ISLAMABAD, May 31 (APP): Minister for Planning
Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal on Monday said that due to prudent economic policies, and utilization of 100 percent development funds this year the government has achieved a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 4.7 percent which was the highest in the past eight years.

The Minister stated this while a addressing a crowded
press conference here at “P” block auditorium this afternoon.
The Minister said that the government in the outgoing
fiscal year budget 2015-16, fixed the GDP growth target of 5.5 but due to less growth in the agriculture sector and losses in the cotton production the growth rate reduced to 4.7 percent.

Ahsan Iqbal said that when present government came into
power in 2013, Pakistan was facing with multiple challenges
including security, energy and economy.

He added that energy crisis was so deepen that there was
loadshedding of 18-20 hours daily and the industries were not getting electricity and economic situation in the country was in bad shape.
Ahsan Iqbal said that due to shortage of electricity the
economic growth rate was stagnant and the conditions of social sector including health and education were in poor condition. Due to these situation, in 2013, Pakistan was considered as low growth country, he said adding that the budget deficit reached to 9 percent of the GDP as a result Pakistan was considered as un-attractive investment destination and the security situation was also very poor.

The Minister said that after coming into power, the
government took a number of initiatives to stabilize and
reform the economy.
He added that due to the efforts of the government
major economic indicators were improving and economy was performing well now.

“Pakistan of today 2016 is far better then the country
was in 2013 and now its is gradually progressing”,he remarked.

The economy was now on the take off stage and would
further improve, he added.

He said that the National Economic Council (NEC) in its
meeting held yesterday has fixed GDP growth rate target of
5.7 percent for the forthcoming budget 2016-17.

He expressed the hope that keeping in view of improving
economy, the government would be able to achieve the said
target of 5.7 percent.

Ahsan Iqbal said that under the directives of the Prime
Minister, the government would give special attention on the
agriculture sector and provide relief to farmers in the agri
inputs in order to reduce their cost of production to boost
agriculture production and save them from the international
commodities prices crash.

The Minister further said that government in the budget
would also take steps for revival of the industrial sector in
order to boost exports for the benefit of the country.

The Minister informed that in the year 2017-18 , 10,000
MW electricity would be added in the national grid.
The Minister for Planning and development said that in
government would also give to priority to three sectors of
energy, infrastructure and human resources development.

He added that universities funding would be enhanced
from Rs.20 billion to Rs.24 billion during the financial year
2016-17 while the funding for Higher Education Commission
(HEC) would also increased from Rs.20 billion to Rs.21 billion
bedsides establishing universities at FATA, Balochistan and
Gilgit Baltistan.

He also informed that every district campuses of universities would be established in order to provided higher education to the youth of the country at their door steps.

He added that in next ten year the number of PHds would
be increased from 350 in 2010 to 10,000 under US-Pak Knowledge Corridor in the country.

Highlighting the Public Sector Development Programme
(PSDP) 2016-17, the Minister said that Rs.655 billion have
been allocated as compared to Rs.580 billion earmarked in the outgoing financial year 2015-16.

Ahsan Iqbal said, the Government had earmarked Rs.1,675
billion in the forthcoming budget for the development schemes under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the year 2016-17.

“Out of the total allocation, Rs.875 have been earmarked
for the provinces,” he said while addressing a press
conference here.

Giving the details, he said Rs. 468 billion were allocated for infrastructure including Rs.157 billion for power, Rs.260 billion for transport and communications, Rs. 33 billion for water, Rs.18 billion for Physical Planning and Housing.

Out Rs.89 billion allocated for social sector, Rs.29
billion were earmarked for Education including Higher
Education Commission (HEC), Rs.30 billion for Health and
Population, Rs.20 billion for Sustainable Development Goals
Program and Rs.10 billion for other Social sectors, he added.
The Minister said, Rs.9 billion were allocated for
Science and IT, Rs. 8 billion for Governance, Rs.42 billion
for Special Areas including AJK, FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan

He said out of Rs.4 billion for Production, Rs. 2 billion each were earmarked for industries and Food and Agriculture sectors.

He said, Rs.28 billion were earmarked for special federal development program under PSDP.

Minister for Planning, Development , Ahsan Iqbal Tuesday said that development projects worth US$ 30 billion out of US$ 46 billion to be initiated under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework across the country, had become operational.

“The financing of these projects either completed or in
the process of completion,” he said during a press conference here.

He said, it was unprecedented that a piece of paper –
Memorandum of Understanding – was converted into portfolio of US$ 46 billion within short span of time.

Terming CPEC a unique gift for the people of Pakistan,
he said, different early harvest energy projects were being
completed to meet electricity shortage and informed that
mining at Thar Coal site had been started.

He said, the electricity generation would start from
Thar coal in 2018-19, adding, “Thar coal deposit would be
sufficient for next 400 years if 5,000 MW per annum
electricity is generated from Thar coal.”

Ahsan Iqbal said, the Pak-China leaderships and people
of both the brotherly countries had complete faith in this
project and they had expressed unflinching resolve to complete CPEC within stipulatedtime.