Justifying the record increase of petroleum prices in Pakistan, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has said prices were increasing globally and not just in the country. 

Speaking to the media in Washington alongside Finance Secretary Yousuf Khan, Governor SBP Dr. Raza Baqir, and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Dr Asad Majeed Khan on Saturday, he said that the government’s structural reform measures have been appreciated, improving the country’s economy.

“Comprehensive measures are being taken to improve the track and trace of Pakistan’s tobacco, cement, sugar, and beverages industries. We will increase the tax to GDP ratio to 20 percent in the next four to five years,” the minister said.

According to him, Pakistan is moving towards targeted subsidies for the betterment and convenience of the populace, he further said that the ruling government is also introducing an interest-free loan scheme to ​​uplift the economically backward classes.

Speaking of remittances, Tarin said they have continued to improve and play a positive role due to measures taken such as the proactive policy by the present government and the State Bank of Pakistan to encourage the use of formal remittance channels, reduction of cross-border travel due to Covid-19, and foreign exchange market conditions.

He said that remittances to Pakistan have continued their strong momentum with inflows of $2.7 billion during September 2021, increasing to more than $2 billion since June 2020.

“This is the seventh consecutive month that revenue averaged 2.7 billion,” he maintained.

The minister further stated that in terms of Shariah growth, remittances increased by 16.9 percent annually in September, while revenue grew by 0.5 percent monthly.

“Overall remittances increased by 12.5 percent ​​to 8 billion during the first quarter of this fiscal year,” he said.

Tarin said that during September 2021, remittances came primarily from Saudi Arabia at $681 million, followed by the United Arab Emirates at $502 million, the United Kingdom $370 million and the United States at $245 million.

SEMINAR: Earlier, Tarin said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will validate data and statistics on power, gas tariffs and tax collection. 

He was addressing a seminar at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington where he shared details of his meeting with the IMF director. 

“We are here to finalise our matters with the IMF,” he said. “We have told the IMF to validate the data we have shared with them.”

Tarin said that Pakistan has reached an agreement with Independent Power Producers (IPPs), the details of which will be announced in a couple of days. 

He said the government had achieved its growth targets in various sectors, adding that it had provided relevant details to the IMF.

Tarin said his meeting with IMF Director Kristalina Georgieva was a cordial and “very positive” one. 

The finance minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government was focused on bringing about economic reforms in the government. “Pakistan has undertaken sincere efforts to being about economic reforms,” he said. “The IMF director appreciated Pakistan’s progress in implementing its programme”. 

Speaking about his US tour, Tarin said he held meetings with the president of the World Bank, the US-Pakistan Business Council and also attended a meeting at the US Institute of Peace. 

“We held meetings on Afghanistan,” he said. “I met my Turkish counterpart and discussed bilateral cooperation in the agriculture, construction and tourism sectors with him,” he added. 

The finance minister said Pakistan will provide targeted subsidies to 40% of the population, adding that the government has compiled a database according to which it knows the income of each household. 

“We will provide subsidies on wheat, sugar and pulses,” he said. 

He spoke about the current account deficit, saying that it will remain stable. “The current account deficit will not surge like it did in the past,” he said, adding that it will decrease gradually if the exchange rate is adjusted. 

Tarin said the government had kept a market-based exchange rate.

The story was filed by the News Desk.
The Desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk.

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