Economy picks up, both external, internal sectors showing good performance: Hafeez Shaikh

ISLAMABAD, Nov 17 (APP): Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said Tuesday that economy of the country had picked up as indicated by the performance of both external as well as internal economic sectors.

“Good news are coming about economy,” the advisor said during a media briefing here. He was flanked by Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shibli Faraz.

The advisor said that on internal front, the Large Scale Manufacturing had witnessed around 5 percent growth after a long time, with cement sales increasing up to 20 million tons while there had been considerable growth in products of automobiles and fertilizers.

Hafeez Shaikh said that the exports from the country were increasing while the textile sector had received export orders up to December.

In addition, the rupee has stabilized and in fact has enhanced its value while the foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has risen up to $13 billion.

On fiscal side, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has collected Rs 1340 billion revenues in four months, which is more than the actual target earmarked for the period.

In addition, the board issued refunds of Rs 128 billion during the four months against the refunds of Rs 50 billion during the same period of last year while the total refunds during the last fiscal year stood at Rs 248 billion.

He said that the government had reduced its expenditures while there was no borrowings from the SBP while no supplementary grant was issued.

The Advisor said although the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the government’s achievements but it successfully managed to bring the economy out of crisis which was evident from the fact that the whole world was praising Pakistan’s way of managing COVID-19.

He informed that the government inherited a huge current account deficit which was exceeding $20 billion and the current government brought down the deficit to $3 billion in first year and now even it had turned to surplus of over $792 million.

“This issue has been controlled completely now,” he added.

With respect to the domestic economic situation, the advisor explained that as contrary to the past, the governments income was more than its expenditures due to which it was not borrowing from the central bank.

He said the PTI government had to pay Rs 5000 billion as interest on the loans taken by the previous governments. He further explained that during four months of current fiscal year, the government’s debt did not increase and remained at the level of Rs 36.4 trillion which was same by end of June 2020.

“This is clear proof of maintaining fiscal discipline by the government,” he added.

Further, he maintained that the SBP reserves were also touching $13 billion mark that was encouraging sign.

Besides, he said the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had refunded a record Rs 128 billion during first four months of current fiscal year which was a 100 percent increase as compared to the same period of last year. Similarly, he said during last fiscal year the FBR had cleared the refunds of Rs 248 billion.

Hafeez Shaikh said the basic purpose of all the the government’s endeavours to increase economic activity was to increase job creation and provide maximum relief to the common people.

The construction sector, he said was witnessing a big boom that had helped triggering the economic activities in the country.

Under PSDP, he said allocation had been increased and new projects were being initiated specially in the far flung areas.

He said during recent months, the profitability of business companies was also increasing as the profitability of top 100 companies had increased by 36% while that of banking sector by 56%.

“Our stock market is proving to be one of the world’s most attractive one as the world investors are observing that the investment in PSX will be fruitful due to the increased economic activity in Pakistan,” he added.

With respect to inflation in the country, the advisor maintained that the government was also trying to control the prices of the commodities especially that of wheat and sugar.

He said the government had to import wheat to meet the shortage in the country and now the stock situation was completely under control as there was no shortage of any grain at this time.

He said the government was also providing the wheat to the flour mills at less price of at Rs 1475 per 40 kg.

He said due to the government’s efforts the wheat prices were witnessing declining trend for last three weeks.

The government, he said was releasing 40,000 tons of wheat on daily basis to the flour mills to ensure sufficient availability of wheat flour in the market.

Further, he informed that the government was also planning to increase the beneficiaries of ‘Ehsaas’ proramme from current 4.5 million to 7 million to whom the government would pay cash support on permanent basis.