Pakistan’s Senate chairman postpones UAE trip over Indian PM’s visit

Pakistan’s Senate Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, right, discusses bilateral relations between Pakistan and United Arab Emirates with UAE envoy to Pakistan Hamad Obaid Alzaabi in Islamabad on Aug. 22, 2019. (Photo courtesy: UAE Embassy)
Updated 25 August 2019
0

Pakistan’s Senate chairman postpones UAE trip over Indian PM’s visit

  • Premier Modi was honored with the emirates’ highest civilian award on Saturday
  • Pakistan and UAE enjoy close bilateral ties, around 1.6 million Pakistani expatriates in the UAE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani postponed a trip to the UAE following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Abu Dhabi earlier this week, his office said in a statement on Saturday night.
Sanjrani was scheduled to travel to the emirates from August 25 to 28, but hours after PM Modi was honored with the “Order of Zayed” – the UAE’s highest civilian award – He announced his decision to postpone the visit.
“Pakistan strongly supports the freedom movement of Kashmiri people, while the Modi government is subjecting Kashmiri Muslims to extreme oppression and a curfew is imposed (in Indian administered Kashmir),” excerpts from the statement read.
“Under the given circumstances, a visit to the UAE would hurt the sentiments of Kashmiri mothers, sisters and old people. So the chairman canceled the visit of a parliamentary delegation,” it added.
On August 5, PM Modi’s government revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution which accorded a special status to India-administered Kashmir.
The move generated widespread anger in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir.
Pakistan and the UAE enjoy close bilateral ties, with the UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan visiting Islamabad in January this year, following two visits by Prime Minister Imran Khan to the UAE last year to seek economic assistance. In December, the UAE announced a $3 billion financial support package for Pakistan.
According to the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis, around 1.6 million expatriates live and work in the UAE and remit more than $4.5 billion to the country every year.


Experts warn Pakistan to renegotiate economic targets with IMF

Updated 26 min 32 sec ago
0

Experts warn Pakistan to renegotiate economic targets with IMF

  •   An IMF delegation is due in Islamabad next week to review economic progress after the country bagged $6 bn loan this year 
  • Weaknesses in tax administration, FBR capacity gaps impeding Pakistan from meeting IMF targets, experts say

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan must consider ground realities and try to renegotiate some of its economic targets with the International Monetary Fund, Dr. Ashfaque Hassan Khan, members of the government’s Economic Advisory Council, told Arab News on Sunday ahead of an expected visit of an IMF delegation to the country next week.
The international financial institution announced a $6 billion bailout package for Pakistan after months of negotiations in May this year. The Fund also announced in its official statement that the money would be dispersed over a period of 39 months.
Even while it was faced with a difficult balance-of-payments crisis, Pakistan did not readily agree to the IMF terms and conditions and took its time to negotiate with the lending organization. 
However, Khan, a leading economist, believes the targets set in the bailout program “were grossly unrealistic” and “no one can achieve them” in the present economic environment.
His comment came days after the IMF spokesperson, Gerry Rice, said that Pakistan needed to mobilize domestic tax revenue to fund the “much need” social and development spending while simultaneously keeping its debt on a “firm downward trend.”
According to Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, the deputy executive director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute, IMF’s concerns “were expected because the Federal Board of Revenue [FBR] is certainly struggling to meet the targets [set by the global lender].”
“The FBR devised a new [tax and revenue] system to achieve the Rs. 5.5 trillion targets. But capacity gaps here are preventing the country from achieving the target,” Ahmed told Arab News.
“There were shortfalls in previous months which are large because of the ongoing negotiations with the trader community, with people belonging to wholesale and retail trade, and there are some businesses who owe large taxes but have gone to court and taken stay orders. Until the negotiations and stay orders do not end, it will be difficult for the FBR to achieve its targets,” he added.
Analyzing the situation, Dr. Khurrum Husain, an economic affairs expert, said: “There are two targets, in particular, Pakistan has to focus on Net International Reserves [NIR] and tax collection.”
“Pakistan’s NIR is currently negative which has to be brought into the positive territory by building the [foreign] reserves,” one of several key points of the IMF program.
“We will know by the end of September if we are achieving that NIR target when the quarter ends,” he continued.
Husain noted that the country was slightly behind the tax and revenue target, though he added: “Is Pakistan so far behind that it would cast a shadow over the program and declare an emergency? I don’t think that’s the case at the moment.”
However, Moody’s credit agency on Friday presented a grim economic forecast, placing Pakistan among the countries that could face serious financing issues.
“Moody’s assessment is largely forward-looking and it is based on the fact that Pakistan is supposed to repay some of its debts in the coming days. This implies that the country could face a financial liquidity shortage,” Khan said.
“The government has been working on two or three approaches to avoid that shortage,” he added. “It is approaching other multilateral partners like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to expedite the dollar-based approach at lending. Pakistan is also trying to reach those lenders to whom it owes money so that the debt can be rescheduled and its maturity can be extended.”
Discussing what the country should expect during the upcoming visit of the IMF delegation, Khan said: “Pakistan is likely to get a reminder from the IMF of the commitments it has made under the program. The country will try to impress upon the visiting team of the difficulties and request for relaxation on some of the targets. However, our economic managers have little leverage at this point to negotiate with the IMF.”