ISLAMABAD: Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Monday said the outlook for economy was strong and pick up in exports and remittances were supporting growth momentum.

In December 2019, the large-scale manufacturing output expanded by 16 per cent month on month, indicative of rebound in growth, he said while meeting media persons on Monday.

The meeting was part of adviser’s efforts to update media and public on key economic policies and progress on reforms.

Sharing details on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff review, he said that Pakistan had met all performances and completed all of structural benchmarks. This has led to the IMF staff and Pakistan authorities reaching a staff level agreement which has paved the way for the IMF Board to release the next tranche of $450 million in April, he added.

The adviser also highlighted that the government had achieved a primary surplus of 0.6pc of GDP (Rs286 billion) in first half of the ongoing fiscal year, first time in over 10 years.

This has been achieved through stronger revenue collection with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) tax collection rising by over 16.5pc and austerity in expenditure, he explained.

He further said the non-tax revenue collection during the first half of the FY20 had also gone up by 170pc on year-on-year basis to reach Rs876bn (Rs323bn in same period last year) which would help reduce the build-up in debt. Dr Shaikh expressed concern over high inflation and apprised the participants on government efforts to reduce the burden on public.

He highlighted that inflation has declined in the last seven weeks and CPI inflation has declined to 12.4pc in February, down from 14.6pc in January as a result of proactive measures by the government to allow imports and increase supply through utility stores.

He said the government had doubled allocation in social safety programmes including under PM’s Ehsaas Programme to Rs192bn in FY20. However, many challenges remain particularly in resolving the energy sector, he added.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2020

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