Promoting sugarcane crop on the cost of cotton criticised: PEW

Wrong policy can result in serious national security issues

Pakistan cannot afford reduction in textile income

Sugar mafia digging grave of economy for profits

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Saturday said the policy of promoting sugarcane crop on the cost of the cotton crop should be stopped as it can result in serious national security issues.

Sugar mafia is digging the grave of the economy for profits which should be noticed and corrective measures should be taken, it said.

The influential sugar mafia has forced masses to buy the world’s costliest sugar but it has not satisfied their appetite for profit which is damaging the troubled textile sector, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

Sugar mills are in surplus in Pakistan and billions are spent every year on subsidies to export additional sugar but at the same time illegal expansion in the capacity of some sugar mills continues with officials turning a blind eye towards it, he said.

On the other hand, the textile sector which is providing over ten million jobs and earning almost 13 billion dollars of foreign exchange for the country has been allowed to deteriorate to profit the sugar sector which is a liability, he added.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that the area under cultivation of cotton is reducing rapidly in favour of the sugarcane crop which will require 1.5 billion dollars of cotton imports soon that will hit forex reserves, production and exports as the cost of doing business will increase for millers.

The area under cultivation for cotton has been reduced by 29 percent while that of sugarcane has increased by 45 percent which has also damaged some other crops, he said, adding that why a crop is promoted which is a burden on masses.

He said that the government has also imposed a 40 percent customs duty on import of sugar to promote local sugar barons otherwise masses can get the commodity on half the price of the local market.

Dr. Mughal said that middlemen have also become a threat to the troubled textile sector as they buy it on throwaway prices from farmers and sell it on unbelievable prices which should be controlled as Pakistan cannot afford a reduction in income coming from the textile sector.

Serious gas crisis can engulf the country: PEW

Sale of LNG-based power plants may pose a challenge

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said the crisis-like situation can emerge in the gas sector during winter which will be more serious than the last year’s crisis.

A crisis can engulf the country in the biting winter as the production of local gas continues to fall, the LNG sector is riddled with inefficiency while both the gas utilities are not prepared to face the challenge, it said.

The consumption of LNG which is five-time costly than the local gas continues to increase as the government has not materialized import of cheap gas from Iran or Turkmenistan, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that last year domestic consumers were burdened with Rs 29 billion by the gas companies and this year the burden has been estimated to be Rs55 billion due to the shortage of buyers of costly imported gas.

Murtaza Mughal said that there is a lot of focus on constructing terminals but there is a lack of buyers in the market for which domestic consumers are made to pay.

He noted that gas was a little over 50 percent of the national energy mix which has now receded to 35 percent while the share of LNG has increased from zero percent in 2914 to 5.6 percent in 2017 and it will be almost fifty percent in a few years.

The government is set to sell two LNG-based power plants in Punjab at the cost of $3 billion as per the agreement with the IMF. Caution is required in the deal to sell 2640 megawatt power plants, big consumers of LNG, as a little mistake in the deal can leave all the companies dealing in the LNG supply chain bankrupt, he warned.

Achieving economic stability amid increasing poverty an illusion: PEW

Eroded buying power of masses hurting the economy

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Friday said achieving economic stability amid increasing poverty in the country is a delusion of policymakers.

Reduced buying power of the masses due to increasing poverty is resulting in economic problems which are against the interests of country and people, it said.

Tax measures and increased cost of energy has swept the buying power of masses, therefore, the majority has stopped buying anything except necessities which has clipped demand, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that reduced demand has brought down the production of factories resulting in layoffs which have thrown millions in unemployment.

Dr Murtaza Mughal said that Pakistani industry relies on the local market is exports of 300 billion dollar economy is just 19 billion dollars.

The agriculture, industry, and the services sector depends on the local market which is in bad shape due to policies of IMF which will push the country to seek another package sooner than expected.

He noted that current interest rates are higher enough to crowd out the private sector as it is only benefitting the commercial banks and the government which it has broken the back of other sectors.

The higher cost of credit can have a detrimental impact on private investment and lower rates boost it, he added.

Current interest rates and set of policies are enough to shatter economic beyond repair, therefore, it should be revisited immediately, he demanded.

Govt shouldn’t keep the benefit of reduced oil prices to itself: PEW

Govt asked to pass on benefit of reduced oil prices to people
Increasing tariff twice in two days shows panic in power sector
Masses facing unprecedented inflation should be given relief

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said the government should not pocket benefit of reduced oil prices in the international market and pass on relief to the masses.
The masses facing an unprecedented price hike deserve some relief, therefore, petroleum prices should be reduced in line with the recommendations of OGRA, it said.
Every government claims that oil prices are linked to the international market but when prices slide the benefit is not passed on to the masses. Rather, the government silently increases levy which keeps prices intact but increase the income of the government, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.
Oil prices are coming down but the government increased electricity tariff twice in two days putting additional burden of around Rs 125 billion on masses which is amazing, he said.
Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that the electricity sector will continue to show heavy losses even if the price of electricity is doubled because it is infected with corruption and inefficiency while the government seems not interested in reforms.
No steps have been taken to contain corruption or losses in the power sector while privatization of the ailing power sector is not a priority for the government, he added.
He noted that circular debt is the outcome of incompetence and corruption in the power sector while the government finds it easy to finance the power sector mismanagement by putting the burden on the masses.
Actual line losses in the power sector came in at 18.3 percent for which honest consumers who are paying their bills regularly are penalized.
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Amended Sales Tax laws hitting local industry: PEW

Promoting imports at the cost of local industry assailed
The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) changed sales tax laws have reduced the price of imported raw material as compared to the raw material produced in the country which has put the future of hundreds of industrial units at stake.
The development is resulting in wastage of foreign exchange, it will reduce revenue and increase unemployment, it said.
The companies producing raw material for the textile industry that includes yarn, grey cloth, and cotton, etc. are under the threat of closure and bank defaults, therefore, the laws should be reviewed, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.
He said that the textile industry is preferring import of raw material after the withdrawal of the facility of zero-rating which has reduced demand for manufacturing material threatening a large industrial segment.
Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that no duties are imposed on the import of raw material while there is seventeen percent sales tax on local units producing the raw material. These units have to wair for nine months to get refunds which add to their cost of doing business.
He said that some elements are also getting the benefit of the current policy and they are importing finished products in the garb of raw material which should be discouraged.
Foreign manufacturers should not be given preference over the local manufacturers as it has started to hit demand for raw material including cotton which will hit troubled growers, he demanded.
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India using Kabul River as a weapon against Pakistan: PEW

New Delhi spending billions to destabilise Pakistan
A water-sharing treaty can evade Pak-Afghan war
Support for KBD by former opponents welcomed

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said India is using water resources of Afghanistan as a weapon against Pakistan which should be countered.
India is supporting the construction of twelve dams in Afghanistan which will reduce the availability of water resulting in severe consequences to the masses, agriculture, and industry, it said.
A water-sharing agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan has become imperative otherwise water issue can spark a war, said Chairman PEW Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd).
In a statement issued here today, he said that India is employing everything in her power including water terrorism to destabilise Pakistan for which billions of dollars are being spent.
He said that Pakistan is getting 25 million acre-foot water from River Kabul while India wants to reduce the water supply as much as possible to damage Pakistan.
Brig. Aslam said that Afghanistan has every right to use water for the welfare of the population as seventy-two percent of Kabul residents have no access to the clean water, but Afghanistan has no right to become a destabilising tool for New Delhi.
The Kabul River and its tributaries provide an important source of livelihood for nearly 25 million people living around the basin and that population is expected to increase to 37 million by 2050, he said.
He noted that some of the opponents of Kalabagh dam have shown some flexibility which is very heartening.
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Call to appoint MDs of gas utilities: PEW

Acting MDs avoiding important decisions
Power struggle hurting both institutions

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Friday said the slots of full-time managing directors of both the gas utilities are lying vacant for eight months which is hurting both the institutions.
The Prime Minister Imran Khan fired MDs of SNGPL and SSGC on January 8, 2019, following an inquiry into a nationwide gas crisis in December 2018, it said.
Since January 2019, both the gas utilities are being run by acting MDs while the laws require to fill these important posts within three months, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.
He said that different important persons are struggling to get their favourite officers appointed on the coveted posts which is delaying the process that is taking a toll on the institutions and the economy.
Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that the vacancy of MD SNGPL has been advertised for three times on 24th of March 2019, 4th August 2019 and 11th Sept 2019 and criteria was changed every time flouting clearly laid out rules and regulations which must be noticed.
The process for hiring a new managing director of the SNGPL has become highly controversial and the ongoing power struggle is hitting the morale of seven thousand employees of the company.
He said that presently the performance of the company is on the lowest ebb, important matters are awaiting a decision and uncertainty is resulting in heavy losses which will be shifted on masses already reeling under inflation.
Prime Minister Imran Khan should take notice of the situation and intervene to improve the working of gas utility by appointment of MD on merit, he demanded.
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Continued hike in sugar price unacceptable: PEW

Urea price hike to damage agriculture sector
The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Wednesday said continued hike in the price of sugar in acceptable which amounts to the exploitation of masses reeling under inflation.
The sugar which was being sold at a price of Rs45 per Kg is now available at Rs80 which is condemnable, it said.
The price of sugar is being increased without justification, while the sugarcane growers are not benefitting from it, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.
The growers are facing exploitation by the sugar millers which is not being noticed, he added.
Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that the price of urea is set to increase by Rs200 per bag which will hit the agriculture sector and increase the cost of production.
He noted that the government has set a target of inflation at six percent but it jumped to double-digit in February and now it is at 11.63 percent while prices of many items have registered 30 to 40 percent increase.
Price of every necessity is increasing while the role of the government is confined just to issue daily rates and leaving the consumers at the mercy of shopkeepers.
This is despite the fact that except for a few limited items, the bulk of the food and necessary edible supplies are domestically produced but not properly managed.
The producers are allowed to sell their products in the market at any price they can derive as the administrative mechanism exists in books only.
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Change not going down well with masses, businessmen: PEW

Revenue shortfall may result in mini-budget
The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said tabdili is not going down well with masses and businessmen while hasty and nervous decisions by the government is hitting the confidence of the business community.
It said that economic indicators are worsening which is adding to the anxiety of the masses and business community.
Inflation is gaining momentum hitting poor and middle class but authority seems unconcerned, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.
He said that private investment has reduced from 10.3 percent in 2018 to 9.8 percent which will slide further.
Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that the private investment target has been reduced to 10.1 percent which is difficult to manage.
He noted that investment in large scale manufacturing has also been reduced while production has gone down by 54 percent.
Foreign investment has reduced by 36 percent and foreign investors are taking back their money which is at 11 percent.
He said that lack of continuity in policies have taken a toll on the economy while the situation in Kashmir has also played its role to push away investors.
The price hike has become order of the day due to week system of price control on the federal and provincial level.
Dr. Mughal said that the number of filers has increased by seven hundred and eighty thousand but the collection has jumped by only Rs2.5 billion which will result in a mini-budget as the revenue shortfall for the months of July and August stands at Rs64 billion.
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Hasty, nervous decisions eroding confidence: PEW

Revenue shortfall may result in mini-budget
The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Saturday said hasty and nervous decisions by the government is hitting the confidence of the business community.
It said that economic indicators are worsening which is adding to the anxiety of the masses and business community.
Inflation is gaining momentum hitting poor and middle class but authority seems unconcerned, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.
He said that private investment has reduced from 10.3 percent in 2018 to 9.8 percent which will slide further.
Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that the private investment target has been reduced to 10.1 percent which is difficult to manage.
He noted that investment in large scale manufacturing has also been reduced while production has gone down by 54 percent.
Foreign investment has reduced by 36 percent and foreign investors are taking back their money which is at 11 percent.
He said that lack of continuity in policies have taken a toll on the economy while the situation in Kashmir has also played its role to push away investors.
The price hike has become order of the day due to week system of price control on the federal and provincial level.
Dr. Mughal said that the number of filers has increased by seven hundred and eighty thousand but the collection has jumped by only Rs2.5 billion which will result in a mini-budget as the revenue shortfall for the months of July and August stands at Rs64 billion.
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Relief of Rs300 billion to industrial sector lauded: PEW

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Saturday lauded the decision to provide relief of over Rs300 billion to the industrial sector.
The government has waived liabilities and cancelled late payment surcharges pertaining to the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) through an Ordinance, it said.
Waiving half of the liabilities of fertiliser, textile, power generation, and CNG sectors will provide them with some space while it may help these sectors to cut prices, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.
He said that GIDC has been reduced to 75 percent which can result in the reduction in the price of fertilizer, electricity and CNG.
Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that the decision would have gone down well with the masses if they would have been provided with some relief.
He said that the government is confronted with a budget deficit of Rs3.445 billion while the deficit target has been missed by 82 percent which is the result of frequent changes in policies, political instability and lack of focus by authorities.
Inflation and deficit continue to increase while revenue is stagnant which indicate that increase regulatory duties, devaluation, two mini budgets, and other steps have not provided any results except for adding to the miseries of the masses.
Similarly, an extraordinary hike in the price of fuel, gas and electricity have remained counterproductive, he said.
The government should be focused on how to save people representing poor and lower-middle classes from the brunt of the economic crisis.
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India will have to pay for Kashmir aggression: PEW

UN reaction diplomatic victory of Pakistan
The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Saturday said India will have to pay for the aggression in held Kashmir.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is dealing with the issue of Kashmir according to the aspirations of the people while masses and the business community is with the government and army, it said.
We will not hesitate to offer any sacrifice and will unconditionally support our Army, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.
He said that Pakistan doesn’t need any type of relations with India and we will not leave Kashmiris alone.
Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that Indian atrocities and cluster bombs will fail to dent the resolve of Kashmiris.
He noted that withdrawal of special rights and bifurcation of Kashmir has prompted the United Nations to issue a powerful statement which is diplomatic victory of Pakistan.
Modi is following the footsteps of Hitler and he has become a great threat to the peace of the world while any misadventure on the part of New Delhi can spark a war with very serious consequences, he said.
Nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir while clashes over LOC has become a routine.
Dr. Mughal said that the world should act immediately so that tensions between the two rivals could be controlled otherwise Pakistan will make India history.

Govt’s decision to reduce the price of roti lauded: PEW

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Thursday lauded the decision of the government to reduce the prices of roti (flatbread) and naam.
The price of staple would be reduced to the level which existed a few months ago which will provide relief to millions of poor, it said.
Inflation has already taken a toll on the poor therefore a reduction in prices of basic food will provide them some relief, said Chairman Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd).
However, he said that thousands of nanbais (bread makers) have also reduced the weight of roti and naam which warrant a strict action.
He said that hike in the piece of wheat and flour is little to do with erosion in the exchange rate, high energy prices, and tax measures while it has a lot to do with profiteering.
The government should bar district administration from increasing the roti price in an arbitrary manner, strikes by nanbais should be discouraged as it will encourage other sectors to pressurize government for the unjustified price hike, he demanded.
The authorities should also revere the artificial hike in the price of wheat and review the gas tariff for tandoors to make the move a success, he said.
Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan said that Pakistan’s annual requirement of wheat stands at 25.8 million tonnes while 27.9 million tonnes of wheat is available in stocks. The price should not have been increased in the presence of 2.1 million tonnes of surplus wheat.
He said that the ban on export of wheat should not be lifted, smuggling should be controlled and strict action should be initiated against hoarders and flour mills mafia which pushed the country into food insecurity for profit.

PEW satisfied over action against profiteers: pew

Govt asked to do more to provide relief to masses
Exploiter mafia should not be fined but sent to jail

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) Chairman Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd) on Saturday expressed satisfaction over action against profiteers and asked the government to do more to discourage hoarders and provide relief to the masses.

A vigilant eye should be kept on the middleman mafia in fruit and vegetable markets so that elements creating artificial price hike could be punished, he said.

Surprise raids should be conducted across the country for eliminating artificial price hike and hoarding and ensuring provision of good quality of edibles to masses on affordable rates, he added.

Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan said that strict checking of weights and measures should be carried out by officials in routine to discourage unscrupulous traders while those selling adulterated items should be sent to jail.

He said that the majority of vendors are selling items above the fixed prices while the tendency of overpricing calls for a continue price-checking campaign.

The PEW president noted that non-Muslims in many countries are selling basic commodities at low prices to facilitate Muslims during Ramazan, but in Pakistan, the situation is the opposite and profiteers continue to dominate the markets.

Every Ramazan a rate list is issued by the district administration to ensure the sale of fruits, vegetables, grocery and other essential items at a controlled price set by the government but traders set their own prices to milk the public.

Authorities have always failed to control the prices of basic commodities at the advent of Ramazan while the situation can change a bit if profiteers are not fined but sent to jail.

He said that banks are playing an important role in strenghtning the arhati mafia which is exploiting growers and consumers.
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IMF pushing Pakistan into stone age: PEW

Global institutions blamed for economic genocide

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said IMF is pushing Pakistan into stone age through its negatives economic policies.

Instead of encouraging growth in vulnerable economies, IMF destroys state institutions, disintegrate protective economic barriers and impoverish large numbers of the population, it said.

The destructive policies of the lender will transform Pakistan into a graveyard of industry and agriculture, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

The visiting mission of the IMF will leave only after ensuring the continuation of its genocidal policies to destroy economic activities and trigger unemployment, he added.

He said that the stringent IMF conditions regarding the hike in electricity tariff, increased interest rates and devaluing currency have terrified masses and the business community.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that bureaucracy has successfully created a divide between masses and the government after which later has emerged as a serious threat for the poor.

He noted that rich have been spared while poor are being targeted for stabilization of the economy which is worst form of exploitation that may lead to a trend of suicides among masses like India

Different mafias and gangs of businessmen are ruling the country and continue to skin the masses with the support provided by the political class.

Dr. Mughal said that the continuation of such policies will hit masses and whole country can experience a Thar like situation where children die daily to malnutrition.

The IMF is not interested in reforms empowering the masses and simplifying the tax system while recent directives are against the basic human rights protected by the Constitution, he said.

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Government ruining economy, penalising masses: PEW

People paying the price for voting PTI to power
Rulers practicing voodoo economics
Officials prefer bribes over taxes

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Wednesday said the government continues to punish poor masses who are paying the price for electing incompetent politicians.

Those who claimed to nail the corrupt have been nailing the masses through their gross negligence, incompetence, and mismanagement, it said.

The government continues to harm the poor and now it has planned a hefty rise in the price of petroleum products which will push millions below the poverty line, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that the crazy crew of ministers have nothing constructive to do, they have no plan to provide some relief to masses and they are busy in blaming the former rulers for everything.

Dr Murtaza Mughal said that the government lacks any initiative to revive the nosediving economy or provide relief to the masses who are running out of patience.

He said that inflation, interest rates, the value of the US dollar, and unemployment are set to rise in the days to come, health, education, housing, environment, infrastructure, and social programmes would be compromised while investment will be at the lowest ebb.

Presently a good number of people have been forced to decide between eating normal food or getting their children educated but the government seems indifferent.

He said that masses want to pay taxes but the collectors prefer bribes over taxes by mentally torturing and blackmailing the taxpayers.

Dr. Mughal demanded action against those who send wrong notices to the people for personal motives.

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Pakistan and Morocco should sign a free trade agreement: Dr. Mughal

Pakistan has a very bright future: Morocco
Pakistan can become an important trading partner: Ambassador

Ambassador of Morocco to Pakistan Muhammad Karmon has said that Pakistan is a very important country with huge economic potential and an exceedingly bright future.

Morocco wants increased trade relations with Pakistan as the two countries have good potential to promote bilateral trade in different areas, he said.

Talking to Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President Pakistan Economy Watch, he said that Pakistani businessmen should explore opportunities in Morocco as we import crude petroleum, textile fabric, telecommunications equipment, wheat, gas, electricity, transistors, and plastics.

He informed that his country export clothing and textiles, electric components, inorganic chemicals, transistors, crude minerals, fertilizers, petroleum products, citrus fruits, vegetables, fish, and vehicles.

Morocco attracts over ten million tourists per annum which has developed the local hospitality industry that can help Pakistan develop this important sector, he offered.

The Ambassador said the exchange of trade delegations is an effective tool to identify trade potential and exportable products between the two countries for which links should be developed.

At the occasion, Dr. Murtaza Mughal and Chairman PEW Aslam Khan said that Pakistan and Morocco enjoy brotherly relations but trade and economic ties were not up to the satisfactory level.

They said Moroccan businessmen should explore new avenues of mutual cooperation between the two countries and both the governments should do the maximum to facilitate businesses.

Morocco is located at the gateway of Africa and Europe and offers enormous economic opportunities which should be explored, they added.

Both the countries should look into the possibility of signing a free trade agreement, they demanded.

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Economy in the clutches of speculators, manipulators: PEW

Policies demanded to divert investment to productive sectors
Promotion of industrial sector can salvage the sinking economy

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Saturday said the economy is in the clutches of speculators since long who continue to thrive on manipulation.

Speculation has become the most profitable business in Pakistan while establishing an industry has become next to impossible, it said.

The economy has lost its direction to the extent that the industrial community is also starting speculation and trading which is alarming, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

The country cannot overcome economic problems unless speculation is discouraged and industrialization is preferred over everything else, he added.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that the speculative sectors should be taxed as much as they are taxed in neighboring countries while masses and economy should be insulated from these parasites.

He noted that stock exchange, property and currency business benefits some while industrialists bring investment, ensure production and exports, earns revenue for the government and provide jobs.

Former rules promoted speculation in stock, property and commodities markets to give an impression of rapid GDP growth which didn’t benefit the country but some brokers, he said.

Dr. Mughal said that increased loans by the private sector should not be confused with improved manufacturing as most of the loans are given to retailers, wholesalers and insignificant services sector.

The government should frame policies to divert investment towards the industrial sector while discouraging black sheep in the industry addicted to packages and bailouts, he demanded.

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Deal with IMF to stabilise the economy: PEW

Action demanded against stock brokers for engineering crisis
Increased remittances, decreased deficit, access to Chinese market welcomed

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Thursday said a deal with IMF will stabilise our economy which is facing problems therefore it should not be delayed.

It welcomed increased remittances by 1.2 billion from July to March, expected reduction in trade deficit by six billion and access of 313 Pakistani products to the Chinese market which will boost exports to China above three billion dollars.

Brig (Retd) Muhammad Aslam Khan, Chairman PEW said in a statement that immunity on receiving remittances from abroad should be lifted immediately as it is being misused by the business community and corrupt politicians.

Such a decision will reduce corruption, cut flight of capital and expand the size of the documented economy, he added.

Muhammad Aslam Khan said that trade talks with some countries are in the final stage and hoped that the result of the efforts would be beneficial for the country.

He said that the country is passing through hard times but the situation is not as bad as painted by some international institutions which want frustration and unrest among the masses.

The PEW chairman said that the government should take harsh action against the broker mafia of the stock exchange which has engineered recent crisis.

Its always the small investors who suffer in every crisis while the asetts of the leading brokers multiply who deserve no mercy.

The names of illfamed brokers should be put on the ECL so that they could not leave the country like their peers, he demanded.

Khan said that last month exports dropped by 11.13 percent despite an export package and burdening masses with their gas bills which must be noticed.

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Another gas bomb ready to be dropped on masses: PEW

Gas bills can exceed the rent of an average house
Greed of gas companies knows no limits

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said another gas bomb has been prepared which will hit masses shortly.

The gas companies which are not satisfied by up to 143 percent hike in the gas tariff during last one year have initiated efforts for a 145 percent further increase in the price of gas, it said.

If the government didn’t allow full revision in prices and decided to increase tariff by only 40 to 50 percent it would spell disaster for the masses reeling under inflation, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

The move will increase the profit of gas utilities but result in increased cost of doing business, closure of many businesses and widespread unemployment in the country, he added.

He said that the monthly bill of gas can exceed the monthly rent of a normal house any time soon.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that OGRA is bound to get public opinion before revision in the gas price which is just wastage of time and resources as recommendations of stakeholders have never been accepted.

He said that gas companies continue to milk masses on the ploy of losses but their directors have never tried to divest shares.

The gas distribution companies continue to give dividends to their shareholders which is contrary to their claims of heavy losses, he observed.

Dr. Mughal said that gas is an important national asset and no one should be allowed to play with it while the role of gas distribution companies should be confined to transportation and distribution only.

He said that these companies are said to be the biggest hurdle in the success of LNG project which is costing billions to the public exchequer.

Gas companies have left OGRA almost dysfunctional while the government also take unilateral decisions bypassing the regulator.

If a dysfunctional OGRA is in the interest of the government and gas companies then there is no need to spend a hefty amount on this institution and should be closed.

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Pakistani masses, economy facing a dire situation: PEW

Sufferings of masses to continue for three years
Nepal and Bhutan performing better than Pakistan

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Friday said Pakistani economy is in deep trouble while masses are facing problems which will continue for the next three years.

The growth rate will be halved to 2.9 percent in 2019 while it will continue to fall in 2020 and 2021 adding to the problems of masses, it said.

India and Bangladesh will have a growth rate of above seven percent while countries like Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives will also perform better than Pakistan, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that high interest rates, devaluation of the currency, hike in the tariff of power and gas, and increased cost of doing business will hurt production and exports.

Many businesses will be closed increasing unemployment, decreasing revenue and creating other problems, he added.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that IMF, World Bank, and ADB has not only expressed serious concerns over the state of the economy but also pointed out serious flaws in the budgetary figures.

The unmanageable circular debt, failed state-run enterprises, trade and current account deficits, low exports and growing imports will continue to haunt the economy and damage the masses.

He noted that inflation has troubled masses which are feeling frustrated, cheated and cornered in the name of a change while different ministers are adding insult to their injury by their absurd announcements regarding the provision of jobs, houses, and welfare.

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Decision to introduce new tax amnesty scheme backed: PEW

Owners of benami assets should be given last chance
Tax scheme to pave way for economic revival

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Friday lauded the government decision to introduce a new tax amnesty scheme.

The move will be an important part of the government’s efforts to revive the economy in these difficult times, it said.

The scheme should be finalized as soon as possible because it will not only increase tax net and improve revenue but also help the worried business community, said Chairman PEW Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd).

He said that the government should announce that the upcoming scheme would be the last one which would be followed by strict action as many owners of benami assets deserve a last chance.

Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan noted that amnesty schemes announced in the past have not benefitted the government but some elements, therefore, the government should learn a lesson and announce an acceptable and transparent scheme.

He noted that the same political parties are criticizing the move despite the fact that they announced highly controversial amnesty schemes when in power.

Keeping benami assets has become impossible due to the efforts of the government but different banks still hold over Rs 500 billion in benami accounts while benami properties worth trillions of rupees have been identified that must be regularized.

He noted that worries among the business community are translating into heavy losses, therefore, the matter should be settled without delay.

The bankers who help influential to operate benami accounts and conduct illegal transactions should also be brought to the book, he demanded.

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Concern expressed over exchange rate erosion: PEW

Falling rupee dragging masses, economy down
PM asked to reject summary of gas price hike

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Tuesday expressed concern over the steady fall in exchange rate saying that falling rupees is dragging masses and the economy down.

The rupee is losing value since last nine days which if continued will not only hurt asses but also hit businesses across the country, it said.

The freefall of rupee will trigger inflation, hit developmental projects, deter local and foreign investment and add to foreign loans as well as uncertainty, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that some elements are trying a 30 percent erosion in the value of rupee which will boost the value of one dollar to Rs 180.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that the government should not listen to such elements who want to benefit on the cost of masses.

He said that during the last one-year rupee has been devalued by 35 percent but the cited objectives could not be achieved.

All we saw was a little reduction in trade deficit and insignificant growth in exports which masses came under the additional burden.

He said that failed experiments should not be repeated as it will not only result in political and economic turmoil but also hit the credit rating of the country.

Dr. Mughal asked the Prime Minister Imran Khan to reject the summary of the Petroleum Division which has asked for a hefty hike in the tariff of natural gas as it will take a toll on masses, economy, and exports.

The gas companies should stop burdening masses for their inefficiencies, corruption, and losses and try to put their own house in order.

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Taxing small traders called a positive move: PEW

State cannot operate without taxes

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday lauded the plan of the government to impose a fixed tax on small retailers across the country.

The move will expand tax base, document economy, raise revenue and may provide some relief to the industrial sector which is paying 72 percent of the taxes, it said.

The move will also reduce incidences of harassment by tax officials and help shrink the size of expanding the undocumented economy, said Chairman Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd).

He said that the proposed tax should be imposed immediately in Islamabad and provincial capitals after consultation with the stakeholders.

The ambit of the tax should be expanded gradually across the country while improving it at the same time, he added.

Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan industrial sector is overburdened with taxes which is not only holding back its expansion but also hindering job creation.

A just tax system will automatically promote industrialisation which is imperative for the national development, he added.

He noted that all the efforts aimed at incentivizing non-compliant segments including retailers have failed to get desired results due to opposition by the business community.

The business community needs a simple and transparent tax system to build public confidence in its taxation regime as unnecessary complexity and uncertainty in any shape or form will remain counterproductive, he said.

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Thar achievement to attract foreign investors: PEW

Thar coal can help increase GDP by 4 percent

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Thursday said production fo electricity from Thar coal after a long time is a great success.

Initially, 330 megawatts of electricity has been added to the national grid which will be increased by the next month, it said.

Proper exploitation of Thar coal reserves will reduce dependence on imported fuels which can help the country save almost six billion dollars annually, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that success in the desert of Thar has caught the attention of local and foreign investors and it may result in heavy investment as 175 billion tonnes of coal can help change the fate of Pakistan.

Thar coal can end dependence on imported fossil fuel, help the country earn handsome foreign exchange, and boost GDP by four percent, he added.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that power demand continues to increase while load-shedding is not only compromising growth but also making life difficult for the masses.

The government should not only increase power generation but also restore the faulty transmission and distribution system.

Steps should be taken to reduce line losses and discourage theft of electricity so that masses and the industrial sector can get cheap electricity which is imperative for industrial and agricultural expansion, he demanded.

Industrial expansion is key to boost revenue, reduce dependence on loans and tackle scourge of unemployment.

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Indian water aggression slated: PEW

India wants to see Pakistan as a desert
Water politics by New Delhi can result in war

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday condemned India for stopping water of three eastern rivers from flowing into Pakistan.

India has used its military power, economic clout, diplomatic relations, and media against Pakistan and now it wants FATF to blacklist Pakistan, it said.

Following the failed efforts India has started water aggression which can result in war, therefore, the international community must play its role, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that India is also planning to leave Indus Water Treaty unilaterally which will be irresponsible as it would be an act of war.

Renewed Indian efforts to make Pakistan a desert has shed light on the need for water conservation in Pakistan, he added.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that Pakistan is already facing scarcity of water calling for efforts to conserve water, increase storage capacity, and shun differences over mega projects in the national interests.

He demanded that water should be declared a matter of national security as agriculture, industry, and masses are under serious threat.

He noted that India has targeted our country by constructing big and small dams on rivers flowing towards Pakistan while we have made our important water projects controversial due to which we were facing severe water shortage in the country which is deepening day by day.

The nation should unite to ensure water security as India was making all out efforts to turn Pakistan into barren land, said Dr. Mughal.

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Gas utilities damaging masses and economy: PEW

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said gas companies are damaging masses and the economy for their profits.

The gas companies are discouraging private sector trying to import LNG to ensure their domination in the gas sector, it said.

Over two dozen companies have invested in LNG business but not a single private entity has been allowed to import LNG which has discouraged many investors, said Chairman Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd).

He said that allowing the private sector to import LNG will reduce the price of fuel which will benefit masses which is against the interests of some influential.

Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan observed that OGRA should not be made dysfunctional by keeping its quorum incomplete while the appointment of energy officials in OGRA should be stopped as it is a clear conflict of interest.

He said that only functional and empowered regulator can safeguard interests of masses to some extent.

He noted that gas companies are earning billions of rupees but they want more, therefore, gas prices are being revised upwards frequently.

He noted that SNGPL’s line losses were 8.07 percent but now the same has been pushed up to 10.79 percent which will add huge money to their coffers at the cost of masses which must be noticed.

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PM lauded for action against greedy gas companies: PEW

Gas utilities want profits at the cost of masses, economy
Energy officials should not be appointed in OGRA
Masses not getting benefit of reduced int’l prices

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Saturday lauded the Prime Minister Imran Khan for taking notice of gas companies which are busy looting masses for maximising their profits.
The gas companies are discouraging private sector trying to import LNG to ensure their domination and continue to earn handsome profits.
Despite years of hard work, not a single private company has been allowed to import LNG which has given state-run companies a free hand to mint money at the cost of masses and the economy, said said Chairman Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd).
The former government encouraged the private sector to import LNG which resulted in investments by over two dozen companies but not a single entity could make it due to bureaucratic red-tapism and conspiracies, he added.
He said that allowing the private sector to import LNG will reduce the price of fuel which will benefit masses which is against the interests of some influential.
Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan observed that OGRA should not be made dysfunctional by keeping its quorum incomplete while the appointment of energy officials in OGRA should be stopped as it is a clear conflict of interest.
He said that only functional and empowered regulator can safeguard interests of masses to some extent.
He noted that gas companies are earning billions of rupees but they want more, therefore, gas prices are being revised upwards frequently.
Last year the price of LNG was 10.59 dollars per MMBtu while now it is $10.30 but the benefit has not been transferred to the consumers who are paying more than Rs41 per MMBtu.
He noted that SNGPL’s line losses were 8.07 percent but now the same has been pushed up to 10.79 percent which will add huge money to their coffers at the cost of masses which must be noticed.
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Pakistan shatters Indian dream of regional supremacy: PEW

Indian provocations aimed at draining Pakistan’s resources
Releasing pilot failed to improve attitude of Indian government
Politicians should not use issue of Indian pilot for petty gains

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said our political and military leadership has shattered Indian dream of regional domination through their brilliant moves.

Pakistan’s military is strong while its economy is weak therefore India continues to keep Line of Control restive to drain our resources, it said.

Pakistan has hailed Russian offer to mediate while India has rejected it which explains a lot about its plans regarding an economic offensive, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that the business community has a very important role to play amid Indian conspiracies to damage our economy.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that India pilot was released as a goodwill gesture as a deal was not possible overnight. The release of pilot has attracted global admiration but it has not changed the negative attitude of the Indian government.

He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has emerged as a great statesman; he doesn’t need any prize and politicians should not use the issue of Indian pilot for petty political gains.

Modi cannot win the election with the help of Indian media and he should stop dangerous moves which can damage is country as the human cost of conflict will be extremely high.

He criticized Trump administration for refraining from condemning the Indian airstrike which has unmasked US unholy designs and contributed to the rising tensions.

India cannot afford continued hostilities and a miscalculation will transform it into an unliveable piece of land.

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Decision to hasten sale of SOEs lauded: PEW

State resources not for pleasing incompetent
Vested interests keeping SOEs alive

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Saturday lauded the decision of the government to speed up stalled process of privitization to reduce deficit as losses of the bleeding state-owned enterprises (SOEs) continues to mount.

The losses inflicted on public exchequer by 197 SOEs are now running into trillions of rupees while the government spent Rs 277 billion in 2017-18 to keep PIA and WAPDA artificially alive, it said.

The government should sell or shut down the enterprises which have become white elephants draining scarce national resources, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that eighteen thousand workers are serving in in overstaffed PIA is making a loss at the rate of $30 million a month while it has liabilities to the tune of two billion dollars.

Similarly, thousands of workers of Pakistan Steel Mills are getting salaries without any output since the last two years, he said, adding that Railways, energy companies, and other corporations are no different.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that losses of state-run enterprises continue to increase so are the number of their board members, directors, top officials, and staff which is amazing.

This government has recently dropped PSM from its list of SOEs to be privatised promising to produce a “restructuring plan” soon while will meet the fate of other such plans orchestrated since decades.

These enterprises are kept alive to promote nobility, get juicy contracts and provide jobs to incompetent workers of the ruling political party for which masses are being made scapegoat since decades.

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Military leaders played a positive role in improving Pak-Saudia relations: PEW

Military leaders played a positive role in improving Pak-Saudia relations
Agreements with KSA to help Pakistan attract investment from other countries

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) Chairman Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd) on Tuesday said apart from political leaders, the former and incumbent military leaders also played a positive role in further bettering relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Agreements between the two brotherly countries worth billions of dollars will usher a new era of development and prosperity as it will improve the confidence of business community and push other countries to invest in Pakistan, he said.
Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd) welcomed the decision of crown prince to immediately release over two thousand Pakistani prisoners on the request of Prime Minister Imran Khan which has improved the image of PM.
He said that a new era of economic relations with Saudi Arabia will expand the Pakistani economy and help the government to fulfil its vision.
The PEW Chairman said that government should also consider steps to boost employment opportunities for Pakistanis in KSA, increase remittances and cut Hajj expenses for the people.
He said that trade restrictions imposed by India after Pulwama drama and threats are meaningless to Pakistan.
This is an effort by Indian ruling party to gain cheap popularity which if translated into action will be responded by full force.
India will fail to turn international opinion against Pakistan by such tactics while it will have no impact on the case against India spy in the International Court of Justice.
New Delhi has developed a habit of blaming Pakistan for her failures which are known globally.

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Govt regional cooperation toil lauded: PEW

New regional economic initiative demanded
Importance of intra-regional trade highlighted

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) Chairman Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd) on Thursday lauded the efforts of the government to improve regional cooperation terming it key to the prosperity.

Pakistan’s most important relations should be with its neighbouring countries like Afghanistan, India, Iran, and China instead of the western countries, he said.

Pakistan is giving too much importance to some western countries which they do not deserve as we are not as much dependent on them as believed, he added.

Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd) said that intra-regional trade is extremely important for boosting economic growth and prosperity in the region will remain a far cry unless Pakistan and India become closer.

A World Bank report estimates that trade between Pakistan and India is a mere $2 billion whereas, without trade barriers, this could reach $37 billion as both the countries continue to maintain long, sensitive lists of items on which no tariff concessions are granted he said.

He said that political tensions and non-tariff barriers are also playing their role, cargo trucks from either side cannot move beyond their border zones while visa regimes restrict the mobility of people between the two countries.

Pakistan is no longer an isolated country, friendly nations are pouring in aid, grants, and investment and it is high time to exploit the potential of trade cooperation with Iran and Turkey in sectors like barter trade, tourism and oil and gas using seaports and rail and road infrastructure.

Pakistan Iran and Turkey are natural allies and can work together through a collective economic initiative to improve the plight of masses and counter unjustified sanctions.

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Debt skyrocketing but manageable: PEW

PEW rules out the possibility of default

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said foreign and domestic debt has been climbing sharply to an all-time high but it is still in manageable limits.

The country’s total debt stocks have jumped to over Rs26.5 trillion but the government has the ability to tackle it, it said.

The government is facing larger economic challenges such as repaying mounting foreign debt amid rapidly declining foreign currency reserves necessitating vital reforms, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President of PEW.

The debt burden has touched alarming proportions due to the relentless borrowing by the former government, unabated imports, sliding exports and other factors but it will not bankrupt the country, he added.

He said that foreign exchange reserves are under pressure while repayment of loans will eat up a large portion of government earnings which can be countered through good growth rate and enhanced exports.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that the former governments added billions of dollars the external debt which should be tackled urgently.

He said that current account deficit has touched worrying proportions while the imports have added to the ballooning deficit.

The country would need to bridge the trade gap for which a loan of eight billion dollars is required from the IMF.

He said that country can avoid another loan from IMF to bridge deficit if it undertakes serious reforms without further delay.

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Military courts necessary for the national security: PEW

Terrorism brought down but it is not over
Lack of consensus to devastate masses, economy

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) Chairman Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd) on Thursday said extension in the life of military courts is necessary for the national security as the menace of terrorism is not over.

The military courts have helped reduce terrorism substantially which has improved the security situation, the image of the country and the economy but the decisive victory is yet to be achieved, it said.

This is a matter of life and death for the country, therefore, the political parties should take a decision in the broader national interest raising above the unimportant considerations, said Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd).

He said that opposing extension in the duration of military courts amounts to supporting the terrorists which is against the national interests as it will make the life of masses miserable and put additional pressure on the economy.

Increased terrorism will deter investment and promote flight of capital which will hit our economy hard adding to the problems of the poor, he warned.

He said that military courts were not needed if the former and present governments had initiated judicial reforms and strengthened the judicial system but it was conveniently ignored.

Amid the national crisis, the country lacks another instrument to punish the terrorists captured by the state except for the military courts, he observed.

The country cannot be left at the mercy of terrorists to please a handful of people, he said, adding that lack of consensus on the issue would be unfortunate for the country.

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Rising circular debt can devastate the economy: PEW

Govt should develop a foolproof reporting system

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said circular debt is quietly rising to an extent that it has become a threat which can devastate the economy.

The infamous debt has marched across Rs1400 billion but a serious effort to tackle the issue is yet to be seen, it said.

The issue of circular debt should be resolved on war-footing lest it becomes a tsunami for the troubled economy, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that the circular debt was Rs922 billion in November which has now climbed to over Rsw1400 billion while the reason behind fast escalation cannot be ascertained at the government level.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that concerned authorities are not interested in containing power theft, reducing losses and improving recoveries but they prefer to hide the facts from the government despite knowing the threat it poses to the economy.

The government should develop a foolproof system for monitoring the debt, determine its reasons and take steps to overcome it.

Those who think that burdening masses is the only way out are wrong as it is increasing poverty and hitting industrial and agricultural production while making exports uncompetitive in the international market.

It may be noted that this debt arises out of high electricity losses and inability of power companies to recover all the bills which leave power sector unable to discharge obligations towards fuel suppliers and banks.

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PM’s plan against money laundering backed: PEW

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday lauded the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to initiate biggest ever crackdown against money laundering in the history of Pakistan.

The decision will be supported by the masses as it will discourage corrupt nobility responsible for an annual loss of around10 billion dollars which can reduce the country’s dependence on foreign loans, it said.

The action will dishearten corrupt, improve country’s image, boost economy and investment, and help Pakistan out of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list, said Dr Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that across the board action will stop the smuggling of dollar, halt the flight of capital, and bring an end to the culture of artificial crisis which benefits select few.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that action against corrupt politicians and other influential will reduce pollution in politics and help stop the flow of illegitimately earned money to foreign banks.

The biggest ever crackdown against money laundering in the history of Pakistan will also help boost the image of the country which is necessary to attract investors, he observed.

He said that following the efforts of PM, the friendly countries have help Pakistan a lot

As Pakistan got the breathing space that it needed which has compelled IMF to soften its stance.

The uncertainty on the economic front has ended due to the assistance provided by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and China and now Pakistan can get a loan from the IMF on favourable conditions.

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Resurfaced circular debt threatening the economy: PEW

Sukuk bonds to boost Islamic finance industry

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said the circular debt has again resurfaced threatening the fragile national economy.

The infamous power sector debt has surpassed Rs1300 billion and there is no way in sight to tackle it which is adding to the problems of the government, it said.

The government has decided to issue Rs200 billion Sukuk bonds to handle the debt which will calm down the issue for a year or two but not resolve the problem, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that past governments have promised reforms in the power sector but did nothing concrete while a former finance minister announced to bury the debt forever in 2013 but left it unresolved before leaving the country to avoid accountability.

The incumbent government had promised to resolve the issue of circular debt during the election campaign and now it should come up to its promise, he added.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that the government has decided to issue Sukuk bonds against the 43 assets of power generation and distribution companies which will not only help it handle the problem and also help boost the Islamic finance industry.

Six Islamic banks have completed most of the spadework and only minor irritants have been left to be removed before the launch of bonds, he added.

The market share of Islamic banking industry stands at 13.6 percent of total banking assets. The industry has grown over twenty percent during the last five years but it is yet to make major advances.

The increasing role of Islamic banks in the overall banking sector and their potential for providing strength to the economy must be appreciated, he demanded.

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Govt lauded for the re-entry of British Airways in Pakistan: PEW

Zulfi Bukhari improving the image of the country

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) Chairman Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd)

on Thursday said re-entry of British Airways in Pakistan is a landmark achievement of Prime Minister Imran Khan government.

The development has proved that the image of the country is improving globally which will help attract multinational corporations which is necessary for much-needed investment, he said.

Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan said that a big name like British Airways coming to Pakistan means that international community is recognizing Pakistan’s potential as a new and good investment destination.

The credit of return of British Airways to Pakistan goes to PM Khan and his team as their effort will help send a positive picture of the country to the world.

The decision of the British Airways means that the country’s environment is now conducive for the foreign companies, it is no longer isolated and it is safe as well as highly profitable for the foreign investors, he noted.

The return of the British Airways will open new horizons of connectivity for Pakistan while the efforts of the government the economic outlook of Pakistan will continue to improve, he observed.

He recalled that the British Airways suspended its operations in Pakistan in 2008 citing the safety of its passengers but now the situation has changed for good.

Mr. Khan also lauded the steps taken to boost remittances which are the lifeline for the national economy as every year, overseas Pakistanis were sending over US$20 billion through proper channel.

Overseas Pakistanis were sending up to US$15 billion via informal means while increased use of banking channels will help the government boost foreign exchange reserves.

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Concrete steps demanded to protect masses, economy: PEW

Pakistan’s debt rating downgrade necessitates urgent steps

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Saturday asked the government to take concrete steps to protect the vulnerable masses from inflation and shield the limping economy facing extreme pressure.

Abrupt devaluations have filled the masses and the business community with bewilderment while the investment and expansion plans have been put on hold, it said.

Pakistan’s long-term debt rating has been downgraded by a global rating agency due to repayment obligations, low foreign exchange reserves, and fragile fiscal situation which should be considered a tip of the iceberg, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President of PEW.

He said that the government claims that the exchange rate has now reached near to equilibrium and is reflective of the market conditions while independent experts continue to question the assertion.

The exchange rates generally move on demand and supply in the market and the key reason behind the recent devaluation was the last fiscal year’s $19 billion current account deficit which is natural but the central bank should protect the rupee-dollar parity, he added.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that the forex reserves are not enough, therefore, the government should finalize talks with IMF without any delay otherwise rupee will come under more pressure.

He noted that remittances were able to support a trade gap of $36 billion by almost 18 billion dollars which were insufficient therefore a major foreign exchange support has become imperative.

He said that imports have dropped while exports have risen by 4 percent but it has failed to ensure stabilization and growth resulting in the freefall of rupee.

The government should take steps to contain rising prices, stop the flight of capital and discourage the flow of undervalued imports which are damaging the fragile economy, he demanded.

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Agriculture sector should get due attention: PEW

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said agriculture is the backbone of the economy, therefore, it should get the attention it deserves.

The agriculture sector contributes around 18 percent to the GDP, employs 42 percent of the total labour force, and constitutes 75 percent of the total exports revenue.

The cost of doing business for the farmers should not be increased to improve share of this critical sector in the national GDP, it said.

It is impossible to ensure national development while keeping agricultural development on the backburner, said Dr Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that agriculture is no more the largest sector of the economy but it continues to provide jobs to the majority of the labour.

Murtaza Mughal said that growth in this sector has remained unimpressive during the last ten years which proves apathy of the policymakers.

He noted that the high cost of inputs continues to reduce production which has been contributing to poverty in the rural areas.

Circumstances and some policies continue to push farmers to prefer low-cost crops over high-value crops while different packages announced in the past have not helped achieve results.

Pakistan is a notable country in milk production where the number of cattle head is increasing but the productivity of milk, beef and mutton are stagnant which must be noticed.

He said that the livestock sector is very important for poverty reduction, human health, and food security but the majority of four million people engaged in this business are away from the formal economy which has barred their development.

China, Israel, and Brazil have experienced exponential growth in the agriculture sector and Pakistan can learn from their experience to strengthen its own agriculture sector.

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Govt LNG move to stabilise energy market: PEW

Gas price inequality should be resolved through reforms

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) Chairman Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd) on Wednesday lauded the government for announcing that it is not terminating any liquefied natural gas (LNG) contract initiated by its predecessors.

The decision has put rumors of renegotiation of the LNG deal to the rest which will bring certainty in the energy sector, he said.

The government has assured the supply of gas to export industry during winter which is laudable but it should not delay exploitation of Turkmen gas through Tapi pipeline which is cheap as compare to all other deals, he demanded.

Muhammad Aslam Khan said gas tariff should be rationalized across the country while losses of distribution companies should be brought down from the current Rs48 billion annually.

Our reliance on imported gas is growing while the LNG is double the cost of domestic gas which is becoming an increasingly severe problem, he said, adding that the price difference between the imported and locally produced product cannot be ignored anymore.

The price of gas should be equalized for the industry of Sindh and Punjab as a huge disparity exists which is resulting in problems for exporters, he observed.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President on PEW said that gas price disparity should not be equalized with the help of subsidies which will add to the losses of the government.

As the economy comes to rely increasingly on imported LNG the gap in prices should be bridged through reforms which would be difficult.

Pakistani masses and industry has long been accustomed to taking natural gas for granted but those days are now over, he warned.

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Govt damaging economy, disappointing masses: PEW

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said the decisions of the government are damaging the economy and disappointing masses.

The government seems to have no economic policy, vision or direction which is triggering uncertainty, it said.

The performance of the economic managers is very disappointing as dollar jumped by 18 rupees in short span adding to the unexplainable agony suffered by the masses, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

He said that the government has shaken the foundations of the economy, claims regarding improvement have failed and everything is getting costly by the passage of the day which will make the life of masses very difficult.

Murtaza Mughal said that devaluation and interest rate hike will result in the closure of thousands of businesses leaving over half a million people unemployed.

The government continued to take u-turns on several issues including borrowing from IMF which added to the uncertainty which damaged the economy.

He said that the trade deficit has jumped to 7.5 percent in the last four months while foreign direct investment has been halved which indicate the incompetence of the economic managers who were once considered saviors by the masses.

He said that devaluation will increase the cost of all developmental projects including CPEC, stoke inflation, increase debt burden by Rs750 billion, trigger flight of capital and speed up dollarization of the economy.

The government has jumbled serious economic issued in a manner that business has become very difficult while new investment has become impossible, he said.

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FBR’s move to milk honest taxpayers blasted: PEW

Action should be taken against tax evaders
FBR’s decision to hit the government’s reputation

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Saturday condemned the move by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to mint billions of rupees from late filers and salaried class.

The FBR is in habit of milking honest taxpayers to hide its inefficiency and corruption which should be noticed by the government, it said.

The Apex tax agency has issued notices to over a million late filers asking them to pay two percent of their total turnover or pay twenty-five percent over and above the tax paid for the last year which is deception and extortion, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President of PEW.

The FBR has not taken any meaningful action against tax evaders and non-filers but it continues to punish honest taxpayers to meet targets which is not tolerable, he added.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that salaried class has been given the option to pay Rs2000 before the deadline or face legal action which is a solid case of harassment as the salaried class has already paid over Rs133 billion in taxes during the last year.

He said that a part of the business community is in a position to agree to the unethical demands of FBR so that the institution can show enhanced revenue generation but the salaried class which is already reeling under inflation cannot bear this burden.

Masses are frequently told to become filer but when they trust the authorities and become a filer then they are cheated which is damaging the reputation of the government, he observed.

FBR is pressurizing taxpayers for additional revenue through different tactics which is like a witch-hunt that will widen the gulf between the taxpayers and the FBR, he warned.

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Govt asked to stop betting on dead horses: PEW

The decision to revive state-run entities opposed

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday asked the government to sell the loss-making state enterprises without any delay.

Turning around the overstaffed state-run-enterprising facing poor leadership is something that has been experienced many times in the past without any success, it said.

The time has come for the government to stop betting money on the dead horses eating into national finances, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

These entities are draining resources since decades and the cost of maintaining these monsters is four percent of GDP which is unbearable, he added.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that SBP, OGDC, NBP, PPL, PSO, and PARCO are among paying dividends while almost two hundred enterprises including Pakistan Steel Mills, PIA, Railways, and the Discos are among loss-making entities.

The PIA having 15,000 employees continue to drain resources while it has fallen from national pride to national embarrassment due to inept leadership, an excessive workforce, and politicization.

Last year alone, the railways ate up Rs38.5 billion rupees of government money to gross mismanagement and incompetence and this year an additional Rs37 billion has been budgeted for the purpose.

In almost all the state-run-enterprises the individual interests supersede those of the organizations, corruption has become the order of the day while the only way out is genuine financial restructuring which is not possible given the government’s current state of finances.

The occasional packages for these leeches have never worked and will never work in future while creating holding company and some kind of a sovereign wealth fund will not motivate workers and managers to go beyond self-interest.

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PEW supports FBR reforms

Separation of tax collection from policy formulation hailed
Move to infuse confidence in the business community

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) Chairman Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd) on Sunday supported reforms in the FBR terming it a positive step which will infuse confidence in the business community.
The decision to limit the role of FBR to tax collection and entrusting policymaking to Tax Policy Board is a major step in the right direction which will lessen the complaints of the taxpayers, he said.
In a statement issued here today, he said that limiting the role of tax administration was demanded by the business community which will improve the situation and reduces dependence on foreign loans.
The decision is a larger shift in the governance of the tax administration which is opposite to what the former government did that augmented the sufferings of masses, he added.
Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan said that FBR is pushing the policy of regressive taxation as it continues to collect 82 percent taxes from masses while the ratio of direct taxation is only 18 percent which is fanning poverty.
He hoped that the Tax Policy Board will improve the taxation system to ensure equal distribution of wealth which will provide relief to masses and help expand the tax net.
At the occasion, Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW said that government will form a committee which will formulate a larger tax reform framework with the help of independent tax.
He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan in his first speech promised to start the reform process with the FBR. He should also try to reduce corruption in the department and ensure that tax should be used to provide services to the taxpayer which will automatically improve the relationship between the state and the taxpayers.
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New FPCCI president to be elected from Balochistan: PEW

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Tuesday said the new president of the FPCCI will be elected from the resource-rich but underdeveloped province of Balochistan.
The FPCCI elections are scheduled on December 28 while the underdeveloped province of Balochistan gets a chance after every seven years, it said.
Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President of the PEW said in a statement that the United Business Group (UBG) has been ignoring the problems faced by the business community in Balochistan which will make elections difficult for it.
The UBG could not get a strong candidate and it has nominated Daro Khan Achakzai from Chaman Chamber for the slot of president FPCCI while the rival Businessmen Panel has yet to announced their candidate, he added.
Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that Naveed Jan Baloch from Gwadar Chamber and Ghulam Farooq from Quetta Chamber are trying to secure a ticket from Businessmen Panel for the post of president FPCCI.
He noted that banks prefer not to lend loans to the business community in Balochistan while opening LCs has become very difficult while UBG has done nothing to resolve the issue despite promises.
He said that the regional office of FPCCI in Quetta has been closed since February while a slothful branch office has been established in Gwadar with only two staffers.
The business community of Balochistan has been complaining stepmotherly attitude by UBG leaders but SM Muneer continue to focus on Karachi while others prefer Punjab for their activities, he said.
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Cyber attacks on banks expose weaknesses in online banking: PEW

Businesses asked to invest more in internet security to avoid losses
The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said recent attacks of cybercriminals on the banks resulting in heavy losses have exposed weaknesses in the online banking system.
It has also brought the need for enhanced internet security in the banking and other sectors to the limelight, it said.
After the attacks, around ten banks have stopped international transactions through their credit and debit cards which will add to the problems on consumers, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.
He said that all the businesses should improve cybersecurity while financial institutions should invest more in this sector under the supervision of the central bank to avoid theft of data.
Murtaza Mughal said that cybercriminals have always remained a step ahead of government agencies.
A recent report says that the internet security related losses which were $500 billion dollars in 2014 have surpassed 600 billion dollars in 2018.
The losses are set to increase to one percent of the global GDP by 2021 due to lax laws, low conviction rate and easy money, he said.
The government should invest more in cybersecurity and relevant laws should be improved to discourage the crime which has the potential to disturb banking industry, he demanded.
Dr. Mughal said that cybercriminals know no boundaries, therefore, overcoming it is not possible without international cooperation.
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Anti-encroachment operation enhanced Govt credibility: PEW

The operation has broken the back of influential, big fish
The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Tuesday said nationwide anti-encroachment has added to the credibility of the government.
The operation has broken the back of the qabza mafia as dozens of commercial buildings, filling stations, shops, marquees, restaurants, and other unauthorized structures have been demolished, it said.
The situation in many cities has improved, influential, big fish and encroachers have been demoralised, while government property worth tens of billions of rupees has been retrieved, said Chairman Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd).
He said that government needs to intensify the operation and prefer clearing Islamabad of all the encroachments to make it a model city.
Commercial buildings have been built on the plots reserved for cinemas, swimming pools and clinics in the CDA’s master despite the fact that CDA bylaws disallow any commercial activity on plots kept for cinemas, swimming pools, and clinics, he added.
Brig. Muhammad Aslam Khan said that the government should bring to book the elements who usurped the right of entertainment of the people by greasing the palms of concerned officials.
At the occasion, Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that some people also purchased cheap plots in the industrial area and illegally converted them into plazas, educational institutions, hostels, offices, shops, showrooms, godowns and wedding halls.
Dozens of plazas were constructed in Golra which were shown as constructed in Sector E-11 to deprive masses of their hard earned income worth billions while no action was taken against them.
The calls of masses looted by builder mafia should not fall on deaf ears and operation should continue, he demanded.
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PM Imran’s China visit to stabilise Pak economy: PEW

Beijing can help IMF relax loan conditions for Pakistan
Chinese industry should be relocated to Pakistan to avoid US sanctions

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan can result in various deals which will help stabilize our troubled economy.
The US has started a cold war against China, it is pressurizing Pakistan, using India against China and Pakistan and damaging global economic order, it said.
In the given scenario, Pakistan and China need each other to confront threats which is only possible when Islamabad is backed by a stable economy, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.
The outcome of the visit of PM Khan could be new deals worth billions of dollars, a package to improve the balance of payments crisis while Beijing can also help IMF relax loan conditions for Pakistan, he said.
Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that Chinese companies are facing problems due to US sanctions, therefore, Pakistan can offer them help in relocation to Pakistan while investment in other sectors can be persuaded.
Chinese investment in the agricultural sector could be sought to develop this sector and improve the trade balance by exporting agricultural products to China.
Both the countries can tackle doubts over CPEC and decide to prioritize and expedite the projects under the matchless Chinese initiative, he said.
CPEC is a huge economic opportunity which has created 80,000 jobs in Pakistan and by the end of 2030, some 700,000 more jobs will be created.
The strategic partnership between Pakistan and China is not against any third country while the US-India relationship is clearly meant to harm Pakistan and China.
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UBG may face defeat in the FPCCI elections: PEW

The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said the United Business Group (UBG) is not prepared for the upcoming elections of FPCCI.
UBG leaders used to launch election campaign four months before the elections but it has not launched an effective campaign for the elections scheduled in December, it said.
Reasons behind the delay in the campaign is said to be the recent defeat of UBG in the elections of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and other disappointments, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.
He said that the patron of the group SM Muneer used to call former prime minister Nawaz Sharif his hero but the PM fired him from TDAP for dwindling exports which shocked many.
Murtaza Mughal said that SM Muneer also tried to become governor of Sindh in caretaker setup but failed while all the important leaders also failed to secure any slot in the interim government.
After the election of PTI into power, SM Muneer tried to get a position in the government but was politely denied and the group was also ignored in the recently formed Business Leaders Council, he added.
However, a central leader of the Businessmen Panel was given an important ministry in the caretaker setup in Punjab.
Murtaza Mughal said that all these developments have dented the morale of the leaders and supporters of the UBG which is reflecting in their attitude.
He said that the dejection in the UBG may help the Businessmen Panel in the forthcoming elections of the Apex Chamber and the business community may see a profound change.
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