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Sunday Nov 17 2019

Economy back on track: Hafeez Sheikh

Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh addressing the members of Overseas International Chambers of Commerce & Industries (OICCI). Photo: APP  

KARACHI: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Saturday said “dark days are behind us'” as obvious signs of economic turnaround are emerging due to efforts of the present government for the revival of the economy.

Speaking with chief executives and representatives of multi-national companies at the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Shaikh said exports had started to increase due to government’s efforts.

He spelled out various steps taken by the present government to revive the sluggish economy, including measures to deal with current account deficit and improve tax collection.

The adviser explained that there was zero tax on exporters; however, taxes have to be paid on local sales.

He said the government has recently announced a Rs 200 billion package to facilitate exporters.

“The thrust is being shifted from cheaper imports to offering benefits to exporters,” Shaikh said. “The government has offered lot of concessions to traders, but there is need to start from somewhere in respect of the documentation of economy.”

He expressed hope for further progress towards this end from January onward.

The finance adviser said though it was going to be challenging, there was need to stay on course, adding that the country’s willingness to self-discipline was being acknowledged.

“The International Monetary Fund has also expressed satisfaction over the steps for economic stability,” he said.

The adviser said the government had announced various programmes as safety net to help vulnerable segments to mitigate impact of inflation.

“Many subjects of quality life such as healthcare, quality education, poverty alleviation and women protection come under the ambit of provincial governments,” he said, adding the federal government had doubled the budget of social safety net programmes to provide relief and improve the quality of life of poor segments of the society.

He added the government has reduced its expenditures as compared to last year.

“The government did not borrow any money from the State Bank of Pakistan for the last four months. The stock market has also witnessed a significant improvement and there has been a 16 per cent overall growth in tax revenue and 21 per cent growth in in-land revenue during the first four months of this fiscal year,” he noted.

Shaikh said 1.9 million people were under tax net in 2018 and this figure has increased to 2.7 million in 2019. The adviser said the government is bearing the brunt of non-planning by previous governments.

He added no growth spurt has sustained in Pakistan more than four years in the entire journey of economic uplift, adding that besides reforming structures of economy, the government is also reinforcing institutions.