FEDERAL Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar insists that the government has passed on the benefits of what he calls a resurgent economy to the consumers, which has given “relief to the common man to a great extent”, citing the case of oil prices which, he says, are “the lowest in the region”.

The minister was sent a set of questions by Dawn that sought his views on the following:

Why the gains of better performing economy not trickling down? Do you think the economic discontent is more because of rising aspiration? How much an average Pakistani family earns? How much income a family needs in Pakistan to survive at the lowest rung? Do you monitor wage trends in the private sector? PML-N promised new framework for social change with better economic opportunities for people. How far have you delivered? Do you expect the democracy to grow roots if its fruits are not shared?

The minister’s reply is reproduced below:

“It is a pleasure for me to contribute my views on economic indicators for the Special Report being published by Dawn.

“In 2013, the PML-N government assumed responsibilities with an agenda aimed at revival of the economy and ameliorating the lot of the common man. We have pursued growth-oriented economic policies and introduced structural reforms to achieve these objectives. PML-N manifesto promised efforts to resolve the energy crisis, improve security situation, set the economy in the right direction and provide ample opportunities to all and sundry for better education and quality health services.

“Due to prudent economic policies of the government, all the important economic indicators are showing a positive trend. I am citing some of the indicators here. We have been able to collect Rs1,345.2 billion in July-January period of FY15 compared to Rs1,197.3 billion during the same period in fiscal year 2013-14 showing over 12 per cent increase. Remittances are at $10.359 billion during July-January 2014-15 compared to $9.038 billion in the same period last year, showing a 14.61 per cent increase. The stock exchange numbers are a clear evidence of the state of economy, so let me share with you that KSE index on February 27, 2015, stood at 33,632 against 29,653 points as of June 30, 2014, showing 13.42 per cent increase. Forex reserves reached $16.136 billion (SBP: US$ 11.207bn; Banks: US$4.929bn) on February 27, 2015, making us eligible for IBRD financing.

“The inflation rate has been gradually brought down and stood at 3.2 per cent in February compared to 7.9 per cent in the same month last year. This is the lowest inflation number since 2000.

“We have also focused on the agriculture sector and provided relief to the farmers by increasing the agricultural credit facility; farmers have already been given credit of Rs.255.519 billion in the current financial year and we aim to achieve the target of Rs.500 billion before June 30.

“Wheat and sugarcane exporters have been facilitated by giving subsidies. On the export of 1.2 million tons of wheat, the government allowed a subsidy at the rate of $45 per metric ton for Sindh farmers and $55 per metric ton for the Punjab farmers. Similarly, Rs6.5 billion worth of subsidies were given to the sugarcane exporters.

“Another measure of pride for the government is the increase in the development spending which has been increased to Rs525 billion this year. The per capita income increased from $1340 in 2012-13 to $1386 in FY/2013-14 and we hope that with the growing confidence of the foreign institutions in Pakistan, foreign investment in greater volumes will flow into the country, creating job opportunities and giving a forward push to the incomes of the people.

“I am proud to say that we returned to the international capital market in 2014 with the issuance of Euro Bonds and Sukuk which were both highly oversubscribed. Pakistan has been named ‘Issuer of the year’ by IFR Asia.

“The government has passed the benefits of the fall in oil prices to the consumers; the transport fares have been reduced and per unit price of electricity have also recently been decreased. This has given relief to the common man to a great extent. Our oil prices are the lowest in the region.

“Our government believes in true democracy and we share the genuine concerns of even those who are in opposition. One example of this is the formation of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms with a broad representation from all political parties. Another more recent example is the election of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of Senate. Such spirit of accommodation, I am sure, would facilitate continuity of policies, ultimately benefiting the masses.

“Not to forget our resolve with which we have launched the National Action Plan to eliminate the scourge of militancy from the motherland.

“I conclude by saying that we have followed a pattern of governance which takes cognizance of all shades of public opinion, addresses genuine concerns of stakeholders in every policy we make and we hope all this will help in promoting true democracy in Pakistan with its positive effects visibly seen in the lives of the people.”

Published in Dawn March 22nd , 2015


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