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January 15, 2020

Govt plans steps to control inflation: Hafeez Sheikh


January 15, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The government is taking measures to tackle rampant inflation and slowdown in domestic productivity, including providing subsidised loans and ensuring greater ease of doing business as it attempts to maintain solid and more balanced economic growth, a senior official said on Tuesday.

“The government is taking steps …. through greater spending on social safety net, improving cash transfer programme, ensuring greater ease of doing business and providing subsidized loans, electricity and gas to the exporters,” a government statement quoted Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, adviser to Prime Minister on finance and revenue, as saying.

Shaikh said the government has worked “very hard to pull the economy out of the ICU (intensive care unit) as it was in 2018.

“The stage is now set for greater stabilisation and enhanced domestic productivity that would help overcome inflation, boost businesses and create more employment opportunities,” the advisor told French envoy Marc Barety, who called on the adviser at Finance Division.

Shaikh said the government is focusing on revitalising the agriculture sector and several mega projects had been approved for improving irrigation management, watercourses and construction of water storage facilities at the farm level.

“These projects are also aimed at productivity enhancement of various crops, oilseeds enhancement, cage culture development, shrimp farming cluster development and water conservation in arid areas.”

The advisor said the government had doubled the social safety budget to Rs190 billion from Rs100 billion “while it had also recently revamped its cash transfer programme by replacing nearly 800,000 people with more deserving people”.

“ The government had also recently launched a special food package at a cost of Rs7 billion to provide essential food items at reduced rates through the utility stores to the poor segment of population adversely affected by the food inflation.”

On the macro front, the advisor said the PTI government had brought down the current account deficit to $13 billion from $20 billion and it would be further reduced to $8 billion during the current year.

“Similarly, exports which had remained stagnant for almost five years had showing an upward trend.”

Sheikh said the revenue collection had jumped by 16 percent and foreign direct investment had gone up by 280 percent growth in the current financial year. Pakistan’s exchange rate had begun to stabilise due to enhanced external flows.

France ambassador Barety said he was impressed with the good work done by the government in Pakistan to introduce institutional reforms and achieve stability and growth.

“Both France and Pakistan enjoyed excellent relationship and hoped this relationship would further deepen in coming days through greater economic collaborations and business partnerships,” the ambassador added.

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