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National economy top priority: Fawad

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PTI govt facing no political challenge

LONDON: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain has reiterated his government’s commitment to uproot corruption and regulate the remittances for curbing money laundering.
He stated this while delivering a lecture at Oxford University on important national, regional and international issues here the other day. The lecture was organized by Oxford South Asian Society along with Oxford Pakistan Society. A large number of students from various academic disciplines attended the event. The minister said that the purpose of his visit to Oxford University was to develop linkages with student community and academic institutions as per the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan about youth. In this regard, the minister said, the government would offer internships to the students from top universities of the world to various academic institutions of Pakistan. The Information Minister on the occasion gave a historical overview of important national and regional developments that shaped up socio-economic and political contours of Pakistan during the last seven decades.
The minister said the conflict in the region had a negative impact on the social fabric and economy of Pakistan, yet Pakistan survived due to its inherent and unparalleled resilience.The minister said that the present government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan was especially focusing on the revival of the national economy. The minister said Pakistan needs to overcome its trade deficit for which the government was embarking upon industrialization by setting up special industrial zones in the country.
Responding to the questions of students, the minister effectively debunked the myths and negativity associated with China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the Western media and termed it a great economic project for the prosperity of the entire region. Fawad Chaudhry said civil and military institutions were working in complete harmony due to which 70 years old paradigm of foreign policy was shifting, and the opening of Kartarpur Corridor was one of its manifestations. The minister stated that understanding between civil and military institutions was imperative for the continuity of policies as “it happens in developed democracies”.
In reply to questions regarding India, Pakistan relations, the minister said the dialogue was the only way forward to resolve all issues with India including Kashmir dispute. The minister hoped that after its upcoming elections, India would seriously consider Pakistan’s offer of dialogue to resolve issues including core Kashmir issue. “Pakistan wants peace within and peace outside. In this regard we are fighting extremism in our country and are willing to play our role in bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan”, he remarked. The minister on the occasion shared with the participants that big foreign companies of US, UAE, Saudi Arabia and from other countries have shown keen interest to invest billions of dollars in various sectors of Pakistan’s economy. The minister said, “transparency and rule of law are Prime Minister Imran Khan’s priorities”. Responding to some searching questions of the students about freedom of expression, the minister said Pakistan has the free media and the present government removed all censorship on state media from the very outset.
The minister, however, underlined the need for developing an international regulatory regime to end incitement to violence and hate speech on social media. Regarding rights of overseas Pakistanis, the minister said that the government was working on enhancing the participation of overseas Pakistanis in the economic and political affairs of the country and benefiting from their experience and expertise in various fields. Students on the occasion shared with the minister that one thing for which present government was famous abroad was its resolve to eliminate corruption from the country.

 

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Tokyo stocks gain on bargain-hunting

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Tokyo stocks gain on bargain-hunting

TOKYO: Tokyo stocks gained slightly on Monday as investors bought on dips following a sharp decline late last week, while their focus shifted ahead of a US Federal Reserve meeting.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which dropped more than two percent on Friday, rose 0.62 percent or 132.05 points to close at 21,506.88, while the broader Topix index was up 0.13 percent or 2.04 points at 1,594.20. “Buy-back was seen among shares in major companies following a sharp decline on Friday,” Daiwa Securities senior technical analyst Hikaru Sato told AFP. “But the buy-back was not strong enough to boost shares further,” Sato said, adding that it may take more time to improve market sentiment.
Takashi Hiroki, the chief strategist at Monex, said the two-day US Fed meeting that ends on Wednesday is “the most important event this week” and investors are watching for the pace of rate hikes in 2019. “Falls in US shares (last week) is said to be caused by weak economic data in China and Europe, but these are not new factors,” he said in a commentary, adding that current market sentiment is vulnerable to “even the slightest worries given the prevailing uncertainty”.
In Tokyo, SoftBank’s initial public offering on Wednesday will also likely have an impact on the market, analysts said. The dollar fetched 113.51 yen in Asian afternoon trade against 113.29 yen in New York late Friday. Banks were higher, with Mitsubishi UFJ trading up 0.13 percent to 583.9 yen, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial up 0.56 percent at 3,939 yen and Mizuho Financial up 0.22 percent at 179.7 yen. Nissan was down 0.27 percent at 929.9 yen ahead of its board meeting to discuss corporate governance and choosing a replacement for former chairman Carlos Ghosn, after his arrest and dismissal. Rival Toyota was up 0.16 percent at 6,840 yen but Honda was down 0.13 percent at 3,050 yen.

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‘Digitization provides ecosystem for fin. inclusion’

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LAHORE: Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Tariq Bajwa has said that digitization provides an ecosystem for financial inclusion which plays a vital role in economic growth.
Talking to media at a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) signing ceremony among Punjab Government, SBP and One-Link here at Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA) office, he appreciated the PRA for the initiative which would empower the commoner and taxpayers.
He also pointed out three priority areas of the economy including agriculture, provision of low-cost housing and SME, besides two cross-cutting areas Islamic Banking and financial inclusion through digitization of payment system.
To a question about declining revenue of provincial revenue authorities, Tariq Bajwa said Supreme Court of Pakistan barred the government from collecting taxes from mobile users which affected it.
He pointed out that it would be resolved soon with some alternate solution.
On this occasion, Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht said since coming to power, Punjab government had been striving to improve the business environment and provide maximum facilitation to the business sector which was the backbone of the economy. With the introduction of this facility, taxpayers would no longer need to visit banks and stand in queues to deposit their taxes, thus the compliance cost of the taxpayers would be reduced, he added.
The finance minister said the government intended to make the facility available for all provincial taxes. However, the Punjab Revenue Authority had taken the lead in this regard and payment of Sales Tax on Services through alternate delivery channels would be available by the end of December. Subsequently, the facility would be incrementally expanded to cover taxes collected by the Excise and Taxation Department and the Board of Revenue.
He appreciated the PRA for implementing the Punjab government’s vision by making of e-PRA and smart revenue organizations reliant on information technology, where the direct contact between taxpayer and tax collector was minimized. Future projects in the pipeline included pre-populated returns and algorithmic mass audits, he mentioned.
Punjab Chief Secretary Yousef Naseem Khokhar stressed the need for ease of doing business and committed that the provincial government would continue to work towards this direction.

 

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Rupee to stabilize: SBP governor

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ISLAMABAD: State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa Sunday expressed the hope that the slide in rupee value would be stemmed once money flows into the economy.

Bajwa said the dollar rate is dependent on two factors: macroeconomic fundamentals and market sentiments. According to a private news channel, he said “As money [flows into] the economy [through cash injected], Insha’Allah you will see, the market sentiment will improve… the pressure will dissipate from the rupee.” The central bank governor said the Supreme Court’s decision to end the mobile phone tax affected the country’s tax net.

Bajwa added that Finance Minister Asad Umar knew about the spike in the dollar and had already clarified in a statement earlier that the rupee devaluation had been discussed with him. On 30th November, the rupee hit an all-time record low of Rs144 against the US dollar, plunging almost five percent after what appeared to be a sixth devaluation by the State Bank in the past year as the country struggles with an acute balance of payment crisis.

The surge in dollar came owing to the widening current account deficit and the International Monetary Fund’s suggestion to the government to realign the rupee with market fundamentals to access funds. The rupee has depreciated by 36 percent against the dollar over the past 12 months. It has fallen by Rs19.5 against the dollar since the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf took the reins of the country following the general election in July this year.

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