Unemployment to fall sharply in coming days, says Hafeez

Updated 16 Oct 2020

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In this file photo, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File
In this file photo, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File

LAHORE: The unemployment rate will start to decline sharply in coming days due to various steps being taken in this regard, Finance Adviser Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh claimed on Thursday.

“The government is taking various steps to put economy on the path of sustainable growth and create employment opportunities for the youth.

We hope that the graph of unemployment will be reduced sharply in coming days,” he said while speaking to the office bearers and members of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

“When the PTI government came to power, it had a bulk of challenges, especially a high current account deficit and artificially high exchange rate. These factors were causing de-industrialisation, hampering exports and promoting an import based economy,” he said.

Shaikh believed that the government is heading towards the right direction by focusing on enhancing export. In this context, the government has reduced duties on numerous raw materials besides subsidising energy rates to export sectors.

He committed to solve the problem of refunds on permanent basis, claiming that a lot of improvements were made in this regard. “Through the new refund system (Faster Plus), the private sector would be able to track the progress on their refunds. If there is a slight delay, the online system would apprise the particular business entity about the reason of delay,” he said.

Shaikh added that the government is also working on reducing expenditures. “After many years, the primary deficit has turned into a surplus,” he said.

Noting that Covid-19 had adversely impacted the tax collection, he said the government, despite financial difficulties, facilitated the businesses by introducing different schemes for deferring principal payments, loans for salaries, relaxation in energy bills for small businesses and tax breaks for the construction sector. “The Ehsaas programme has also been started to give low cost loans to young entrepreneurs,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar said the government gave extra importance to private sector and is striving hard to keep a close liaison with private sector as they are the main source of wealth creation and employment generation.

“The government has worked hard to reduce the current account deficit from $20 billion dollars to $3bn. The construction industry has started to pick up due to the recent incentives package by the prime minister. Various proposals to reduce energy cost for private sector are being worked out,” he said.

Earlier, the LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah said the energy cost for all the export sectors needs to be reduced. “The availability of gas for industry should be ensured 24/7,” he said.

“Small traders have suffered a lot since the pandemic began. The government should give interest free loans to them,” he added.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2020