SBP hints at easing import policy

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Commercial banks told to clear LCs of prioritized sectors of up to $100,000
KARACHI
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Wednesday hinted at easing import restrictions imposed by the government to keep foreign exchange reserves under tight control.
This was suggested by State Bank Governor Jameel Ahmed while launching the Sustainable Banking Conference in collaboration with International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group in Karachi Wednesday.
The objective of the conference was to create critically needed awareness related to climate change and sustainability within the financial sector and launch the Environmental and Social Risk Management (ESRM) Implementation Manual.
Responding to media questions about the government’s stringent import policy of the past few months, he said that commercial banks have been told to clear Letters of Credit (LCs) of up to $100,000.
He said that commercial banks must facilitate priority sectors when clearing LCs, particularly importing the remaining parts and machineries of projects which are near completion. Earlier, at the Sustainable Banking Conference, Governor State Bank Jameel Ahmed highlighted Pakistan’s vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate change.
He went on to add that the SBP had launched an Environmental and Social Risk Management manual as part of the central bank’s ongoing efforts to promote green banking in Pakistan. The Governor remarked that this manual has been launched as part of SBP’s ongoing efforts to promote green banking in Pakistan.
The ESRM manual is a procedural guide for the banks/DFIs to establish their environmental & social risk management systems, as advised in SBP’s Green Banking Guidelines (GBGs).
Further, he highlighted that the conference was an effort to spread awareness on the impact of climate change and environmental degradation on the financial sector of Pakistan and a step towards SBP’s endeavor to reduce the vulnerability of financial sector from such risks.
He added that Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change as we have witnessed during the recent floods; therefore, it is critical time for Pakistan’s financial sector to become sensitive to financial consequences arising from environmental & social risks.
SBP, being a responsible regulator of the financial system, has also undertaken certain initiatives like Green Banking Guidelines and Financing Scheme for Renewable Energy, to ingrain sustainability considerations into the financial sector as per international best practices.
The SBP Governor encouraged the entire banking industry to take full benefit of the manual to establish their ESRM systems and procedures. State Bank will keep on providing necessary support and guidance at every stage of ESRM implementation.
In the inauguration ceremony, Khawaja Aftab Ahmed, IFC Regional Director for the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan, shared that the launch of the Environmental and Social Risk Management (ESRM) Implementation Manual marks a significant step towards promoting sustainable banking practices in Pakistan.
He added that the manual can help the banking industry better manage environmental and social risks throughout their lending practices, and subsequently, enable a green and inclusive economic recovery at a critical time for Pakistan.
The conference also included two high-level panel discussions on important topics including ESG integration in financial sector and climate finance risk & climate disclosures wherein, in addition to other senior level experts, two ex-SBP Governors shared their experiences. Deputy Governor, Sima Kamil concluded the conference and thanked all participants.
Addressing the audience, IFC Regional Director for the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan Khawaja Aftab Ahmed stated that the launch of the Environmental and Social Risk Management (ESRM) Implementation Manual marked a significant step towards promoting sustainable banking practices in Pakistan.
During the conference, SBP Executive Director Syed Samar Hasnain moderated a Panel discussion on Environmental, Social and Governance Integration in Pakistan’s Financial Sector followed by a discussion by IFC Senior Policy Advisor Yaseen Anwar on climate finance, risks, and climate disclosures in Pakistan.