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Miftah stresses need to rationalise agri policies

March 16, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Miftah Ismail is speaking at a session of Business Summit on Thursday.
ISLAMABAD: Miftah Ismail is speaking at a session of Business Summit on Thursday.

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Dr Miftah Ismail said that rationalised agriculture policies could double the value of its products in five years, reducing the burden of import by billions of dollars.

“Shifting focus from traditional to high-value crops will not only help earn huge foreign exchange reserves but will also change the fate of farmers and other people connected with this sector,” he said, while addressing the second Leaders in Islamabad Business Summit on Thursday.

Miftah said the government had to pay huge subsidies on export of surplus sugar and wheat, however, the focus should be on the production of high quality cotton, edible oil and pulses.

He said in order to streamline the course of national economy, it was vital to sell all public sector entities including Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Steel Mills, and Pakistan State Oil.

Talking about budget targets, Miftah said the government would manage to achieve most of the targets except few, such as budget deficit.

“We will try our best to contain the budget deficit within five per cent,” he said, adding that the current government inherited the budget deficit at over 8pc but managed to bring it down to around 4pc in three years.

Explaining the rupee devaluation last December, he said, “When imports are going high and exports are on declining trend, the government has the best tool in the box to devalue its currency.”

He, however, said there was nothing wrong with high current account deficit or trade deficit as in a developing country like Pakistan, most of the imports consist of machinery to install new industries which would ultimately give a sustainable economic boost to the country.

Commenting on the energy sector achievements, the adviser said the government has added around 12,000 megawatts additional electricity in the national grid, to be fully utilised by June.

Besides, arrangements have been made to add 20,000MW more in next two to three years that would finally put an end to the loadshedding forever, he added.

He hoped that the target of economic growth of 6pc set for the current fiscal year would ensure more business activities, jobs, and revenues.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2018