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January 12, 2021

No money for development: PM Imran Khan

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January 12, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday said cash economy was the biggest hurdle in tapping true potential of 220 million population of the country.

He was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) digital payment system ‘Raast’ here. The initiative is country’s first instant digital payment system and part of PM’s Digital Pakistan vision to include poor segments of society in the informal economy.

He explained that cash economy badly affected tax collection, which was evident from the fact that only two million, out of 220 million, people were tax-returns filers, while 30,000 of taxpayers make 70 per cent of the total tax collection in the country.

He said, “Digital Pakistan is a step forward from cash economy towards the point, where we can take maximum benefit of our 220 million population, as Pakistan collects almost the lowest taxes in the world, hence biggest loss of cash economy is in tax collection”.

The PM said the real effort was to improve our economy; our biggest problem was that the informal economy was so big that we could not collect taxes and the country could not develop.

“This obstacle in tapping true potential is because we can't build our infrastructure, we can't educate children, we can't improve hospitals, the fastest growing country in the region 50 years ago can't move forward because it does not have that much money for the development of the country,” he added.

The PM said, “We can't spend as much money as we should on our people. SBP’s new initiative is a big step towards a digital Pakistan. Just as it keeps us away from drugs, we will gradually get away from the cash economy.

"Because of the Raast initiative, we can include the lower class in our development. We are trying to reduce poverty under the Ehsaas programme, using mobile wallets and talking about women's bank accounts. The live programme will take this forward,” he added.

The premier congratulated the SBP on the way it dealt with the overseas Pakistanis, as our capital had grown at a record rate, never in the history of Pakistan. “Our Pakistanis abroad sent money in an official manner due to which the current account deficit, which had been going on for years went into surplus for five months and the people did not care how much benefit was gained from it,” he added.

The biggest benefit of this, he pointed out, was that the pressure on our rupee had eased because when there was a current account deficit, there was pressure on the rupee, which affected the poor in particular.

He said the current account surplus had put a lot of pressure on our rupee and encouraged Pakistanis to send money through regular channels. In the end, he thanked the Queen Maxima for taking so much interest in Pakistan, in the well-being, especially of women living in the deprived areas, wanting their to be financially included in Pakistan. "And, I know the interest you have taken in the Ehsaas programme, so I want to thank you for that. I thank the Bill Gates Foundation, especially I thank for the help they have given to Pakistan, especially in the polio programme but also in other areas, whenever we need help, the Gates Foundation is always there," he remarked. Prime Minister also thanked the British high commission and the World Bank for the help they had given to Pakistan.