Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar Monday said that government was making all out efforts to achieve 6 per cent growth rate target, and assured that the government had no plan to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for any bailout package, as now the country could stand on its own feet.
“Our focus is on higher growth that would help reduce poverty, generate resources and strengthen economic and security situation of the country,” he said while addressing a press conference. He urged all the citizens that it was their duty too to work for country’s dignity and respect by helping strengthen its economy and security.
He said that economy was progressing and we must make efforts to help this trend continue “and play our role to take the country ahead.” The minister was flanked by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenues, Haroon Akhtar, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue, Tariq Pasha and other high officials of the Ministry of Finance.
Dar informed the journalists that the World Bank (WB) acknowledged that they had made some misinterpretation of economic data of Pakistan. The bank had not applied international formula in calculation while preparing its report, he said adding that it would be corrected. Dar indicated towards positive indicators of economy during the first quarter of the current fiscal year saying that the revenue collection during July-September had increased by 20 per cent to Rs765 billion.
He said that the money transfers to provinces had also increased from Rs416 billion during the first quarter of last year to Rs765 billion during the current fiscal year. The finance minister said that expenditure side was also being monitored, managed and controlled and the expenditures were reduced from Rs914 billion last year to Rs894 billion.
He said that maintaining fiscal discipline was priority of the government, however he was of the view that government was expecting payment of surplus amounts from the provinces which could not be made, hence enhancing the deficit by one per cent.
He said that overall budget deficit was recorded at Rs324 billion during the first quarter against the deficit of Rs438 billion last year. He said that the interest rate was also maintained at decades low at 5.57 percent.
He said that the Export Package had also started giving dividends as exports from the country grew by 10.8% during the first quarter, from Rs4.66 billion to Rs5.17 billion. However, he added that the imports into the country had also increased from $11.67 billion last year to $14.26 billion, saying that there was need for taking measures to reduce imports and enhance exports for which the export package would be up-scaled. The remittances during the period also increased to $4.79 billion against $4.74 billion last year. Dar said that the Foreign Direct Investment into the country during July-August also went up to $457 million compared to $179 million during same period of last year.
He said that the GDP growth rate had increased from as low as 3.7 percent in year 2012-13 to 5.3 per cent in 2016-17, Large Scale Manufacturing from 4.5 per cent to 5.9 per cent, remittances from $9 billion to $19 billion while inflation was also maintained within limits. He said that agriculture credit during this period also increased from Rs330 billion in 2013 to Rs705 billion, companies incorporation went up from less than 4000 in 2013 to over 8000 in 2017, while foreign exchange reserves with the State Bank of Pakistan touched $18 billion figure.
He said that total public debt was 61.6 percent of the GDP, 21 per cent of which was foreign debt. He said that the debt figures should not be looked in isolation rather these should be evaluated keeping in view the total GDP of the country which had now risen to $300 billion. He dispelled the impression that Pakistan was having highest debt rate compared to regional countries and pointed out example of many countries including India where the debt to GDP was much more than that of Pakistan.
Dar said that load-shedding would be overcome by December this year as more electricity was being added to the national transmission system. He said that many international agencies and organizations had given positive prospectus of Pakistan economy, some predicting it to be 16th biggest economy by 2050, others terming it next big country flag-bearer of positive change, some terming it emerging market, while the rating agencies had up-scaled it rating from negative to stable and then to positive.
To a question, he said that it was prerogative of the leadership and party to decide whether he should continue his job as the finance minister or not.