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Tough, unpopular budget a stepping stone for IMF programme: Ali Pervaiz

Tough, unpopular budget a stepping stone for IMF programme: Ali Pervaiz

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Tough, unpopular budget a stepping stone for IMF programme: Ali Pervaiz

Pakistan is looking to clinch a staff-level agreement on an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout of more than $6 billion this month after addressing all of the lender’s requirements in its annual budget, its junior finance minister told Reuters.

The South Asian country has set challenging revenue targets in its annual budget to help it win approval from the IMF for a loan to stave off another economic meltdown, even as domestic anger rises at new taxation measures.

“We hope to culminate this (IMF) process in the next three to four weeks,” Minister of State for Finance, Revenue and Power Ali Pervaiz Malik said on Wednesday, with the aim of thrashing out a staff-level agreement before the IMF board recess.

“I think it will be north of $6 billion,” he said of the size of the package, though he added at this point the IMF’s validation was primary focus.

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The IMF did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Pakistan has set a tax revenue target of 13 trillion rupees ($47bn) for the fiscal year that began on July 1, a near-40pc jump from the prior year, and a sharp drop in its fiscal deficit to 5.9pc of gross domestic product from 7.4pc the previous year.

Malik said the point of pushing out a tough and unpopular budget was to use it a stepping stone for an IMF programme, adding the lender was satisfied with the revenue measures taken, based on their talks.

Read more: Pakistan trade deficit reduced by 12.3pc, consumers hit by food exports surge

“There are no major issues left to address, now that all major prior actions have been met, the budget being one of them,” Malik said.

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While the budget may win approval from the IMF, it could fuel public anger, according to analysts.

“Obviously they (budget reforms) are burdensome for the local economy but the IMF programme is all about stabilisation,” Malik said.

Sakib Sherani, an economist who heads private firm Macro Economic Insights, said a quick deal with the IMF was needed to avoid pressure on Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves and the currency given the country’s maturing debt repayments and the effects of unwinding of capital and import controls that were applied earlier.

“If it takes longer, then the central bank may be forced to temporarily re-instate import and capital controls,” he said. “There will be a period of uncertainty, and one casualty is likely to be the rally in equities.”

Pakistan’s benchmark share index rose 1 per cent during trading on Wednesday, reaching a record intraday high of 80,348 points at 0640 GMT.

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The index has rallied roughly 10pc since the budget was presented on June 12, helped by continued optimism on getting an IMF bailout package to bolster the struggling economy. 

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Various schemes launched to boost agri, livestock sectors: minister

Various schemes launched to boost agri, livestock sectors: minister

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Various schemes launched to boost agri, livestock sectors: minister

 Punjab Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Syed Ashiq Hussain Kirmani said the livestock sector is a top priority of the government, and practical steps are being taken for its development.

He expressed these views during his visit to the sub-campus of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences and the Buffalo Research Institute in Pattoki on Saturday.

The provincial minister inspected various departments of the institute, including the calves rearing centre, dairy section, and research laboratories.

The minister on this occasion said that institutions like the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences are providing such education and training to our youth that they can play their role in the livestock sector in their practical life.

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He said under the leadership of Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, the government’s focus is on small farmers with land holdings ranging from one to twelve and a half acres, for whom various schemes are being launched in the agriculture and livestock sectors.

He said according to the vision of the CM, the Livestock Department is paying full attention to increasing milk and meat production and implementing body fattening programmes for livestock.

The minister said that for the first time in Punjab, a scheme called the Chief Minister Punjab Livestock Card has been introduced for small farmers, benefiting 80,000 farmers over two years.

Four lakh animals will be prepared for export through feed and fattening. Kirmani said that the Nili-Ravi breed is the pride of Punjab. The Livestock Department is striving to improve the Nili-Ravi breed of buffaloes in Punjab.

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Govt buys per unit electricity for Rs750 from specific IPP: Ejaz

Govt buys per unit electricity for Rs750 from specific IPP: Ejaz

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Govt buys per unit electricity for Rs750 from specific IPP: Ejaz

Former Caretaker Federal Minister for Commerce Gohar Ejaz has said the government has been purchasing electricity from a specific power plant at the rate of Rs750 per unit under IPPs contract deal.

“We have been paying Rs60 per unit due to these corrupt contracts. Out of total IPPs, 52 per cent belongs to the government while 28 per cent is being run by the private people of Pakistan,” Gohar disclosed.

“I have raised my voice against 40 families  and shared the data to save the country from them. It is surprising the government is paying Rs150 billion to a specific power plant which is generating merely less than 15 per cent of its capacity,” he said.

“Most IPPs are running at less than 20 per cent of their capacity while payments of Rs1.95 trillion have been made to these IPPs which have been confirmed.

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The former commerce minister reveled the government had been paying Rs370 billion to three IPPs which were generating less than 15 per cent of their capacity.

He says the solution to the problem is to pay to the IPPs ‘no capacity charges.

Read only: Gohar Ejaz urges Leghari to make IPP payment record public

“The IPPs must be paid for what they generate,” he highlighted.

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Nigeria’s Dangote refinery in talks with Libya to secure oil

Nigeria’s Dangote refinery in talks with Libya to secure oil

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Nigeria's Dangote refinery in talks with Libya to secure oil

Nigeria’s Dangote refinery is in talks with Libya to secure crude for the 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) plant and will also seek Angolan oil, a senior executive said, as it seeks to overcome problems with domestic supplies.

The $20 billion refinery, built by Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote on the outskirts of Lagos is Africa’s largest, and is designed to end Nigeria’s dependence on imported fuels because of insufficient refining capacity.

Since Dangote began operations in January, it has been unable to get adequate crude supplies in Nigeria, which, although Africa’s biggest oil producer, is struggling with theft, pipeline vandalism and low investment.

Dangote has resorted to importing crude from as far as Brazil and the United States.

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“We are talking to Libya about importing crude,” Dangote refinery senior executive Devakumar Edwin told Reuters late on Saturday. “We will talk to Angola as well and some other countries in Africa.”

He declined to give detail about the talks, but said international traders and oil companies were among the biggest buyers of Dangote’s gasoil, much of which was being exported.

“The biggest offtakers are the two big traders Trafigura and Vitol and BP and, to some extent, even TotalEnergies. But all of them are saying they are taking it to offshore,” Edwin said.

Traders and shipping data have shown that Dangote is increasing gasoil exports to West Africa, taking market share from European refiners.

Edwin said Dangote’s oil trading arm was operational, with staff in London and Lagos, to help manage supplies and sell products. Reuters first reported the planned trading arm in March.

Nigeria’s upstream regulator has clashed with Dangote, saying the sulphur content in its gasoil was above the required limits of 200 parts per million (ppm).

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Aliko Dangote has denied that, saying the sulphur level was higher when production started, but had fallen to 88 ppm and would sink to 10 ppm in early August as output rises.

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