SBP asks banks to prioritise import of certain essential items to help businesses
In order to help businesses, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Monday removed the necessity for prior import approval and asked banks to give priority to the importation of certain necessities, including food, medicine, and energy.
The business community, including various trade bodies and chambers of commerce, has drawn attention to the fact that many shipping containers carrying imported goods are stuck at the ports as a result of delays in the release of shipping documents by banks, according to a statement issued by the SBP on Monday.
“SBP has advised banks to provide one-time facilitation to all those importers who could either extend their payment terms to 180 days (or beyond) or arrange funds from abroad to settle their pending import payments.”
“Accordingly, till March 31, 2023, banks have been advised to process and release documents of shipments/ goods that have already arrived at a port in Pakistan or have been shipped on or before January 18, 2023,” said the central bank.
To avoid any future issues, SBP also suggests that clients notify their banks before beginning any import transaction.
To the dismay of many importers and firms in Pakistan, who cited these constraints as the reason for closing down or curtailing operations, the SBP restricted imports early this year due to low levels of foreign exchange reserves.
Last week, the business community of the country harshly criticised the SBP’s role in the issue in light of the difficulty in issuing letters of credit.
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