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Good news for power consumers from May 1: Hafeez Shaikh

By News Desk
April 29, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh Tuesday said the government would pass on the benefit of reduced oil prices in the international market to the public and people would hear good news in this regard on May 1.

Speaking in a private television channel programme, he said the cost of energy and travel would decrease with the reduced oil prices in the international market and the government would be able to reduce the oil prices further.

He regretted that coronavirus hit the country at a time when its economy was recovering. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had controlled its expenditures strictly. No loan was taken from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the defence budget was also frozen, he added. The advisor said that the PTI government, soon after coming to power, had mobilised $17 billion to steer the country out of financial crisis. Before the outbreak of the disease, the local currency had stabilised. However, the pandemic had hit our economy badly, he added. The government had to impose lockdown, which reduced economic activities and the contraction of the global economy also reduced our exports, Hafeez Shaikh said.

He said the ongoing situation across globe would further affect Pak exports and remittances negatively. He said tax collection would suffer now, which was rising by 17% earlier and the government had collected Rs3,000 billion in taxes.

He said Pakistan’s GDP growth was projected at 3 per cent, but it might fall by 1 to 1.5pc. However, he added, it was encouraging that our relationship with the world financial institutions had improved and the IMF and other lenders are showing flexibility in facilitating Pakistan.

The PM’s advisor said that we had been able to announce a package for the construction sector due the situation arising out of the coronavirus pandemic. He believes that the construction sector package would support 35 to 40 other sectors in the country.

Hafeez Shaikh said the sectors which would be focus of the government in post-corona era were Info-Tech and agriculture. He believed that farmers’ income would rise due to economic and agri package, announced by the PTI government.

The advisor said that electricity prices were a big challenge for the government, but it facilitated people by postponing their bills for three months and bills of commercial consumers and small traders would be waived. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was focussing on resolving the issue of independent power producers (IPPs).

The advisor said that the government would give relief and cash liquidity business people and companies to overcome virus-related economic problems. He said the government was making all-out efforts to save companies from insolvency.

Hafeez Shaikh said that new business schemes would be introduced and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) would be given bank loans at 1 to 3 per cent interest rate. He said already industries and traders were being facilitated and the tax refunds were being cleared on fast-track basis.

Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said that budget was likely to be announced in June, which would specially support people affected by Covid-19, and special measures would be taken to increase exports.