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CPEC will bring development in the region: ICST

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders (ICST), on Saturday, said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is to propel Pakistan’s economy forward and Gwadar is set to become a port worthy of its geopolitical location, but unnecessary secrecy may hit the project.

The problem with the CPEC agreement is that much of it is secret and undisclosed which is resulting in rumours and doubts, which is keeping local and foreign investors away, it said.

While sufficient details about the project are not available, the experience of African and Latin American countries can inform the masses of the outcome of investments, said Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders chief Shahid Rasheed Butt.

He said that greater transparency will lead to reduced suspicions and augmented interest on the part of local and foreign investors but it is not being ensured.

Shahid Rasheed Butt said that the government should take masses into confidence by informing about the number of loans, repayments, interest etc.

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Countries needs to avoid protectionism: IMF

F.P. Report

WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund warned world leaders on Friday to avoid resorting to protectionist measures “at all costs” due to the damage it would cause to their own and the global economy.

At a time when President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed trade for US economic woes and threatened to impose barriers to imports, the IMF said such policies would not work.

In its sixth edition of an annual report analysing imbalances in the global economy, the Washington-based fund said while total trade and investment imbalances have narrowed since the crisis, there has been an increased buildup of excess surpluses and deficits in advanced economies.

About a third of the total are considered undesirably large imbalances, and countries should put in place policies to reduce these, whether they are surpluses or deficits, the External Sector Report urged.

But it is the deficit countries most at risk of a “backlash” that could lead to anti-trade policies, IMF research chief Luis Cubeddu told reporters.

“A key point of the report is that protectionist policies should be avoided at all costs,” he said.

Such policies are “unlikely to meaningfully address external imbalances and they would be extremely harmful to domestic growth and global growth,” Cubeddu added.

Even if there is a short-term impact on a country’s trade deficit when a barrier is erected to imports, IMF research shows “global GDP losses increase with the duration of protectionist policies, while the impact on global imbalances lessens” and currencies adjust to compensate.

The IMF in recent weeks has issued annual reports scrutinizing key economies including the United States and Germany, in which it recommended an increased focus on reducing the imbalances.

And while the Trump administration has accused Germany of taking unfair advantage of a relatively weaker euro currency value to boost its exports, Cubeddu said the IMF is “looking for actions from both sides, not just countries with surpluses.”

In Germany’s case, that means policies to boost domestic consumption, and for the United States reducing the government deficit and increasing productivity through things like education and infrastructure investment.

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Punjab to set up another 1200MW gas-based power plant

F.P. Report

LAHORE: The Punjab government has decided to setup a new gas power plant with 1,200 megawatts production capacity to meet energy needs of the future, provincial chief minister said on Friday.

Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, during a meeting with a delegation from Germany, said this energy project has been devised keeping in view the emerging energy challenges and needs of the country.

Sharif said every moment is precious and matters pertaining to this project should expeditiously be settled.

He added numerous energy projects have been completed in a record time while some projects are speedily being carried out.

Chief Minister said load shedding decreased due to completion of energy projects. “As much as Rs168 billion has been saved in gas projects of 3,600-megawatt, while 1,320-megawatt Sahiwal Coal Power Plant has been completed in a record time,” he added.

Minister Sharif said the projects of such a capacity were not even completed in China in such a short span.

He said energy projects are initiatives for development and prosperity of the country as these projects will remove darkness and the people will be benefitted by the completion of these projects. German experts assured the provincial government of providing technical cooperation for the new gas power project.

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Stocks bleed as KSE-100 plunges 2.5% in intra-day trading

F.P. Report

KARACHI: As anticipated, the KSE-100 Index – a benchmark for market performance – plunged as much as 2.5% or 1,149 points to reach a low of 44,757.16 as market participants ducked for cover ahead of the Supreme Court’s announcement of the Panama verdict later today.

The top court announced on Thursday that it would deliver the long-awaited verdict in the Panama case today, a make-or-break case for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The case is an investigation into allegations of money-laundering against PM Nawaz and his family.

With speculation hitting its peak ahead of the verdict, investors adopted a cautious approach, selling in droves as the market opened down before posting a slight recovery.

By 10:30am, and an hour before eyes turn to Courtroom No 1, the KSE-100 was down 910 points or 1.98%. It is a slight recovery from the intra-day plunge of 2.5% as investors cherry-picked stocks at attractive valuations.

Volume on the all-share index was high – understandably so – and activity was a stark contrast to Thursday’s when participants were on a snooze mode and awaiting clarity on the political front.

However, the Supreme Court’s announcement that it would deliver the verdict sprung investors back into action.

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FBR issues fourth tax directory of parliamentarians

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has on Thursday issued the fourth tax directory of parliamentarians for the tax year 2016, according to which Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has paid tax of 25 lac, 24 thousand, two hundred and 13 rupees, and Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shehbaz paid 95 lac, 31 thousand and 60 rupees.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan gave one lac, 59 thousand, six hundred and nine rupees as tax, and PTI’s Jahangir Tareen remained the highest tax paying parliamentarian having given Rs53,677,426.

The tax details of other parliamentarians are as follows

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar: Rs4,617,328

Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq: Rs104,853

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan: Rs1,192,618

Federal Minister for Defence, Water and Power Khawaja Asif: Rs1,275,978

Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal: Rs82,440

Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique: Rs3,983,491

Minister of State for Information Marrium Aurangzeb: Rs50,181

Opposition Leader in National Assembly Khurshid Shah: Rs124,215

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak: Rs813,869

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah: Rs5,175,256

Awami Muslim League (AML) leader Sheikh Rasheed: Rs505,966

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman: Rs50,181

PTI leader Asad Umar: Rs6,368,864

PML-N leader Daniyal Aziz: Rs62,544

PML-Q leader Ch Parvez Elahi: Rs1,482,588

MQM-Pakistan Convener Farooq Sattar: Rs39,758

Mehmood Khan Achakzai: Rs17,470

Senator Rozi Khan Kakar: Rs49,923,783

Senator Taj Muhammad: Rs35,284,413

Senator Talha Mehmood: Rs32,495,268

Senator Farogh Naseem: Rs20,233,725

Senator Aitzaz Ahsan: Rs13,854,833

It is worth mentioning here that the government had earlier published a tax directory of parliamentarians for the tax years 2013, 2014 and 2015.

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IMF to launch new form of aid – with no money

WASHINGTON (AFP): The International Monetary Fund announced Wednesday it will launch a new tool to support governments in financial trouble — but one that involves no money — formalising a step it took last week for Greece.

Instead of providing cheap loans to member countries, the new IMF tool will serve as a good housekeeping seal of approval for a government´s reform program.

With that approval in hand, governments would be more likely to be able to access other forms of financing from banks and bond markets, the IMF said in a statement.

“The new instrument is designed to help countries unlock financing from official and private donors and creditors,” the IMF said. “It enables them to signal commitment to reforms and catalyse financing from other sources.”

The IMF last week revived a rarely-used mechanism under which it approved a one-year loan to Greece but withheld the disbursement of funds until the country receives significant debt relief from its eurozone partners.

That had a similar effect as the new tool: allowing Greece to return to markets this week to issue three billion euros ($3.5 billion) worth of five-year bonds, and removing a major roadblock in the negotiations with the euro area.

The IMF board this month approved the new non-financing Policy Coordination Instrument (PCI), which unlike traditional fund programs will not have any eligibility criteria, as long as the country is not delinquent in payments to the IMF.

Rather than providing loans in exchange for strict adherence to an agreed program of economic and financial reforms — with performance targets reviewed quarterly — the IMF will focus only on the government´s policy package.

But the IMF stressed that “policies supported under the instrument would be required to meet the same standard as those required under a standard IMF loan.”

Fund staff would provide periodic reviews under the PCI, every six months or so, but the schedule would be flexible as would the duration of the program.

The IMF has always provided policy advice to member countries on a variety of topics including design of reforms for tax, pension or labour policies.

It also offers a programme called a Flexible Credit Line which is similar to the PCI in that it provides an IMF stamp of approval on a country´s economic policies, but also makes available a line of credit that would only be tapped if the country faces dire circumstances beyond its control, like a severe drop in commodity prices or a global financial crisis.

Some economists have expressed concern, however, about the potential stigma associated with a country that goes to the IMF for financial assistance.

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Have submitted tax record for 34 years in SC, says Ishaq Dar

ISLAMABAD (Web Desk): Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that 34-year-old tax returns have been submitted in the Supreme Court (SC) and he is ready to even write a book if the court says.

He was addressing National Workshop on Pakistan’s National Action Plan for Open Government Partnership in Islamabad on Thursday.

The Minister said good governance, transparency and prudent economic policies played major role in the country’s economic turnaround.

He said Pakistan’s 5.3 percent current GDP growth rate has been highest in a decade. He said country’s economy has now surpassed 300 billion dollar for the first time in the history.

He said per capita income has increased by 22 percent over the last four years and inflation has come down from over 12 in 2013 to 4.3 percent.

The Finance Minister said fiscal deficit, which stood at staggering 8.2 percent in 2013, has reduced to 4.6 percent last year.

Ishaq Dar pointed out that there has been 73 percent growth in tax collection during the last four years.

The Finance Minister said the Government believes in transparency and publication of tax directories of parliamentarians. He said Public Procurement Regulatory Authority rules have helped saved billions in award of contracts.

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FBR sends notices to more than 2,000 people over ‘expensive gifts’

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has sent notices to over 2,000 people who declared receiving expensive gifts in their wealth statements in the last fiscal year.

FBR officials believe the untaxed ‘gifts’ could have been used to launder money and evade taxes.

Sources in the FBR said that three people received gifts of Rs1 billion or more, eight received gifts between Rs500 million and Rs1 billion or more, 97 received gifts between Rs100 million and Rs200 million and 280 people received gifts between Rs50 million and Rs100 million.

Moreover, FBR officials said 2,000 people received gifts between Rs10 million and Rs50 million in the outgoing fiscal year.

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Apple ordered to pay $506 million to university in patent dispute

NEW YORK (AFP): A US judge on Monday ordered Apple Inc to pay $506 million for infringing on a patent owned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s patent licensing arm, more than doubling the damages initially imposed on Apple by a jury.

US District Judge William Conley in Madison added $272 million to a $234 million jury verdict the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation won against Apple in October 2015. Conley said WARF is owed additional damages plus interest because Apple continued to infringe the patent, which relates to computer processor technology, until it expired in December 2016.

Apple is appealing Conley’s ruling, according to court papers. An Apple spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

WARF sued Apple in 2014, alleging processors found in some versions of the iPhone infringe on a patent describing a “predictor circuit,” which improves processor performance by predicting what instructions a user will give the system. University of Wisconsin computer science professor Gurindar Sohi and three of his students obtained the patent in 1998.

Cupertino, California-based Apple denied any infringement during a 2015 jury trial and argued the patent is invalid. Apple also urged the US Patent and Trademark Office to review the patent’s validity but the agency rejected that bid.

WARF brought a separate lawsuit against Apple in 2015, alleging chips in later versions of the iPhone infringe the same patent. Conley said he would not rule in that case until Apple has had an opportunity to appeal the 2015 jury verdict.

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Garments worth US$ 2.136 billion exported in previous FY

ISLAMABAD (APP): Readymade garments exports from the country during previous financial year (2016-17) increased by 5.55 percent as compared the corresponding period of last financial year.

During 12 months of financial year, 2016-17, about 34,785 thousand dozen of readymade garments worth US$ 2.316 billion exported as compared the exports of 32,775 thousand dozen valuing US$ 2.196 billion of same period last year.

During previous year, 353,108 metric tons of bedwear valuing US$ 2.133 billion exported as compared the exports of 328,875 metric tons worth US$ 2.19 billion of the same period of last year.

According the data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the bedwear exports from the country in period under review grew by 5.65 percent.

However, exports of knitwear decreased by 0.07 percent as it was recorded at 113,200 thousand dozen valuing 2.36 billion against the exports of 112,459 thousand dozen worth of 2.363 billion of same period of last year.

In 12 months of previous financial year about 182,873 metric tons of towels costing US$ 786.606 million were exported as compared the exports of 184,479 metric tons of US$ 802.966 million of same period of 2015-16, hence showing negative growth of 2.4 percent.

Meanwhile, country earned US$ 42.825 million by exporting 24,976 metric tons of raw cotton as against the 49,315 metric tons valuing US$ 76.631 million of same period last year.

In financial year 2016-17, exports of cotton carded or combed grew by 62.7 percent as cotton combed worth US$ 235,000 exported as compared the exports of US$ 145,000 of same period last year.

It may be recalled here that during last financial year textile group exports recorded 0.4 percent growth as compared the
same period of last year.

Textile goods worth US$ 12.452 billion were exported in 12 months of financial year 2016-17 as compared the exports of 12.447 billion of same period last year.