ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Thursday presented Economic Survey of Pakistan.
Finance Minister, addressing a press conference, said that economic activity in the country has started to revive as smart lockdown policy of Prime Minister Imran kept the country running even during coronavirus pandemic.
He informed that before COVID-19, working population in the country stood at 55.6 million; however, due to lockdown it declined by massive 20 million but bold steps by the Prime Minister put the economy in revival mode and now working population has reached 53 million.
Government gave incentives to textile, agriculture and construction sector to stimulate economic activity and as a result Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) and agriculture sector recorded growth of 9 and 2.7 percent respectively, he added.
The Finance Minister thanked the overseas Pakistanis and said that country is in current account surplus due to record remittances from fellow citizens working abroad.
The minister said that Pakistan is making progress on FATF conditions and hoped that the country will get relief in the next review; however, he refused to give anytime timeline.
Talking about inflation in the country, Finance Minister said that Pakistan is now a net food importer country so it is subjected to international price fluctuations; however, government tried its best to not pass on those effects to public.
Government is trying to make Pakistan net food exporter by focusing on agriculture and building cold storages to cut profits of middlemen and increase strategic reserves of basic commodities to regulate supply, he added.
Finance Minister while giving credit to Sania Nishter, said that Ehsaas Program provided support to 15 million families while, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Kamyab Jawan Program also gave benefit to thousands of people.
I have stressed to PM that now government needs to work on economic growth instead of stabilization in order to provide jobs to youth and provide relief to the poor segments of societies.
The minister also said that International Monetary Fund (IMF) is pressurizing the country to increase power tariff; however Prime Minister has refused to hike price of electricity.
Shaukat Tarin also reiterated government’s intentions to sell loss making entities and government plans have been made to turn such entities into profit making entities and then sell them.
Responding to questions, Finance Minister said that capacity payments in last couple of years have almost doubled and they might cross one trillion rupees mark by the next fiscal year.
The minister further said that increase in tariff is not a solution of circular debt issue and IMF also demands of increase in the tariff and personal income tax but government cannot do that so negotiations with the fund are still going.
He added that IMF wants to increase income tax collection from around Rs113 billion to Rs150 billion but government has presented an alternative path to the institution.
Shaukat Tarin further said that at-least four meetings of NEC will be held instead of a yearly meeting as government wants more participation from the provinces.
Responding to a question regarding load-shedding, the minister said that country is facing power outages due to hydel issue owing to lower water level in rivers; however it will be resolved as it is a temporary issue.