ISLAMABAD - In a bid to control rupee devaluation against dollar, the government on Thursday set new limit of $5,000 or equivalent (from earlier $10,000) per person per trip for intending travelers.

The decision was taken in a meeting of Finance Minister with the representatives of State Bank of Pakistan. The Finance Minister reviewed the limit of currency notes allowed to Pakistanis traveling abroad.

The State Bank of Pakistan Governor raised the issue that the present limit of $10,000 for each person per trip was being misused and to check this tendency it was decided that the present limit of $10,000 per trip per passenger be reduced to $5,000. Each child up to 12 years would be entitled to 50pc allowance while an infant would be permitted an allowance of 25pc. The Finance Minister emphasised that the limit of $5,000 or equivalent per person per trip was applicable to passengers who were carrying currency notes.

The government has taken this decision to control the outflow of dollars to other countries, which is resulting in massive devaluation of local currency against the US currency. The State Bank of Pakistan Yaseen Anwar had earlier informed the Senate Committee on Finance that around $25 million are smuggled out of the country every day ($9 billion annually) in briefcases through country’s three airports, Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

In another development, Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired a high-level meeting to review Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan. The meeting was informed that Pakistan’s export to Afghanistan during 2012-13 amounted to $2.3 billion. This also included trade undertaken in Pak Rupee estimated at 50pc of the total exports. After consultations and due recommendations by the concerned Ministries, the Finance Minister decided that payments against exports to Afghanistan would no longer be in Pak Rupees and the normal trading regime would apply with effect from March 17, 2014. A two month period was however being given to allow exporters serving any existing contracts he added. It would be pertinent to mention here that the decision has been taken in view of the fact that normal banking channels were now available for transactions between the two countries.

The President KCCI drew the attention of the Finance Minister to the difficulties being faced by exporters to utilise the route of Ghulam Khan as it was restricted for exports of cement only. He suggested that  other items should also be allowed to  be exported . The Chairman FBR and the Ministry of Commerce supported the contention of President KCCI. The Finance Minister, therefore, decided to allow export of all other items also from Ghulam Khan which would help develop business in the backward areas of KPK and also stimulate growth of exports to Afghanistan. These decisions would be implemented by the concerned Ministries who shall issue necessary amendments and streamline procedures. The decision is likely to earn foreign exchange of $1 billion, increase exports to Afghanistan, benefit business community as well as the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and reflect actual export figures of the country.

The meeting was attended by Secretary Finance Dr. Waqar Masood, Secretary Commerce, Qasim Muhammad Niaz, Chairman FBR Tariq Bajwa, Advisor to Finance, Rana Asad Amin, Governor State Bank of Pakistan Yaseen Anwar and President Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce Zahid Ullah Shinwari.