PSX up, but budget gets mixed reviews

KSE-100 index rises 0.8% and closes at 34,939.16 points

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OUR CORRESPONDENT
KARACHI
Stocks rose amid mixed reviews by the business community on Wednesday a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government presented its first annual budget. The benchmark KSE-100 index of the Pakistan Stock Exchange rose 278.08 points, or 0.8 per cent, to close at 34,939.16 points led by gains in materials, energy and financial stocks. Engro, the country’s biggest conglomerate, was up 1.87pc. Business leaders gave the budget mixed reviews. Some hoped money destined for real estate will now flow into the stock markets after the government made it a crime to not pay taxes when buying or selling property. Plans to widen the tax net and separate tax policy from revenue collection also won support. But analysts were sceptical of a forecast 25pc increase in federal tax revenues to Rs5.55 trillion ($36.8 billion). The government is seeking to stabilise a wobbly economy with an International Monetary Fund loan agreed in principle but contingent on Pakistan pushing ahead with reforms and measures to curb ballooning current and fiscal account deficits. It had been preparing the ground for belt-tightening, but the budget released on Tuesday for the fiscal year to June 2020 underlined the scale of the economic challenges it faces.

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