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More gas tariffs hikes planned as Pakistan eyes another IMF programme

More gas tariffs hikes planned as Pakistan eyes another IMF programme

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More gas tariffs hikes planned as Pakistan eyes another IMF programme

As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Pakistan are currently involved in policy-level talks on the next loan programme, the authorities have proposed another round of gas tariff hike for different set of consumers, sources say.

With the aim of controlling the gas circular debt in mind, Pakistan have shared three plans with the Washington-based lender, the sources said, as the IMF – one of the Bretton Woods Institutions established in 1944 – isn’t backing down on its primary demand of reducing budget deficit.

The latest increase in gas tariffs will be applicable from August this year and affect not only domestic consumers but also fertilizer, cement and CNG sectors.

According to the sources, it is proposed that gas tariffs for both protected and non-protected domestic consumers should be increased by Rs100 to Rs400, depending upon their consumption.

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Read more: Pakistan sees 2024-25 inflation at 11.8pc, IMF thinks it will be 12.7pc

However, the government wants to keep the gas tariffs for tandoors unchanged as these serve the working class and other low-income groups.

Earlier, the PML-N government in Punjab reduced the roti prices, forcing the tandoor owners to sell 100 gram roti for Rs15 and fixed the naan [120 grams] price at Rs20 – a move which has been later replicated in other parts of the country too.

The three plans submitted by Pakistan are part of the overall talks revolving around the gas sector circular debt as well as the intended reforms.

Energy reforms for both gas and power sectors have not only been a main IMF demand but also suggested by the World Bank and other international financial institutions (IFIs).

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That’s why the two sides also held discussions on a dividend scheme to reduce the circular debt which is affecting the working of Sui Northern and Sui Southern – the two marketing companies responsible for gas marketing in the country.

Moreover, the sources also said that the two sides had agreed on data sharing with the IMF concerning arrears recovery, tariffs and tariffs at the latest.

Earlier, it was reported in media that the fertilizer companies did not pass on the benefits to the farmers after receiving billions in subsidies, as the IMF has been advocating for targeted subsidies so that the low-income groups are the beneficiates instead of big businesses.

It worth noting that the urea prices have been raised continuously in Pakistan, which adversely impacted the farmers by increasing the cost of production.

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Budget 2024-25: Sindh announces up to 30pc increase in salaries

Budget 2024-25: Sindh announces up to 30pc increase in salaries

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Budget 2024-25: Sindh announces up to 30pc increase in salaries

The Sindh government has proposed up to 30 percent increase in salaries of its employees in the budget for next fiscal year 2024-25. 

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who also holds the portfolio of finance minister, presented the budget in the provincial assembly on Friday. 

He said the government had proposed 30pc increase in salaries of officials from Grade 1 to 6, adding that there was 25pc increase for officials of Grade 7 to 16. Similarly, officers from Grade 17 to 22 would get 22pc hike in their salaries. 

Furthermore, the provincial government has propsed 15pc increase in pension of the retired employees. 

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Presenting the budget with a total outlay of Rs3,352 billion, he said, the government had decided to allocate Rs959 billion for development projects.

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Rs37,000 minimum wage: Sindh follows in the footstep of federal govt, Punjab

Rs37,000 minimum wage: Sindh follows in the footstep of federal govt, Punjab

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Rs37,000 minimum wage: Sindh follows in the footstep of federal govt, Punjab

The Sindh government has revised the minimum wage for unskilled labourers to Rs37,000 in line with decisions of the federal and Punjab governments. 

The minimum salary has been increased by Rs5,000 as previously it stood at Rs32,000. The proposal was laid forth by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah while presenting the budget for the fiscal year 2024-25. 

Meanwhile, the Sindh government has proposed up to 30 percent increase in salaries of its employees in the budget for next fiscal year 2024-25. 

The chief minister said the government had proposed 30pc increase in salaries of officials from Grade 1 to 6, adding that there was 25pc increase for officials of Grade 7 to 16. Similarly, officers from Grade 17 to 22 would get 22pc hike in their salaries. 

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Furthermore, the provincial government has propsed 15pc increase in pension of the retired employees.

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Budget 2024-25: Let’s figure out the cost of essentials

Budget 2024-25: Let’s figure out the cost of essentials

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Budget 2024-25: Let's figure out the cost of essentials

The federal government has announced a staggering Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) worth Rs1,500 billion. 

According to the budget document, all federal divisions have been allocated budget, except the Poverty Alleviation and Special Safety Division, which deals directly with matters concerning 95 million people who are living in abject poverty. 

Sadly, the Poverty Alleviation and Special Safety Division gets nothing in the PSDP 2024-25. 

Worse still, the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety does not have any minister as its head, rendering it almost moribund for more than 10 months. Earlier, Dr Sania Nishtar was chairing it during the PTI government, followed by Shazia Marri during the PDM government. 

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Last year, 12.5 million people slipped into poverty, which took it from 34.2pc to 39.4pc, according to the World Bank. 

The government has conveniently ignored the poor in the budget. Other than announcing Rs598.71billion under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), no substantial amount has been earmarked for reducing poverty. 

Your next read: BUDGET 2024-25 – A LAYMAN’S GUIDE 

Analysts believe that 27 percent increase in BISP from Rs471.3 billion to Rs598.71 billion has been made to placate the Pakistan Peoples Party, which may take the wind out of PML-N’s sails anytime. 

BURGEONING TAXES 

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On the other hand, if we delve into the details of burgeoning taxes, Sales Tax stands out in afflicting the poor the most. 

Now a sales tax of 10pc will be charged on stationery items. 

Tribal area residents who have been experiencing extreme poverty will now have to pay 6pc tax on the supply and import of plant machinery as well as electricity on both residential and commercial connections. 

Following the similar trajectory, a 10pc sales tax will be charged on the local supply of vermicelli, buns, poultry feed, cattle feed, sunflower seed meal, newsprint, books, oil cakes and tractors. 

On mobile phones whose value is less than $500 (Rs139,240), 18pc tax has been imposed. If the value of purchased phone exceeds $500, an existing rate of 25pc will remain unchanged. 

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Earlier, the retailers of leather and textile products who paid 15pc sales tax will now have to pay 18pc tax. 

Drug prices will increase massively as the sales tax on raw materials used in production of pharmaceutical items has been raised to 18pc from 1pc. This will be applicable on medical treatment, diagnostic equipment, heart surgery, neurosurgery, electrophysiology, endoscopy, endosurgery, oncology, urology, gynaecology, disposables and other medical equipment.

Besides, 20pc sales tax on import of syringes, needles, catheters, cannulae, blood collection tube of glass and blood collection tube of PET.

Moreover, charitable hospitals with 50 or more beds will pay 18pc sales tax on imported medical goods. 

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