The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Monday enhanced the limits for housing finance and micro enterprise loans up to Rs 3 million from the existing limit of Rs 1 million for borrowings from the micro finance banks. Likewise, the maximum size of general loans has been enhanced from Rs 150,000 to Rs 350,000, said SBP press statement received here. Further, to commensurate with enhanced loan sizes, annual income eligibility for general loans and housing loans has been increased up to Rs1.2 million and Rs1.5 million, respectively. The limit for lending against gold collateral to meet borrowers’ immediate domestic or emergency needs has also been enhanced, it said. The decision to increase the limit of housing finance loans has been made in view of the fact that the existing loan limit was insufficient to promote low cost housing finance through MFBs. Similarly, limits for lending to micro enterprises needed to be enhanced considering the large unmet demand from Micro & Small Enterprise (MSEs). These initiatives would further support the micro borrowers and enterprises and an early revival of economic activities in the current challenging times. However, in order to ensure sustainability, the enhanced loans sizes for housing and micro enterprises would be allowed to those MFBs which are on sound footing and have the capacity to successfully cater the higher loan sizes. In addition, SBP Relief Package for micro finance banks,which included deferment of principal and restructuring of micro finance loans to deal with the adverse implications of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, have now been expanded with three measures. First, the relief measures that were earlier available from Feb 15, 2020 have now been allowed to borrowers who were regular on December 31, 2019. This would allow more borrowers to avail the regulatory relief who were previously not eligible. Second, to facilitate MFBs during these testing times, the provisioning requirements have been extended by 2-months; and third, client’s consent through recorded lines has been allowed to facilitate the customers to avail the relief package. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s goods and services trade with Italy witnessed surplus of 3.13 percent during fiscal year (2019-20) as compared to the corresponding period of last year. The overall exports to Italy were recorded at $750.917 million during July-June (2019-20) against exports of $805.399 million during July-June (2018-19), showing negative growth of 6.76 percent, according to State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). On year-on-year basis, the exports to Italy also decreased by 14.07 percent by going down from $ 70.468 million during June 2019 against the exports of $60.552 million in June 2020, the SBP data revealed. On month-on-month basis the export to Italy however witnessed growth of 24.20 percent in June 2020 as compared to the exports of $48.752 million in May 2020. Overall Pakistan’s exports to other countries witnessed decline of 7.22 percent during fiscal year under review, from $24.256 billion to $22.504 billion, the data revealed. On the other hand, the imports from Italy during the period were recorded at $522.069 million against $583.501 million last year, showing decrease of 10.52 percent during the fiscal year under review. Meanwhile, on year-on-year basis, the imports from Italy increased by 22.13 percent, by going up from $37.291 million during June 2019 against the exports of $45.544 million in June 2020, the data revealed. On month-on-month basis the imports from Italy also witnessed increase of 123.29 percent in June 2020 as compared to the exports of $20.396 million in May 2020. The overall imports into the country decreased by 18.22 percent, from $51.869 billion to $42.418 billion, according to the data. The trade surplus during the period under review was recorded at $228.848 million against $221.898 million during same period of last year, showing 3.13 percent growth.