ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing exporters during an event on tax refunds at PM Office on Wednesday.—APP
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing exporters during an event on tax refunds at PM Office on Wednesday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said his government’s long-term policies will strengthen tax culture and bring economic stability to the country.

Addressing a ceremony here on Wednesday to distribute refund cheques among prominent exporters, he said this disbursement of Rs30 billion would result in improved cash flow for taxpayers in general and export-oriented sectors in particular. “We will further facilitate exporters to boost the country’s exports,” he added.

The prime minister expressed satisfaction over the rise in volume of exports and said it would further increase in the months ahead. He said he believed that the country’s image would also improve in the wake of long-term economic policies, leading to more local and foreign investments.

Mr Khan said Pakistan had more potential than many countries in the region, but it was not harnessed by the previous governments, adding that lack of continuity in policies also led to ad hocism in policy making.

He stressed that registration of traders with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was important for economic development of the country, adding that the government could not be run without enhancing revenues.

The prime minister urged the business community to take it as their national duty to pay taxes and regretted that corruption played havoc with the national exchequer. Terming the wealth creation essential for national development, he said the government would promote and facilitate the business community and industry. “Measures are also being taken to curb the menace of smuggling to benefit the national economy,” he added.

Distributes refund cheques among prominent exporters, holds meeting with economic team

Appreciating the work of government’s economic team in a relatively short period of time, he said the local currency was now stabilising and the stock market improving. “Government is successful in reducing the current account deficit for the first time in four years.”

The prime minister regretted that the country had not been able to make significant economic progress due to the absence of long-term economic policies. “China is progressing by adopting long-term strategies… now we are heading towards adopting the same approach,” he said, adding that the South Asian competitors, including India and Bangladesh, moved ahead of Pakistan through the same approach.

Meeting with economic team

Prime Minister Khan held a special meeting with his economic team to assess progress on implementation of various measures to revive growth and reduce current account deficit of the country.

He was informed that remittances had posted a nine per cent growth after three years, touching the figure of $21.8bn in FY19. The flow of remittances improved significantly from the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Canada and Australia. The growth in remittances from the UK alone was over 9pc.

The finance ministry and State Bank of Pakistan suggested different incentives and facilities to further improve the flow of remittances. The incentives include continuing the policy of extending facility of “one rupee over one dollar” to the banks for attaining the 15pc remittances growth rate. The facilities include bringing down the required sum to the maximum level for telegraphic transaction, facilitating Pakistanis going aboard to open bank accounts and utilising the services of Pakistan Post Office for dispatching remittances.

The prime minister directed the department concerned to give final shape to these facilities and incentives within one week.

The economic team also discussed at length different proposals for the revival of Pakistan Steel Mills. It also decided to promote Pakistan Banao certificates abroad.

Former finance minister Shaukat Tareen informed the prime minister that Akhuwat, a non-governmental organisation, was in the process of finalising an initiative to collect foodstuff from houses and provide them to the deserving and needy people. This project would be completed within a week, he said.

The prime minister appreciated the initiative and assured that the government would fully cooperate with it as it was similar to government’s own welfare activities.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar briefed the meeting on distribution of Ahsas Ration Cards in tribal districts.

PM Khan stressed that under the Ahsas programme, the process for timely launch of different projects should be ensured so that maximum population could benefit from this important welfare project.

The meeting also discussed progress on different development projects initiated with the assistance of international organisations as well as revival of sick units.

The prime minister directed accelerating work on these projects. He also directed that his office be regularly kept updated about the progress on these projects and the office be contacted in case for removal of any impediment.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Minister for Power Umar Ayub Khan, Adviser on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, PM’s advisor Dr Ishrat Hussain, Special Assistant to the PM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, PM’s special assistants Dr Sania Nishtar and Nadeem Babar, Board of Investment Chairman Syed Zubair Gilani, State Bank Governor Reza Baqir, Shaukat Tareen, secretaries of the relevant ministries and other senior officials.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2019