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NEC to approve key targets for 2017-18

Updated May 19, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) — the country’s highest economic decision making body — will be held on Friday to approve Pakistan’s macroeconomic agenda and Annual Development Programme (ADP) for 2017-18.

The meeting will be presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and will take up a three-point agenda. It will review the ADP 2016-17 and performance of real sectors of the economy. Based on this outcome, the meeting will set targets for the next annual plan.

The meeting will also take a detailed view of the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2016-17and approve the proposed plan by the Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC) at Rs2.113 trillion including Rs1.001tr for federal and Rs1.112tr for provincial annual development plans.

Moreover, the NEC would also consider the progress report of the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) and Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) for the period starting April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017.

Under article 156 of the Constitution, the NEC — led by the prime minister and comprising four chief ministers, one nominee each of the provincial chief ministers and as many federal ministers — has to formally approve the country’s ADP and macroeconomic framework. The federal cabinet led by the prime minister then clears budgetary proposals for presentation before the parliament.

Under clause 4 of the said article, the NEC should meet at least twice a year and submit an annual report to each house of the parliament. However, the PML-N government has been calling only annual meetings of the NEC. It has not called its mid-year meeting during the current year either.

The constitution requires the NEC to review the overall economic condition of the country and suggest the federal and provincial governments to formulate plans in respect of financial, commercial, social and economic policies.

In formulating such plans, the NEC is required to ensure balanced development and regional equity and also be guided by the principle of policy set out in Chapter 2 of Part-II.

Under the ADP for next year, the NEC would set a target of 6 per cent GDP growth rate. The agriculture sector is targeted to maintain its current year growth rate of 3.5pc while important crops would grow by 2pc instead of 4.1pc this year. Manufacturing sector is projected to grow by 6.4pc next year instead of 5pc this year. The services sector was also expected to grow by 6.4pc instead of 6pc this year while livestock would slow down to 2pc growth instead of 3.4pc increase this year.

Exports are projected to grow by 6.4pc next year to $23.1 billion against decline this year at $21.7bn. At the same time, import growth target has been set at 9.6pc to $50bn instead of $45.7bn this year.

As a result, the next year trade deficit has been estimated at $26.9bn against $24bn this year while current account deficit would increase to $10.4bn compared to $8.3bn this year. As such, current account deficit would amount to 3.1pc of GDP next year against 2.7pc of GDP this year.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2017