On Wednesday, the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh addressed the second segment of the plenary session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Country Strategy Dialogue (CSD) through video link.
During his virtual address, Dr Hafeez told the attendees about the economic challenges the current government inherited when it assumed the office in 2018. He further explained the measures taken by his team to curtail excessive government expenditure, increase revenue collection, introduce market-driven exchange rate, remove large tax exemptions and discourage reports.
He also briefed about Pakistan’s remarkable improvement in fiscal and current account deficits. He said Pakistan had a primary balance surplus which is unprecedented. All fundamental economic indicators reflected significant improvement before COVID-19.
Talking about the measures in the pandemic, Dr Hafeez said that during COVID-19, government of Pakistan introduced “Smart Lockdown” to balance the imperative to contain the spread of the disease with the need to keep the economy functional. The Smart lockdown allowed many businesses to re-open or continue operations on limited scale to lessen the adverse economic impact and support the vulnerable segment of the society. To provide relief to vulnerable groups especially daily wage earners, Government of Pakistan gave cash payments to 15 million families under “Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program”.
Adviser Finance outlined that amid COVID-19, the government has taken several initiatives to facilitate agriculture and construction sectors to accelerate economic recovery. A relief package for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) shielded against insolvency and joblessness. The recent data complements the strengthening and expansion of the economy in ’’recovery’’ mode. Despite COVID-19, Pakistan has registered an upward trend in foreign remittances and FDI which is a clear reflection of confidence in Pakistan’s economy.
He further reiterated that the government firmly supports private sector as an engine of growth and believes in building institutional capacity for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. “We followed a liberal foreign investment regime and introduced measures to promote ease of doing business in the country”, he stated.
He said that the current leadership welcomes foreign investors and believes in transparency, accountability and openness. Our agenda is to empower people with key focus on human resource development, Adviser Finance concluded