ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has vowed to lead the country towards responsible, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Launching the Economic Survey at a ceremony in Islamabad on Thursday, he said the imminent default has been averted due to the difficult decisions taken by the present government. He said the country has now been put on the path of stability.
The Finance Minister said that the growth rate remained 5.97 percent during the current fiscal year but this growth created the problems of Current Account Deficit and Balance of Payment crisis.
He said the imports increased by forty three percent during the current fiscal year which will touch 76 to 77 billion dollars.
Miftah Ismail said that the imports also increased by twenty eight percent. Resultantly, he said the trade deficit has reached forty five billion dollars.
The Finance Minister said that our foreign exchange reserves reduced by 5.6 billion dollars in the month of March and these currently stand at around 9.7 billion dollars. He however expressed the confidence that the foreign exchange reserves will touch 12 billion dollars in the next few days with the provision of 2.4 billion dollars by China.
Miftah Ismail stressed the need for putting the country in the right direction. He said we have to increase the prices of petroleum products the Brent price is hovering around 120 to 123 dollars per barrel.
The Minister pointed out that the country would not have been faced with the current price hike had the previous government signed long term agreements for gas import during the period of Covid-19.
He said the PTI left behind landmines not for the present government but the State of Pakistan.
As regards the Foreign Direct Investment, the Finance Minister said these were two billion dollars in 2017-18 and today this has come down to 1.25 billion dollars in the first nine month of current fiscal year. He said Pakistan lags behind in every statistics because of the decision of the incompetent government of PTI.
Miftah Ismail said Pakistan will have to import three million tons of wheat this year to meet domestic requirements.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said government will make all out efforts to increase development budget of the country.
He said in the next fiscal year Public Sector Development Program will focus on protecting water resources. He said under construction dams will be completed on fast track basis.
The Minister said funds for Higher Education Commission will be increased and IT sector will be paid special attention. He said budget for HEC will be increased by 67 percent.
Highlighting government’s focus on CPEC projects, Ahsan Iqbal said projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor will be completed speedily. He said Special Economic Zones under the CPEC will be constructed which were ignored by previous government. He said upgradation of ML-1 is an important project which will also be completed.
He said government will also take steps to improve physical infrastructure of the country.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Energy Engineer Khurram Dastgir said that PML-N government set up coal power plants as coal price was less than other fuels in 2013.
He announced that future energy projects will be established while utilising local fuel.
Khurram Dastgir said boilers of power plants are being replaced to consume local coal from Thar Coal.
Khurram Dastgir hoped that cheap energy will be available after opening of new blocks in the Thar Coal.
To a question, Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal said the Prime Minister is ambitious about fast track growth of economy.