Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the government’s stringent policies have stabilised the country’s economic situation as well as restored the confidence of the business community.

“The government is focusing on providing maximum relief to the common man,” said the prime minister while chairing a meeting of the government’s economic team here on Monday.

Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar, Adviser to the PM on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh, Trade Adviser Abdul Razzaq Dawood, Special Assistant on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant Dr Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant Yousaf Baig Mirza, Special Assistant Nadeem Babar, FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidi and other seniors officers were in attendance.

The prime minister was briefed on the economic situation in the country; especially the promotion of foreign investment, facilities for big industrial units, implementation of government’s decision regarding duty-free import of machinery and equipment for hospitals.

Imran was also apprised of increasing cooperation between the Centre and the provincial government in the field of oil, gas and minerals, reducing sugar price in the country as well as measures taken to rehabilitate Pakistan Steel Mills.

Trade Adviser Abdul Razzaq Dawood apprised the meeting of the progress made regarding implementation of the government’s decision on duty-free import of machinery and equipment for hospitals.

“All necessary phases will be completed within the next 15 days,” he added.

The prime minister was informed about different initiatives taken for providing facilities to the major industrial units.

Special Assistant on Petroleum Babar apprised the meeting that 12 new blocks would be auctioned for oil and gas exploration and production in the country by December 15 and for the purpose roadshows and advertisement ceremonies had been organised in different countries.

“Considerable investment is expected from the privatisation of these 12 blocks,” he added.

The meeting was informed about the progress on Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran Gas Pipeline project and establishment of Parco’s coastal refinery.

The meeting was also informed that effective administrative measures, including discouraging hoarding, were being taken to reduce the price of sugar.

The prime minister was told that the stocks and availability of sugar in the country were satisfactory.

The prime minister informed the meeting that the government would help the provinces in every possible way to improve their capacity in the field of oil, gas and minerals.

“A special cell is being set up in the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to meet the supply and demand criteria of essential items as well as devising comprehensive planning and management steps to address future needs,” said PM Imran. “The move will held end difference in supply and demand as well as help control prices.”

Addressing a news conference after attending the economic team’s meeting, Adviser on Finance Sheikh said, “The country is heading towards stability as the dollar reserves are rising and rupee is maintaining stability.

“The government has not added any debt from the State Bank during the past four months while $2.1 billion loan taken during the tenure of the previous governments has been repaid.”

Shaikh was flanked by economic affairs minister, FBR chairman and special assistant on information.

Shaikh said that the country’s foreign exchange reserves and exports had started rising after a lapse of five years while a 16% increase in revenues was reported by the FBR.

“The trade deficit is on a continuous decline while the stock market has been showing improvements over the past several weeks,” said Shaikh. “The IMF has given a go ahead for the second instalment realising that Pakistan has fulfilled its commitments, while IMF president has also lauded the economic reforms in Pakistan.”

Shaikh announced that the government had earmarked an additional Rs30 billion for Pakistan Housing Scheme. “The construction companies will be given tax exemptions,” he said, adding that the government had also reserved another Rs100 billion to facilitate exporters.

“In addition, we have allocated Rs30 billion for tax refund while Rs250 billion has been allocated for circular debt repayment. We can progress when the country is earning dollars. There has been a remarkable improvement in international trade as our exports have risen by 4%,” said Shaikh. “On the other hand, the foreign exchange reserves.”

Shaikh also announced that the State Bank had increased the loan limit for commercial banks by Rs100 billion, adding that the incentives given to the business community had started bearing positive results for the economy.

“The domestic tax net has increased by 21% while the FBR tax collection has seen a rise of 16%,” said Shaikh, adding that the exporters would be given an additional Rs200 billion in the form of subsidies, while Rs30 billion would be given to businessmen on an immediate basis.
The finance adviser said, “We released 600,000 tonnes of wheat in the market due to which it price decreased.”

He said, “Unfortunately, some products are being smuggled from Pakistan to Afghanistan and Central Asia. However, we are taking measures to combat smuggling.”

Shaikh said, “The Centre is deliberating with all four provinces over the issue of the NFC Award. We have no objection if someone wants tax refund in the form of cash rather than bond. We have set aside Rs30 billion as cash against cancelled bonds. The government will pay off the circular debt by borrowing Rs250 billion.”

The finance adviser announced that the government allocated Rs152 billion for erstwhile Fata in the budget, “something which is unprecedented in country’s history”.

Shaikh said the government slashed its expenditures and decided not to borrow from the State Bank. “We have not ordered printing of new currency notes during the past four months,” he added.
Federal Minister Hammad Azhar said the country’s foreign exchange reserves were showing stability while the reserves had increased by $1.2 billion since July. “The government as well as the State Bank will bear Rs200 billion subsidy for exporters. We have also decided to reserve an additional Rs6 billion for the Utility Stores Corporation,” said Azhar.
Special Assistant Firdous said, “It is for the first time in the country’s history that the government is focusing on boosting the national treasury instead of embezzling public funds.”