LATEST ARTICLES

Weekly SPI declined by 0.78%

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The Weekly Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) declined by 0.78% during the week ended on February 15, 2024, while the SPI increased by 34.25% YoY compared to the corresponding period from last year.

According to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) the Combined Index was at 315.18 compared to 317.65 on February 08, 2024, while the index was recorded at 234.77 a year ago, on February 16, 2023.

Out of 51 items, the average price of 22 items increased, 11 items decreased, and 18 items remained stable.

MARI has discovered Gas at Maiwand Exploration well in Balochistan

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MARI Petroleum Company Ltd (PSX: MARI) in a notification to PSX has announced a Gas Discovery at Maiwand X-1 ST-1 exploration well drilled in Block 28 in kohlu District of Balochistan. The well was spudded-in on June 12, 2023 and successfully drilled down to 2,516 meters on Nov 12, 2023.

Trade Deficit declined by 24.8% to $1.95Bn in Jan

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According to the PBS, the country’s trade deficit shrunk by 24.8% to $1.95 billion in January 2024 from $2.59 billion in the same period of the last year.

Exports improved significantly by 24.72% to $2.79 billion in January 2023 from $2.24 billion in the same month of the previous year. On the other hand, imports reduced marginally by 1.84% to $4.74 billion in January 2024 from $4.83 billion in the same month last year.

However, on a month-on-month basis, trade deficit increased by 6.5%, as compared to $1.83 billion in December 2023.

The data showed exports decreased while imports posted a marginal improvement on a monthly basis.

Exports declined by 1.13% when compared monthly to $2.82 billion in the preceding month of December. Meanwhile, imports inched up by 1.87% to $4.74 billion from $4.65 billion last month.

Earlier, Caretaker Minister of Commerce Dr Gohar Ejaz on Thursday had celebrated the year-on-year increase in exports during January.

Weekly SPI declined by 0.28%

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The Weekly Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) for the the week ended on Feb 01, 2024, declined by 0.28% WoW. On the flip side, The SPI increased by 39.45% YoY compared to the corresponding period from last year.

Out of 51 items, the average price of 12 items increased, 17 items decreased, and 22 items remained stable.

During the week, a major decrease was observed in the prices of Tomatoes (18.28%), Eggs (7.77%), Onions (6.99%), LPG (1.53%) and Tea Lipton (1.29%),

On the other hand, a major increase was observed in the prices of Petrol (5.20%), Chicken (1.88%), Diesel (0.95%), Energy Saver (0.70%) and Bananas (0.68%),

Pakistan CPI Inflation surged to 28.3% in Jan 2024

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Pakistan CPI inflation increased to 28.3% on year-on-year basis in January 2024 as compared to an increase of 29.7% in the previous month and 27.6% in January 2023.

On month-on-month basis, it increased to 1.8% in January 2024 as compared to an increase of 0.8% in the previous month and an increase of 2.9% in January 2023.

Inflation in Urban areas increased to 30.2% on year-on-year basis in January 2024 as compared to an increase of 30.9% in the previous month and 24.4% in January 2023. On month-on-month basis, it increased to 1.8% in January 2024 as compared to an increase of 0.7% in the previous month and an increase of 2.4% in January 2023. 3.

Rural inflation increased to 25.7% on year-on-year basis in January 2024 as compared to an increase of 27.9% in the previous month and 32.3% in January 2023. On month-on-month basis, it increased to 1.9% in January 2024 as compared to an increase of 1.0% in the previous month and an increase of 3.6% in January 2023.

Pakistan has a record 128Mn people as registered voters: FAFEN

With the fifth-highest number of registered voters globally, Pakistan has a record 128 million people, constituting over half of its total population, registered as voters for the upcoming general elections marking a substantial increase of 22.5 million voters including 12.5 million women added since 2018, said Free and Fair Elections Network (FAFEN) on Wednesday.

According to a FAFEN report titled “Electoral Rolls, General Election 2024,” this unprecedented surge brings the total number of registered voters to 128,585,760 in 2024, marking a significant rise from 106,000,239 in 2018 and 86,189,828 in 2013 making Pakistan fifth largest democracy in the world trailing India, Indonesia, the United States of America and Brazil.

This is also the first time that Pakistan registered more women voters as compared to men in-between two elections. Presently, the number of registered voters constitutes 53.2 percent of the 241.49million population. Nevertheless, there are regional disparities in voter-to-population ratios, with Punjab (57 percent) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (53 percent) registering over half of their populations as voters. Sindh and Islamabad have voter-to-population ratios close to 50 percent, while Balochistan lags behind with 36 percent population registered as voters.

The voter-to-population ratio can be indicative of potential under-registration with a caveat. The ratio only accounts for voters registered in their native districts and not those who are registered as voters on their temporary addresses outside their native districts. At the district and constituency levels, the disparity in voter proportions becomes increasingly apparent.

Among the 136 districts analysed by FAFEN, 78 have more than half of their populations registered as voters, while nine districts including Upper Kohistan, Lower Kohistan, Kohistan Palas, Kech, Kharan, Panjgur, Sherani, Surab and Washuk have less than 30 percent population registered. A comparable trend is noted at the National Assembly constituency level, with 159 out of 266 constituencies registering over 50 percent of their populations as voters.

FAFEN acknowledges the progress made in women’s voter registration but calls for continued efforts to address persistent challenges, particularly in regions and age groups where gender gaps are more pronounced.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

ECP has announced public holiday on Feb 8 for polls

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Thursday issued a notification announcing a public holiday on February 8, the day when the country’s crucial polls will held after more than five years.

The purpose of the public holiday is to enable voters to vote freely and easily, the ECP said in its notification.

The development was announced following a key meeting held at the electoral authority’s office in Islamabad today, where discussions around the state of law and order in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have also taken place.

A day earlier, the Punjab government decided to keep schools, colleges and universities across the province closed from February 6 to 9 in the backdrop of the general elections.

As per the Punjab cabinet, the decision would apply on public and private educational institutes both.

Finance ministry forecast inflation at 27.5-28.5% in January

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Pakistan’s headline inflation is expected to remain high at 27.5-28.5% in January 2024, the Finance Division said in its Monthly Economic Update and Outlook released on Wednesday.

“The elevated prices of perishables and vegetables, coupled with increased utility costs (electricity and gas), have contributed to the inflationary pressure,” the outlook read.

According to the monthly report, there has been surge in onion export orders following the Indian ban that strained local supply and increased domestic prices. Specific commodities, such as tomatoes, witnessed price hikes due to supply disruptions caused by severe weather, intensifying the demand-supply gap. Similarly, chicken prices rose due to reduced supply, particularly from controlled sheds experiencing higher input costs.

“However, the government has taken measures to reduce onion export by increasing the minimum export price and also lifted the ban on soyabean import which would ease the supply situation of perishables and chicken,” it said.

Moreover, a decline in fuel cost in January offered a “promising counterbalance”, potentially mitigating the overall impact on consumers and production sectors, the report added.

“Keeping in view the above coupled with the high base effect, inflation is anticipated to remain around 27.5-28.5 percent in January 2024 and further ease out to 26.5-27.5 percent in February 2024.”

FED Hold Policy Rate Unchanged As Expected

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The Federal Reserve on Wednesday sent a tepid signal that it is done raising interest rates but made it clear that it is not ready to start cutting.

Recent indicators suggest that economic activity has been expanding at a solid pace. Job gains have moderated since early last year but remain strong, and the unemployment rate has remained low. Inflation has eased over the past year but remains elevated.

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The Committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run. The Committee judges that the risks to achieving its employment and inflation goals are moving into better balance. The economic outlook is uncertain, and the Committee remains highly attentive to inflation risks.

In support of its goals, the Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 5-1/4 to 5-1/2 percent. In considering any adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate, the Committee will carefully assess incoming data, the evolving outlook, and the balance of risks. The Committee does not expect it will be appropriate to reduce the target range until it has gained greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably toward 2 percent.

In addition, the Committee will continue reducing its holdings of Treasury securities and agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities, as described in its previously announced plans.

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The Committee is strongly committed to returning inflation to its 2 percent objective.

In assessing the appropriate stance of monetary policy, the Committee will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook. The Committee would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if risks emerge that could impede the attainment of the Committee’s goals. The Committee’s assessments will take into account a wide range of information, including readings on labor market conditions, inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and financial and international developments.

In a related action, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System voted unanimously to approve the establishment of the primary credit rate at the existing level of 5.5 percent

Toshakhana reference: Imran, wife Bushra sentenced 14-year jail time

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An accountability court awarded Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi 14 years of rigorous jail time each in the Tohsakhana reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The court has also imposed a fine of Rs1.5 billion on the couple and disqualified the former premier from holding public office for 10 years.

During the previous hearing, which was also held at Adiala jail, the court recorded Bushra Bibi’s statement under Section 342.

Khan told the court that his wife had nothing to do with the case and was being humiliated by being forcibly dragged into it.

At the outset of the hearing today, Judge Bashir asked Khan if he recorded his statement. To this, the former premier said that he would submit his statement once his lawyers came.

“I have been deceived as I was only called to mark my attendance for the hearing,” said the PTI founder.

Following the verdict, Bushra Bibi, who was not present in court when the sentence was announced, arrived at the Adiala jail and surrendered before the authorities.