Will pass on fruits of improved economy to masses: PM

Imran hails economic reforms after current account deficit shrinks

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ISLAMABAD

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday hailed the $99 million current account surplus posted in October after a gap of more than four years saying the country’s economy was finally heading in the right direction. Pakistan economy finally heading in right direction as more of our economic reforms bear fruit: Pak’s current account turned into surplus in Oct 2019, for first time in 4 yrs. Current account balance was +$99mn in Oct 2019 compared to -$284mn in Sept 2019 & -$1,280mn in Oct 2018, he said on Twitter.

For first 4 months of our fiscal year, our current account deficit has fallen by 73.5% compared to same period last fiscal year. Our exports of goods & services in Oct 2019 rose 20% over previous month and 9.6% over Oct 2018. I congratulate our exporters & encourage them to do more, added the premier. The latest data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) showed the government has succeeded in bringing down the current account deficit.

The data for October showed the current account was positive 99m against a net deficit of $1.28bn in the same month of previous fiscal year. The surplus in October and narrowing of four-month current account deficit was mainly achieved due to a massive cut in the imports’ bill. The government is facing criticism that the massive decline in imports have slowdown overall economic activities which would ultimately hit the GDP growth rate. The SBP governor, however, said the fall in current account deficit is a big achievement for country and is a sign of macroeconomic stability.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also expressed the determination to pass on the fruits of improving economy to the people.   Briefing newsmen on cabinet meeting here, which was held with PM Imran Khan in the chair, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan along with Law Minister Dr. Farogh Naseem, said the Prime Minister updated the cabinet on improving economic indicators of the country.

Congratulating the government’s economic team on these achievements, he said for the first time current account deficit has decreased in the country due to measures taken by the government’s economic team. He said that improvement of economic indicators has restored the confidence of local and foreign investors.

The Prime Minister directed all ministries and departments to accelerate efforts in implementation of people friendly policies of the government. The Prime Minister directed that each ministry should assess its performance on monthly basis regarding providing relief to people. The cabinet discussed the importance of alternative energy in the overall energy mix and how to increase its share.

It approved the new renewable energy policy in principle.

Special Assistant said that the cabinet endorsed the decisions of Economic Coordination Committee’s last meeting. It also formally approved the decisions made in JCC meeting between Pakistan and China. The cabinet also gave approval to National Tariff Policy. The Policy, developed by the Commerce Division after extensive consultations with the stakeholders, marks a milestone in the national economic policy paradigm by recognizing the importance of employing import tariffs for industrial development and export growth.

The Prime Minister, in his remarks during the Cabinet meeting, said that the import tariffs have been traditionally employed as a revenue generation tool, which has increased reliance on import tariffs for revenue collection. In accordance with the reform agenda of the government, the economic policy paradigm is now being realigned to leverage tariffs for industrial development.

The cabinet discussed the issue of appointments at 134 vacant senior posts in various ministries and departments. The forum was apprised that on 89 positions, people are working on additional charge.

Speaking on the occasion, Farogh Naseem said that the government had decided for the time being not to challenge the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) verdict allowing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for medical treatment without furnishing indemnity bonds.

The Lahore High Court had announced an interim verdict and as per the precedent there is 99% chance that the Supreme Court will not entertain appeal against the interim verdict, said the minister. Hence, there is no point of challenging the court’s decision, he added. He also reiterated that Prime Minister Imran Khan had no personal grudges against the PML-N supremo, saying that the government’s only objective was to make an accountability process across the board.

He said that asking for indemnity bonds from the former prime minister was cabinet’s decision, adding that the cabinet allowed Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad for four weeks. The minister said that Leader of Opposition and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif accepted giving undertaking instead of indemnity bonds. Farogh Naseem said that the indemnity bond wasn’t a surety bond, adding that the PML-N president’s lawyers were asked to submit indemnity bond or affidavit. Shehbaz Sharif could face contempt of court if PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif didn’t return, he added.

The law minister also announced that the option of challenging the verdict is still “intact” and can be challenged in the apex court only after going through the detailed verdict, which will be issued after the court concludes the hearing. The case has been fixed for January for hearing and the government will present the its reasoning on indemnity bonds before the Lahore High Court and subsequently decide to go in appeal after going through final judgement, Naseem said.

 

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