Arslaan Asif Soomro

Arslaan Asif Soomro

The author has a degree in Investment Management from Cass Business School, London and has also obtained CFA and FRM qualifications. He is currently working as a Managing Director at KASB Securities and has a keen interest in economics, capital markets and social impact investment. He tweets at @AAHSoomro (twitter.com/AAHSoomro)

Can demonetisation help address Pakistan’s FATF concerns?

While many in Pakistan celebrated after hearing the news that Pakistan had survived ‘Indian lobbying’ attempts to get Pakistan onto the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) black-list, it would be foolish to think that a position on the grey-list is something to be proud of. FATF’s primary duty is to be a global watchdog which curbs money laundering and terror financing, and while Pakistan has assured the task force that the nation will achieve the set targets, the likelihood of this happening still remains circumspect, especially given the wide array of problems the nation is already facing. Undoubtedly, the pace of ‘progress’ is far below ...

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Economic road map: Imran Khan should eat, sleep, breathe (and dream) exports

The government has plethora of tasks at hands, and naturally so since it paraded a picture-perfect dream in its election manifesto. The scorecard, however, had been deteriorating, even before the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was at the helm of affairs. Twenty months and counting, the Rupee has lost almost 50% of its value and interest rates (borrowing costs) have increased to 13.25%. Have hopes of a quick improvement in the livelihood of the middle-class that voted for this government faded away only to resurface for a better long-term hope? There are no quick fixes for Insafians and Pakistanis. That said, in the ...

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Budget2019-20: Is PTI’s budget for the people, the IMF or the country?

If there is one day when the entire nation has its eyes glued to the screen – apart from the elections or a Pakistan-India cricket match – that has to be the day the budget is announced. From the common man to industrialists, all pin their hopes on the government to see which direction the drivers of our economy are taking the nation. This time the government had a choice – either please the masses or please the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Of course, ultimately, the government is choice-less. To put things into perspective, never has the government been ...

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September 19, 2018
TOPICS

Can PTI’s mini-budget get the economy out of the ICU and into the ‘recovery room’?

Pakistanis love to bash politics and politicians whenever they face any problem. Slogan after slogan, martyrdom, militarism and affluent status quo is what three generations of Pakistanis have seen. So when Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) claimed to make policies focusing on “uplifting the lower middle class”, even the PTI voters were somewhat sceptical. Alas, critics can be shushed, the mini-budget is out and looks like PTI may have delivered what it promised. Before the official mini-budget announcement, many people were criticising the government for its decision to raise gas prices and income taxes, however, they did not see ...

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December 26, 2017
TOPICS

The fall and fall of Pakistan’s economy in 2017

There were a lot of fairly good economic indicators seen in 2017, such as the following: – An 8.5% growth in Large-Scale Manufacturing (LSM), – An inflation rate of 3.9%,  – A super-strong growth in lending to the private sector, – A 74.4% growth in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worth $939.7 million, – A 19.5% growth in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Tax Revenues and a double-digit growth in exports Amidst these “good” indicators, less focus was paid to the depleting foreign currency reserves and burgeoning imports. Whether this is due to Mr Ishaq Dar being pre-occupied during the year, trying to save himself and his boss from the aftermath of the Panama leaks, or merely because the ...

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If Pakistan does not want to be pushed to ‘do more’, then its economy should not be so vulnerable

Nothing remains constant in Pakistan, not even perceptions. Such is the sad state of affairs of Pakistan’s geo-politics and economy. It was only a few months ago, in May, that Pakistan had been upgraded to the MSCI Emerging Markets status, opening door to global investors and economic analysts. Since then, however, the situation has changed drastically, and we continue to surprise investors at home and abroad, this time with our ability to turn things around for the worse. Despite a 10-year high economic growth and billion-dollar investments under the ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, Pakistan’s economy has yet again revealed how vulnerable it is. The gravity ...

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Can Pakistan’s economic stability and businesses survive Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar’s disqualification?

In one of his first public appearances, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was reported to have said the following: “During my tenure, the stock market increased from 19,000 to 52,000.”  So, is a rising stock market really a barometer of a strong democracy or just a number game for a selected few? We surely cannot say at the moment. To all the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) sloganeers, Nawaz is gone, but is prosperity, not tabdeeli (change), around the corner? Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was primarily the only major political party that was known for their pro-growth temperament. Despite never being able to complete their full term, businesses cheered on the so-called economic focus ...

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Could Nawaz Sharif’s fate determine the future of Pakistan’s stock market as well?

The latest discussion engulfing the whole country has been Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s joint investigation team (JIT) imbroglio and the stock market’s rapid decline. In one of my previous blogs, we highlighted how the stock market should be utilised as an investment vehicle. For the record, Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) 100 Index went up by +50% from that day and stayed the same for the next 24 months. While sceptics have resurfaced – and so have the bears in the market (which is down +15% from the peak levels) – to criticise the vulnerability of the economy amidst political impasse, it is crucial to holistically view the changing political and economic landscape ...

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Is the Pak-Cheen dosti really that zindabad?

‘Pak-Cheen Dosti Zindabad!’ is a household anthem, isn’t it? A sea-pack, sorry, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) appears to be Pakistan’s Achilles heel. Under this partnership, Pakistan is to receive a $51 billion investment over the course of three to eight years in the form of power projects, roads and railway upgrades, transmission lines, infrastructure, hospitals, technology and much more. Undoubtedly, such an investment is a welcome sign for Pakistan but the deal is strategically far more important to China than it is to Pakistan. We were on the brink of dragging the over-burdening economy with no imminent increase in exports, tax revenues, ...

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The ‘Aam Aadmi’ in Pakistan struggles with his halal earnings

My name is ‘Aam Aadmi’ (literally a ‘common man’) and I am a 35-year-old with two children. I live in the not-so posh areas of Karachi with a monthly income of Rs50,000 per month. I used to take pride in being a middle-class citizen of Pakistan. My life revolves around the first of every month – supposedly salary day. By the end of the first week of each month, my salary disappears from my account and I go through the ordeal of an 8 to 6 job, which, if you live in Karachi, extends to an 8 to 8 since ...

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