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Saturday Sep 14 2019

Trade deficit reduced by 38 percent, tax net widening, PM told in meeting

PM Imran — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday chaired a meeting of his economic team where he was told that the government’s economic policies were coming to fruition due to considerable reduction in trade deficit, increase in exports and increased tax collection.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Economic Affairs Hamad Azhar, Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtiar, Advisor on Finance Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Advisor on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, special assistants Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and Yousuf Baig Mirza, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor, chairmen of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Board of Investment (BoI), Naya Pakistan Housing Authority and Ehsaas Programme, and senior officers of other departments, a PM Office statement said.

During the meeting, the prime minister was apprised on the steps taken for the economic uplift of the country and the results.

The meeting was told that according to the statistics, during the first two months of the current fiscal year, trade deficit had reduced by 38 percent.

There was also growth witnessed in exports, improvement in tax collection, widening of tax net and increasing trend in the trade activity.

The secretary finance briefed the prime minister about the targets set for the first quarter by different ministries, including commerce, industries and production, national food security, petroleum, FBR, BoI and the Aviation Division.

The prime minister directed different ministries to work out a clear and time-based roadmap to examine the achievement of the quarterly targets.

This would help the departments achieve their targets within the timeline besides improving their performance, particularly the service delivery.

Discussing the revolutionary measures taken by the government for betterment of the agriculture sector, the prime minister said the government had formulated a comprehensive policy for uplifting all sectors related to the agriculture.

There was a need to aware the people about the policy and other relevant measures to make them benefit from such steps.

He said the strengthening of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) was the government’s priority and it was committed to extend all-out facilities to the sector.

He said special focus was required to revive the sick industrial units, and those which had been closed down consequent to the maladministration and other reasons in the past.

"All this requires an active role of the CRIC, better coordination among all departments, including National Bank of Pakistan, SBP and others, besides formulation of a strategy for revival of the sick units," he added.

While deliberating over the construction sector, the prime minister told the meeting that in order to remove the impediments, a proposal was being finalised to give an industrial status to the construction sector and to impose a fixed tax on the construction in mega cities.

He also asked the Naya Pakistan Housing Authority chairman to submit a report on the incentive package to promote the construction of residential apartments and investment in the sector.

The FBR chairman told the meeting that a considerable improvement had been witnessed in the tax collection as compared to the previous month.

Owing to the government’s efforts, the tax net had been widened which was a positive sign for the national economy, he added.

The prime minister lauded the performance of the FRB chairman.

Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiar apprised the prime minister about the progress on the development projects being executed under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Expressing satisfaction over the CPEC, the prime minister said besides being the manifestation of the Pak-China friendship, the CPEC would also cast positive impacts on the national as well as the regional economy.

The SBP governor while briefing on the growth in exports, said the exporters had not only expressed their full satisfaction over the government’s policies but also presented various proposals to boost the export-related industries which were being considered.

The prime minister asked his economic team to come up with some unconventional and out-of-box solutions for the national economic uplift and hold consultation with all the stakeholders to ensure the timely implementation of the proposals.

He said the economic stability and facilitation of the business sector were the government’s priorities and directed the participants to present before the people a comparative analysis of both the present and past situation of national economy and forcefully counter the negative propaganda from some elements.

The finance secretary told the meeting that a media cell had been established at the finance ministry and Special Secretary Finance Umar Hameed Khan had been made focal person for all the economic-related ministries to provide correct information on the economic matters.