Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting of the government’s economic team on Saturday.—APP
Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting of the government’s economic team on Saturday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday reviewed progress on the targets set for the first quarter of the current fiscal year and directed his economic team to evolve a clear timeline for achievement of quarterly economic targets.

At the second meeting held with a gap of two weeks at his Banigala residence to assess the health of economy and its direction, the premier was informed that economic policies were giving results citing almost 38 per cent reduction in trade deficit during the first two months of this fiscal year owing to sharp drop in imports.

A senior official, who is privy to the meeting, told Dawn that the premier had convened the meeting to assess the overall economic activities especially to see the progress on extending the outreach of social safety nets to real beneficiaries.

The prime minister directed the departments concerned to work out a clear and time-based roadmap to examine the achievements of the quarterly targets.

Economic policies are yielding results, PM told

Secretary Finance Naveed Kamran Baloch briefed the meeting over the quarterly targets of various economic ministries.

The premier was informed that the first quarterly IMF review will be successful. “We have almost achieved our quarterly targets,” an official in the Ministry of Finance told Dawn.

On Friday, IMF Director Communications Gerry Rice said that an IMF staff-level team would be visiting Islamabad in the next few days to hold talks on fiscal matters.

The meeting was informed that the reform agenda signed with IMF was on track and the progress so far on nearly all the performance and structural benchmarks for the first quarter of the current fiscal year were very encouraging with strong indication that all the targets will be met.

As part of the IMF package, the government has made no borrowing from the State Bank, no supplementary grant was made and expenditures are under control during the first quarter. “The exchange rate volatility is almost over. Owing to these achievements and others, the government is almost on track in terms of first quarterly fiscal target,” the official said.

The premier was also briefed about the steps taken for the betterment of the agriculture sector.

Sick units revival

On the revival of sick industrial and closed down units, the premier said there is a need to focus on their revival. He said that Corporate Industrial and Restructuring Corporation has to play an active role in this regard especially for better coordination among all departments, including National Bank of Pakistan, SBP and others, besides formulation of a strategy for revival of the sick units.

Regarding construction sector, the premier said that a proposal was being finalised to give an industrial status to this sector and to introduce a fixed tax regime in bigger cities. In this connection, the prime minister asked Naya Pakistan Housing Authority chairman retired Lt Gen Anwar Ali Haider to submit an incentive package to promote the construction of residential apartments and attract investments in the sector.

FBR chairman Shabbar Zaidi told the meeting that the first two months revenue collection target is almost achieved in the range of 90pc. “Owing to the government’s efforts, the tax net has been widened which is a positive sign for the economy,” he added.

Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiar briefed the premier about the progress on the development projects being executed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

SBP governor Dr Reza Baqir said the exporters have not only expressed their full satisfaction over the government’s policies, but also presented various proposals to boost the export-related industries.

The premier was informed that exports will pick up in the next few months following the settlement of issues that may have arisen due to discontinuation of zero-rated status for the five export-oriented sectors.

Mr Khan asked his economic team to come up with some unconventional and out-of-box solutions for economic uplift and hold consultation with all stakeholders to ensure timely implementation of the proposals.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2019

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