LAHORE: The federal government aims to focus on controlling terrorism, blocking smuggling, reducing inflation and unemployment, restructuring loans, and digitalising the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), alongside plans to document the country’s black economy.

Addressing a news conference on Sunday, Information and Broadcasting Minister Attaullah Tarar unveiled the government’s strategy for national progress, stating that an austerity policy would be announced shortly. He noted that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had provided ministries with written short-, medium-, and long-term “realistic targets” to enhance the welfare of citizens.

Mr Tarar said that the interior ministry is tasked with cracking down on illegal weapons, devising strategies to combat terrorism, addressing illegal foreign residents, and curbing smuggling. The government has directed all line agencies to take preemptive action based on intelligence information to curb terrorism, ensuring foolproof security for the Chinese. Coordination between the Centre and provinces would also be supervised to combat terrorism.

Information minister says austerity policy to be announced soon

The finance ministry has been assigned targets to reduce inflation and unemployment, increase GDP growth, restructure loans, address tax system loopholes, and digitalise the FBR. Mr Tarar highlighted goals such as reducing trade deficit, promoting vocational training, increasing forex, boosting exports in the IT sector, activating facilities like PayPal and Wi-Fi hotspots, and introducing the latest digital systems nationwide.

About the targets of the ministry of privatisation, Mr Tarar said the PIA’s privatisation should be completed at the earliest as its deficit was now touching Rs80 billion per year.

He said that the trade ministry had been asked to bring the National Trade Policy in the cabinet by April 30 and get it approved.

About the targets of the Ministry of Industries, he said that goals had been set regarding the Industrial Development Regulatory Authority and the promotion of the ship-breaking industry.

Mr Tarar further stated that the Ministry of Education had been instructed to ensure the enrollment of out-of-school children, increase PhD scholarships by 20pc, and develop a strategy for “National Hunarmandi” by Sept 1.

Responding to a question, he remarked that during its tenure, the PTI solely focused on political retribution and negatively impacted the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

In response to another query, Mr Tarar emphasised the importance of producing quality local films and mentioned that a policy was being formulated to promote art films. He assured government support for talented filmmakers and sponsorship for the upcoming film festival in Karachi.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2024

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