FINANCE MINISTER BRIEFS ABOUT SIGNIFICANCE OF LONG TERM ECONOMIC PLANNING

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ISLAMABAD, AUG 27: Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Shaukat Tarin addressing a press conference.=DNA PHOTO

ISLAMABAD, AUG 27 /DNA/ – Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Shaukat Tarin, presided over a Press Conference regarding formation of short, medium and long term plans across different sectors of the economy under the umbrella of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC).

Federal Minister for National Food Security & Research Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister for Industries and Production Khusro Bakhtiar, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, Adviser to the PM on Institutional reforms Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Mr. Sultan Ali Allana, Mr. Arif Habib, Mr. Salim Raza, M. Ali Tabba and other distinguished members of the EAC from respective fields in the private sector also participated in the Press Conference.

The Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, briefed the participants about the significance of a long term economic planning to achieve all-inclusive and sustained economic growth over the period of time. He apprised about the objectives being set across different sectors and strategies outlined to achieve those targets within a specific time frame. Fourteen vertical sub-groups have been generated which will present recommendations to the Prime Minister on different sectors. The Finance Minister further said that from September onwards, performance in 14 sectors would be closely monitored and Prime Minister would be given briefing about the execution of the plans every month. Hence plans do not focus only on devising strategies but also on ensuring implementation which is a major break with the past practice.

The broad objectives include accelerating the overall economic growth rates from 3% to 6% in the next 03 years without creating pressure on balance of payments and by keeping inflationary expectations subdued. It also includes increasing tax to GDP ratio by 1.5 to 2% annually and attaining target of $30 billion exports by FY 2023-24 and keep up the momentum in foreign remittances.

The key focus is to generate massive employment opportunities over the period of time in order to engage our youth in productive sectors of the economy. The sectors underlined for driving growth through the platform of EAC are agriculture including small farms, micro-enterprises, SMEs, construction, tourism and information technology. This will be achieved through coherent, consistent and well-coordinated polices between the federal, Provincial Governments as well as the private sector, he added.

Under EAC, the medium and long term agenda includes a multi-pronged strategy for institutional reforms in the public sector. Provincial Governments will prioritize achieving universal access to quality education, health, access to drinking water and sanitation. Similarly, the Federal and Provincial Government would enhance focus on human development & develop physical infrastructure which is lagging behind in far-flung areas. The medium-to-long term planning also includes completion of CPEC projects especially in agriculture, industrial cooperation, socio-economic development and financial inclusion. It also includes Utilization of Special Technology Zones, IT parks, Incubation and Entrepreneurships Centres that complement CPEC investments. In sphere of power and energy, the long term planning encompasses implementiting renewable Energy Policy & National Power Policy to attain the goal of 60% energy generation from non-fossil fuels including hydro-power generation.

The Finance Minister stated that a positive sentiment has been generated as economy is on the right track. It has embarked on the way of economic growth after stabilization phase due to prudent policies of the present Government.

The EAC, in its advisory and capacity enhancement role, will create synergies across different sectors and facilitate active monitoring and pave way for sustained institutional reforms and modernization of public sector.

The plan for resolving the circular debt includes reducing the cost of electricity generation by flattening the capacity payment curve through restructuring power producers. This will be done through a combination of re-profiling of project debts, reduction in Return on Equity (EOC) and O & M components of tariffs. At the same time, steps will be taken to boost demand for grid electricity by incentivizing captive-to-grid shift and integration of NTDC-KE networks. It will also include replacing cross-subsidies with direct subsidies, lowering tariffs for high consumption categories, target price deregulation and improving governance through engagement with the private sector.

A multi-faceted and multi-dimensional price stability strategy will be that farmers would be offered price guarantees and confirmed off takes to protect them from exploitation at the hands of wholesalers / middleman. Investment through public private partnership will be invited to develop multi-purpose storage facilities for maintaining strategic reserves. Moreover, small markets will be built close to production clusters and air transport could be utilized to give farmers direct access to the far-flung domestic markets. This will ensure price stability in items of daily use.

The Finance Minister shared a comprehensive document from the EAC with the participants on the occasion.