ISLAMABAD: An economic growth of seven per cent and a 250pc increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) could be achieved by 2017-18 through democratic governance, supremacy of the Constitution and avoidance of misuse of power, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said on Friday.
Speaking to the participants of the 16th National Security Workshop at the National Defence University, he said fiscal consolidation, power sector reforms, gas sector reforms, privatisation programme, debt management strategy and monetary management were top priorities of the government.
He said the government was working on a macroeconomic stability plan aimed at taking the GDP growth rate to 7pc, industrial growth to 8pc, fixed investment-to-GDP ratio to 22pc and fiscal deficit to 4pc of GDP by 2017-18.
The minister seeks World Bank’s support on energy sector development and construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam
The government would also bring down public debt to below 57pc of GDP from over 60pc now, and keep inflation under 8pc besides increasing tax-to-GDP ratio to 15pc by FY18, he said.
On top of that, he said, exports would be increased to $32 billion, FDI to $5.5bn from $1.6bn, and foreign exchange reserves to $20bn by that year.
He said these targets could only be achieved through democratic governance which required supremacy of the Constitution and rule of law in order to reduce corruption, avoiding tax evasion, wasteful expenditure and misuse of power.
The country’s economic future could be brightened by exploiting the technological potential in industry, agriculture and information technology and by utilising physical and economic resources to the full, he added.
The minister also talked about the National Power Policy 2013-18, saying the government’s focus would remain on improved governance structure, supportive legal framework, financial sustainability, supply-demand side management and promoting private sector participation. He hoped implementation of this policy would help improve the governance and financial viability of the power sector.
The participants included parliamentarians, senior civil and military officials, business leaders and members of the civil society.
Meanwhile, Dar also met a World Bank delegation, led by its director Satu Kristina Kahkonen, and sought the bank’s support on energy sector development and construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam.
He thanked the World Bank for approving country partnership strategy (CPS 2015-19) for transforming the energy sector, supporting private sector development, reaching out to the vulnerable and leveraging regional markets.
The minister also appreciated the bank for approving financing of CASA-1000 and Dasu Hydropower Project to help reduce electricity shortage and play a vital role in economic growth of the country.
He assured the delegation of government’s commitment for continuous reforms in energy, taxation and revenue mobilisation, private and financial sector development, financial inclusion, secured transactions framework, and expansion of social protection.
Ms Kahkonen told the minister that after achieving the $15bn forex reserves’ mark, Pakistan will become International Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (IBRD) partner — a soft window for development projects.
Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2014