PAR News - Mon, 01 Apr 2024

PAR News Bulletin - Mon, 01 Apr 2024

PAR News - Mon, 01 Apr 2024
PAR News - Mon, 01 Apr 2024
PAR News
April 1, 2024
News

TOPLINE

  • Sindh plans to procure 0.9 million tonnes of wheat at a support price of Rs 4,000 per 40kg this season, with an additional 0.5 million tonnes in storage. The agriculture department estimates a four-million-tonne wheat crop.
  • The federal government has increased the price of petrol by Rs 9.66 per liter due to a surge in international crude prices, now priced at Rs 289.41 per liter. Conversely, the price of high-speed diesel (HSD) has been reduced by Rs 3.32 per liter to Rs 282.24.
  • Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb aims for a staff-level agreement (SLA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by June 30. He mentioned plans to lead a delegation to Washington around April 14-15. FM Aurangzeb was excluded from the Council of Common Interests (CCI) as Ishaq Dar and all Chief Ministers were included.
  • In March, FBR missed its target by nearly Rs 1 billion, with revenue at Rs 878 billion against Rs 879 billion, due to decreased domestic taxes and customs duty. However, the collection increased by 32.62% compared to last year. For the first nine months of FY24, FBR collected Rs 6.709 trillion, exceeding the target by Rs 1 billion.
  • The Neelum–Jhelum Hydropower Plant has resumed operations after a tunnel inspection, generating 969 megawatts at full capacity. Operations were halted on January 10. Additionally, 127,000 cusecs of water was released from various rim stations on Sunday.
  • US farmers are reducing corn plantings and increasing soybean seedlings in 2024 due to low crop prices and high input costs, USDA reports. Corn and soybean prices are near three-year lows, prompting farmers to adjust planting strategies amidst ample global supplies and reduced demand from China.

COMMODITIES - CROPS, LIVESTOCK & HORTICULTURE

  • Sindh to Procure Wheat, Exceeds Crop Target: Sindh plans to procure 0.9 million tonnes of wheat at a support price of Rs 4,000 per 40kg this season, with an additional 0.5 million tonnes in storage from previous years. The agriculture department estimates a four-million-tonne wheat crop for 2023-24, cultivated across 1.272 million hectares, surpassing the target of 1.2 million hectares. [Dawn]
  • Sindh Food Department Faces Rs 3.22 Billion Loss: Corruption within the Sindh Food Department has led to a staggering loss of Rs 3.22 billion, with officials accused of misappropriating wheat stocks. An investigation found that 379,062 sacks of wheat were stolen from warehouses, with officials allegedly falsifying records. [ET]
  • Govt Allows Duty-Free Imports for Exporters: Federal government allows duty-free imports for exporters under Export Facilitation Scheme with collectorate approval. Machinery and equipment capped at 50% of annual export value, with chief collector's approval needed for contracts over $1 million. Amendments to Customs rules by the Federal Board of Revenue facilitate this. [ET] [PO]
  • Palm Oil Import: Rs 55.6 billion was the import value of palm oil in Feb 2024, down 11.15% compared to Feb 2023. [ET]
  • Synthetic Textile Products Export: Rs 9.39 billion was the export value of art, silk and synthetic textiles in Feb 2024, up 3.97% compared to Rs 9.03 billion in Feb 2023, according to PBS. [ET]
  • Meat Export: Rs 12.69 billion was the export value of meat and meat preparations in Feb 2024, up 61.77% compared to Rs 7.85 billion in Feb 2023, according to PBS. [ET]

AGRI-INPUTS, WEATHER, WATER & POWER

  • IMF Recommends Gas Subsidy Reform: The IMF advises phasing out cross-subsidies gradually to protect gas consumers under the BISP mechanism, while urging the government to end budgeted subsidies from July 1, 2024, due to RLNG diversion, resulting in substantial subsidy expenditures of Rs 69 billion over the past two fiscal years. [The News]
  • Petrol Price Surges, Diesel Dips: The federal government has increased the price of petrol by Rs 9.66 per liter due to a surge in international crude prices, now priced at Rs 289.41 per liter. Conversely, the price of high-speed diesel (HSD) has been reduced by Rs 3.32 per liter to Rs 282.24, reflecting adjustments to international market changes. [The News] [Dawn] [ET]
  • Pakistan, Afghanistan Strengthen Trade: Pakistan and Afghanistan aim to finalize the Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) within two months after agreeing to streamline bilateral and transit trade during talks in Kabul from March 25-26, aiming to fortify economic ties and facilitate smoother trade relations. [BR]
  • KE Advances Integration Generation Plan: K-Electric (KE) aims to include its Integration Generation Plan (IGP) in the Integrated Generation Capacity Expansion Plan 2024, proposing an inter-stakeholders meeting with the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC). KE submitted its IGP in September 2023, with a due diligence committee established by the Power Division finalizing its preliminary report in November 2023. [BR]
  • Steel Industry Urges Action Against Smuggling: The steel industry appeals to the government to stop steel smuggling from Iran during Eid holidays, with PALSP reporting the dumping of 25,000 metric tons of steel materials along the Panjgoor (Kuwak) border. PALSP highlights past instances of significant smuggling during Eid holidays involving official collusion. [The News]
  • Cabinet Seeks Urea Subsidy Resolution: The federal cabinet directed the Ministry of Industries and Production to resolve subsidy payment issues with provinces regarding imported urea and find ways to sell surplus imported urea. Additionally, discussions included the recovery of government revenues stalled by ongoing legal cases in numerous tribunals. [BR]
  • Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Plant Resumes Operations: The Neelum–Jhelum Hydropower Plant has resumed operations after a tunnel inspection, generating 969 megawatts at full capacity. Electricity is supplied to the national grid as per water availability, with a focus on peak times like Sehri and Iftar. Operations were halted on January 10 for tunnel examination. [ET]
  • Rawalpindi Division: 1M Saplings, Collaboration Key - Authorities in Rawalpindi have initiated a Spring Plantation Drive 2024, aiming to plant one million saplings across the division. Various departments are involved, with over 10,000 saplings already planted on International Forest Day. Collaboration is key to the campaign's success, as emphasized by the commissioner. [ET]
  • Machinery Import: Rs 6.38 billion was the import value of power generating machinery in Feb 2024, down 37.6% compared to Feb 2023. [ET]
  • IRSA Water Release: 127,000 cusecs of water was released from various rim stations on Sunday. [ET]

AGRI UPDATES & PAKISTAN POLICY

  • Finance Minister Targets IMF Agreement: Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb aims for a staff-level agreement (SLA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by June 30, with discussions on deal details planned during the spring meetings. He mentioned plans to lead a delegation to Washington around April 14 to 15, stating the IMF's receptiveness to a "larger and longer programme" in recent communications. [Dawn]
  • Minister Urges Priority Sector Lending: Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb urged banks to increase lending to priority sectors during a meeting with banking sector representatives at the SBP head office. The meeting, attended by SBP Governor Jameel Ahmed and CEOs of leading banks, aimed to enhance financing for stimulating economic growth and development in Pakistan. [BR]
  • PM Shehbaz Sharif Affirms US Partnership: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif emphasizes Pakistan's strong ties with the US, expressing a commitment to collaborate on global peace and regional progress. He appreciates ongoing cooperation in sectors such as energy and climate change, following President Joe Biden's letter underscoring the enduring partnership between the two nations. [The News]
  • Pakistan, China Expand CPEC Partnership: Pakistan and China are finalizing modalities for third-party participation in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to attract additional investors for its second phase. They aim to expand CPEC's regional scope by improving connectivity with neighboring countries and regions through land routes. [BR]
  • FBR Misses March Target, Exceeds FY24 Goal: In March, FBR missed its target by nearly Rs 1 billion, with revenue at Rs 878 billion against Rs 879 billion, primarily due to decreased domestic taxes and customs duty. However, collection increased by 32.62% compared to last year. For the first nine months of FY24, FBR collected Rs 6.709 trillion, exceeding the target by Rs 1 billion, mainly due to higher collection in March 2024. [Dawn] [ET]
  • Tajir Dost Scheme to Tax Various Businesses: From April 1, 2024, Tajir Dost Scheme will tax wholesalers, dealers, retailers, furniture and decoration showrooms, jewelers, cosmetics, grocery, medical, hardware stores, and shops selling meat, vegetables, and fruits in six cities. Approval by Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb has been granted, with FBR's formal notification imminent. [The News]

INTERNATIONAL – OVERVIEW & MARKET OUTLOOK

  • Israeli Genocide: Israeli strikes in Gaza killed 77 Palestinians in the past 24 hours, with talks hosted by Egypt for a truce ongoing. The Israeli military targeted a senior Islamic Jihad militant at Al-Aqsa Hospital, aiming to minimize civilian harm and ensure the hospital's functionality remained intact. Tens of thousands of people have gathered outside the Israeli parliament building in Jerusalem in the largest anti-government protest since Israel launched its assault on Gaza. [BR] [Al Jazeera]
  • US Economy Grows Stronger in Q4: The US economy grew faster than previously estimated in the fourth quarter, driven by strong consumer spending and business investment. Rising profits and productivity may encourage job retention and extend economic expansion, despite concerns about recession and interest rate hikes. [BR]
  • Erdogan Concedes Defeat in Local Elections: Turkish President Erdogan concedes defeat in local elections, acknowledging a "turning point" for his party after two decades in power. Partial results show significant gains for the opposition CHP over Erdogan's AKP. Istanbul's mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, claims victory, declaring "a new spring day for our country." [Dawn]
  • UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions Drop 5.4% in 2023: UK greenhouse gas emissions fell by 5.4 percent in 2023, mainly due to reduced gas usage in power stations, according to official data. Carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 6.6 percent annually, contributing to a 52.7 percent decrease in total greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. [BR]
  • EU Ambassadors Approve Revised Ukraine Trade Deal: EU ambassadors agreed on a revised deal to extend tariff-free food imports from Ukraine, adding restrictions to address concerns about destabilizing agricultural markets. The agreement moves to the European Parliament, where more restrictions may be proposed as the EU debates exemptions granted in 2022 to aid Ukraine's economy post-Russia's invasion. [BR]
  • US Farmers Shift Plantings Towards Soybeans: US farmers are reducing corn plantings and increasing soybean seedlings in 2024 due to low crop prices and high input costs, USDA reports. Corn and soybean prices are near three-year lows, prompting farmers to adjust planting strategies amidst ample global supplies and reduced demand from China. [BR]
  • Egypt's Currency Strengthens with IMF Loan: Egypt's currency is expected to strengthen with the arrival of the first installment of an expanded IMF loan agreement, announced by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly. The IMF's $8 billion support program will release $820 million immediately to Egypt. [ET] [AN]
  • Opinion: In France, The Future Is Arriving on a Barge - “Onboard were containers packed with furniture, electronics and clothing loaded the night before from a cargo ship that had docked in Le Havre, the seaport in northern France. Had the cargo continued by road, 120 trucks would have clogged the highways. Using Le Bosphore and its crew of four prevented tons of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere.” - By Liz Alderman [NYT]

PAKISTAN - REMAINDERS

  • Sindh Plans Anti-Bandit Operation Post-Eid: The Sindh government plans a post-Eid operation in riverine areas against armed bandits terrorizing regions, targeting Sukkur and Larkana divisions. Home Minister Ziaul Hasan Lanjar emphasized zero tolerance for crime in Sindh. [Dawn]
  • Private Sector Vital for NDC Financing: In the climate change battle, public funds fall short in financing developing nations' NDCs, highlighting the need for private sector involvement. Article 6 of the Paris Agreement emerges as a crucial mechanism for enabling suitable finance approaches. [ET]
  • Legal Professionals Demand Judicial Independence: Over 300 legal professionals support six Islamabad High Court judges, urging Supreme Court action against alleged intelligence agency interference. They reject the government's inquiry panel and call for judicial independence. Meanwhile, traders must register by April 30, 2024, under new FBR rules, paying minimum monthly advance tax starting July 1, 2024. [BR] [BR]
  • Opinion: The Chaotic Pursuit of Privatization of State-Owned Enterprises - “The World Bank has pointed out in a report that the profitability of SOEs in Pakistan had been declining and turning into losses for about a decade. Things have come to a stage now where “the profitability of Pakistan’s federal SOEs is the lowest in the South Asian Region” as their aggregate profit at 0.8 per cent of GDP in 2014 turned into losses worth 0.4pc of GDP in 2020 and, growing, thus becoming a major driver of fiscal deficit and source of substantial fiscal risk.” - By Nasir Jamal [Dawn]
PAR News - Mon, 01 Apr 2024

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