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Abdul Hafeez Sheikh says next year will be of economic stability

Abdul Hafeez Sheikh says next year will be of economic stability
May 25, 2019
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh has said that the next year will be of economic stability in the country. Unveiling economic roadmap at a press conference along with government economic team on Saturday, he said that the Assets Declaration Scheme had been made easy. He announced to launch big projects, including roads and dams, along with reducing the expenditures. Giving an overview of the economic indicators the PTI government faced after coming into power, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said that incumbent government inherited Rs 31,000 billion as domestic debt and foreign loans were hovering around US$100 billion. He said that foreign reserves stood at less than US$10 billion while exports in last five years registered zero percent growth. “Trade deficit was touching the mark of US$20 billion while fiscal deficit had reached at a staggering amount of Rs 2,300 billion. Besides, circular debt was increasing by Rs 38 billion each month.” Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance said that the government took various steps to manage the economy, including raising US$9 billion through friendly countries. Talking about the next steps of the government, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said the IMF board would give approval in next few weeks to the staff level agreement signed earlier with Pakistan. “The Assets Declaration Scheme introduced by the government will give a chance to people to declare their hidden assets at a very reasonable rate and become part of formal economy.” He said that US$1.2 billion deferred loan facility of IDB will also start from next year and will improve confidence in the economy. Referring to IMF program, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said that signing a program with the IMF would also send a good signal worldwide that Pakistan is managing its economy in a disciplinary fashion. The Advisor to PM on Finance said that next budget will be austerity-oriented. For revenue mobilization, he said, a target of Rs 5,550 billion target will be set for the FBR. He said that 350 companies were paying 85 percent share of tax in Pakistan. “Only two million Pakistanis file taxes and out of which 1.4 million are salaried. New data sources will be explored to identify potential tax payers to bring them into tax net.” Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said that data of 150,000 Pakistanis had been obtained from 28 countries and it would help determine the tax evaders. He said a sum of Rs 46 billion would be reserved for development in erstwhile FATA. Advisor to PM on Finance said a subsidy of Rs two billion has been given be the government to provide relief to people in Ramazan and additional Rs 30 billion would be earmarked for food subsidy in next budget. Advisor to PM on Finance said Kamyab Jawan is another program of the government that with a budget of Rs 100 billion would enable youth to start their own businesses. He said that agriculture would be given special focus in next budget for employment generation. He said that in next budget private sector would be motivated to create jobs by giving them tax breaks on new hiring. “PSDP of Rs 925 billion is being given to planning ministry to complete the ongoing development projects,” he added. Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtyar said that they had planned to take the growth rate to six percent by 2023. FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidi said that they had given an opportunity to businessmen to declare their assets. “Action will be taken against ‘benami’ accounts after July 1,” he announced. Power Minister Omar Ayub, Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar and Special Assistant to PM on Information Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan also attended the press conference.