The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet here on Tuesday approved in principle the Ramzan Relief Package -2022, involving subsidy of Rs8.2 billion.
The relief package, presented by Ministry of National Food Security & Research (MNFS&R) has been approved for the whole population of the country rather than only 20 million households registered with Ehsaas Rashan Riyat Programme with directions to frame procedural mechanism for limiting the interventions by each family.
The ECC meeting was presided over by Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Shaukat Tarin, according to press statement issued by the Finance Ministry.
The MNFS&R submitted another summary regarding intervention price for Cotton Crop (2022-23).
In order to revive cotton production in the country, bring stability in domestic market and assure fair return to the farmers, the ECC allowed Rs. 5,700/40 kg threshold intervention price of seed-cotton.
The ECC further allowed to initially procuring two million bales of cotton at intervention price with direction that quantity would be reviewed on monthly basis.
The ECC allowed Ministry of Economic Affairs to sign 15 debt rescheduling agreements with various credit countries, finalized under Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI).
The committee also approved the proposal of Petroleum Division regarding issuance of sovereign guarantee amounting to Rs 21,000 million in favour of M/s Faysal Bank Limited at considerably lower markup rate for the remaining tenor of the loan i.e four and half years along with issuance of letter of comfort for new finance agreement with respect to pipeline infrastructure development project LNG-II.
On a proposal of Petroleum Division for re-allocation of OGDCL’s Jhal Magsi gas to SSGCL, the ECC allowed reallocation of 15 MMCFD Jhal Magsi gas to SSGCL.
The SSGCL would carry out the project of gasification of Jhal Magsi town and would embark the required gas out of the proposed allocation. The injection of this gas will help mitigate SSGC’s gas demand-supply deficit.
On a proposal of Petroleum Division for allocation of gas from Mari (Deep) gas reservoir to M/s SNGPL, the ECC approved in principle upto 110 MMCFD gas from Mari deep (Goru-B) gas reservoir allocation to SNGPL till 30-06-2024 on firm basis with direction for the determination of price mechanism of gas.
Meanwhile the Petroleum Division for addressing PSO and other Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) concerns over mechanism of payment of Price Differential Claims (PDC) submitted a summary on revised mechanism with the change to the previously approved mechanism that the PDC will be applicable on sale of petroleum products rather than on procurement of products.
The ECC approved the proposal with allocation of additional Rs. 11.73 billion as supplementary grant to meet the expenditure on payment of PDC up to 31st March 2022.
ECC also approved Technical Supplementary Grant amounting to Rs. 200 million to Pakistan Military Accounts Department (PMAD) for conversion of Pensioners to Direct Credit System.
ECC also approved Technical Supplementary Grant of Rs. 3500 Million in favour of Higher Education Commission for the Project titled “Pak University of Engineering and Emerging Technologies (PUEET).
Among others, the meeting was attended by Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Syed Fakhar Imam; Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Asad Umar; Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Omar Ayub Khan; Federal Minister for Industries and Production, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar; Federal Minister for Energy, Hammad Azhar; Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood, federal secretaries and senior officials.
What the World Should Expect from a Second Trump Term
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The world watched with anticipation as the United States went to the polls once again, deciding whether to give former President Donald J. Trump a second term in office. In this hypothetical scenario, let’s explore what the world might expect from a second Trump term. While it is important to note that the actual outcomes could vary widely, we can draw insights from his first term in office and his stated policies and positions. This article aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the potential implications, both domestically and internationally, of a second Trump presidency.
- Economic Policies : During his first term, President Trump implemented a series of economic policies that aimed to boost American businesses and create jobs. If re-elected, we can expect a continuation of these policies, including tax cuts and deregulation. Trump may also push for further trade negotiations, particularly with China, in an attempt to level the playing field for American companies. This could lead to continued economic growth, but it may also raise concerns about trade wars and economic instability.
- Healthcare: The fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, would remain uncertain under a second Trump term. In his first term, Trump made several attempts to repeal or dismantle the ACA, and those efforts could continue. This would create significant uncertainty in the healthcare industry and leave millions of Americans without access to affordable healthcare.
- Immigration: Immigration policy was a cornerstone of Trump’s first term. A second term would likely see a continuation of strict immigration enforcement, including efforts to build a border wall with Mexico and restrictions on legal immigration. This could further strain relations with neighbouring countries and raise questions about the treatment of undocumented immigrants in the United States.
- Criminal Justice Reform: Criminal justice reform has gained bipartisan support in recent years, and Trump’s second term would likely see continued efforts in this direction. The First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill signed into law during his first term, could serve as a model for future reforms. However, the extent of these reforms would depend on the priorities of the administration and Congress.
- Climate ChangeTrump’s stance on climate change has been contentious, with the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement being a major policy decision during his first term. A second term could mean further deregulation of the energy sector and reduced emphasis on environmental protection. This would put the United States at odds with many other nations committed to combating climate change.
- Trade Relations : Trump’s “America First” approach to trade would likely persist in a second term. This could lead to ongoing trade disputes with key allies and trading partners, impacting global supply chains and economic stability. Negotiations with China, in particular, would continue to be a focal point, with the potential for further tariffs and tensions.
- NATO and International Alliances Trump’s scepticism of international alliances like NATO could persist, leading to continued strain on these relationships. The burden-sharing debate within NATO, where Trump called on member countries to increase their defence spending, might intensify. The future of the United States’ commitment to global security would remain uncertain.
- Middle East Policy: The Middle East has been a complex region for U.S. foreign policy. In a second term, Trump might continue to support policies such as the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a tougher stance on Iran. This could further polarize the region and impact efforts to achieve stability and peace.
- North Korea: Trump’s approach to North Korea involved direct diplomacy with Kim Jong-un. A second term would likely see continued efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. However, the success of these efforts remains uncertain, and North Korea’s behaviour remains unpredictable.
- Russia Relations: Trump’s relationship with Russia has been a topic of controversy. A second term might continue to see efforts to improve relations with Russia, potentially impacting issues like arms control agreements and international security.
A hypothetical second term for former President Donald Trump would carry with it a mix of both domestic and international implications. While some of his policies might bring economic growth and stability, others could lead to increased uncertainty and tensions on the global stage.
It is important to remember that the actual outcomes of a second Trump term would depend on a multitude of factors, including the composition of Congress, evolving global events, and shifts in public opinion. As with any political scenario, predicting the future with certainty is a challenging endeavor. Nevertheless, by examining the patterns and policies of Trump’s first term, we can gain valuable insights into what the world might expect from a second Trump presidency.
Will Digital Currency Replace Traditional Paper Currency in Pakistan? Implications and Possibilities
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In recent years, the world has witnessed a dramatic shift in the way we conduct financial transactions. The advent of cryptocurrencies, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), and the widespread adoption of digital payment platforms have led to discussions about the future of traditional paper currency. Pakistan, like many other nations, is not immune to these developments. In this blog post, we will explore the possibilities and implications of digital currency replacing traditional paper currency in Pakistan.
The Evolution of Money
Before diving into the specifics of Pakistan’s digital currency landscape, it’s crucial to understand the broader context of the evolution of money. Money, in its various forms, has been a fundamental part of human civilization for thousands of years. From bartering to using precious metals like gold and silver to the introduction of paper currency and eventually digital payment systems, money has continuously evolved to meet the needs of society.
The Digital Currency Revolution
The emergence of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in the early 21st century was a watershed moment in the history of money. These decentralized digital currencies promise greater transparency, security, and efficiency in financial transactions. While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have gained traction globally, their use in Pakistan has been somewhat limited due to regulatory concerns and a lack of awareness.
Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs)
In response to the rise of cryptocurrencies, central banks around the world have been exploring the development of their own digital currencies known as Central Bank Digital Currencies or CBDCs. A CBDC is a digital form of a country’s official currency, issued and regulated by the central bank. These digital currencies have the potential to replace traditional paper currency, but their implementation raises several questions and considerations.
Pakistan’s Digital Currency Journey
As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, Pakistan had expressed interest in exploring the concept of a digital currency issued by its central bank, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). While no concrete plans had been announced at that time, the idea was being studied and debated within the country. Let’s take a closer look at the possibilities and implications of digital currency replacing traditional paper currency in Pakistan.
- Financial Inclusion:
- One of the primary advantages of digital currency is its potential to increase financial inclusion. Pakistan has a significant portion of its population that is unbanked or underbanked. Digital currency could provide these individuals with access to financial services, including payments, savings, and investments, through their smartphones.
- Reduced Transaction Costs:
- Digital currency transactions are often cheaper and faster than traditional banking methods. This could lead to reduced transaction costs for businesses and individuals, making it more cost-effective to conduct transactions and facilitate economic growth.
- Improved Monetary Policy:
- CBDCs can offer central banks more precise control over monetary policy. The State Bank of Pakistan would have real-time data on money flows, which could help in making informed decisions regarding interest rates and money supply.
- Enhanced Security:
- Digital currency transactions are inherently secure due to advanced cryptographic techniques. This could potentially reduce the risk of counterfeiting and fraud, which is a concern with paper currency.
- Cross-Border Transactions:
- Digital currency can simplify cross-border transactions, making it easier for Pakistanis living abroad to send remittances back home. This could have a significant positive impact on the country’s economy, as remittances are a vital source of income.
- Technological Challenges:
- The implementation of digital currency would require significant technological infrastructure and expertise. Ensuring the security and reliability of the digital currency system would be paramount.
- Regulatory Framework:
- Establishing a clear regulatory framework for digital currencies is essential to prevent misuse and illicit activities. Pakistan would need to draft and enforce regulations to govern the use and exchange of digital currency.
- Privacy Concerns:
- Digital currencies can raise concerns about privacy and surveillance. Striking the right balance between privacy and security would be a challenge for policymakers.
- Financial Literacy:
- Many Pakistanis may not be familiar with digital currency and how to use it safely. Promoting financial literacy and educating the public about the benefits and risks of digital currency would be crucial.
- Transition Period:
- Transitioning from paper currency to digital currency would not be seamless. The government and central bank would need to carefully manage the transition to minimize disruptions to the economy.
The possibility of digital currency replacing traditional paper currency in Pakistan is a complex and multifaceted issue. While digital currency offers several advantages, including financial inclusion, reduced transaction costs, and improved monetary policy, it also comes with challenges related to technology, regulation, privacy, and financial literacy.
As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, Pakistan was in the early stages of exploring the concept of a digital currency. Since then, developments may have occurred, and the government’s stance on the matter may have evolved. Therefore, it is essential for policymakers, financial institutions, and the public to engage in informed discussions and assessments to determine the best path forward for Pakistan’s monetary system.
The future of money is undoubtedly digital, but the transition should be managed thoughtfully to ensure that the benefits of digital currency are realized while addressing the potential risks and challenges. Pakistan has the opportunity to shape its digital currency landscape in a way that promotes economic growth, financial inclusion, and security for its citizens.
As America’s Influence in Asia Wanes, Asian Economies Are Integrating
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In the 21st century, Asia has emerged as a global powerhouse, both economically and geopolitically. The region, with its diverse cultures, languages, and histories, has seen a remarkable transformation over the past few decades. One of the most significant trends is the increasing integration of Asian economies as America’s influence in the region appears to wane. This phenomenon has wide-ranging implications for the global economy, politics, and the future of international relations.
The United States, for much of the post-World War II era, played a dominant role in shaping the political and economic landscape of Asia. The American presence was felt through alliances, trade partnerships, and military bases across the region. However, in recent years, we have witnessed a gradual shift in the balance of power. As America’s focus turned inward, and its foreign policy priorities evolved, Asia began to chart its own course. This article will delve into the factors driving the integration of Asian economies and how it is redefining the dynamics of the region.
I. The Changing Geopolitical Landscape
A. The Rise of China
One of the most significant drivers of the changing dynamics in Asia is the rise of China. With its rapid economic growth, China has become an economic juggernaut and a global superpower. Its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is reshaping the infrastructure and trade landscape across Asia, connecting China to countries throughout the region and beyond. The BRI, coupled with China’s increasing military capabilities, has significantly altered the balance of power in Asia.
China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, its territorial disputes with neighboring countries, and its growing influence in international organizations have all raised concerns among its neighbors and global powers like the United States. The perception of a more powerful and assertive China has prompted Asian countries to rethink their alliances and seek greater economic and political autonomy.
B. U.S. Policy Shifts
The United States, for decades, played a pivotal role in ensuring stability and security in Asia. Its military alliances with countries like Japan and South Korea provided a strong deterrent against potential threats. However, recent shifts in U.S. foreign policy have raised questions about its long-term commitment to the region.
The “America First” policy of the Trump administration signaled a more transactional approach to foreign relations, leading many Asian countries to seek alternative partnerships. Furthermore, the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its reluctance to fully engage in regional trade agreements like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) left a void that Asian nations were eager to fill.
II. Economic Integration in Asia
A. Regional Trade Agreements
One of the most visible manifestations of Asian economic integration is the proliferation of regional trade agreements. The RCEP, signed in November 2020, is the world’s largest trade pact, covering nearly one-third of the global population and GDP. It includes countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The RCEP is just one example of the growing trend of Asian countries coming together to promote economic cooperation. These agreements are seen as a way to reduce dependence on any single market, diversify export destinations, and promote economic growth. They also provide a platform for dialogue on non-economic issues, further deepening regional integration.
B. Supply Chain Resilience
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in global supply chains, prompting many Asian countries to rethink their economic strategies. The desire for supply chain resilience has led to a reevaluation of trade relationships and an emphasis on regional production networks.
Countries like Japan, for instance, have introduced policies to encourage companies to diversify their supply chains away from overreliance on China. This has opened up opportunities for greater economic integration within Asia, as countries seek to build more robust and diverse supply chains by collaborating with neighboring nations.
C. Infrastructure Investment
Infrastructure development is another key driver of Asian economic integration. China’s BRI, as mentioned earlier, is a prime example of the massive infrastructure investments taking place across the region. These projects not only promote connectivity but also foster economic interdependence.
In response to China’s BRI, Japan has launched its own infrastructure initiative, the Partnership for Quality Infrastructure (PQI). Other countries, such as India, are also investing heavily in infrastructure development to enhance regional connectivity.
III. Implications of Asian Economic Integration
A. Economic Growth and Prosperity
The integration of Asian economies has the potential to drive significant economic growth and prosperity. By increasing trade and investment flows among nations, economies can benefit from the comparative advantages of their neighbours. This can lead to increased innovation, higher productivity, and ultimately, improved living standards for millions of people in the region.
B. Geopolitical Implications
As Asian economies become more integrated, they also become more interdependent. This interdependence can act as a stabilizing force, reducing the likelihood of conflicts among nations. However, it can also create challenges if disputes arise, as economic ties can be used as leverage in diplomatic negotiations.
The changing dynamics in Asia have also led to shifts in alliances and partnerships. Some countries are hedging their bets by maintaining strong ties with both the United States and China, while others are aligning more closely with one or the other. This fluidity in alliances is a reflection of the evolving power dynamics in the region.
C. Global Trade and Investment
The integration of Asian economies has far-reaching implications for global trade and investment. As Asia becomes more economically cohesive, it strengthens its position as a global economic powerhouse. This, in turn, affects the balance of power in international institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Moreover, the rise of regional trade agreements in Asia challenges the traditional dominance of global trade agreements. The WTO, which has struggled to reach meaningful agreements in recent years, faces competition from regional pacts like the RCEP that set their own trade rules.
IV. Challenges and Considerations
A. Economic Disparities
While economic integration offers numerous benefits, it also brings to the forefront issues of economic inequality within and among countries. Not all nations in Asia are on an equal footing, and some may struggle to keep up with the pace of integration. Addressing these disparities is crucial to ensuring that the benefits of integration are shared more broadly.
B. Political Differences
Asia is not a monolithic bloc, and political differences among nations persist. Historical rivalries, territorial disputes, and differing political systems can create tensions that hinder deeper integration. Resolving these political differences will be an ongoing challenge for the region.
C. External Factors
External factors, such as the United States’ foreign policy decisions, global economic trends, and geopolitical developments, can all influence the trajectory of Asian economic integration. The region must navigate these uncertainties while pursuing its integration goals.
As America’s influence in Asia undergoes a transformation, the integration of Asian economies is gaining momentum. The rise of China shifts in U.S. foreign policy, and a growing emphasis on regional cooperation are reshaping the geopolitical and economic landscape of the continent. This integration has the potential to drive economic growth, enhance regional stability, and redefine the global balance of power.
However, the journey toward greater economic integration in Asia is not without its challenges. Economic disparities, political differences, and external factors all present obstacles that must be navigated carefully. Nevertheless, the determination of Asian nations to shape their own destiny and assert their influence on the world stage is a defining feature of the 21st century.
In today’s changing world, it is crucial to closely monitor the growth of Asia and its economic integration. The choices made by Asian nations in the upcoming years will not only impact their own futures but also have significant consequences for the global community. With the evolution of America’s role in Asia, the narrative of Asian economic integration will undoubtedly steer the direction of the 21st century.
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