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SBP increases policy rate by 25bps to 7.25pc

Dawn.com
Published September 20, 2021


The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) announced on Monday an increase of 25 basis points in the benchmark policy rate taking it to 7.25 per cent for the next two months effective from October 1, 2021.

"Since its last meeting in July, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) noted that the pace of the economic recovery has exceeded expectations," the SBP said in a statement, adding that the robust recovery in domestic demand, coupled with higher international commodity prices, was leading to a strong pick-up in imports and a rise in the current account deficit.

The SBP had reduced the policy rate on March 17 last year for the first time in four years, slashing it by 75 bps to 12.50pc, citing a declining inflationary pressure and a need to sustain the economy that was hit by the coronavirus crisis.

Exactly one week later, the central bank had again slashed rates by 150 basis points to 11pc on March 24, saying "substantial new information on global and domestic developments" showed the pandemic had caused major disruptions to economic activity and the IMF had also significantly downgraded its global growth outlook for 2020 from 3.3 per cent growth previously to below zero.

Later in April 2020, the SBP had slashed the country's policy rate for another time by 200 points to 9pc, before further reducing it to 7pc in June.

Ever since, the SBP had kept the policy rate unchanged at 7pc with Governor Dr Reza Baqir saying the policy rate had been kept at 7pc for more than a year to support the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In its latest statement, the SBP underlined that the economic recovery now appeared less vulnerable to "pandemic-related uncertainty".




"The MPC was of the view that the priority of monetary policy also needed to gradually pivot from catalysing the recovery after the Covid shock towards sustaining it," the statement said.

The SBP said year-on-year inflation fell from 9.7pc in June to 8.4pc in both July and August. "In addition to favourable base effects, this decline reflects a continued deceleration in administered prices of energy due to the reduction in PDL and sales tax on petroleum products."

It said core inflation also fell in both urban and rural areas in August. However, the momentum of prices remained relatively elevated, with month-on-month increases of 1.3pc in July and 0.6pc in August.

The central bank said a greater emphasis was needed on "ensuring the appropriate policy mix to protect the longevity of growth, keep inflation expectations anchored, and slow the growth in the current account deficit".

The SBP noted that over the last few months, the burden of adjusting to the rising current account deficit had fallen primarily on the exchange rate and it was appropriate for other adjustment tools, including interest rates, to also play their due role.

It further observed that the stance of monetary policy was still appropriately supportive of growth, with real interest rates remaining negative on a forward-looking basis, adding that it expected the monetary policy to remain accommodative in the near term, with a possible further gradual tapering of stimulus to achieve mildly positive real interest rates over time.

Real growth

The central bank said "the most high-frequency domestic demand indicators such as automobiles, POL (petroleum, oil and lubricants) sales, cement sales and electricity generation continued to depict robust growth."

"This growth is mirrored in the strength of imports and tax collections," it added.

It, however, pointed out that growth in the ongoing fiscal year was now expected towards the upper end of the forecast range of 4-5pc, despite "some greater uncertainty with respect to spillovers from the evolving situation in Afghanistan".

External sector

The current account deficit rose to $0.8 billion in July and $1.5bn in August, reflecting both vigorous domestic demand and high global commodity prices, according to the central bank.

It added that remittances remained strong, growing by 10.4pc during July-August and exports also performed "reasonably well" (averaging $2.3b per month), as they were outstripped by imports.

"As a result, the rupee depreciated by 4.1pc since the last MPC meeting. The MPC noted that many other currencies have also depreciated recently as expectations of tapering by the federal reserve have been brought forward," the statement said.

The MPC observed that while the flexible exchange rate has appropriately played its role as a shock absorber, it was important that its role be complemented by strong exports, targeted measures to curb nonessential imports, and appropriate macroeconomic policy settings to contain import growth.

Fiscal sector

The SBP said the "prudent management" of the public finances facilitated fiscal consolidation for the second year, with the primary deficit declining to 1.4pc of the gross domestic product.

"This improvement largely stemmed from strong growth in tax and petroleum development levy (PDL) revenues, together with significant deceleration in non-interest expenditures."

The central bank noted that it will be important to support tax revenue growth and carefully monitor outturns through the year to ensure the budget remains on track. "Any unforeseen slippages in the fiscal stance would further bolster domestic demand, imports and inflation."

According to the SBP, the private sector credit grew by more than 11pc during the ongoing financial year due to "historic cuts in the policy rate and the introduction of SBP Covid-related support packages".

The SBP committee, however, felt that some macroprudential tightening of consumer finance might also be appropriate to moderate demand growth as part of the move towards gradually normalising monetary conditions.
 

ghazi52

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Roshan Digital Accounts have attracted $23 billion USD from Overseas Pakistanis: PM Imran Khan


Roshan Digital Accounts have attracted $23 billion USD from Overseas Pakistanis: PM Imran Khan

https://nation.com.pk/NewsSource/web-desk
Web Desk
5:50 PM | September 23, 2021


Prime Minister Imran Khan has stated that with a total of 204,000 Roshan Digital Accounts (RDAs) opened by Overseas Pakistanis, an amount of USD $23 billion has so far been deposited in RDAs.

The Prime Minister was told this by Governor State Bank Raza Baqir, who briefed him about economic revival as well as the digital and current accounts.

He was further told that the number of digital accounts was increasing by around 1000 per day.
The Prime Minister said that increase in the number of Roshan Digital Accounts reflects confidence of the Overseas Pakistanis in the government’s policies.
 

ghazi52

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Mar 21, 2007
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SBP tightens consumer lending rules to limit auto loans

Overall auto financing limits availed by one person from all banks/DFIs, in aggregate, will not exceed Rs3,000,000, at any point in time

Our Correspondent
September 24, 2021



Cars parked at a showroom. File photo


Cars parked at a showroom. File photo


KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Thursday tightened rules on consumer lending to trim rapid loan growth mainly in auto sector.

"The SBP has revised prudential regulations (PRS) for consumer financing and this targeted step will help to moderate demand growth in the economy, leading to slower import growth and thus supporting the balance-of-payments," the bank said in a statement.

Pakistan’s current account deficit jumped 81 percent month-on-month in August as a strong demand spurred imports, outpacing a recovery in exports.

The current account deficit surged to $1.476 billion in August from $814 million in the previous month. It had posted a surplus of $255 million in August 2020.

This yawning was mainly due to higher trade deficit as imports continued to rise amid robust economic activity.

The SBP said the changes in the prudential regulations effectively prohibit financing for imported vehicles, and tighten regulatory requirements for financing of domestically manufactured/assembled vehicles of more than 1,000 cc engine capacity and other consumer finance facilities like personal loans and credit cards.

Under the new regulations, the maximum tenure of auto finance has been reduced from seven years to five years.

Similarly maximum tenure of personal loan has been reduced from five years to four years.

Maximum debt-burden ratio, allowed to a borrower, has been decreased from 50 percent to 40 percent.

Overall auto financing limits availed by one person from all banks/DFIs, in aggregate, will not exceed Rs3,000,000, at any point in time; and minimum down payment for auto financing has been increased from 15 percent to 30 percent.

"With the objective to protect lower to middle income category purchases, these new regulations are not applicable to locally manufactured or assembled vehicles of up to 1,000 cc engine capacity," SBP said.

They are also not applicable to locally manufactured electric vehicles to promote use of clean energy.

The financing of these two categories of vehicles will continue to be governed by previous set of regulations.

Sales of passenger cars jumped 81 percent in August, recovering from the collapse seen a year ago when coronavirus lockdowns and economic slowdown took a toll on sales.

The central bank said Roshan Digital Accounts and facilitate overseas Pakistanis who have opened these accounts, regulatory instructions for Roshan Apni Car product of the banks or DFIs have also not been changed.
 

ghazi52

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Plan of starting banking services by Pakistan Post Office Department (PPOD)


Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has backed a plan of starting banking services by Pakistan Post Office Department (PPOD) and suggested that it should enter into joint ventures with established banks.

Tarin told the cabinet that he would discuss the matter with the minister for communications to finalise modalities in this regard.

During discussion in a recent meeting, a cabinet member highlighted the need to delve on the larger question as to whether the government should be involved in running commercial ventures.

Tarin pointed out that PPOD had an expanded national outreach with 14,000 branches across the country.

Since scheduled banks catered to only 33% of the population, the national savings rate was considerably low even when compared with regional countries. With its nationwide outreach, Tarin said, the start of banking services by PPOD could help raise the national savings rate.

While recommending approval of proposed amendments to the Rules of Business, the finance minister suggested that PPOD should enter into joint ventures with established banks, the modalities of which he would discuss with the minister for communications.

Pakistan Post Logistics Company

The Communications Division told the cabinet that Pakistan Post was an attached department of the Ministry of Communications and owing to its national outreach the federal and provincial governments had been assigning various tasks to Pakistan Post as their agent.

Some of these functions, as per the Rules of Business, include Savings Bank and Postal Life Insurance. Its role also included agency functions on behalf of other divisions such as military pensions, etc.

Pakistan Post performed these functions under Schedule-II Entry 6 and 7 of the Rules of Business 1973. The Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in October 2019 highlighted that out of 40 recommendations, 13 pertained to Pakistan Post.

READ Pakistan Post sets up Amazon facilitation centre

The Ministry of Communications and Pakistan Post took a number of steps to recalibrate Pakistan Post’s financial, remittance and insurance services.

Life insurance was transferred to the newly created Postal Life Insurance Company (PLIC) under the regulatory framework of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) while the function of Savings Bank had already been transferred to the Central Directorate of National Savings (CDNS).

There was an urgent need to amend the Rules of Business 1973 to remove existing ambiguities in Pakistan Post’s scope of work and mandate. The need for these amendments was further accentuated by the FATF-requisite reforms in various sectors undertaken by the government of Pakistan.

The impending restructuring of Pakistan Post, in line with the vision of the government, was going to further expand its scope of services.

Pakistan Post intended to perform agency functions on behalf of other divisions, provincial governments, agency alliances/partnerships with corporate entities under the government’s regulatory regime such as the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), SECP, etc.

The instant case of the proposed amendments to Schedule-II of the Rules of Business 1973 pertaining to the Communications Division was taken up with the Cabinet Division.

As per its advice, the proposed amendments were shared with the Finance Division, Commerce Division, Law & Justice Division and Economic Affairs Division (National FATF Secretariat) for their views/comments thereto.

The proposed amendments to Schedule-II of the Rules of Business 1973 had been revised and duly incorporated in accordance with the views/comments of the Ministry of Commerce, Law & Justice Division, Finance Division and Economic Affairs Division (National FATF Secretariat).

The Law and Justice and Finance Divisions were against the inclusion of proposed amendment to ‘establish, regulate specialised entities in logistics and freight’. However, it was the considered opinion of the ministry that the legislation regarding the Logistics Regulatory Authority Bill drafted by the ministry was in the advanced stage of legislation.

Moreover, a company namely Pakistan Post Logistics Company was being established under the PPP mode with assistance of the PPP Authority.

Both were crucial initiatives in advanced stages and it was necessary for the Rules of Business to incorporate it to make PPOD a competitive and financially viable entity, instead of becoming a burden on the national exchequer.

The approval of the cabinet was solicited to the proposed amendments in Schedule-II of the Rules of Business, 1973 pertaining to the Communications Division.

The cabinet approved the amendment in the Rules of Business, 1973 of the Communications Division.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2021.
 

ghazi52

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SBP directs banks, regulated entities to digitise corporate payments

  • In order to monitor the progress, the SBP has advised banks to submit a roadmap of implementing these measures within 30 days

BR Web Desk
15 Oct 2021





In its bid to enhance digitisation of payments and receipts in the corporate sector, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has now made it mandatory for its regulated entities (REs) including banks, microfinance banks, payment system operators and payment system providers to provide digital means of payments to their corporate clients to enable businesses for sending and receiving their payments.

SBP, in its latest circular issued on Friday, has asked its regulated entities to facilitate their institutional clients including corporations, companies, and partnerships for making large value payments through digital channels.

Under the new instructions, regulated entities are now required to extend online portals/platforms for digital payments and receipts of corporates including online inter-bank fund transfer services, online bill/invoice sharing and payment services like over the counter (OTC) digital payments services/facilities, card payments using Point of Sale (POS) terminals, QR codes, mobile devices, ATMs, Kiosk or any other digital payments enabled device.

“REs shall ensure that a comprehensive authority matrix and necessary access controls are in place to avoid any unauthorized use of online corporate portals as well as other means of digital payments; For improved reporting purposes, REs shall ensure that all modes of transactions i.e. cash, digital, paper-based are recorded with proper identifiers for each transaction; For invoice-based transactions, REs shall create provision in their systems to record payer and payee account numbers/IBAN, title and type (individual/business), where available, and invoice numbers,” read SBP’s circular letter.

In order to monitor the progress of implementation of these instructions, the SBP has advised banks to submit a roadmap of implementing these measures within 30 days.

Banks are also required to submit quarterly progress reports to SBP on the number of businesses facilitated for digitization of their payments and receipts.

“SBP expects that these measures would increase documentation of value chains and help businesses manage their large value transactions more effectively. The initiative will also facilitate implementation of Federal Board of Revenue’s recently introduced measures on integration of businesses with FBR system and conducting of corporate payments through digital means,” read the statement.

Regulated entities are also required to make all efforts to onboard non-corporate players including Sole Proprietors, SMEs and MSMEs for the provision of digital payments.
 

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