Islamabad: To support foreign exchange reserves, Pakistan on Thursday decided to stop trade with Afghanistan in rupee and discourage persons going abroad from taking out foreign exchange in cash.
The decisions were taken at two back-to-back meetings, presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and heads of State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue, Secretaries of Commerce and Finance.
The governor of State Bank, Dr Yasin Anwar, told the meeting that the present limit of $10,000 for each person per trip abroad was being misused and believed that the limit be reduced by half to $5000 per person per visit.
It was felt that genuine travelers never took out such a huge amount of foreign exchange in cash and instead preferred credit cards and foreign exchange bearer certificates because of the risk factor.
It was, therefore, decided to impose a limit of $5,000 or equivalent in other currencies per person per trip who wanted to carry currency notes.
At the same time, each child up to 12 years of age would be entitled to 50 per cent allowance while an infant would be permitted an allowance of 25pc.
The meeting was informed that Pakistan’s export to Afghanistan during 2012-13 amounted to $2.3bn but half of this trade took place in rupee.
After consultations with the relevant ministries, the finance minister decided that payments against exports to Afghanistan would no longer be in rupee and the normal trading regime would apply from Mar 17.
A two-month period was, however, allowed to exports to complete their transactions already in the pipeline.
The KCCI president drew the attention of the finance minister to difficulties being faced by exporters to utilise the route of Ghulam Khan as it was restricted for export of cement only.
He suggested that other items should also be allowed to be exported through Ghulam Khan Route.
On being supported by the FBR chairman and the ministry of commerce, the finance minister decided to allow export of all exportable items also from Ghulam Khan, saying this would help develop business in the backward areas of KPK and also stimulate growth of exports to Afghanistan.
The relevant ministries were directed to immediately take steps for implementation of the decisions through necessary amendments in the procedures.
The minister said the decision was expected to earn foreign exchange of $1bn, raise exports to Afghanistan, benefit businesses as well as the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and reflect actual export figures of the country.