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IMF package only way to put economy back on track: Asad Umar

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Economic situation to be cleared

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance Asad Umar on Saturday said an IMF bailout package was unavoidable for Pakistan, which, according to economic experts, was the only way to put the national economy back on track.
Talking to PTV, the minister said the government had to take the decision to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because of the high current account deficit as a result of the wrong economic policies adopted by the past government.
Referring to his meetings with the IMF officials in Indonesia, he said both the sides had expressed the desire that it might be the last bailout package for Pakistan.
He said,“We have sought the package only to get relief for the time being and run the country’s economic system smoothly.” Meanwhile, the government had planned to improve its capacity by gradually reducing the trade deficit, increasing exports, increasing foreign remittances, improving tax revenues, and introducing other revenue generation measures to avoid the IMF packages in future, he added.
The minister said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had reduced the burden on common man, while the last PML-N government had levied increased taxes on those items, which were necessary for common man. The present also imposed heavy taxes on luxury cars and expensive mobile phones, he added.
He said $12 billion was required to beef up foreign exchange reserves, which was essential for the country’s economic stability. However, the government would bring reforms to the economic system, he added.
Asad Umar said in the Ministry of Finance decisions were not being made on a political basis.
Replying to a question, he said after consultations with the friendly countries, the government had decided to approach the IMF. Negotiations were also underway with Saudi Arabia and China, he added.
He said the government was taking concrete measures to facilitate the industrial sector, including the provision of cheap gas and electricity so that exports could be boosted.
The government, he said, had announced Apna Ghar Scheme to provide shelter to the shelterless and the private investors would also be engaged.
Replying to another question, the minister said the US should better worry about repayment of its own loans which it had obtained from China.
He said the PTI government would introduce a strong regulatory system in the country and legislation if required would be undertaken.
The minister said the PTI government would not take any step contrary to the party’s manifesto. Measures were being taken to get back the stolen national wealth stashed abroad and for the purpose, national institutions were being strengthened, he added.
He said National Electricity Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) had recommended Rs 3.79 per unit increase in the electricity tariff.

 

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Providing conducive environment to investors!

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ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile and Industries Abdul Razak Dawood Friday said the government was committed to providing a conducive business environment to investors, both local and foreigners.
Overseas Pakistanis would be preferred to foreign investors for initiating business activities in their motherland, he said while speaking as the chief guest at the conference “Emerging Pakistan “ organized by the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce.
The adviser said the prudent economic policies being adopted by the government would attract sizeable foreign direct investment in the country.
He said Pakistan wanted to get market excess in China, Japan, Indonesia, and South Korea to increase its exports for narrowing down the trade gap. “We have devised a comprehensive strategy to tap potential international markets,” he said.
The Adviser said the government would give incentives to the industrial sector for increasing exports. An industrial policy was being evolved in that regard, he added.
“We will draft separate policies for each industry such as textile, leather, engineering goods, and sports goods,” he said.
He said the government was also working on the tariff policy, which would likely to be announced by the end of June 2019.
The adviser said the government was committed to providing ease of doing business facilities to the businessmen. Prime Minister Imran Khan was taking personal interest into improving ‘ease of doing business’ environment, which was included into first 100-day agenda of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, he added.

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Bs. worries for France ahead of new ‘yellow vest’ protests

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'Yellow vest' protests to cut Q4 growth

PARIS:  Fears grew about the economic impact of France’s month-long “yellow vest” protests on Friday ahead of a decisive weekend for the grassroots opposition movement and President Emmanuel Macron.
The survey of businesses released by the IHS Market research group on Friday showed a surprising dip in activity in December linked to the disruption caused by the nation-wide demonstrations.
“The latest flash data pointed to an outright contraction in France’s private sector for the first time in two-and-a-half years,” IHS Market economist Eliot Kerr warned.
Macron’s centrist government is hoping that concessions announced on Monday, a terror attack in Strasbourg on Tuesday and freezing weather this weekend will deter demonstrators from taking to the streets again.
France “needs calm, order and to go back to its normal functioning,” President Emmanuel Macron said in Brussels in Friday.
But many of the “yellow vest” figureheads, so called because of the fluorescent high visibility vests they wear, have called for a fifth round of protests on Saturday, sparking fears of more clashes.
“It’s really the time to keep going,” a senior figure in the movement, Eric Drouet, said in a video posted on Facebook. “What Macron did on Monday, was a call to carry on because he has started to give ground, which is unusual for him,” he added.
Drouet was referring to Macron’s address to the nation on Monday, billed as the most important speech of his presidency, in which he offered a range of concessions to the demonstrators.
The “yellow vest” protests began on November 17 in opposition to hikes in fuel taxes, but have since snowballed into broad resistance to Macron’s pro-business agenda and his style of governing.
The 40-year-old head of state, who had already canceled planned fuel tax hikes, offered a rise in the minimum wage, tax relief for pensioners and tax-free overtime work for workers in 2019.
The total package has been estimated by economists to cost up to 15 billion euros ($17 billion), which is expected to be financed mostly by government borrowing.
A fall in economic growth, which would hit tax receipts, would exacerbate the government’s budget problems.
“The more the movement continues, the more it will be a loss for the French economy,” the governor of the French central bank, Francois Villeroy de Galhau said in an interview with Les Echos newspaper on Thursday.
The central bank has lowered its growth forecast for 2018 to 1.5 percent, saying expansion in the current quarter would be 0.2 percent, instead of 0.4 percent as previously forecast.
Six people have died since the “yellow vests” movement began and more than 1,400 have been injured in the protests by mostly low-income people from small-town and rural France.
Scenes of blockages, massive traffic jams and mobs rampaging through the streets of Paris have dented France’s image, as well as Macron’s hopes of forcing through more business-friendly reforms.
The numbers of “yellow vest” protesters in the streets have been relatively small by French standards — only 136,000 last weekend — but until now they have benefited from overwhelming public support.
The impact of Macron’s concessions, plus a terror attack in the city of Strasbourg on Tuesday evening, could be crucial in determining whether the movement peters out this weekend or continues.
Two polls published on Tuesday showed that the country was split broadly 50-50 on whether the “yellow vests” should continue protesting, a fall of around 20 percentage points.
On Tuesday night, a 29-year-old jihadist from Strasbourg in eastern France attacked the city’s Christmas market, killing four and injuring 12 in a gun and knife rampage.
He was shot dead by police on Thursday night after 48 hours on the run, leading to praise for France’s highly stretched security forces which have been repeatedly targeted during the protests.
“I find it inadmissible that today we are applauding our police and then tomorrow some people think it’s ok to go and throw stones at them,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Friday in Strasbourg.
Around 8,000 police will be on duty in Paris on Saturday, around the same number as last weekend, backed up with 14 armored vehicles, water cannon, and horses.
Around 90,000 security forces were mobilized last Saturday across France when 2,000 people were detained, around half of them in Paris.
On Thursday, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux called on “yellow vests” to stay at home.
“It would be better if everyone could go about their business calmly on Saturday, before the year-end celebrations with their families, instead of demonstrating and putting our security forces to work once again,” he said.

 

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Imran Khan: Govt. creating investor-friendly milieu!

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Imran Khan on solution to poverty

PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan said today the government was taking all out measures to bring ease of doing business and discourage red-tapism to create an investor-friendly atmosphere in the country as the world was eyeing Pakistan for investment.
Addressing the ceremony highlighting the 100-day performance of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government, he directed the bureaucracy to facilitate and ease the investment process. Unfortunately, the country was still facing the mindset begot by the nationalization of industries which resisted the investment, he added. The event was attended by KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Governor Shah Farman, cabinet members and parliamentarians besides a huge number of party workers. The prime minister spoke high of the recently constructed five shelters for down-and-out people in Peshawar what he said, truly represented the mindset behind Madinah state which showed compassion towards the poor. He strongly defended his decisions of appointing Usman Buzdar and Mahmood Khan as chief ministers of Punjab and KP respectively and reiterated his trust in their honesty and credibility.
He said coming from a backward region, Buzdar had gone tough on mafias in the province. As the prime minister was addressing the first public gathering after assuming the office, he formally thanked the people of KP to give his party mandate to serve them twice which was unprecedented. He lamented the extravaganza of former Punjab CM who had spent around Rs350 million each on entertainment and his travel through the prime minister’s aircraft.  He said the previous government had also doled out billions of rupees shortly before elections in the name of development works just to influence the voters. Mentioning the excessive rate of children with stunted growth in Pakistan, the prime minister vowed to reform the health and education sectors which had unfortunately been neglecting the poor. Resolving to introduce a uniform education curriculum in the country, he said in presence of existing education system, it was almost impossible for a student with a very humble background to compete in civil services.
The prime minister strictly directed the provincial cabinet members to regularly attend their offices and focus their policies for masses welfare. Warning them for action over slacking performance, he said, now the pressure of any forward bloc had also been ebbed away. He said it was unfortunate that being a 210 million nation, Pakistan’s exports volume stood at $24 billion against $220 billion of Malaysia and $330 billion of Singapore. Defending his government’s steps of auctioning luxury cars as well as buffaloes kept at PM House, he said our people were still running the country on the pattern of British rule who used to live like a monarch in this region on the taxes of local people. The prime minister, about the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), said the KP governor and chief minister along with tribal members of the National Assembly would jointly set a roadmap for development projects of the area.
He said detailed deliberations were also held about the FATA interim law regulations, which had been suspended by the Peshawar High Court. The prime minister said the local government system for tribal areas was very important as it would start resolving problems of the people at the grassroots level. He directed the KP health minister to take action against all those officers who were creating hurdles in the health reforms agenda of the PTI government.  About the rule of law, the prime minister directed the provincial government to immediately implement the Civil Procedure Code as the KP Cabinet had already passed the law for disposing of civil cases within one year.
Appreciating the landmark performance of previous KP government in the education field, the prime minister called for further improvement into it with a special focus on higher education.
The prime minister termed planting of one billion trees by the KP government a historic achievement and congratulated them on the milestone. He said the federal and Punjab governments would also replicate the KP model in their 10 billion tree plantation drive. He directed the KP chief minister to convert the unutilized government land in cities into public parks and sports grounds, which would not require a big amount.  The prime minister said the federal government was constructing Momand Dam, which would not only produce electricity but also resolve the issue of drinking water in Peshawar forever.  Drinking water was an issue in all the major cities and the government had made a comprehensive programme to resolve the matter in the next five years, he added.

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