ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan was Thursday told that the ‘fruits’ of measures taken in recent days with particular reference to wheat and flour had begun reaching the consumers.
The premier had an important meeting with his economic team here at the Prime Minister Office, which reviewed the measures taken so far on how to ensure availability of essential commodities and checking their prices.
Minister for Planning and Development Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Advisor on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan, Advisor for Trade and Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, provincial ministers concerned from the Punjab and senior officials from the relevant ministries attended the event.
The prime minister pointed out that the yawning difference between the wholesale and retail prices of essential commodities indicated profiteering and hoarding and called for taking more effective steps at the administrative level to bridge this difference.
The meeting noted with satisfaction the decision of the Economic Coordination Committee to release 6.5 lakh wheat from Passco stocks to the provinces and hoped that this would help in controlling prices of wheat and flour.
The prime minister wasinformed that the results of recent measures had already surfacing and the ECC decision would further help in this direction.
The prime minister was told that a comprehensive system on information regarding prices of commodities had been developed and launched in the federal Capital, using the latest technology and steps were being taken to introduce it in major cities after consultations with the federating units.
Punjab Minister for Information Mian Aslam Iqbal told the meeting that work was under way on establishment of a Price Control Authority. He further said various other measures were also under way with regard to making market price committees comprehensively functional.
The prime minister was also briefed on the deferring of axle load law implementation for a year for business community and to what extent this would facilitate imports and putting a check on the rates of commodities.
He instructed advisor on trade and commerce to make sure that the fruits of this measure reached the masses. He also called on the meeting to keep a constant vigil on the prices of wheat and flour and in this context further improve coordination among the provinces.
Imran emphasised thrashing out a comprehensive strategy to keep prices of essential goods at a reasonable level besides ensuring their availability, involving the administrative machinery.
Meanwhile, the prime minister said promotion of industry and facilitating opportunities for wealth creation were among the top priorities of the government. He was chairing a meeting to review the steps taken for promotion of industry, especially the tariff rates on imports, impact of existing tariff on industry and exports and to further improve the tariff system.
Imran said the government was committed to providing all out facilities to the business community. Welcoming the proposals regarding tariff system, Imran said these measures would not only remove problems faced by the business community by facilitating them, but also provide traders with a conducive environment so that the Pakistani products were better able to compete in the region and enhance their share in international market.
Meanwhile, addressing ''Doing Business Reforms Exhibition'' held by the Board of Investment (BoI) here, Imran asked his economic team to make a new start by doing away with the mindset resisting wealth creation in the country.
He said the future belonged to wealth creation enabling any government to collect more taxes and spend them on public welfare. He congratulated his economic team and all other stakeholders on celebration of Pakistan's 28-point jump in the World Bank’s ranking of countries regarding ease of doing business.
However, he said the celebration had been spoiled by the tragic train accident in Rahim Yar Khan and prayed for peace of the deceased souls and strength for the victim families to bear the loss.
Giving a historical perspective of the national economy, the prime minister said the country had been doing well till 1970s when the then government started nationalization of the industries which badly damaged the economy coupled with the bureaucratic mindset considering the wealth creation a sin.
He said unfortunately the very mindset persisted even today which needed to be done away to make a start with a new mindset. He said the government had managed to reduce the current account deficit and was striving to address the trade deficit by promoting the export-driven economy.
Meanwhile, the World Bank President Group David Malpass met the prime minister here, heading a delegation. Malpass was accompanied by Regional VP South Asia Hartwig Schafer, Ms. Ceyla Pazarbasioglu-Dutz, Regional Vice President IFC Ms. Snezana Stolijkovic and Country Director World Bank Pakistan Patchamuthu Illangovan.
The host side comprised ministers Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Faisal Vawda, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Dr. Ishrat Hussain, SAPMs Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Governor State Bank Raza Baqir, Chairman FBR Syed Shabbar Zaidi and senior officers.
Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated his government's firm resolve to strengthen economy and ensure transparency, good governance, institutional and tax reforms and socio-economic development of the marginalised sections of society.
Imran told the delegation that the ease-of-doing business, enhancing tax base, domestic resource mobilization, attracting foreign investment and financial reforms agenda was the foremost priority of the government.
He appreciated the World Bank's financial and technical support to Pakistan and reiterated the government's resolve to strengthen economy, ensure transparency and good governance, institutional reforms, tax reforms and socio-economic development of the marginalized sections of society.
He said the government had launched various initiatives aimed at welfare of the youth, poverty alleviation and housing sectors that will ultimately result in economic development.
David Malpass appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan for personally spearheading various flagship programs of the government.
He also recognised the efforts of the government towards economic turn-around, reducing expenditures, practicing austerity and initiating reforms in critical sectors of the economy. He said there was substantial progress in economic indicators despite global and internal fiscal challenges.
Later, a round-table conference was also held wherein detailed discussions were held on issues related to energy sector and reforming tax regime of the country. Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar highlighted the overall reform agenda of the government and the efforts being made for economic turn-around.
Adviser Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh gave an overview of the achievements made by the government during last one year. He also underlined the efforts made by the government to stabilize economy and to put it onto the path of growth. He said there was a considerable progress this year on exports, containing fiscal and current account deficits, revenue collection, restricting expenditures and exchange rate stabilization.
Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan and SAPM on Energy Nadeem Babar shared the strategy of the government to overcome the issues related to the energy sector, including circular debt, and efforts being made to diversify energy-mix with greater reliance on alternative and renewable energy resources.
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