Economy on right path, govt committed to accelerate growth: Finance Minister

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Economy on right path, govt committed to accelerate growth: Finance Minister
ISLAMABAD, APR 23: Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue M. Aurangzeb speaking at Leaders in Business Summit.=DNA PHOTO

ISLAMABAD, APR 23 (DNA) —Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Senator Muhammad Aurangzeb said here on Tuesday that the economy was steadily advancing in the right direction, underlining the government’s steadfast commitment to accelerate momentum towards achieving both economic growth and comprehensive social development.

In his address at the 7th edition of the Leaders in Islamabad Business Summit, Collaboration for growth, the minister highlighted the impact of the incumbent government’s constructive measures on economic indicators, noting their resilience amidst challenges.

He emphasized that these indicators signify a favorable trajectory compared to previous standings, signaling an optimistic outlook for the economy. He said that upon assuming power, the foreign exchange reserves of the country stood $3.4 billion, an import bill covering only 15 days.

However, he noted a significant improvement, with reserves now exceeding $13.3 billion. He further anticipated a boost following the disbursement of the country’s tranche from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Besides, the minister said, Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) was performing well as it witnessed remarkable growth during recent days, adding such sentiments were helping to restore market confidence. Moreover, the agricultural sector in the country experienced notable growth with the successful harvesting of bumper crops, promising a positive ripple effect on the industrial sector, he added.

The agriculture credit disbursement during the period from July-February, 2024 witnessed 33.6 percent growth as compared to the same period of last year, he said adding that during the period under review the current account deficit decreased by 74 percent and reached to $1.00 billion as against the deficit of 3.9 billion.

In last 09 months of current financial year the trade deficit also remained on down track and narrowed by 24.9 percent, which came down from $22.7 billion to 17.0 billion, he added.   He stressed the importance of promoting agriculture growth up to 5 to 6 percent per-annum, besides harnessing the potential of local livestock sectors.

He highlighted the government’s proactive stance in fostering foreign direct investment within the country, citing recent engagements with various nations, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He expressed optimism regarding substantial future collaboration, anticipating vital involvement from Saudi Arabia in the days ahead.

Senator Aurangzeb also expressed the firm resolve of the government to facilitate the businesses for enhancing exports adding the government also introduced structural reforms to turn around economy to sustainable growth.

He said that these reforms were home-grown and were in larger benefit of economy and development. The minister said that the government was focusing on the transformation of three key areas including tax, energy sectors forums and  reforms in State Owned Enterprises (SoEs), adding it intended to enhance tax to GDP ratio, which currently stands at 9 percent.

In pursuit of higher growth, the government is actively enhancing tax enforcement measures, expanding the tax base, and tackling litigation issues head-on. The minister emphasized that by addressing enforcement and litigation matters, the government aims to resolve issues pertaining to over Rs 1.7 trillion currently pending with tax authorities.

He said that the Finance Ministry was negotiating with Ministry of law to streamline the pending tax matters with different tribunals.  About his recent meetings with IMF and other multilateral financial institutions and agencies, the minister said that discussions with IMF had remained fruitful and expressed  the hope  that Pakistan would reach staff level agreement within the specified time-frame as a delegation of fund is due to visit Pakistan by mid next month .

The Minister said that program with IMF was imperative to fulfill the monetary requirements of the country, adding no one was forcing for reforms rather these were for economic uplift and social development of the country.  Muhammad Aurangzeb called for adopting a holistic approach to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change as Pakistan was among the most vulnerable countries and was facing frequent uneven weather patterns.

 The Minister said that he had also held discussions with World Bank on climate change, digitization of Federal Board of Revenue and human capital development.  Speaking on the occasion former minister for investment Muhammad Azfar Ahsan lauded government efforts to sustain the national economy, saying that the current economic team led by Finance Minister would lead the country toward economic growth and development.

He urged the need to focus on exploiting the huge potential of young population by investing more in education sector.  He expressed the disappointment that over 28 million children were still out of school and called for taking measures to ensure their enrollment. He also asked for planning investment framework for next 20 to 25 years and urged for continuation of economic policies for 8 to 10 years. — DNA