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Pakistan to consider weekly flight operation for Kyrgyzstan

February 19, 2020: Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Wednesday said that Pakistan will consider weekly flight operations for Kyrgyzstan.

The Minister expressed these views during a meeting with Kyrgyzstan's Ambassador to Pakistan Eric Beishemhiev, said a press release.

He said that Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan are two brotherly countries and strong relations between the nations are based on trust and respect.

Eric Beishemhiev said that Kyrgyzstan was keen on enhancing ties with Pakistan. Both countries should start a weekly flight, he added.

The minister said, “Aviation Division will consider the request of Kyrgyzstan for a weekly flight operation under 5th Right of Freedom.”

It is important to note that the Air Services Agreement between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan was concluded on October 14, 1993. The ASA stipulates multiple airlines.

APP

Global markets rebound on hopes for limited virus impact

February 19, 2020: World stock markets mostly rebounded Wednesday on investor hopes that the deadly coronavirus will have only a short-term impact on corporate earnings and economic growth.

Nearing midday, London stocks gained 0.8 percent, as official data showed that UK annual inflation surged to 1.8 percent in January.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt added 0.5 percent and Paris gained 0.7 percent in value.

"Equity markets in Europe are higher... as the rate of new infections in China appears to be cooling," said CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden.

"The coronavirus crisis is deepening, but it would appear it is spreading at a slightly slower pace, so dealers see that as a positive step."

US and European indices had fallen Tuesday after Apple's warning that it would miss its quarterly revenue forecast due to the epidemic.

But Asian bourses turned higher Wednesday as investors bet on policymakers doing what is needed to minimize the fallout from the virus outbreak.

The illness, which has killed more than 2,000 people and infected over 74,000, has disrupted supply chains and forced the cancellation of high-profile sporting and cultural events.

As stimulus measures are rolled out in China and elsewhere, investors in Asia seem "confident that the region's governments will 'do what it takes' to offset the coronavirus slowdown", said OANDA analyst Jeffrey Halley.

After four straight sessions in the red, Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed up 0.9 percent.

Hong Kong won 0.5 percent but mainland China's key Shanghai Composite Index sagged 0.3 percent.

The more sanguine mood came as Chinese officials released a study showing most patients have mild cases of the coronavirus, and World Health Organization officials said the mortality rate was relatively low.

IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva has said there could be a cut of around 0.1-0.2 percentage points to global growth but stressed there was much uncertainty about the virus's economic impact.

World oil prices meanwhile rebounded on hopes over solid energy demand in China.

The Asian powerhouse is the world's biggest importer and consumer of oil -- and prices have been particularly sensitive to the epidemic that has spread to nearly 30 countries and territories.

APP

PTCL inks MoU with RCCI to enable digital Pakistan

February 19, 2020: Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) and Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a strategic partnership that offers state-of-the-art digital services from PTCL to the business community associated with Rawalpindi chamber.

Zarar Khan, Chief Business Services Officer (CBSO), PTCL and Saboor Malik, President, RCCI signed and exchanged the documents at a ceremony held at Chamber House Rawalpindi here on Wednesday.

Speaking on the occasion, President, RCCI, Saboor Malik said, “RCCI has always envisioned providing innovative services to the business community and has already initiated many projects for the welfare and growth of the community. The alliance with PTCL will enable large and medium-sized enterprises, along with IT and Tech start-ups, to grow their businesses.”

The services include fully managed IT & Telecom services such as Voice, Data, High-Speed Internet, International connectivity, Cloud Computing, Surveillance, Data Center, Information security and Wi-Fi solution.

On the occasion, Zarar Khan, Chief Business Services Officer, said, “We are delighted to extend our partnership with RCCI especially in the field of digital services.

 RCCI has selected PTCL as a strategic partner to serve the business community, which plays a vital role in the country’s economic growth”, he added.

 He said that PTCL committed to improve the lifestyle and empower people in Pakistan through its diverse products and digital services.

APP

Meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee held at...

February 19, 2020: The meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee was held under the chairmanship of the Secretary Finance at the Finance Division.

Senior representatives of the Provincial Governments, ICT Administration, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Utility Stores Corporation, Pakistan Customs, and Cabinet Division attended the meeting.

Data on CPI and SPI was presented by the Economic Adviser’s wing at the Finance Division with input from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. It was noted that inflation has increased around 14.6% in January when compared to the same period last year, the noteworthy aspect being observed is that during the past five weeks the SPI (Sensitive Price Index) was showing a declining trend. On the week ending on 13th Feb 2020, SPI was -0.38. The prices of 13 items decreased and 19 remained stable in the past week. It was observed that wheat was the cheapest in Punjab and highest in Sindh (Rs 809 per 20 kg and Rs 1058 respectively).

Secretary Finance, after concluding the discussion on the prices of the essential items and a follow up on the decisions taken in the last meeting, made the following concluding remarks; he was also joined by Secretary NFS&R.

Prices of essential items are increasing in the markets around the country and causing unrest in the public, but it must also be remembered that after devolution the function of price control falls under the domain of the Provinces. They must accept this responsibility and make efforts to appease the masses.

The local governments should be ready and prepared to take additional measures during Ramazan to save masses from price hike. If any help is required from the Federal Government, the Federal Government shall be ready to facilitate.

Provinces should share information as to which items other than the essential items, they think, add to inflation and how the government can help in coping with the scarcity. They should also share and guide the federal government and other provincial governments that how network of sasta bazaars will help to reduce inflationary pressures on the common man.

Hoarding for profiteering should be checked at every level and every stage and necessary action under the law should be taken against profiteers and hoarders.

The local government heads should ensure display of price lists and its applicability.

Smuggling of essential food items should be dealt with utmost severity.

As far as the Federal Government is concerned, Secretary Finance stated, the issue is being taken with utmost importance as the Prime Minister is particularly interested in reducing the burden on the common man which is increasing due to increase in prices. The PM is personally engaging the provincial Chief Secretaries twice a week to ensure swift action. The PM has also given subsidy to Utility stores Corporation (Rs 15 billion) and there are suggestions to open more of the stores in various parts of the country where they are needed. Federal Government is also taking measures to control smuggling of essential food items. Ministry of NFS&R is also preparing proposals to be approved by ECC that will help in controlling the deficiency of essential items. The Federal Government is doing everything possible in its domain.

The Secretary said that “there will be accountability for all those who are not taking the appropriate action keeping in view the distress the general public is enduring due to increase in the prices, as the Government is mindful of the welfare of the people”.

It was also decided that there will be a follow up meeting in the next week as the PM has special interest in reducing the level of prices of essential items all over the country.

Press Release

Services trade deficit shrinks by 23% in January

February 19, 2020 (MLN): Pakistan’s trade deficit in services stood at $182 million during January 2020, showing a decline of 23% as compared to the deficit reported in December 2019.

On the other hand, the overall deficit during the first seven months of the current Fiscal year stood at $1.97 billion, signifying a fall of 17% as compared to the same period of last year.

The exports of services during the month amounted to $496 million, which brought the cumulative exports for the first seven months of current Fiscal Year to $3.23 billion. Amongst the total exports during January, Telecommunications, Computer and Information Services made the largest contribution with an amount of $128 million, followed by Government Goods and Services at $87 million.

The imports of services during the month amounted to $678 million, which brought the cumulative imports for the seven months to $5.2 billion. Amongst the total imports, the largest expenditure was incurred on the Transport group for an amount of $277 million, followed by the Travel Group at $127 million.

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