Govt policies put economy on path of growth: Azhar

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ISLAMABAD

Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar has said that the incumbent government not only uplifted the ailing economy but also virtually put it on growth path as clearly indicated by various economic indicators. He said that the current account and fiscal deficits have decreased, while foreign direct investment and tax base of the country have increased due to prudent economic policies of the government.

Addressing a news conference here on Tuesday, he said that now, the economy had started picking up as economic indicators including investment inflows, foreign exchange reserves, revenue collection, current account balance, trade balance, ease of doing business, Public Sector Development Programme spending, Stock Exchange performance and inflation were showing positive developments.

He said that the current account deficit in the first quarter of the current fiscal year has decreased by 65 percent, fiscal deficit declined by 50 percent, primary budget balance noted a surplus of Rs. 385 billion, foreign investment of 350 million dollars came to Pakistan, and foreign exchange reserves witnessed an increase of 650 million dollars.

He said collection of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) increased and tax base enhanced by 55 percent and growing circular debt brought down from Rs. 38 billion to Rs. 12 billion per month.

He said ease of doing business index improved by 28 points and stock market witnesses a growth of 6500 points. He said Public Sector Development Programmes’ releases have been doubled and exports are also improving.

He said exports of readymade garments increased by 38 percent, bedware 23 percent, rice 52 percent and footwear 54 percent. He said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has reduced the volume of external debt, as last year the government paid almost US$10 billion against external debts. He also said that the numbers of tax filers increased by 55%.

He said that the Government of Pakistan with the help of Prime Minister of Turkey has amicably resolved the issue of Karkey Power Plant which helped government got a waiver of Rs 200 billion, adding that said that after this resolution, the country’s current account deficit has shrunk by 64%. In the first 13 months of Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) inflation rate was above 22%, while in the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) period, the inflation rate was 8.4%. In PTI’s government inflation rate averaged 8%, he added.

He said some food commodities had registered increase in their prices that was due to seasonal effects and it would stabilize soon. He said federal government in close coordination with the provincial governments was making a comprehensive mechanism to control the prices with effective monitoring and ensuring fixed prices. To a question, he explained that inflation has been on the rise because of middle-men influence, however, the Government in collaboration with provincial governments is effectively working on the price control mechanism.

He said the government had achieved 90 percent revenue collection target set for the first quarter by collecting Rs960 billion taxes. Responding to a question, the Minister said government is introducing reforms and automation in Federal Board of Revenue but none of the employee is being deprived of job. To another question, he said federal government is collaborating with provincial governments to control food items prices.

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