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Finance Secretary chairs the meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC)

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A meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) was held with Finance Secretary in the chair today (Thursday) to discuss the prices of essential food and stock of supply of the essential items.

The meeting held at the Finance Division was attended by the representatives from the Provincial governments, Islamabad Capital Territory, Ministries of Industries, Interior, Law & Justice & Human Rights, Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, National Food Security and Research, Federal Board of Revenue, Competition Commission of Pakistan , Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and Utility Stores Corporation.

The meeting discussed the trend of Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a headline measure of inflation. It has been observed that prices of food items such as pulses, fresh vegetables and wheat which have been the main top drivers of inflation saw a downward trend on the monthly basis. The meeting was informed that CPI inflation decreased by 1.0% on MoM in February 2020 over January 2020. However on YoY, recorded at 12.4% in February 2020 over February 2019 and July-February CPI inflation on YoY reached to 11.7% (6.0% last year). It was stated by the Secretary Finance that the government is committed to reducing inflation and more steps are underway in coming months.

It was noticed that Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) which monitors the price movement of 51 essential items on weekly basis recorded a decrease of 1.16% for the week ended on 27th February, 2020. During the week, 13 items recorded decline in their prices while 25 items remain stable. This was the third consecutive decline in SPI during the month of February 2020.

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The Committee also discussed the price movements of these items among the provinces/ICT and observed variations in price level. The provincial governments also informed that they are proactively monitoring the prices as well as supply of essential food items. Price trend in international market are on declining trend which would augur well for the domestic prices in near future.

The meeting also discussed the outbreak of novel coronavirus and its impact on demand and supply of essential items. The Chair advised that all relevant authorities along with provincial governments should in close coordination monitor the provision of essential food items at affordable prices keeping in view the forthcoming Ramadan. He further stressed to check the undue profit margin exists between the wholesale and the retail level, which should be prevented.

The Chairperson Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) informed that they are holding a meeting in second week of this month with all stakeholders to discuss Food Laws and developing a uniform formula for pricing to remove price disparity among districts.

The Chair emphasized that the provincial government should play a proactive role in checking hoarding and undue profiteering to ensure smooth supply of essential food items at reasonable prices.

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ADB to support domestic resource mobilization in Pakistan: Omar Ayub

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Vice President (Operations) of Asian Development Bank, Shixin Chen called on Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan here and discussed the ADB’s technical and financial assistance for Pakistan including ongoing portfolio and priority areas for future interventions.

At present, 37 ADB-Funded development projects worth US$ 7.9 billion are under implementation across the country in energy, road and transport, agriculture, urban infrastructure and social sector.

During the current fiscal year, ADB has disbursed US$ 1.1 billion for various development projects and programs. The Minister for Economic Affairs appreciated the ADB for their continued and enhanced financial assistance to the Government of Pakistan. It was acknowledged that ADB has become the leading development partner of Pakistan in the recent years.

The Minister also acknowledged the ADB’s timely support for addressing health and socioeconomic challenges amid COVID-19 pandemic. ADB has provided over US$ 1.3 billion for COVID-19 response including social protection, vaccination and budgetary support for fiscal stimulus.

The Minister highlighted that through the National Coordination Committee on Foreign Funded Projects, EAD had significantly improved physical progress and disbursement against the ongoing projects by removing major bottlenecks including delays in land acquisition, right of way issues and hiring of project staff.

The Minister shared that Economic Affairs Division was going to implement triad model i.e. physical progress verification by satellites, financial tracking and use of Gantt Charts for efficient monitoring and smooth implementation of the projects.

The Minister, while appreciating the ADB’s continued support to Pakistan, assured the Vice President, ADB that the Government was committed to complete structural reforms in multiple areas. Both the sides discussed new reform areas for ADB’s assistance including Domestic Resource Mobilization, Climate Change and Public-Private Partnerships.

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Domestic Resource Mobilization would help the government to create fiscal space through enhanced revenue collection and overcome the challenge of fiscal deficit.

It was agreed to enhance investments in road sector, agriculture, renewable energy, digital connectivity, vocational education and social sector. Shixin Chen acknowledged the GoP’s efforts for reforms in Trade, Energy and Capital Markets.

He also commended the GoP’s successful response against COVID -19 pandemic including mass vaccination program, social protection and relief measures for general public, agriculture and industry.

He appreciated that ADB’s disbursement for development projects had increased by 25 percent in a year due to continuous efforts and follow-ups of EAD & ADB Teams. In this regard, he commended the Minister for Economic Affairs for his proactive approach and dedicated efforts for reviewing the progress of projects on regular basis.

Omar Ayub Khan and Shixin Chen agreed to continue discussing ways to deepen ADB and Pakistan’s development partnership. Nianshan Zhang, Deputy Director General, Aiming Zhou, Senior Adviser, Yong Ye, Country Director, Asad Aleem, Deputy Country Director and Nasruminallah Mian, Senior Project Officer of ADB also joined the meeting.

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Development

No nation aspires success sans sacrifices: PM Imran Khan

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Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that without spirit of sacrifice, a nation could not aspire to achieve development as the very human essence had a global significance.

In a message on Eid-ul-Azha 1442 Hijra, the prime minister conveyed his felicitations
to the whole Pakistani nation and the Muslim world.

The prime minister said sacrificing an animal on this holy festival manifested that a person has to sacrifice human desires for the achievement of the highest ideals.

Such a passion generated a quality in humans that would not let them side-track from the right path, he observed.

The prime minister opined that it was the passion which helped the Pakistani nation to save itself from the global coronavirus pandemic with wisdom, national strategy and patience.

The prime minister noted that celebration of Eid-ul-Azha reminded them of the unprecedented and supreme sacrifices of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) and Hazrat Ismail (AS). Allah Almighty liked their act of sacrifice so much that it was declared an obligation for the rest of the Ummah to perform till the Day of Judgement.

The prime minister further said that economic situation with which the country was confronted, had been changing now.

The country’s economy was put on the right track and as a result of government’s steps, the economic indicators were showing positive trajectory, he added.

The prime minister said through different schemes launched by his government, the people were being provided with relief.

The day was not far, he resolved, when Pakistan would be standing equally in the ranks of developed countries and the whole nation would feel pride among the comity of nations.

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Development

The Development of microfinance industry depends upon the resilience and risk management: SECP Chairman Amir Khan

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Islamabad : SECP Chairman, Aamir Khan emphasized that in these challenging times the development of microfinance industry depends upon the resilience and risk management, achieved through quintessential pillars of liquidity-tapped through private capital and technology embracement. Khan was addressing the Non-Bank Microfinance Companies Stakeholders Forum organized by SECP to devise a way forward and collaborate strategic response to cope the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns.

The SECP Chairman Amir Khan, along with Commissioner Specialized Companies Division, Farrukh Sabzwari chaired the session. Representatives of Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company Limited (PMIC), Karandaaz Pakistan and multilateral donor agencies including the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Department for International Development (DFID) attended the session.

 The Chairman SECP advised NBMFCs to go far product diversification to insurance solutions and saving products and build capacity of their workforce to attain business development and operational efficiency. He endorsed formation of a working group consisting of nominees from SECP, PMN, PMIC and NBMFCs to further analyze the situation. The working group will also take up the matters with relevant forums including ministry of finance, SBP and multilateral donor agencies for possible solutions.

Khan expressed SECP’s firm commitment to providing all possible support to industry not only during the current pandemic times but also in developing the industry on a strong footing. SECP Commissioner, Sabzwari highlighted the measures taken by SECP to provide relief and flexibility to the NBMFCs and their wholesale lender in managing funding requirements. He also talked about SECP’s advice to NBMFCs to defer and reschedule borrower loans.

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Participants acknowledged SECP’s timely intervention to provide regulatory relief to NBMFCs in managing their credit lines and funding requirements. However, industry representatives expressed their concerns on potential defaults by borrower and liquidity crunch that may lead to capital crisis in the industry.

They raised the need of new money injection into the industry through collaborative efforts of microfinance regulators and the government. Representatives of international donor agencies attending the Forum expressed their resolve to extend fullest possible support to Pakistan’s microfinance sector.    

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