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Fin. Minister briefs PM about talks with IMF

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Gulf economy recovering

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umar, who is accompanying the Prime Minister Imran Khan during his official visit to Malaysia, on Tuesday briefed the prime minister about the visit, meetings, and progress till now with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation in Pakistan.
The finance minister informed the prime minister that efforts were being made to settle bilateral affairs with the IMF in such a way which would have positive results on the economy and which could not put a burden on the people, a press release issued by the PM Media wing here said.
He said that progress on meetings held so far with the Fund was encouraging, however, the final decision regarding the bailout package would be made keeping in view people’s interests and vision of the government.
Asad Umar told the prime minister that the IMF programme had no immediate pressure on Pakistan’s economy, adding that understanding Pakistan’s priorities by the IMF delegation was an encouraging step.

 

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Economy

Renault board maintains Ghosn as CEO

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PARIS: The board of the French automaker Renault said today that it was keeping Carlos Ghosn as its chief executive after an internal review of his pay package found that it conformed with French law.
Ghosn has been held under arrest in Japan since November 19 on charges of financial misconduct and under-reporting his pay as head of Renault’s partner Nissan, which has since sacked him as chairman. He has also been dismissed as chairman of Mitsubishi, another partner in the Renault-Nissan alliance. Renault kept Ghosn on as CEO after his arrest in Tokyo, but launched an inquiry into his pay package and named a deputy CEO, Thierry Bollore, to ensure day-to-day management.
“The compensation of the chairman and chief executive officer of Renault and the conditions under which such compensation was approved were in compliance with applicable law,” the automaker said after a board meeting Thursday. The board said this referred to compensation for the years 2015 to 2018, adding that it had asked its lawyers to continue their review in liaison with Nissan’s lawyers.
Renault’s lawyers also provided the board with a report on a presentation made by Nissan’s lawyers, the statement said. At this stage, the board “does not have information concerning Carlos Ghosn’s defense,” it added. Both Ghosn and a key aide Greg Kelly, who is also being held in Japan in connection with the charges, have reportedly denied the claims.

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Asia

ADB to provide $7.528 bn to Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has planned to support Pakistan with lending of $7.528 billion for various development projects during the next three years.

In its new Country Operations Business Plan (COBP) for Pakistan 2019-21 revealed on Thursday, the ADB has proposed a sovereign lending program for next three years worth $7.528 billion, consisting of $5.37 billion from regular Ordinary Capital Resource (OCR) lending and $2.158 billion from Concessional COR Lending (COL). COL includes a carryover of $600 million from 2018. The non-lending program for 2019–2021 is $21.7 million, including transaction technical assistance for various pipeline projects. An amount of $2.245 billion in ADB loan financing is allocated for the energy sector, which is 29.8 percent of the total pipeline for 2019–2021.  

The pipeline includes a multi-tranche financing facility for Transmission Strengthening (tranche 1) for National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), Hydropower Development Project for Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), and support for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline Project. For the transport sector, some $1.394 billion of ADB loan financing for the sector (18.5% of the total pipeline) have been allocated for the transport sector.  The pipeline includes the Sustainable National Highway Project and the Sindh Hyderabad Southern Bypass Project.

ADB also proposes support for the revitalization of Pakistan Railways to improve transport sector sustainability, including exploring non-conventional financing arrangements. For agriculture, natural resources, and rural development, ADB has allocated $794 million in loan financing to the sector (10.6% of the total pipeline).  The pipeline includes the Greater Thal Canal Irrigation Project, the Kurram Tangi Water Resources Project, and the Smaller Cholistan Water Resources Development Project. Similarly, for water and other urban infrastructure and services, the ADB has allocated $470 million in ADB loan financing (6.2% of the total pipeline).  The pipeline includes a cross-sector project readiness facility for Punjab and the Punjab Cities Improvement Project. ADB has also allocated $2.4 billion in loan financing to the finance and public sector management sectors (31.9% of the total pipeline).

The COBP, 2019-2021, includes new projects such as trade and competitiveness program (subprogram 1) in 2019; financial markets development in 2020; infrastructure financing and PPPs in 2021; as well as the second phase of support for the Benazir Income Support Program in 2020. The education and health sectors pipeline includes $225 million in loan financing (3.0% of the total pipeline). ADB’s re-engagement in education and health sectors includes $175 million for projects on secondary education in Sindh and improving workforce readiness and skills development in Punjab, and $50 million projects to improve quality of health care services in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

ADB will also provide technical assistance across sectors to help project implementation and to generate and disseminate knowledge products to support policy and project development, as well as to enhance project quality and readiness. Pakistan, a group B developing member country, is eligible for regular OCR lending and concessional OCR lending (COL).  The indicative resources available during 2019–2021 for sovereign operations amount to $5,712 billion, comprising $4.29 billion for regular OCR lending and $1.422 billion for COL. The final allocation will depend on available resources, project readiness, project performance and debt distress rating of the country among others. ADB’s non-sovereign operations will supplement these resources.  ADB will also explore co-financing from other sources and seek financing from the regional pool under concessional resources and regular OCR for regional cooperation and integration.

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Business

Improving ease of doing business

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Imran Khan on solution to poverty

ISLAMABAD: PM has today directed Board of Investment (BoI) chairman to present a comprehensive plan, listing all the issues in various sectors and their sub-sectors and how the processes could be streamlined to simplify procedures related to government approvals, addressing taxation issues, dispute resolution and facilitating investors/businesses. 
He said this while chairing a high-level meeting to review progress on improving ease of doing business and creating an enabling environment to facilitate the conversion of interest of the local as well foreign investors into actual investments in the country. The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Asad Umar, Law Minister Dr. Farogh Naseem, Commerce Advisor Abdul Razak Dawood, BoI Chairman Haroon Sharif, federal secretaries and senior officials. 
BoI Chairman Haroon Sharif while briefing the prime minister about the steps taken so far said the Board would be serving as an agent of change for facilitating business transactions, removing impediments in the way to the materialization of investors’ interest into actual investments and smooth functioning of the businesses in the country. He also briefed about various issues being faced by the business community including taxation, access to finance, regulation and policy issues and red-tapism.
He said the BoI was also actively working with the provinces and relevant ministries for removing barriers in the way of establishing Special Economic Zones.  He said special efforts were being made to bridge the gap between private and public sector and to reach out to the private sector to revive their confidence in government policies and put in place a framework that facilitates business community in its business pursuits.  The BoI chairman also briefed about Naya Pakistan Diaspora Fund which was being set-up to promote SMEs and rural development in key areas of education, health, and infrastructure development.
He also apprised the prime minister of the investment framework which had been structured for attracting and materializing investment from UAE, KSA, China, Japan, and Malaysia.   It was decided during the meeting that the prime minister would chair a review meeting every month on ease of doing business in the country.

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