Raise in wheat support price opposed

LAHORE (APP): FPCCI Chairman Malik  Sohail Hussain said on Sunday that support price of wheat should not be increased and its area under cultivation should be reduced so as to save the country from colossal losses. Pakistan produced more wheat than its consumption and  the carryover stocks from the last years added up to millions  of tonnes of surplus which was problematic, he said  in a media statement. He said that Pakistani wheat was very costly in the world  which was an incentive for growers but government suffered  from heavy losses due to surplus production while the masses were made to pay more. Sohail Hussain demanded the quarters concerned to convince some growers to oilseed cultivation which would help cut  edible oil import bill. The target for wheat production had been set at  26.5 million tonnes which was hard to achieve because of water scarcity and increasing price of fertilizer while the  export target will be missed despite hefty export subsidies, he noted. He urged the government to evolve a strategy for surplus wheat production.

Minister for best services to air passengers

ISLAMABAD (APP): Federal Minister for Aviation Abdullah Hussain Haroon has visited New Islamabad International Airport to review flight operation and provision of facilities to passengers. Speaking on the occasion, the federal minister said all-out efforts were being made to ensure provision of best services to valuable passengers at New Islamabad International Airport as per international standards. Chief Security Officer (CSO), Airport Security Force (ASF), Airport Manager and high officials of Civil Aviation Authority, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Aviation Division were also present on the occasion.  The minister said that the grievances and problems faced by the passenger at the National Highway Authority (NHA) Toll plaza near New Airport would be resolved soon. The minister inspected different sections and areas of the airport and expressed satisfaction over the working and operations at New Islamabad Airport. Earlier, CSO, ASF briefed the minister about the security matters at the Airport and its vicinity. 

A detailed briefing was also given to the minister by officials of CAA regarding the operations and facilities provided to airlines and passengers.

Abdullah Hussain Haroon was also apprised about the issues and problems which the passengers were facing at the NHA Toll plaza near the airport.

AIIB investments top $4.2b

BEIJING (Xinhua): Investments in projects and funds by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) surpassed 4.2 billion US dollars in 2017. The figure was a sharp increase from $1.7 billion of investments a year earlier as the bank funded 23 approved projects in sectors including transport, energy and telecommunication, up from 8 projects in 2016. Net profit of the bank in 2017 came in at 252 million U.S. dollars, up from 167 million US dollars a year earlier, according to the report. The report identified the bank's thematic priorities as sustainable infrastructure, cross-border connectivity and private capital mobilization. In 2017, total amount of private co-financing by AIIB surpassed 560 million U.S. dollars, a substantial increase from 5 million U.S. dollars in 2016, according to the bank's annual report. The report also highlights cooperation with other multilateral development banks to bridge the gap in infrastructure financing, with Asia's infrastructure funding needs estimated at 1.7 trillion U.S. dollars per year until 2030.

AIIB membership grew to 84 last year from 57 in 2016. On May 2, the bank announced new members Papua New Guinea and Kenya, bringing its total approved membership to 86.

China's bank to cut reserve requirements

BEIJING (AFP): China's central bank announced Sunday it would reduce the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for most banks by 50 basis points to free up funding for small firms as a trade war with the US looms. The move to cut the amount of cash banks must hold in reserve will free up a combined 700 billion yuan ($108 billion) in funding at commercial banks and the largest state-owned banks, the People's Bank of China said in a statement. The policy is set to come into effect on July 5, one day before new US tariffs are due to be imposed on Chinese imports worth $34 billion. Another $16 billion is targeted for future duties. The prospect of tariffs combined with lacklustre economic data last month prompted China's central bank to respond, analysts say. "It sends a strong signal of policy easing on the part of the State Council (cabinet) and the PBoC," said Ting Lu, chief China economist at Nomura investment bank, in a note. "We believe the Chinese economy is yet to bottom out and the situation could get worse before getting better," said Lu.

Banks will use funds freed up from the RRR cut to finance small businesses and support "debt to equity swaps", the central bank said.

Regulators have been pushing for debt to equity swaps to lessen the financial burden on many of China's highly indebted companies. But so far the swaps have yet to be widely carried out.