Decision to release tax refunds lauded

ISLAMABAD (INP): The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has lauded decision of the government to release stuck up sales tax refunds worth Rs50 billion in this month. “Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has fulfilled his commitment by deciding to release one-fourth of the total refunds which will increase businessmen’s confidence in the government and boost exports,” said FPCCI President Abdur Rauf Alam. Alam said that following the payments, the FBR would start clearing the entire amounts, estimated to be Rs201 billion, under all heads, including sales tax, income tax and duty drawback. “The business community has been urging the government for the last two years to refund the held up amounts since the export sector was facing serious liquidity crunch due to their accumulation,” he said, and added, “It is expected that remaining amounts would be refunded in September and October.” The FPCCI president recalled that suspension in the release of refunds caused problems for the exporters.

He welcomed the government’s recently announced ‘no-payment, no-refund’ mechanism for the five export-oriented sectors in order to avoid accumulation of refunds.

He also appreciated the efforts of FPCCI leaders, various chambers and business associations, United Business Group and its Secretary General Zubair Tufail who worked for months to get the refunds released.

Brent slides under $50

LONDON (AFP): World oil prices slid Monday on resurfacing supply glut concerns, slamming the brakes on last week's rally. By 1200 GMT, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in October had slumped $1.45 compared with Friday's close to trade at $49.43 a barrel. US benchmark WTI for Sept delivery shed $1.26 to $47.26 a barrel. "The oil market is on course for its biggest daily loss in over a month," oil brokers PVM said in client note. "Adding to global oil product glut woes are figures showing that Chinese exports of gasoline and diesel surged in July from a year ago," it said, adding that reports that Iraq will resume crude oil exports from its northern fields heaped further pressure on prices. In addition, a rebel group in Nigeria has announced a conditional ceasefire and agreed to hold talks with the country's government following months of attacks on key oil and gas facilities. In a weekend message posted on the Niger Delta Avengers' (NDA) website, the group said it would "observe a cessation of hostilities", so long as the country's ruling party stops what it called harassment of innocent civilians.

Weighing also on dollar-denominated crude was a firmer greenback, traders said.

Oil's slide comes after the commodity entered a bull market last week -- after rising more than 20 percent from recent lows below $40 a barrel.

But gains were chipped after Bloomberg News reported that Iraq, OPEC's second-biggest producer, will increase exports by about five percent after an agreement to resume shipments from three oil fields.

"Oil is buffeted by US dollar gains and news that Iraq plans to boost its exports, stoking fears that the supply glut will worsen," said Bernard Aw, an analyst with IG Markets in Singapore.

"Fresh developments about an OPEC discussion on a possible output freeze next month could provide a base for oil prices," he told AFP.

Both main oil contracts surged last week as it emerged that the OPEC producers club and its rivals will meet next month, with speculation they could discuss ways to tackle an oversupplied market.

However, despite the rally in oil prices there are doubts a deal to freeze output around current levels would be reached.

"The stars remain misaligned for an OPEC/non-OPEC freeze agreement, but it is beneficial for producers to talk," British bank Barclays said in a market analysis.

"Oil prices will likely experience another short-term dip in the coming weeks... before more sustainably moving to average $50" in the fourth quarter, it added.

Int’l water conference from today

ISLAMABAD (APP): The 3rd International Water Conference titled “Water Security and Sustainable Growth” will commence on August 23 (Tuesday) here. The three days conference is being organised by University of Haripur, Saving Humanity Foundation International (SHFINT) and Riphah Institute of Public Policy from August 23-25 August, said a press release issued here on Monday. The objective of this conference is to sensitize critical water issues and highlighting key challenges and to explore way and means for integrated water recourse development and management to attain sustainable development through scientifically sound advice under the following sub themes: Climate change and water security, Water governance trans boundary cooperation, Water and food security, Secure water quality & sanitation and Water security policies: principles, perspectives and practices. The diplomats, government policy makers, scholars and experts (local/international) from academia, industry and business community will attend the conference.

Ogra conducts public hearing on gas price

LAHORE (APP): In order to determine prescribed price of gas, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) conducted a public hearing here on Monday. OGRA Chairperson Uzma Adil Khan chaired the public hearing, while OGRA Member (Gas) Aamir Naseem and Member (Finance) Noorul Haq were also present. Representatives of Sui-Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association of Pakistan (LPGAP), Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government officials and other stakeholders and general public attended the hearing. During the hearing, the OGRA chairperson and members patiently heard the reservations/suggestions put forth by the interveners. The OGRA chairperson said, “Pakistan’s interest is supreme to us, as both the companies and consumers belong to Pakistan.” She said that it would be the consumers facing multiple problems in case of closure of a company; however, a lot had yet to be done by these companies to improve their performance.

Uzma Khan hoped that companies would improve their working in the light of points/ shortfall highlighted by the interveners and other stakeholder, and come up to expectations of consumers.

Later, talking to the media, she said that OGRA had already completed the public hearing process to determine the prescribed price of gas in Karachi (Sindh) and Quetta (Balochitan) on August 16 and 18, respectively. The Authority heard the interveners/petitioners in Lahore and would hold a similar activity in Peshawar on August 25, 2016, she maintained.