ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said that his economic team has turned around the national economy within a period of one year, especially referring to a sharp decline in the current account deficit and an increase in investments.
The premier in a series of tweets shared some data-graphs showing performance of foreign direct investment, exports and remittances besides a sharp decline in the current account deficit.
Mr Khan said that a 111.5pc increase was recorded in the foreign direct investment and a 194pc increase in foreign private investment during the past one year. The massive increase in investments was a reflection of the trust of foreign investors in the government’s economic policies, he added.
The prime minister said that the current account deficit was on a 41-month low in September 2019, indicating that the economy was on the mend. Between July-September, the first quarter of the current fiscal year, the current account deficit declined by a huge 64pc to $1.5bn from $4.3bn over the last year. It was mainly led by a 21pc decline in imports.
Pakistan had witnessed the biggest current account deficit at $18.25 billion before the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had taken over the government. He went on to say that remittances from overseas Pakistanis showed a 17.6 per cent increase in remittances during last month.
Imran asked ministries to bring down prices of wheat, sugar, cooking oil, fruit and vegetables, says Firdous
The fiscal deficit — the difference between revenues and expenditures of the federal government — declined by 36 per cent in the first quarter of the ongoing fiscal year as revenue increased and expenditure cuts took root.
PM Khan’s economic team led by Adviser on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh — currently visiting Washington to attend the annual meetings of International Monetary Fund/World Bank-2019 — held a series of meetings with heads of various global financial institutions and business leaders to apprise them of the overall state of economy in Pakistan.
The focus of these meetings, according to an official statement, is to focus on government’s measures to curtail the twin deficits and revive various sectors of the economy through institutional reforms and collaboration with regional and international investment partners.
State Bank Governor Dr Reza Baqir and Finance Secretary Naveed Kamran held an extensive meeting with Asian Development Bank (ADB) president Takehiko Nakao and exchanged views with him on the ongoing ADB-funded projects in Pakistan as well as planned portfolio.
The finance adviser apprised the ADB president about the steps taken by the government for curtailing the current and capital account deficits effectively. In his remarks, ADB President Nakao said that ADB was an important financial partner of Pakistan and acknowledged the current structural reforms undertaken towards economic stabilisation in Pakistan.
Dr Shaikh also met World Bank’s South Asian Region (SAR) Vice President Hartwig Schafer and his team. The meeting reviewed WB’s portfolio in Pakistan and exchanged views on further steps to strengthen cooperation between Pakistan and the Bank.
Later, the finance adviser along with a delegation met IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department (MCD) Director Jihad Azour. They discussed the implementation of the ongoing IMF programme. The IMF director appreciated the progress Pakistan made towards economic stabilisation as well as government commitment to the reform process.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the PM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told the media that the Prime Minister had directed the federal ministries and provincial governments to take measures to bring down the prices of wheat, sugar, cooking oil, fruit and vegetables to provide relief to public.
She said the direction came from the premier during the three-hour meeting with the chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, chief secretaries, ministers of food, agriculture, statistics, commerce and industry and cane commissioners. Mr Khan asked them to adopt a comprehensive strategy on ways to reduce prices of essential commodities, she added.
Dr Awan said the Sindh province had failed to ensure timely procurement of wheat flour, which resulted in depletion of stock and rise in its prices. To control the situation, PM Khan asked Pakistan Agricultural Services and Storage Corporation (PASSCO) to release 100,000 million tonnes of wheat for Sindh to fill the gap in supply and demand. She said the PM also directed the Economic Coordination Committee to come up with a comprehensive strategy and recommendations within three days on release of stock of wheat and cut in prices.
Besides, she hinted at the possibility of importing wheat in case of lower stock of the commodity to keep the prices under stable.
Extending support to farmers, the adviser said sugar cane farmers received payment as per support price of Rs180 per 40 kilograms. The prime minister, according to her, showed displeasure over the rise in sugar prices and asked for taking action against profiteers and hoarders.
Mr Khan suggested to the Punjab and KP chief ministers to establish farmers’ markets to bring an end to the role of middlemen, she told the media. He also directed the Federal Board of Revenue to rationalise regulatory duty on cooking oil, she added. The adviser linked the price hike of tomatoes and onions with the blockage of imports from India and said new crops in Pakistan would improve the situation.
Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019