic relations, in particular holding meetings of Pak-US Economic Working Group. He highly appreciated the financial stability and remarkable economic turnaround that Pakistan has achieved during the past two years under the leadership of Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif as well as the Finance Minister.

Minister Dar wished Ambassador Richard Olson all the best in his future diplomatic assignments.

 
August 26 , 2015 (PR No. 1269)

Finance Minister reviewed working of Tax Reforms Commission

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday approved three months extension (upto 15th November 2015) for the Tax Reforms Commission (TRC) to complete its task. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, Haroon Akhtar was also present.

The Chairman TRC, Masood Naqvi briefed the Minister about the working of the Commission and informed that most of the areas had been covered barring a few sales tax and customs related issues. He emphasized the need for developing a fool proof mechanism to check cross border smuggling with inputs from all stakeholders.  

Chairman FBR apprised the Minister about efforts to revamp and upscale the IT system of the FBR for better tax/revenue management. He also briefed the Minister about the tax audits conducted by the FBR during the past four to five years. There was detailed discussion on ways and means to improve the system of audit and TRC was asked to come up with proposals in this regard.

The Minister asked the Chairman TRC to prioritize its recommendations for effective implementation. He said the real issue is that of implementation and this time around we would make all out efforts to ensure that recommendations of the TRC are put into practice for benefit of both the tax/revenue system as well as the tax payers.            

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance, FBR and senior members of TRC attended the meeting.

 
August 25 , 2015 (PR No. 1268)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting to review the progress regarding Energy Sector Reforms

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday chaired a meeting to review the progress regarding Energy Sector Reforms.

The Minister on this occasion was informed about finalization of Circular Debt Plan by Ministry of Water and Power.

The Minister appreciated the efforts of officials of Ministry of Water and Power and Ministry of Finance for reforms being introduced to strengthen and revamp the power sector. This, he said, would facilitate negotiations leading to disbursement of funds from development partners for energy sector.

The Minister directed officials concerned to expedite ongoing reform process and complete it by 30th August 2015.

Senior officials of Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Water and Power attended the meeting.

 
August 25 , 2015 (PR No. 1267)

British High Commissioner met with Finance Minister

British High Commissioner, Philip Barton has affirmed continued British Government’s support and cooperation for social sector projects in Pakistan.

The British Envoy, accompanied by Richard Montgomery, DFID Country Director in Pakistan met Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar and exchanged views with him on bilateral economic cooperation including DFID’s  financing for BISP (Income Support Progrmame).

The High Commissioner said that the recent visit to Pakistan by Minister for International Development, Desmond Swayne further enhanced Britain’s interest in economic assistance programmes for Pakistan. Richard Montgomery remarked that Desmond Swayne while sharing views about his visit to Pakistan said that he had taken a positive image of Pakistan and was highly impressed by economic achievements of the country.

DFID Country Director also drew Finance Minister’s attention to the role of BISP. He appreciated the Rs 5 billion increase in the BISP allocation as announced in the FY 2015-16 budget, as well as enhancement in BISP’s outreach.

The British High Commissioner appreciated Government’s efforts for securing peace and lauded the achievements made in the war on terror. He said there was overall visible improvement in the law and order situation. The Minister said the government had a strong resolve to restore complete normalcy and added there would be no compromise regarding the ongoing operation against terrorists and extortionists.

Finance Minister also shared views with Philip Barton on Prime Minister’s likely visit to the USA and participation in the Annual UN General Assembly session.

Senior Finance Ministry officials attended the meeting.

 
August 23 , 2015 (PR No. 1266)

Pak, Afghan Finance Ministers discuss economic cooperation, JEC

Finance Minister of Afghanistan, Mr. Eklil Hakimi made a telephone call to Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar Sunday morning. 

Both the Finance Ministers discussed various issues related to Pak- Afghan economic cooperation. They also spoke about the possibility of holding the next Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Economic Commission meeting in Islamabad in the last quarter of this year.

The meeting of the Joint Economic Commission, it may be added was initially planned for end of August. However, the Afghan Finance Minister requested for holding it in the later part of the year as the dates clashed with the visit to Afghanistan by the President of Turkmenistan. 

The Economic Affairs Division will coordinate with the Embassy of Afghanistan for finalizing the dates of the next meeting of the Joint Economic Commission.

 
August 23 , 2015 (PR No. 1265)

Finance Minister reviewed performance of Privatization Division

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here chaired a meeting to review performance of the Privatization Division.

The Secretary Privatization Division, Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera briefed the Finance Minister about the performance of the Division and also apprised the Minister about the divestment activities that it had already undertaken and intended to undertake in future.

The Minister acknowledged the achievements of the Privatization Division and emphasized that in all matters of divestment, the principle of complete transparency and accountability must be upheld. He also directed Secretary Privatization Division to share with him reports about performance of the Division on regular basis.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Privatization Division attended the meeting.

 
August 22 , 2015 (PR No. 1264)

Advisor to Prime Minister on aviation met with Finance Minister

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar was here on Saturday briefed about efforts being undertaken to improve passenger and cargo services of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

Advisor to Prime Minister on Aviation, Shujaat Azeem and Secretary Aviation, Muhammad Ali Gardezi held a meeting with the Finance Minister. They informed the Finance Minister about the steps taken in the light of the new Aviation Policy to upgrade travel, cargo and other associated services of the national flag carrier to bring them in line with international standards.

The Advisor to Prime Minister also apprised the Finance Minister about strength of PIA’s existing fleet and need for induction of more aircrafts to enhance quality of air travel. He said it was his resolve and aim to turn aviation into an effective revenue earning sector of the economy.

The Finance Minister appreciated the active role being played by Mr. Shujaat Azim and his team for development of the aviation sector. He said it was the vision of the present government to restore PIA to the level where it could not only match but  surpass its past glory.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Aviation Division attended the meeting.

 
August 21 , 2015 (PR No. 1263)

Cabinet Sub-Committee On Production and Exports Meets

The first meeting of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Production and Exports was held today in the Ministry of Finance under the chairmanship of the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar. The members of the Committee including Ministers for Commerce, Planning& Development, Industries and Production, Parliamentary Secretaries of Finance and Industries & Production attended the meeting. Governor, SBP, Secretaries of Finance, Commerce, Petroleum, Water & Power, National Food Security and Research, Textiles and Chairman FBR were also present.

The Finance Minister in his opening remarks stated that the sub-committee was formed to accord greater attention to exports and related production sector. The Committee will enable an exclusive focus on these sectors to meet their special needs in the evolving global market conditions. The Finance Minister emphasized the member ministries to come with steps and measures, which could enhance exports in the short term, on one hand, and deepen the orientation of economy toward exports, on the other. He the short-terms measures should be prepared immediately while structural issues can be formulated with through broaden consultations within and outside the government.

The members appreciated the constitution of the committee and hoped that it will enable the government to undertake the required work for positioning the country to meet the challenges in these sectors.

It was the general consensus of all the participants that agriculture was not only the mainstay of the national economy but also the basis of 90% exports of the country and hence agriculture sector should be accorded top priority when devising the strategy for enhancement of exports.

The Secretary Commerce presented the draft Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2015-18. The policy builds on the progress achieved during the previous two policies covering the period 2009-15. It covers all key areas of support needed to create exportable surplus and on pillars that would enable producers to achieve high export targets.

After extensive deliberations, the meeting advised the Ministry of Commerce to further refine the policy in the light of Committee’s discussion and complete the consultation process within the government expeditiously for early finalization of the policy.

The Committee also decided to hold its meetings fortnightly to ensure that the policies for production and export are formulated and their implementation is regularly monitored.

 
August 20 , 2015 (PR No. 1262)

7th Meeting Of SAARC Finance Ministers Concluded - Next Meeting to Be Hosted By Pakistan

Pakistan on Thursday received the honour to host the 8th meeting of the SAARC Finance Ministers. Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar during course of the 7th meeting held here offered to hold the next meeting in Pakistan which was approved by all the participants with consensus.

The Finance Minister in his country statement at the 7th SAARC Finance Ministers’ Meeting, at the outset, paid  condolences for the loss of precious lives and properties of the people of Nepal in the recent earthquake. He said the people and Government of Pakistan wished to be among the first ones to reach out to the Nepalese friends, and resolve to remain associated in rehabilitation and reconstruction work.

The Minister said the South Asian region is endowed with vast natural and human resources. He said global trade statistics reveal that while the volume of trade among the SAARC states and the rest of the world is increasing, intra-regional trade remains far below its potential. We have, therefore, to evolve mechanism to incentivize formal trade among the SAARC member countries. “In this context, I would like to re-emphasize the need for a gradual reduction and eventual elimination of Tariffs, Para-tariffs and Non-tariff barriers so as to allow freer trade amongst the SAARC states”, the Minister remarked.

The Minister said nothing would promote regional integration more than projects of regional connectivity, not limited merely to enable movement of goods and services but also sharing of natural resources and enhancing the proximity of regional countries to access those resources. He added that in this regard, Pakistan is very keen to build the Inter-state pipeline known as Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI). This would be an example of affording enhanced proximity of the member states to natural resources of the region. Yet another project of regional integration we have undertaken relates to the transmission of electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan known as CASA-1000, which will provide 1300 MW of electricity, Dar stated. He said more importantly we are working with China on the concept of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which would open up the central Asian region by building roads, railways and, consequently, the enhanced trade potential of the region.

Ishaq Dar went on to say that having achieved satisfactory macro-economic stability, currently we are promoting higher inclusive economic growth leading to more job opportunities in Pakistan and would happily share our experience with other member countries. The Minister said promotion of peace in the region is very important. Pakistan is contributing to regional peace and we have given a very high cost both in blood and treasure. We have sacrificed tens of thousands of precious human lives in the war on terror which has also resulted in economic losses of over US$ 100 billion, t he Minister said.

Minister Dar said Capital flows especially Foreign Direct Investment across SAARC region can accelerate economic growth through technology transfer and skills acquisition. In order to boost intra-regional capital flows, the first step would be to liberalize our financial sector regimes even further, he added.

The Minster on behalf of Pakistan delegation, extended heartfelt thanks to Government and people of Nepal for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements made for the 7th SAARC Finance Ministers meeting despite recent earthquakes in Nepal.

Earlier in the morning, Mr. Sushil Koirala, Prime Minister of Nepal inaugurated the 7th Meeting by lighting of traditional oil lamp. Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat, Minister of Finance, Nepal presented the Welcome remarks while  the Inaugural address was delivered by hon'ble Mr. Sushil Koirala. Heads of various delegations thereafter had official photograph session with the Prime Minister and later made a joint call on him.

 
August 20 , 2015 (PR No. 1261)

7th meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers Conference VOTE OF THANKS By Finance Minister

I, on behalf of the delegation of Pakistan and all other SAARC delegates, would like to sincerely thank the Government of Nepal, especially the Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Planning Commission, for the excellent arrangements made to host this important meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers and for the warm hospitality that we have received during our stay in this beautiful city of Kathmandu.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend you for your able leadership in guiding the deliberations for the fruitful outcome of this important meeting and conducting the proceedings very smoothly.

I also avail this opportunity to thank the Secretary General SAARC and his efficient team for the preparation of necessary documents for the meeting as well as for the secretariat support provided.

I also express my gratitude to all SAARC Finance Ministers and delegates for their active participation and the spirit of solidarity shown today to make this region stronger, with peace and prosperity for the people of the region. 

In conclusion, I wish all delegates safe journey back home and wish to welcome you all in Pakistan next year for the 8th Finance Ministers meeting.

I thank you all.

 
August 20 , 2015 (PR No. 1260)

7th meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers Conference COUNTRY STATEMENT By Finance Minister

Honourable Chairman,
Excellencies,
Honourable SAARC Secretary General,
Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Assalam Alaikum and very good morning!

It is an honor for me to represent Pakistan in the 7th SAARC Finance Ministers meeting. I would like to pay my condolences for the loss of precious lives and properties of the people of Nepal in the recent earthquakes. The Government and the people of Pakistan are with the people of Nepal in these tragic and testing moments. The people and Government of Pakistan wished to be among the first ones to reach out to our Nepalese friends, and resolve to remain associated in rehabilitation and reconstruction work. We can fully empathize with the situation in Nepal as we had witnessed a similar catastrophe back in 2005.

Mr. Chairman,

I congratulate you on assuming the Chairmanship of this prestigious forum and I also thank in his absence for reasons explained by His Excellency High Commissioner of Sri Lanka the outgoing Finance Minister of Sri Lanka for providing able leadership in the previous years.

Mr. Chairman,

As we all understand, our region is endowed with vast natural and human resources. Our rich heritage and our combined resources lend us vast potential for development and prosperity. We can ensure the socio-economic uplift of our region by further promoting regional cooperation and collaboration. Just to cite one instance, it is a pity that most of the SAARC member states are facing power shortages despite the fact that the region has a lot of potential to generate cheap and clean energy. This could serve as a constant reason and reminder of the need to explore more opportunities and possibilities for enhanced cooperation through wider economic integration across the region.

Global trade statistics reveal that while the volume of trade between SAARC states and the rest of the world is increasing, intra-regional trade remains far below its potential. We have, therefore, to evolve mechanism to incentivize formal trade among the SAARC member countries. In this context, I would like to re-emphasize the need for a gradual reduction and eventual elimination of Tariffs, Para-tariffs and Non-tariff barriers so as to allow freer trade amongst the SAARC states. A good starting point for this could be the simplification of procedures for the issuance of SAFTA Certificates of Origin. Work on the sensitive lists should be aimed at gradually phasing out these lists.

Mr. Chairman,

Nothing would promote regional integration more than projects of regional connectivity, not limited merely to enable movement of goods and services but also sharing of natural resources and enhancing the proximity of regional countries to access those resources. In this regard, Pakistan is very keen to build the Inter-state pipeline known as Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI). This would be an example of affording enhanced proximity of the member states to natural resources of the region. Yet another project of regional integration we have undertaken relates to the transmission of electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan known as CASA-1000, which will provide 1300 MW of electricity.

More importantly we are working with China on the concept of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which would open up the central Asian region by building roads, railways and, consequently, the enhanced trade potential of the region. There are challenging opportunities to connect the member countries through all modes of connectivity, such as roads, air, railways, telecommunications and sea and we should not hesitate to think out-of-the-box to realize them.

Having achieved satisfactory macro-economic stability, currently we are promoting higher inclusive economic growth leading to more job opportunities in Pakistan and would happily share our experience with other member countries. Given the size of our populations and present standards of living, it is imperative that our policies promote inclusive growth. In this regard, promotion of peace in the region is equally important. Pakistan is contributing to regional peace and we have given a very high cost both in blood and treasure. We have sacrificed tens of thousands of precious human lives in the war on terror which has also resulted in economic losses of over US$ 100 billion.

I appreciate the efforts of SAARC Secretariat for conducting a study on ‘South Asian Economic Union (SAEU)’ in collaboration with the member states and with the technical and financial support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), for which we are thankful to ADB. Pakistan fully endorses the recommendations of the informal meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers held in Baku, Azerbaijan on May 3, 2015.

Mr. Chairman,

Capital flows especially Foreign Direct Investment across SAARC region can accelerate economic growth through technology transfer and skills acquisition. In order to boost intra-regional capital flows, the first step would be to liberalize our financial sector regimes even further.In this context, I would like to mention that Pakistan offers one of the most liberal foreign exchange regimes in the region. Furthermore, to strengthen support for intra-regional trade we can simplify visa requirements for the business community, liberalize procedures for banks of member states wishing to open branches in other member state, and fast-track customs clearance.

Mr. Chairman,

Before I conclude, I would like to say that if we wish to achieve peace and prosperity, raise living standards, alleviate poverty and improve quality of life of people of SAARC, and to build a stronger, happier and a developed South Asia, then we need to strive for broader collaboration between our governments, deeper integration of our commercial, financial and trading institutions, wider networking between our private sectors, and most of all, closer bonding between our peoples. This must be our immediate goal, and as peoples’ representatives, we must do all that it takes to achieve it.

As SAARC Heads of State summit will take place next year in Pakistan, I am pleased to offer to host the 8th meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers in Islamabad.

On behalf of Pakistan delegation, I extend our heartfelt thanks to Government and people of Nepal for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements made for the 7th SAARC Finance Ministers meeting despite recent earthquakes in Nepal.

I thank you all

 
August 19 , 2015 (PR No. 1259)

Responding to Anjum Ibrahim's Article "IMF's eighth review" appreared in Business Recorder on 17th August, 2015

An article “IMF’s eighth review” by Anjum Ibrahim in  Business Recorder (17th August) has stated that “under the EFF, Pakistan has completed nearly two years or around 66 percent of the program and received a total of 2.88 billion dollars, while the 23-month Stand By Arrangement (SBA) signed between the PPP government and the Fund in November 2008 led to disbursement of 7.27 billion dollars. Therefore, the PPP government completed nearly 75 percent of the program before the cessation of the SBA”.

The writer has made comparison between SBA and EFF programs. It may be noted that both the programs are totally different in terms of their structure. The SBA was a 23 month program for an amount of $7.2 billion, which was approved by their Executive Board in November, 2008 and was meant for budgetary support as well as for the Balance of Payment (BOP) and its upfront disbursement was more. The arrangement was augmented to $11.3 billion (700 percent of quota). After the completion of the 4th Review in 2010, the program was extended till 30 September, 2011. But the Program was suspended due to non implementation of some of the very significant conditions attached with the loan such as limiting fiscal deficit targets, implementation of VAT regime, finalization of amendments in legislative framework for the State Bank of Pakistan and the energy sector reforms. Therefore, the Program was suspended after merely four reviews.

The suspension of the program posed negative impact on the economy. As IBRD funding was stopped, World Bank and other international financial institutions closed the doors. International rating agencies downgraded their ratings for Pakistan. Foreign exchange reserves dropped significantly. International predictions were that Pakistan would default in June, 2014.

On the other hand, the EFF Program is for strengthening the BOP position as well as the repayment of earlier loan taken by the previous government. Pakistan has completely repaid the earlier loan. If a comparison has to be made, it is more appropriate to compare that the SBA had only completed 4 out of 7 schedule reviews which were 57 percent of the program, whereas under the EFF, 8 reviews out of 12 have been successfully completed which is 66 percent. Therefore, the EFF is much more successful a Program. Further in terms of tranches received under both the programs, it may be noted that Pakistan has received $4.3 billion out of agreed amount of $6.2 billion with present SDR rate, which comprises 69 percent and the Program is still ongoing successfully and its 4 tranches are yet to be disbursed. Conversely, only 65 percent of the total amount was disbursed under SBA.

The writer has also not given due importance to highlighting the economic conditions prevalent at the time of two Programs. When the present government came into power, it embarked on its comprehensive reform agenda to reinvigorate the economy, spur growth, maintain price stability, provide jobs to the youth and rebuild the key infrastructure of the country, which were the main feature of its manifesto. Therefore, Pakistan entered into IMF program to improve the medium-term growth outlook, provide macroeconomic stability, strengthen its reserves and Balance of Payment position and open the window for multilateral, bi-lateral foreign funding for our mega development projects.

The present IMF program is the only program that has run successfully despite having a broad based structural reforms agenda besides the standard aggregate demand management features. Never before, the country has seen such major turn-around in its economic health as has been achieved during the program. All major economic indicators have recorded remarkable improvement. One cannot find rival examples of the bold initiatives the present government has taken in making the adjustments in administered prices and new tax measures even at the risk of losing its political capital. The government did not hesitate to clear the mess it had inherited and swallowed the bitter pill of taking tough decisions only to restore the economic health of country.

Thanks to these interventions, IBRD after a gap of 3 years has allowed Pakistan to access its funding facilities. Likewise, World Bank, ADB have opened their windows.  International rating agencies have changed their outlook from stable to positive and  China and Pakistan has signed agreements worth $46bn. 

The writer has, apparently, ignored all these facts and instead of acknowledging the milestone achievements secured as a result of the reform agenda, has tried to mislead the readers by comparing the presently ongoing EFF program and the previously SBA program totally out of context.

Syed Ejaz Wasti
Economic Advisor,
Ministry of Finance

 
August 19 , 2015 (PR No. 1258)

Finance Minister proceed to Nepal, Kathmandu to attend the 7th SAARC Finance Minister's Meeting

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar arrived here Wednesday evening to attend the 7th SAARC Finance Minister’s Meeting scheduled to be held on 20th August.

On arrival at Kathmandu the Minister was warmly received by senior Nepalese and Pakistan Embassy officials.

Soon after his arrival, the Finance Minister accompanied by members of Pakistani delegation visited Hanuman Dhoka in darbari square at Kathmandu which was badly affected in the earthquake. It used to be a palace surrounded by temples and was highly revered by the Nepalese people who visited it in large numbers. Finance Minister was briefed about the scale of destruction that was caused by the earthquake. The Minister met a number of people during the short visit, conveying them warm sentiments of goodwill from the Pakistani people and said his country was always in the fore to help out the Nepalese brethren in the hour of need and would also extend all possible help in future.

Later Mr. Suraj Vaidya, Acting President of SAARC Chamber of Commerce& Industry called on Finance Minister along with prominent businessmen. Mr. Suraj Vaidya welcomed the Minister to the 7th Finance Minister’s Meeting. They had detailed discussion on enhancing trade and business cooperation between Pakistan and other SAARC countries, particularly Nepal. Minister Dar apprised Mr. Vaidya about the host of opportunities in various economic sectors in Pakistan. He said the Government of Pakistan offered a liberal investment regime which was there to be availed by prospective foreign investors. Mr. Vaidya on this occasion  also discussed with the Minister increasing role of private sector within SAARC. He thanked the Minister for help provided by Pakistan for affected people after the earthquake in Nepal. He observed that Nepal could seek help in agriculture, garments, hydro power. Acting President SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry also requested Finance Minister for resumption of PIA flight.

Both the dignitaries hoped that the SAARC Finance Ministers’ Meeting would further strengthen cooperation among the member countries.

The Minister later in the evening joined other delegates to attend Welcome Dinner hosted by Hon'ble Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat, Finance Minister of Nepal.

 
August 18 , 2015 (PR No. 1257)

Finance Minister reviewed working of Economic Advisor's Wing

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday chaired a meeting to review the working of Economic Advisor’s Wing of Finance Division.

Economic Advisor, Syed Ejaz Ali Wasti briefed the Minister about the functions and responsibilities of the Wing including the all important task of publishing the annual Pakistan Economic Survey which is widely disseminated and facilitates important research work on economic subjects. He apprised the Minister about measures that the E.A Wing was undertaking to make this document all comprehensive. He said that the E.A Wing kept a close look on important economic issues and prepared its reports/material which were utilized by various stakeholders. He said the Wing provides inputs on important policy matters besides keeping a close watch on inflationary trends.     

The Minister appreciated the role of the Economic Advisor and his team and called upon them to adopt a proactive approach in monitoring economic trends in the national and international markets. He specially emphasized monitoring of news report with a view to offset negative propaganda. He added that quality report preparation and provision of useful inputs would always come in handy in formulating economic policies.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance attended the meeting.

 
August 17 , 2015 (PR No. 1256)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting to review progress on DPC-II programme

The Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here on Monday to review progress on DPC-II programme related to energy sector development and associated release of funds by the multilaterals including the World Bank, ADB and JICA .

The Minister emphasized that completing the reform process for energy sector was significant to attain sustainability and facilitate overall development in the country. The Minster expressed satisfaction on the progress made and also appreciated the plans developed in respect of the DPC-II.

The Minister was also informed about the development of the Circular Debt plan by the Ministry of Water and Power which along with other DPC related information would be shared publically through the GoP web sites.

Senior officials of the Ministries of Water and Power and Finance attended the meeting.

 
August 17 , 2015 (PR No. 1255)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting to review progress on talks regarding withholding tax

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Monday chaired a briefing session to review progress on talks with business community regarding withholding tax as well as on other tax related matters.

It may be recalled that, as per directions of the Finance Minister to hold meaningful parleys with business community, three committees were constituted on 27th July 2015 which included Income Tax Committee, Sales Tax Committee, and Communication Committee. Meetings of these committees have since been held and the Finance Minister was updated on the discussions that have taken place.

The Chairman FBR informed that it had been clarified to traders and members of business community that the proposal of withholding tax was  discussed at the forum of Tax Reforms Commission which had members of the business community, before a decision was taken on the issue. He said it was endeavour of the government to facilitate the traders as much as possible. He said representatives of the traders had throughout the talks assured full support to the government in its efforts to broaden the tax net and to promote tax culture. The government welcomed this gesture and hoped that the business community would display the same national spirit and sense of accommodation on the issue regarding withholding tax.

The Finance Minister on this occasion appreciated FBR’s continued engagement with the businessmen, traders and representatives of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry to resolve the matter regarding withholding tax. He assured that all efforts would be made to redress the genuine grievances of the tax payers, especially the business community.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and FBR attended the meeting. 

 
August 15 , 2015 (PR No. 1254)

Finance Minister directs SECP for release of 2008 stock market crisis report

The Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) here on Saturday briefed the Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, on the progress regarding the demutualization of the stock exchanges.

The Minister was informed about the background of the demutualization of the Exchanges and requirements stipulated in the Stock Exchanges (Corporatization, Demutualization and Integration) Act, 2012 in relation to divestment of 60% shares of the stock exchanges lying in the blocked account to the Strategic Investor(s) (SIs), general public and local financial institutions.

As required under the Act, the SECP had issued directions to the Stock Exchanges for completion of the divestment process by August 25, 2015. The stock exchanges had been in contact with various international exchanges for divestment of stake to SI and/or technical collaboration. However, nothing concrete has materialized until now and no firm commitments have been received from any counterpart in this regard.

The Minister was further briefed on the international trend on integration of stock exchanges and how it helps reduce fragmentation. It was communicated that through integration, markets benefit from operational synergies, cost cutting, economies of scale and streamlined regulation. The Finance Minister asked the SECP to have the demutualization process completed without any further delay in consultations with the stakeholders. The Stock Exchanges (Corporatization, Demutualization and Integration) Act, it may be mentioned empowers the SECP to conclude the divestment process if the exchanges are unable to abide by the timeline.

He mentioned that with growing economic activity and business friendly policies of the government the capital market of the country possesses the potential of emerging as a regional investment hub. While appreciating the performance of the SECP and reforms implemented, he reiterated that providing a fair and transparent market that complies with international best standards is the key to development and the government stands with the SECP in its efforts to ensure the same.

The Chairman SECP informed that the Report regarding 2008 stock market crisis had been completed. The Finance Minister directed that in order to ensure transparency, the report should be presented in the Policy Board and, after appraisal by the Board; it should be released for information of the general public.

 
August 14 , 2015 (PR No. 1253)

Country to achieve $20 billion forex reserves mark in next few weeks: Finance Minister

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar said here Friday that the country was all set to achieve the $20 billion forex reserve mark in next few weeks. This was the good news that he was sharing with the nation on independence day, he added.

The Minister stated this while addressing an Independence Day ceremony organized at BISP Headquarters. The event was attended by large number of BISP beneficiaries, political personalities, senior government officials, representatives of national and international organizations, socialites and diplomats. The ceremony was studded with a range of activities including the launch of Demographic Directory, a documentary on BISP narrative and presentation of the BISP theme song. 

Finance Minister went on to say that all international rating agencies were now holding the Pakistani economy in high esteem. Our economy is stable and now we are embarking on the journey towards growth and economic consolidation, he added. He said the report by Jim O'Neill, a British economist had predicted Pakistan would be the 18th leading economy by 2050, but with dedicated efforts we wish to reach that stage in half the time. He said the country's forex reserves had already reached close to 19 billion dollars presently and his eyes were now all set on achieving the $20 billion mark. Inshallah we shall achieve that, the Minister said.

Talking about the BISP the Minister said he was pleased to see the programme flourish and turn into the largest social safety net, facilitating s large number of beneficiaries in the country. He said from Rs. 40 billion in June 2013, we have enhanced the BISP budget to 102 billion in 2015-16, increased the monthly stipend from Rs.1200 to Rs.1800 and now intend to attain the 5.3 million beneficiaries’ target. He said when he conceived the idea of this programme seven years ago, he envisioned that the stipends provided to the beneficiaries would improve the most vulnerable people’s lives and help them attain health and educational facilities. When PML (N) came to power in 2013, he gave clear instructions on running the programme in an efficient and transparent manner. He said he had directed the BISP management to make all payments through technology based mechanisms and today more than 94% of the beneficiaries are receiving payments through debit cards, smart cards and mobile phones. The doors of the banks had been opened to the poorest of the poor and financial inclusion has been introduced. He praised the efforts of BISP management and officials for making BISP an efficient and competent government organization. He also thanked the development partners for their continued support and expressed hope to collaborate with them in the future on all projects of mutual benefits.

The Minister said there had been a lot of talk in the past about women empowerment in Pakistan. The PML-N Government, he said is determined to ensure women empowerment in the country. Inshallah with BISP's efforts to reach out to womenfolk in the country we shall move forward on this front as well. Concluding his address, the Minister said the Pakistan of 2015 is different from the Pakistan as of June 2013 and the Pakistan of 2018 will be still brighter and prosperous. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the future of the country is safe and secure, the Finance Minister said.

Minister Dar on this occasion performed launching of BISP Demographic Directory which looks into the profiles of beneficiary families on economic, social, educational and other dimensions. Chairperson BISP informed the participants that through this directory we extend invitations to all our existing and potential internal development partners and multinational corporations to collaborate with BISP. We aim to advance global connectivity, promote overall safety and security of the region and debunk myths surrounding Pakistani women. We expect all our partners to develop their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities with BISP’s scientific database of the poorest women so that they have the peace of mind of knowing that their philanthropic funds are being targeted to the real needy.  

BISP also launched a documentary and a theme song. The documentary focused on outreach, effectiveness and impacts of the programme. It contained the acknowledgment of BISP’s interventions by the international community. The documentary captured the diversity of cultures throughout Pakistan and the experience of people with BISP. BISP’s theme song, composed on a sweet melody enthralled the audience.

Earlier in her welcome address, Minister of State and Chairperson BISP, MNA Marvi Memon said that BISP recognizes and applauds the role of women in nation building of Pakistan. The financial assistance by BISP aims at empowerment of women and feeds directly into Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of eradicating poverty. It is the promise of BISP to ensure large impact and to promote a bright and positive image of Pakistan.

Secretary BISP, Mr. Muhammad Saleem Ahmed Ranjha said that Pakistan was founded on the principle of guarantee of rights to its citizens, therefore, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that women are given their due rights and their social and financial needs are met adequately. BISP is the premier organization of the government working to achieve this goal by empowering women and assisting them in leading lives with dignity and independence.

 
August 13 , 2015 (PR No. 1252)

Special Assistant to the US President for National Security Council for South Asian Affairs met with Finance Minister

Special Assistant to the US President for National Security Council  for South Asian Affairs, Dr. Peter Lavoy met Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Thursday evening.  He was accompanied by US Ambassador Richard G.Olson, US Under Secretary Ms Rose Gottemoeller. Pakistan Director, National Security Council, Borany Penh and Robert Garverick, Economic Counsellor, US Embassy.

The Finance Minister welcomed the visiting delegation saying, “we have a wonderful relationship with the US and we wish to carry it forward”.

Dr. Peter Lavoy thereafter discussed with the Finance Minister the likely  visit of Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the US. He said the US looked forward to this visit, hoping to discuss important facets of Pak-US Economic Cooperation. He said that US wanted to see Pakistan attracting foreign investment and believed that she could achieve that by ensuring peace and eradicating the scourge of militancy. Director, National Security Council, Borany Penh at this juncture outlined events that the US planned to facilitate enhanced economic, trade and commercial cooperation with Pakistan.

Dr. Peter Lavoy termed Pakistan’s economic achievements under the present government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as a “remarkable success story”. He also appreciated the successful conclusion of the 8th IMF review and said reaching this stage was a singular achievement by Pakistan which was a manifestation of high level of fiscal and financial discipline that was introduced by the present government.

The accompanying US Under Secretary Rose Gottemoeller at this juncture added that both Pakistan and the US have been engaged in a very meaningful strategic dialogue over the year which has moved in a very positive direction, signifying continued growth in the bilateral ties.

Finance Minister, Senator Ishaq Dar said achieving economic stability was the main objective enshrined in the PML-N election manifesto. He said with dedicated efforts we have achieved economic stability, re-engaged all international financial institutions. We have re-entered the international bond and sukuk market and our economic rating has moved from negative to stable and now to positive  and “now we are all set to tread on the path of growth”, the Minister remarked. He said though the economic challenges were still there, the government had a great resolve to meet all these challenges and ensure economic prosperity in the country. The Minister also briefed the US delegation about the government’s efforts for alleviating the energy problem in the country which along with political stability was also necessary for economic development. The Minister also on this occasion lauded the services of Ambassador Richard G. Olson in furthering the cause of Pak-US relations.

 
August 12 , 2015 (PR No. 1251)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting to review the Preparations for the Upcoming 10th Pak-Afghan Joint Economic Commission session

The Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting this evening at the Finance Division to review the Preparations for the Upcoming 10th  Pak-Afghan Joint Economic Commission session.

Additional Secretary Economic Affairs Division Mr. Omar Hamid briefed the meeting on the implementation status of the decisions taken on bilateral economic issues between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the previous JEC meeting.

Mr. Hamid also briefed the meeting that on behalf of the Government of Pakistan, Ministry of Commerce has undertaken certain initiatives to boost the bilateral trade between the two countries to $ 5 billion in the coming years, while on the other hand, the draft for the Preferential Trade Agreement had been shared with Afghanistan and their feedback on the subject is awaited.

Both the countries have also nominated their members for the Joint Business Council and the Activation of JBC is on the Agenda of the JEC.

Chairman FBR told the meeting that Web Based One Custom Module for Partial Shipment is already operational and partial shipments are allowed in the system to increase the volume of trade between the two countries. FBR has developed a module for physical uploading of all T-1 and cross border certificates through User IDs issued to the officials of the Afghan Customs in lieu of the Electronic Data Interchange linkage with Afghan Customs, briefed Chairman FBR.

Other participants of the meeting from Ministries of Housing and Works, National Health Services, Railways, Water and Power, Ports and Shipping, National Food Security and Petroleum and Natural Resources also briefed the Chair that they have been actively pursuing the tasks assigned to them under the 9th JEC held in February 2014.

Finance Minister said that increasing trade with the neighboring countries will not only boost the economies of the countries but will also prove helpful in strengthening friendly relations between the brother countries.

 
August 12 , 2015 (PR No. 1250)

Finance Minister chaired the meeting of Steering Committee on Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS)

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday chaired the 4th meeting of the Steering Committee on Integrated Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) to review the progress achieved so far. Advisor to PM on National Security and Foriegn Affairs Mr. Sartaj Aziz was also present.

At the outset of the meeting, the Chairman FBR briefed the chair about implementation of decisions taken in the last meeting.

The Country Representative, ADB, Werner Liepach gave a presentation to the meeting and informed that an Aide Memoire with draft Project Processing Documents including Draft LARPs (Land Acquisition and Resettlement Plans) had been shared with FBR for endorsement before ADB Board Meeting. ADB, it may be mentioned is the financier of the ITTMS project along with the GoP.

Thereafter the meeting had a detailed review of the procedures for the selection of Project Director. The Chair, with the consensus of the house, ordered formation of a high powered Committee to carry out selection of the Project Director. The Finance Minister on this occasion desired that the project should be completed on priority basis as it envisioned to transform Pakistan into regional trading hub.

The ITTMS project aims at developing border crossing point infrastructure and facilities at Torkham, Chaman, and Wagha to a standard that meets users’ demand for quality border crossing services and can help facilitate border trade. It also envisages to enhance knowledge and skills of border point operating agencies.

 
August 12 , 2015 (PR No. 1249)

Finance Minister chaired the ECC meeting

The Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting of Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) here Wednesday.

ECC at the outset considered and approved the proposal moved by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for extension in the period for export of surplus wheat from Punjab and Sindh provinces till 30th September 2015. In an earlier decision on January 20th 2015, ECC had allowed the export of 8,00,000 M/tons of wheat by the government of Punjab at the transport rebate of US$ 55 per M/ton and 400000 M/T of wheat by the Government of Sindh at the transport rebate of US$ 45 per M/ton. Later on 9th February, the ECC also allowed export of wheat flour (aata) with specific time lines. However, in view of further requests from Pakistan Flour Mills Association, the date for export of wheat and wheat flour has been extended till 30th September 2015.

ECC also approved the exemption of 5% sales tax on wheat bran. The Chairman FBR informed the Chair that flour, the main product of the flour industry was exempt from sales tax and imposing a tax on its byproduct, bran was creating an anomaly which had to be removed. Accordingly, the ECC allowed the exemption of sales tax on bran.

ECC considered proposal by the Ministry of Communication for grant of EPC (Engineering design, procurement and construction) contracts to the firms recommended by the Government of China through competitive bidding for the KKH Phase-II and Karachi-Lahore Motorway projects being undertaken by NHA. The ECC expressed its concurrence, noting that the mechanism for such projects was already covered under article-II of the Framework Agreement signed by Pakistan and China in April with the approval of the competent authority.

The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet also granted approval for the issuance of Sovereign Guarantee by the Ministry of Finance in respect of syndicated term finance facility amounting to Rs. 7.487 billion for the power sector.

ECC had a detailed discussion on the proposal submitted by Ministry of Food Security and Research regarding pending payments to PASSCO by Afghanistan Government for supply of wheat. The meeting approved the claim as prepared by PASSCO and also accorded approval for the payment to M/s Abdullah Khan and Imranullah Khan, hired by PASSCO for transportation of wheat. It may be recalled that Pakistan and Afghanistan had signed an agreement in 2008 for supply of 50,000 MT of wheat to Afghanistan.

ECC discussed Automotive Development Policy 2015-20 and Telecommunications Policy 2015, giving directions to line ministries to resubmit the policies for approval after incorporating the improvements as suggested by the forum.

 
August 11 , 2015 (PR No. 1248)

Delegation of the Standard Chartered Bank called on Finance Minister

A delegation of the Standard Chartered Bank led by CEO, Shazad G. Dada called on the Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Tuesday.

While briefing the Minister about the regional and international profile of the Bank, the delegation evinced keen interest in arranging financing for different projects in Pakistan.

The Finance Minister appreciated the interest shown by Standard Chartered Bank for investing and financing in Pakistan. He said the government was according priority to projects in energy sector as it had a resolve to add more than 10,000 MW of electricity to the national grid by December 2017. He said the government welcomed international financing in the energy sector and would provide complete facilitation in this regard.

The visiting delegation also discussed with the Finance Minister Pakistan’s experience of launching Euro bonds and Islamic Sukuk during the last two years, that solicited tremendous international response at home as well as abroad.

Senior officials of the Ministry of Finance attended the meeting.

 
August 11 , 2015 (PR No. 1247)

CCOP approves divestment of GoP shares in NPPC

The Cabinet Committee on Privatizations in its meeting chaired by Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Tuesday evening, with consensus, approved divestment of 88% GoP shares in the National Power Construction Corporation (NPCC).

Chairman Privatization Commission (PC), Mohammad Zubair briefed the chair about the bidding process. He said that out of the three qualified bidders, M/s Mansour Al Mosaid Company of Saudi Arabia submitted the highest bid of Rs. 1420 per share which is 26.9 % higher than the CCOP approved Reference Price of Rs.1119/- per share and for 88% GoP shares (1760,000 Nos) of NPCC, the total thus comes up to Rs. 2,499,200,000/-.(Rs 2.4992 billion).The other two bidders i.e consortium of Ms Habib Rafiq Ltd and M/s Frontier Works Organization, Pakistan, and Consortium of M/s Zahir Khan Brothers and M/s Reliable Engineers Services(Pvt) Led Pakistan offered Rs. 925/- and Rs. 344.50 per share respectively. Chairman PC further said that the PC Board in its meeting had approved the highest bid. CCOP accordingly gave approval for the divestment of GoP shares in NPCC to M/s Mansour Al Mosaid Company, being the highest bidder.

The bidding, it may be added was held Tuesday morning in the presence of representatives of bidders at Serena, Islamabad and was chaired by Chairman Privatization Commission. A large number of print and electronic media representatives and other stake holders were also present. 
               
Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar congratulated the Chairman PC and all the members of his team for conducting the whole process fully in accordance with the laid out rules and procedures. He also appreciated the NPCC officials for according full cooperation to the PC for carrying out the divestment process.

Federal Minister for P&NR, Minister for Port and Shipping Kamran Michael and other senior officials from various ministries attended the meeting.

 
August 10 , 2015 (PR No. 1246)

Finance Minister chaired meeting on divestment of NPCC

Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Privatization(CCOP) to review the process for divestment of GoP shares in National Power Construction Corporation (Pvt) Limited .

Chairman Privatization Commission (PC), Mohammad Zubair briefed the Finance Minister on the process for subject divestment and sought decision from the CCOP on Reference Price for the sale of 88% of the shares of NPCC owned by the Government of Pakistan. Chairman PC informed the Chair that 16 parties had expressed interest  in bidding process and seven were finally selected on the recommendations of the Financial Advisors as the pre-qualified parties on May 8, 2014.

Chairman PC further said that out of all the pre-qualified bidders, three finally deposited the prescribed Earnest Money of PKR 100 million along with submission of applications, specified supporting information and prescribed undertakings. The Bidding process for the purchase of the shares would be held on Tuesday, August 11, 2015.

After detailed deliberations the Chair with consensus of the house, accorded approval for the reference price.

Besides Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Federal Minister for P&NR, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Chairman Privatization Commission, Muhammad Zubair, Secretary Finance, Dr. Waqar Masood, Secretary Privatization Commission, Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera, Secretary Planning, Hasan Nawaz Tarar, and other senior Officials attended the meeting.

 
August 10 , 2015 (PR No. 1245)

Finance Minister reviewed progress of DPC-II

A high level meeting chaired by Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Monday morning reviewed progress of DPC-II (Development Policy Credit-II) on energy sector.

The Minister was informed that major reform effort had been undertaken to complete benchmarks of DPC-II and that all key prior actions had also been completed.

Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar inquired about the progress of establishment of CPPA(G). Chairman Nepra apprised the Minister that consultations on market rules had been initiated and a public hearing would be held next week in this regard after which the consultative process would be completed. The Minister also asked about the progress on formulation of circular debt plan. He was informed that the plan had been chalked out and would be placed on the website of the Ministry of Water and Power shortly.

The Minister on this occasion said that successful completion of all prior actions of DPC-II would pave the way for disbursement of funds from the World Bank, JICA and ADB for energy sector. He appreciated the efforts of concerned officials of Ministry of Water and Power, Ministry of Finance and NEPRA for major reforms under DPC-II including establishment of CPPA(G) which had been pending for a long time.

The meeting was attended by Secretary Finance, Dr. Waqar Masood, Secretary Water and Power, Younus Dagha, Chairman Nepra Tariq Sadozai, Special Assistant to Finance Minister, Tariq Mahmood Pasha, Additional Secretary EAD, Omar Hamid, Joint Secretary Finance Division, Awais Manzur, Joint Secretary Finance Division, Qumar Sarwar Abbasi, Joint Secretary Water and Power, Zargham Ishaq Khan and Director General ERU, Dr. Khaqan Hassan Najeeb.

 
August 10 , 2015 (PR No. 1244)

Mr. Richard G. Olson, the US Ambassador to Pakistan called on the Finance Minister

Mr. Richard G. Olson, the US Ambassador to Pakistan called on the Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Monday.

The Finance Minister discussed with Mr. Olson the details of the recent round of talks with the IMF on the conclusion of the 8th Review under the Extended Fund Facility.

Mr. Olson congratulated the Finance Minister on the conclusion of the eighth review and praised the economic stability achieved by Pakistan under the present Government.

The Finance Minister said that with the successful completion of the 8th review would lend further impetus to the drive for economic development. He said the government had now embarked on consolidation of the gains it had made so far and from a position of economic stability it desired to move on to the state of economic prosperity.

The Minister also discussed with Mr. Olson Prime Minister’s likely visit to US for which he may accompany the PM. There was also discussion on the preparations for the SAARC Finance Ministers’ meeting on the occasion.

 
August 09 , 2015 (PR No. 1243)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting here to discuss measures for improving public debt management

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here to discuss measures for improving public debt management.

DG (Debt), Finance Division, briefed the Finance Minister about the steps taken for synchronization of retail and wholesale debt.

The Minister on this occasion asked for data projections related to external debt and directed that EAD may regularly share the said data with the Debt Office on regular basis.

During the course of the discussion it was agreed that there was a need to have an optimal composition between domestic and external debt portfolios for cost effectiveness.

Finance Minister appreciated all the efforts for effective debt management and provided guidelines with regard to market issues and in house improvement. 

The meeting was attended by Secretary Finance, Dr. Waqar Masood, Additional Secretary (Budget) Dr. Shujaat Ali, Additional Secretary, Tariq Mahmud Pasha, Joint Secretary Awais Manzur, DG (Debt).

 
August 08 , 2015 (PR No. 1242)

Clarification on inflation rate

A spokesman of the Ministry of Finance said here on Saturday that certain media reports had made references to Finance Minister’s statement at the IMF talks in Dubai wherein he hinted at rise in inflation.

The spokesman said that the Minister had actually apprised the IMF delegation that overall inflation rate had considerably decreased from 8.6% in financial year 2013-14 to below 5% in financial year 2014-15. For the month of July 2015, the inflation rate was reported as low as 1.8%. The Minister had actually stated that inflation would be higher than the July figure of 1.8%.     

It is hoped that the overall inflation rate for the fiscal year 2015-16, would remain as projected in the macro-economic framework, the spokesman added.

 
August 08 , 2015 (PR No. 1241)

Japanese Envoy met with Finance Minister

Japanese Ambassador, Hiroshi Inomata had a meeting with Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here Saturday.

The Japanese envoy informed the Finance Minister about the visit of JICA team to Pakistan which would evaluate the progress on Energy Sector DPC-II. He also discussed with the Minister tax related matters, including sales tax refunds,  raised by Japanese companies operating in Pakistan. He also shared with the Minister the Japanese pharmaceutical company Otsuka Pakistan’s request for revision of prices of infusion solutions keeping in view the hike in their cost of production.

The Minister on this occasion appreciated the contribution of the Japanese companies in the Pakistani market and said they were an important facet of Pak-Japan economic linkages. The Minister said that cases of sales tax refunds were being expedited by FBR under his directions.

He assured that tax related matters of Japanese companies would be discussed with Chairman FBR. He said the government had embarked on a drive to expand the tax net and promote tax culture in the country and expected the traders and business community to contribute to the national exchequer.

Hiroshi Inomata thanked the Finance Minister for taking time out of his busy schedule for this meeting.

 
August 08 , 2015 (PR No. 1240)

ADB willing to finance augmentation of power transmission and distribution system

Asian Development Bank has expressed willingness for financing projects relating to upgradation and strengthening of transmission lines and distribution system in Pakistan next year.

Country Director, ADB Werner Liepach met Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Saturday and discussed ADB financed projects in Pakistan.

Finance Minister welcomed ADB’s expression of interest for financing the power transmission and distribution system which he said would further add to Pak-ADB economic cooperation. He also shared with Mr. Liepach details of progress achieved on Energy DPC-2 and said that most of the prior actions in this regard had been completed by Pakistan.   

The ADB Country Director and the Finance Minister also held initial discussion regarding the establishment of Pakistan Disaster Management Fund which would be steered by ADB. Mr. Liepach said ADB would help arrange finances for the Fund from donors and development partners. Both sides agreed that in view of recurring natural calamities like floods, it was becoming increasingly important to have such an arrangement to deal with emergent situations.  They also agreed to explore possibility of having a standby credit line to deal with such situations.       

The Finance Minister on this occasion also shared with Mr. Weerner Liepach the outcome of the IMF talks held at Dubai. The ADB Country Director  felicitated the Finance Minister on successful conclusion of the 8th IMF review which would lead to release of next tranche of over 500 million dollars.

Both sides reaffirmed the resolve for continued Pak-ADB cooperation for economic development in Pakistan.

Additional Secretary, Tariq Mahmood Pasha, and Joint Secretary Awais Manzur also attended the meeting.

 
August 07 , 2015 (PR No. 1239)

Joint Press Conference of Finance Minister and Mr. Harald Finger, IMF Mission Chief

1.      1. Pakistan and IMF have successfully completed negotiations on the Eighth Review under the 3-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) program for an amount of $6.2 billion. This will lead to release of ninth tranche of over US$ 500 million.

2.      Completion of the Eighth Review is indicative of government’s commitment in implementing structural reforms in areas of taxation, energy, monetary and financial sectors and public sector enterprises.

Overall Program Performance

Our performance on the eighth review has been satisfactory:

3.      We met end-June 2015 Quantitative Performance Criteria on the SBP’s Net International Reserves, Net Domestic Assets, and foreign currency swap/forward position and the indicative target on power sector payment arrears.

4.      As agreed the provinces could not give surplus, which led to missing the Quantitative Performance Criteria on the fiscal deficit and government borrowing from the SBP. Despite the un- budgeted expenditure for Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs), Zarb-e-Azb operational expenses and flood relief measures, the Federal Government was able to achieve its target.

5.      While the indicative target on tax revenue was missed by a small margin, our revenue collection for FY 2014/15 improved by around 15% as compared to the last financial year.

Real

6.      We achieved real GDP growth rate of 4.24% in FY 2014/15, which is highest in the last 7 years. IMF has projected a growth rate of 4.5 percent in FY 2015/16. However the government retains its goal of achieving growth of 5.5 percent this fiscal year.

7.      The macroeconomic situation continues to improve. CPEC will further play a significant role in economic activity.

8.      Inflation continued on downward trajectory, the headline inflation (CPI) fell from 8.6% in FY 2013-14 to 4.5% in FY 2014-15. In July 2015 CPI fell to a 12-year low of 1.8 percent as compared to 7.9 percent of the corresponding month of last year.

Balance of Payment

9.      Robust growth in workers’ remittances and low oil prices continued to help contain the current account deficit.

10.          Foreign exchange reserves of SBP stood at US $13.8 billion and that of scheduled banks at US $5.0 billion as of 31st July 2015.

Financial

11.          Performance of the banking sector remained robust on the back of 52 percent surge in earnings and strong solvency as reflected in Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) of 17.2 percent.

12.          We are moving ahead with the financial sector reforms agenda for strengthening the legal, regulatory and supervisory framework for safeguarding stability of the financial sector.

Fiscal

13.          We reduced the budget deficit of 8.2% of GDP in FY 2012-13 to 5.5% of GDP in FY 2013-14 and with further reduction we achieved a fiscal deficit of 5.3% of GDP in FY 2014-15.

14.          We are determined to continue on a path of fiscal consolidation to achieve our budget deficit target of 4.3 percent of GDP in FY2015/16. We are also committed to reduce public debt, and lay the foundations for a more sustained growth.

15.          Despite the fact that the government is reducing its fiscal deficit, allocation for Public Sector Development Plan (PSDP) and social safety net expenditure has increased in successive budgets.

16.          The tax-to-GDP ratio increased from 9.7 percent of GDP in FY2012/13 to 10.4 percent in FY2013/14, and reached 11.02 percent in FY2014/15 by elimination of SROs, broadening of tax base and improved tax administration

17.          We managed to lower the number of outstanding GST refund claims by over 75 percent as of end-June 2015. The FBR is now implementing a comprehensive plan to resolve unpaid GST refund claims, including introduction of an automated system of pre-verification in addition to the current system of post-verification. Exporter’s refunds are being fast tracked as per announcement in the budget speech in June 2015.

18.          Our efforts for broadening the tax base will be strengthened further by enhanced use of IT and information inflow from multiple sources.

19.          CNIC for individuals has replaced NTN with effect from 1st July 2015; this will result in wider coverage of taxpayer’s facilitation.

20.          FBR’s administrative reforms are gradually leading to improvement in tax structure and revenue collection. In 2013/14 the tax revenue increased by 16.5 percent. Despite decline in global commodity prices in 2014/15 the increase in tax revenue is around 15 percent. The reforms will continue for addressing the issue of tax compliance and administration.

Social Protection

21.          Government is committed to support the poor and most vulnerable segments of the population through BISP. As of end-June 2015, we have reached 5.0 million beneficiaries, and will continue to extend coverage to marginalized sections of the society.

22.          In partnership with the provincial governments, significant progress has been made in the rollout of the education-conditional cash transfers to the targeted needy students.

Debt Management

23.          We continue to diversify financing from both domestic and external sources, lengthen the maturity profile of domestic debt and improve the balance between domestic and external debt. To achieve these objectives we are working to strengthen the Debt Policy Coordination Office (DPCO).

Energy Sector

24.          The energy sector reform is on priority agenda of the government and is regularly monitored by the Prime Minister through the Cabinet Committee On Energy. To implement the reforms:

 i.      We are working to reduce energy shortages with special emphasis to ensure sustained supply to the industry with the goal of adding 10,000 MW to the system by the end of year 2017.

 ii.      We are adding imported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to the system, which will help in easing energy supply in the country.

Business Climate Reforms

25.     For improving business climate, we have undertaken measure to increase ease of doing business, which includes the initiative of launching One Stop Shop (OSS) both physical and virtual.

26.     We have developed a comprehensive National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) to implement financial reforms to meet financing needs of marginalized segments of the society

Public Sector Entities 

27.     We are working to reform or enter into strategic partnerships with PSEs, focusing on improving performance and public sector resource allocation.

28.      As per plan, we successfully divested government shares in United Bank Limited, Pakistan Petroleum Limited, Allied Bank Limited and Habib Bank Limited.

29.           We have also identified companies for strategic partnerships, which will act as catalyst in unlocking their potential through managerial and investment participation, and can also increase the value of Government’s residual shareholding.

Before closing, I would like to reiterate that working through this program requires exceptional discipline and diligence. We have successfully completed the negotiations of the Eighth Review. This has been a good team effort from both sides. Our effort would be to consolidate gains so far achieved towards macro economic stability and work towards higher growth trajectory and job creation from this fiscal year onwards.

I would like to compliment Mr. Harald Finger, the Mission Chief of IMF and his team members for an outstanding job they have done in conducting the Eighth Quarterly Review. 

 
August 06 , 2015 (PR No. 1238)

Second round of meeting of Income Tax Committee

Through the Finance Act 2015, a new section 236P was introduced in the Income Tax Ordinance 2001. This section envisages 0.6% adjustable withholding tax on all banking instruments of more than Rs. 50,000/- per day issued by an account holder who has not filed income tax return for tax year 2014.

Business Community expressed its reservations on introduction of this adjustable Withholding tax on non-filers. On the directions of Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar, negotiations were started with the business community.

On 8th and 9th July, 2015, meetings with the business community were held in Ministry of Finance and FBR. On 9th July, 2015, an agreement was reached between FBR and business community during a meeting chaired by the Finance Minister in FBR.

In pursuance of the said agreement and as per directions of the Finance Minister to hold meaningful parleys with business community three Committees were constituted on 27th July 2015 [Income Tax Committee, Sales Tax Committee, and Communication Committee].

Initial meetings of Income Tax Committee and Communication Committee were held on 31st July 2015 and meeting of Sale Tax Committee was held on 3rd August 2015 in FBR.    

Second round of meeting of Income Tax Committee was held today i.e. 6th August, 2015 under the Chairmanship of Mr. Shahid Hussain Asad, Senior Member (Inland Revenue Policy), FBR, Islamabad and was attended by office-bearers and representatives of various chambers and trade bodies. In the meeting the business community expressed satisfaction on the government’s initiatives to try to address reservations of business community.  However, they requested that raids/action under section 40B of Sales Tax Act, 1990 by FBR authorities on business premises of the taxpayers may be stopped to create amicable atmosphere between the taxpayers and FBR. New Income Tax return form was also discussed during the meeting. While they expressed their satisfaction on the return performa for tax year 2015 for existing non-corporate taxpayers, they proposed  that a more simplified performa of return for new filers may also be devised. The Chairman of the Committee offered the business leaders to prepare the draft performa for the new taxpayers which may be discussed in next meeting. The business leaders accepted the offer and promised to prepare a simplified performa. It was decided to hold next meeting on 12.08.2015 at 11.00 am in FBR (HQs).

Sales Tax Committee

The second meeting of the Sales Tax Committee was held under the chairmanship of Mr. Muhammad Ashraf Khan, Member (Inland Revenue Operations), FBR and was attended by office-bearers and representatives of various chambers and trade bodies. During this meeting the Mr. Muhammad Ashraf Khan, Member (IR Operations), FBR dispelled the fears of retailers and business community which has the misperception that the imposition of 0.3% bank withholding tax would show their actual turnover which may exceed Rs. 5 million and they would be forced to be registered for the sales tax regime. Mr. Muhammad Ashraf Khan said:

“For retailers, there is nothing to worry about on this count as the government has already introduced a new sales tax regime vide SRO 608/2014 which instead of applying the Rs. 5 million turnover as yardstick for mandatory registration of sales tax, introduce different categories under which the sale tax regime is applicable”,

The meeting was told that under the SRO 608/2014 dated July 2, 2014, the FG had revamped the entire system of sales tax for retailers. Under the new regime, different categories have been introduced for the registration of retailers, which included a retailer operating as a unit of a national or international chain of stores; a retailer operating in an air-conditioned shopping mall, plaza or centre, excluding kiosks; and a retailer whose cumulative electricity bill during the immediately preceding 12 consecutive months exceeds Rs. 600,000. Any retailer who does not fall in any of these categories would only pay sale tax on his electricity bill and would not be bound to register for the sales tax regime.

“Earlier, the meeting held under the chairmanship of Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan, MNA & Parliamentary Secretary Finance on 03-08-2015, held detailed interactive sector-to-sector sessions with representatives of Sugar, Oil & Ghee, Cement and Embroidery sectors. Various proposals and recommendations were discussed and the representatives of these sectors were asked to fine-tune their proposals and present comprehensive sector-based recommendations to the Committee in its forthcoming meetings.

The committee would again meeting tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. at the FBR House to meet with representatives of Iron & Steel, Chip Board & Plywood, Yarn & Fiber, Ready-Made Garments & Clothing and Oil & Lubricants.

 
August 03 , 2015 (PR No. 1237)

Managing Director World Bank met with the Finance Minister

Managing Director World Bank Sri Mulyani Indrawati along with her economic team met the Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar this evening at the Finance Division.

Ms. Mulyani and her team discussed with the Minister important issues related to Growth and Energy DPCs of the World Bank and the progress so far being made to reform the economy of Pakistan.

The Minister acknowledged the support of Ms. Indrawati as a great friend of Pakistan and the cooperation of the World Bank on Growth, Energy, enhancing the educational facilities in Pakistan and in important projects like Dasu.

Ms. Indrawati commenting on her visit said that this is her 2nd visit to Pakistan and it has been very productive. “The Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and all the Government departments with whom we are working have extended us the full support and we acknowledge their support” said the MD. In Pakistan, the last two years had gone really well in terms of economic development. Pakistan had made head ways in promoting regional connectivity and extending trade ties with the countries in the region, also said Ms. Indrawati. She also appreciated the positive suggestions received from the Pakistan Government in preparing the policy frame work for Pakistan. She said tomorrow through her press statement she will also share the positive outcomes of her visit.

Ms. Indrawati also appreciated the efforts of the government in enhancing the support of the poor families through the Income Support Program. She also said that with the Census being held in the next year the system of identifying the poorest of the poor will further be improved.

The Finance Minister also thanked the World Bank team for helping in restoring the lives and livelihoods of the TDPs affected by the ongoing crisis in FATA and by the recent floods in the country.

On the issue of cooperation in improving health facilities in Pakistan , the Minister said, “We hope that the World Bank will support along with other development partners in the eradication of polio and immunization of each and every child of the country”. The Minister also sought cooperation from the Bank on expediting pledges from the donors and preparation of the projects in coordination with the respective governments.

Both, the Finance Minister and Ms.Indrawati expressed their desire to continue working in future in areas of economic growth and fighting the energy crisis in the country.

 
August 01 , 2015 (PR No. 1236)

Finance Minister chaired a meeting with the delegation of APTMA

Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar here on Saturday chaired a meeting with the delegation of APTMA, having detailed discussion on issues faced by the textile industry.

The delegation sought Finance Minister’s attention for resolving issues relating to levy of surcharge on electricity bills, settlement of sales tax refunds, removal of anomaly in taxes as well as restraining import of yarn, aiming at promoting the local industry.

The Minister on this occasion was given a detailed briefing about current profile of the Pakistani textile industry and its standing in the international market.

The Finance Minister said that the matter regarding sales tax refund would be resolved on priority. He said that the government had already asked for filing of refund claims by 31st of August so that priority settlement of these claims could be carried out.

The Finance Minister constituted a committee comprising representatives of APTMA and government officials, headed by SAPM on Revenue, Haroon Akhtar to further deliberate on these issues.

The APTMA delegation vowed that given the right kind of incentives, textile industry would be able to play its due role in enhancing country’s foreign exchange earnings. The delegation thanked the Finance Minister for taking out time from his busy schedule for this important meeting. Members of the delegation expressed complete agreement with the Minister that promoting tax culture in the country was the key to economic prosperity. They assured him of full support on all matters aimed at economic betterment of the country and said any attempt at disrupting the process of economic development would be discouraged.

SAPM on Revenue, Haroon Akhtar, CEO TDAP, S. M. Muneer, Secretary Textile, Ameer Mohammad Khan Marwat,  Secretary Commerce, Shahzad Arbab, Acting Secretary Finance, Dr. Shujaat Ali, Additional Secretary Finance, Tariq Mahmood Pasha, Chairman FBR, Tariq Bajwa, Joint Secretary, Finance Awais Manzur, Chairman APTMA, S.M. Tanvir, Group Leader APTMA, Mr. Gohar Ejaz and Mian Mohammad Idrees, President FPCCI, attended the meeting. 

 
August 01, 2015 (PR No. 1235)

Finance Minister appreciated SECP on achieving Enhanced Compliance with International Securities Regulatory Standards

Federal Finance Minister Mr. Ishaq Dar has commended Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) on its landmark achievement of compliance with the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) Principles for securities regulation.

Mr. Zafar Hijazi, Chairman SECP here on Saturday presented the Report published by the IOSCO to the Finance Minister.  The Report recognized that SECP has made a significant progress in adopting the internationally set principles for capital markets.

Finance Minister congratulated SECP on achieving this important milestone and said that this international recognition is reflective of the Government’s resolve of institution building, good governance and transparency. This would supplement the Government on-going measures which have led to enhanced business confidence on Pakistan’s economy. Mr. Dar expressed that recognition by IOSCO of Pakistan’s compliance with global standards underpins Pakistan’s move to establish good governance standards and bring transparency in the capital markets. Compliance with the IOSCO Principles is important to safeguard the integrity and credibility of financial system and develop Pakistan’s capital markets as a preferred investment choice for both local and foreign investors.

Mr. Hijazi said that Pakistan’s regulatory framework has undergone significant improvements in the structure and practice of regulation because of this IOSCO Review. He also expressed his resolve to continue efforts to address areas identified for further improvement. Enhanced compliance with international standards will help Pakistan in graduating to MSCI Emerging Markets Index.    

The Finance Minister at the conclusion of the meeting asked the SECP to disseminate information about achievements of SECP to all the stakeholders through seminars. 

 
 
 
 
 

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