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IMF sees mounting risks, sharp drop in growth for Pakistan next year

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WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund projected that Pakistan’s growth will moderate to 4.7 per cent in fiscal year 2019 from 5.6pc in 2018.

In its regional economic outlook update for the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan (MENAP) region, the IMF notes that “an increase in macroeconomic vulnerabilities and domestic policy slippages have weakened Pakistan’s economic outlook, with growth now projected to moderate to 4.7pc in FY19”.

In January, the IMF said it expected growth in Pakistan to pick up in 2018-19. The government has targeted 6.2pc growth for next year in its latest budget.

 

Contrary to the govt target of 6.2pc growth for next year, the Fund says it is likely to be 4.7pc
The report credits improved energy supply, investment related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and strong credit growth for the raise in Pakistan’s growth to an estimated 5.6pc in the outgoing FY18, from 5.3pc last year.

The report, however, places Pakistan among the countries where “delays in implementation or completion of structural reforms and political and policy uncertainty” continue to weigh on growth. Besides Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Lebanon are also placed in this category.

Pakistan is also placed among the countries where upcoming elections and a more challenging political environment could slow the reform process.

“A high perception of corruption and lack of transparency in some of these countries could not only affect macroeconomic outcomes directly, reducing investment and productivity, but could also heighten social tensions and hinder reform,” the IMF warns.

The report notes that some countries in the MENAP region are slowly taking steps to improve governance and transparency while additional efforts are also being made to bolster the business environment, with Pakistan recently strengthening its bankruptcy framework.

After three years of decline, exports of MENAP oil-importing countries grew by 6.4pc in 2017 and are projected to accelerate by 8.4pc in 2018 and 8.6pc in 2019.

In Pakistan, Egypt and Tunisia, this was largely due to improved external demand and greater exchange rate flexibility while Pakistan also benefited from a pickup in cotton prices.

Import growth in MENAP nations is projected to slow to 4.8pc in 2018 from 6.8pc in 2017 and remains broadly steady around 5.5pc over the medium term.

In Pakistan, Djibouti and Mauritania, this import compression “partly reflects an anticipated slowdown in capital imports for infrastructure projects”.

The IMF notes that public debt levels in non-oil producing MENAP countries remain elevated, exceeding 80pc of GDP in several nations.

“Such large debt stocks represent a significant burden on the economy. Debt service crowds out growth-enhancing expenditures,” the report adds with a warning that large debt stocks also add to external vulnerabilities given the large share of external debt.

“This burden will increase since financing costs are likely to rise in line with the expected tightening of monetary policy in advanced economies,” says the IMF, while urging borrowing nations to focus on efforts to reduce debt.

The IMF, however, points out that inflation pressure in the region has abated, with inflation broadly stable at about 12pc. In Pakistan and Morocco, decline in food prices helped bring the inflation down while in some countries monetary tightening also helped.


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WPI inflation at 8-month low of 3.80 pc in Dec on softening fuel, food prices

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New Delhi: Inflation based on wholesale prices fell to a 8-month low of 3.80 per cent in December, 2018, on softening prices of fuel and some food items.

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI)-based inflation stood at 4.64 per cent in November, 2018, and 3.58 per cent in December 2017. According to the government data released on Monday, deflation in food articles stood at 0.07 per cent in December, against 3.31 per cent in November.

Vegetables, too, saw deflation at 17.55 per cent in December, compared to 26.98 per cent in the previous month. Inflation in the ‘fuel and power’ basket in December slumped to 8.38 per cent, nearly half of 16.28 per cent in November.

 

This was on account of lowering of prices of petrol and diesel through December. Individually, in petrol and diesel inflation was 1.57 per cent and 8.61 per cent, respectively, and for liquified petroleum gas (LPG) it was 6.87 per cent during December.

Among food articles, potato prices became cheaper substantially with inflation at 48.68 per cent in December, as against 86.45 per cent in November.

Inflation in pulses stood at 2.11 per cent, while in ‘egg, meat and fish’ it was 4.55 per cent. Onion witnessed deflation of 63.83 per cent in December, compared to 47.60 per cent in November.

The 3.80 per cent inflation is the lowest in 8 months, and a lower inflation than this was last seen in April at 3.62 per cent. Data for retail or consumer price index-based inflation would be released later in the day.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) mainly takes into account retail inflation data while formulating monetary policy. In its fifth monetary policy review for the fiscal, last month, the Reserve Bank kept interest rates unchanged, but held out a promise to cut them if the upside risks to inflation do not materialise.

The central bank lowered retail inflation projection to 2.7-3.2 per cent for the second half of the current fiscal, citing normal monsoon and moderate food prices.

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Air tickets, identity cards to become redundant; flyers can use facial recognition to enter airport

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New Delhi: The hassle to show air tickets and identity cards at Airport will be over as air travellers can soon enter airport with facial recognition biometric facility.

GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) that operates the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), has successfully conducted the trial of facial recognition technology. During the first phase of the trial, employees of GHIAL were included. The second phase of the trial is expected to be launched by the end of this month, in which GHIAL will include common air fliers. And if the second phase of the trial is successful, GHIAL will implement facial recognition technology in Hyderabad airport from March onwards.

Three phases of facial recognition technology

 

First phase: GHIAL has installed facial recognition cameras in the Hyderabad. In the first phase, the imaging of passengers will be done through these cameras which will recognise the faces of the flyers.

Second phase: There would be a centralised registration system for passengers. Each passenger’s face will be attached with his/her photo identity like passport, Aadhaar, voting id, driving licence etc. The details of passengers along with his facial mapping will be scanned and stored by GHIAL through the centralised registration system at the Airport.

Third phase: The ID proof of the passengers along with their facial mapping will be stored at the e-boarding gate of the Airport.The data centres at Airlines will also have similar information. Whenever such passengers book tickets, the data system will alert the Hyderabad Airport authorities.

The moment you book a flight ticket originating from Hyderabad airport, your details will be shared by the data centre and the information will be given to all the concerned authorities.

When you reach the Hyderabad terminal gate, face recognition technology will identify you and all your details will be shared on the screen. The security personnel at the gate will access all your information via the system.

Similarly, your details can be accessed by the security personnel at the check-in counter, security check-in. Once the formalities are done, passengers will get an online boarding pass on their mobile phone.

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Maruti all-new WagonR 2019 available for booking at Rs 11,000

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New Delhi: Country’s largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki India on Monday said that its all-new WagonR is available for booking starting.

Customers can book the 3rd generation WagonR at authorized dealer network across the country by paying Rs 11,000. They can also book the car online.

The New WagonR is powered by the advanced K-series engine offering high fuel efficiency and an unmatched driving experience, Maruti said. The car now comes with a new 1.2 L engine option that delivers powerful and impressive performance coupled with great fuel economy. Customers will also have the choice of 1.0 L engine for the all-new WagonR.

 

Maruti Suzuki’s acclaimed two pedal technology will also be offered in the new WagonR. The Auto Gear Shift (AGS) offers. Maruti said that for the first it is going to offer the most innovative SmartPlay Studio infotainment experience in the Big New WagonR.

The car will be available in Pearl Poolside Blue, Pearl Nutmeg Brown, Magma Grey, Pearl Autumn Orange, Silky Silver and Superior White Range of variants. The Petrol: 1.0 L engine will be available in Lxi, Vxi / Vxi AGS variants while the Petrol: 1.2 L will be available in Vxi, Vxi AGS, Zxi / Zxi AGS variants.

“The new WagonR gets bigger with enhanced comfort. The car’s sturdy and masculine look with true tall boy design makes for a strong road presence. The Big New WagonR not only embodies strong looks but is also stronger inside out,” Maruti said in a release.

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