ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin on Sunday said that GDP growth at 3.94 per cent during the current fiscal year (2020-21) was calculated in a transparent manner, predicting that based on the current trend the economy would grow by five per cent in 2021-22 and six per cent during 2022-23.
Addressing a virtual press briefing, the minister said that it was due to the prudent policies of the incumbent government that this growth was achieved despite tough International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions. He added that the focus of government had been on housing, agriculture and export sectors that delivered these results.
He said that the government had identified 12 sectors and formulated short, medium and long term strategies to achieve inclusive sustainable economic growth and social prosperity, with a special focus on housing, agriculture and promotion of the export industry.
He said that the development of these sectors would not only bring sustainability to the economy but would help in achieving sustainable economic growth for the welfare of the masses.
The COVID-19 pandemic had affected the global economies and it also put a negative impact on the national economy, he said, adding that the policies of Prime Minister Imran Khan helped in steering out the economy from the crisis in a fair manner and put it on the path of sustainable economic development.
In order to fulfill the fiscal requirements, the government had to initiate a programme with IMF and this time the fund introduced tough conditions like increase in tariff, exchange rate and interest rates that also influenced the national economy.
The minister said that a well-thought-out federal budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 would be presented at the start of next month, adding that the budget envisages provision of maximum relief to the public in tax and electricity tariff, adding that no more tax burden to be put on those who are already paying tax.
He said that innovative substitutes would be introduced to achieve the revenue targets, by providing different incentives and facilities, besides broadening the tax base.
The minister said rising trend in food commodities was a global phenomenon, adding that strategy was evolved in order to provide maximum relief to common man, particularly saving them from inflationary shocks and taking some short-term steps like operation against hoarders to overcome the issue of artificial shortage of food essential food commodities.
In long term, the farmers would be facilitated to establish storage facilities for strengthening the domestic strategic reserves in order to keep the supply of food commodities at smooth level and address the issue of hording and over profiteering, he remarked.
Shaukat Tarin informed that the second focus of the government was on economic growth that would help enhance revenues create employment opportunities, adding that reliance on trickle-down effects to extend the gains of economic growth would be minimised according to the vision of the premier.
He said that government was taking various steps in order to provide livelihood opportunities to masses, provision of interest free loans to farmers, adding that it was also paying special attention on productivity sector for enhancing the competitiveness of local industry to promote exports and reduce imports.
The minister said that increase in exports and a reduction in imports would also help in producing import substitutes that would reduce the pressure on domestic foreign exchange reserves, besides reducing the reliance on foreign debts and assistance.
The exports had witnessed an increasing trend during the period under review which needed to be further increased, he said, adding that remittances witnessed a sharp increase, which was the result of trust and love of overseas Pakistanis in Prime Minister Imran Khan.
He further informed that the government was taking steps for the development of the housing sector for ensuring the fulfillment of housing needs in the country, besides taking measures to enhance revenue collection to reduce the fiscal deficit and ensure credit availability for the private sector. The government was working on the improvement of the financial sector to encourage savings and to use the available resources on social sector development, he added.
Replying to a question, Finance Minister Tarin said that the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics was revamped in order to make it an independent institution to get proper statistics for better policy interventions, adding that it was not functioning under the finance ministry.
To another question, the minister said that all the conditions of the Financial Action Task Force were met and expressed his optimism about the positive response from the forum to take the country out of the grey list.
About, circular debt and subsidy, Tarin said that targeted subsidy would be provided to deserving segments of the society, saying there were 35 million household connections of electricity and out of the total 29 million were provided subsidy that was not justifiable.