ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the PM on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Wednesday informed the World Economic Forum (WEF) that Pakistan had witnessed remarkable improvement in fiscal and current account deficits owing to prudent government policies.
Addressing the second segment of the plenary session of the WEF on Country Strategy Dialogue (CSD) through video link, he said that Pakistan had a primary balance surplus which was unprecedented.
All fundamental economic indicators reflected significant improvement before Covid-19, the adviser remarked.
He briefed the forum that the current government inherited a very precarious economic situation in 2018 and therefore had to introduce strict financial discipline to curtail excessive government expenditure, increase revenue collection, introduce market driven exchange rate, remove large tax exemptions and discourage imports.
As a consequence, Pakistan witnessed remarkable improvement in fiscal and current account deficits. All fundamental economic indicators reflected significant improvement before Covid-19, he added.
During Covid-19, he said the government introduced smart lockdown to balance the imperative to contain the spread of the disease with the need to keep the economy functional.
The smart lockdowns allowed many businesses to re-open or continue operations on limited scale to lessen the adverse economic impact and support the vulnerable segment of the society.
To provide relief to vulnerable groups especially daily wage earners, government gave cash payments to 15 million families under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.
Hafeez outlined that since the spread of Covid-19, the government has taken several initiatives to facilitate agriculture and construction sectors to accelerate economic recovery.
A relief package for small medium enterprises shielded against insolvency and joblessness. The recent data complements the strengthening and expansion of the economy in recovery mode.
Despite Covid-19, Pakistan has registered an upward trend in foreign remittances and foreign direct investment which is a clear reflection of confidence in Pakistan’s economy.
He reiterated that the government firmly supports private sector as an engine of growth and believes in building institutional capacity for sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
We followed a liberal foreign investment regime and introduced measures to promote ease of doing business in the country, he stated. He said that the current leadership welcomes foreign investors and believes in transparency, accountability and openness.
Our agenda is to empower people with key focus on human resource development, he added.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2020