March 1, 2020 (MLN): Besides the havoc witnessed last week after the deadly coronavirus took its entry in Pakistan, a number of interesting developments have been observed at both the state and the national level. These include:
The government on Saturday, reduced petrol prices by Rs.5 per litre to provide relief to the consumers. Petrol would now be sold at Rs111.6 per litre with effective from March 1st.
On Friday, the first National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) Energy Week 2020 concluded with a resolve to ensure the provision of affordable electricity to the consumers, eliminating inefficiencies in the system, introduction of competition through supplier regime, wheeling and net-metering arrangements.
Meanwhile, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) issued a schedule for the month of March – April 2020 for the auction of government Treasury Bills and Bonds through which it intends to raise Rs. 2.10 trillion.
On Thursday, the Advisor to Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industries and Production, Abdul Razak Dawood said that the present government was working on a textile policy to achieve growth and business targets which would be announced in next two weeks.
Another important development witnessed on Thursday was the staff level agreement between IMF staff and the Pakistani authorities on policies and reforms needed to complete the second review of the authorities reform program supported under the EFF. The agreement is subject to approval by the IMF management and consideration by the Executive Board, which is expected in early April. Completion of the review will enable disbursement of SDR 328 million (around US$450 million).”
Meanwhile, a delegation of APTMA and zero-rated Industries held negotiations with the Government team to discuss all matters relating to the textile and other zero-rated industries.
Moreover, on the downside, Moody’s released a report focusing on Pakistan’s Banking Sector, which states that the country's continued presence on the list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring is credit negative for its banks.
On Tuesday, the Cabinet Committee on Privatization (CCOP) briefed that the privatization process of SME Bank Limited and Pak Reinsurance Co. Ltd (up to 20% divestment) was moving ahead in a relatively faster manner and was expected to be completed in the required time frame.
In addition to this, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) granted permission to Hi-Tech Lubricants Limited to proceed to Apply/Acquire No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from concerned departments for setting up of up to a maximum number of 35 Retail Outlets in the KPK Province.
Furthermore, K-Electric submitted the requests for fuel adjustments to National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), on a monthly and quarterly basis, the hearing for which is expected to be held on March 4, 2020.
On Monday, to complement the government’s objectives of providing ease of doing business and enhanced consumer protection, Pakistan’s first-ever centralized information repository is established for the life insurance sector.
Besides, as a consequence of ban imposed on imports from China because of the outbreak of coronavirus, COVID-19, President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan requested the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to come up with some kind of a ‘Special Policy’ to save the importers of various goods and commodities from suffering severe losses.
Lastly, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday terming energy sector as vital for the country's economic progress said the reduction in electricity price, energy reforms and overcoming power losses was the priority of the government.
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