ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Shaukat Tarin Sunday said that GDP growth at 3.94% during the current fiscal year (2020-21) was calculated in a transparent manner, predicting that based on the current trend, the economy would grow by 5% in 2021-22 and 6% during 2022-23.
Addressing a virtual press briefing, the minister said that it was due to the prudent policies of the incumbent government that this growth was achieved despite tough International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions, adding that the focus of government had been on housing, agriculture and export sector that delivered these results.
He said that the government had identified 12 sectors and formulated short, medium and long term strategies to achieve inclusive sustainable economic growth and social prosperity, with special focus on housing, agriculture and promotion of export industry.
He said that development of these sectors would not only bring sustainability, but would help in achieving economic growth for the welfare of common man in the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic had effected global economies and it also put a negative impact on the national economy, he said, adding that the prudent polices of Prime Minister Imran Khan helped in steering the country away from the crisis in a fair manner and put it on the path to sustainable economic development.
In order to fulfil the fiscal requirements, the government had to initiate a programme with IMF and this time the fund introduced tough conditions like increase in tariff, exchange rate and interest rates that also affected the economy, he said.
The minister said that a well thought-out federal budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 would be presented in the start of next month, adding that the budget envisages provision of maximum relief to common man in tax and electricity tariff, adding that no more tax burden will be put on those who are already paying taxes.
He said that innovative substitutes would be introduced to achieve the revenue targets, by providing different incentives and facilities, besides broadening the tax base.
The minister said a rising trend in prices of food commodities was a global phenomenon, adding that a strategy was evolved in order to provide maximum relief to common man, particularly saving them from inflationary shocks and taking some short-term steps like operations against hoarders to overcome the issue of artificial shortage of essential commodities.
In the long term, farmers would be facilitated to establish storage facilities to strengthen the domestic strategic reserves in order to keep the supply of food commodities at a smooth level and address the issue of hording and profiteering, he said.
Tarin said that another area of focus for the government was economic growth that helps enhance revenue, create employment opportunities, adding that a reliance on trickle-down effects to extend the gains of economic growth would be minimised in accordance with the vision of Prime Minister.
He said that government was taking various steps to provide opportunities to earn a livelihood to the masses, interest free loans to farmers, and that it was paying special attention to the production sector to enhance the competitiveness of the local industry to promote exports and reduce imports.
The minister said that increase in exports and reduction in imports would also help in producing import substitutes that would reduce the pressure on domestic foreign exchange reserves, besides reducing the reliance on foreign debts and assistance.
Exports had witnessed an increasing trend during the period under review which need to be further increased, he said, adding that remittances also witnessed a sharp increase, which was the result of the trust and love of overseas Pakistanis on Prime Minister Imran Khan.
He further said that the government was taking steps for the development of the housing sector, besides taking measures to enhance revenue collection to reduce fiscal deficit and ensuring credit availability for the private sector.
The government is working on the improvement of the financial sector to encourage savings and to use the available resources on social sector development, the minister said.
He said that planning was underway to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth to benefit the under privileged and middle class so equal distribution of economic gains can be ensured to all segments of society.
Replaying to a question, Tarin said that Pakistan Bureau of Statistics was revamped in order to make it an independent institution to obtain proper statistics for better policy interventions, adding that it was not functioning under the finance ministry.
To another question, the minister said that all the conditions of Financial Action Task Force were met and expressed his optimism about the positive response from the forum to take the country out of the grey list.
He said that India was using its influence to put pressure on Pakistan, adding that government was also working to tackle with it.
About, circular debt and subsidies, Tarin said that a targeted subsidy would be provided to deserving segments of the society, saying there were 35 million household connections of electricity and out of the total, 29 million were provided a subsidy that was not justifiable.
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