ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue, Senator Haroon Akhtar Khan has hit out at the opposition for glossing over the five-year achievements of the government and for painting a bleak picture of the economy requiring the imposition of an “economic emergency”.
“Surely, the suggestion of an economic emergency would have made sense in 2013 when the economy was in shambles, with almost all economic indicators showing a bleak situation, but for the opposition to insinuate and belittle our economic achievements of the last five years shows their inherent bias and poor understanding of the economy,” he said in a statement in response to what he called “unjust” and “unwarranted” criticism by the opposition of the government’s economic performance over the last five years.
Haroon Akhtar Khan reminded the opposition that five years ago in 2013, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was merely 3.68 per cent while it stood at 5.79 per cent now. Similar growth trends were visible in the industry which grew from 0.75 per cent in 2013 to 5.80 in 2018; in agriculture which grew from 2.68 per cent in 2013 to 3.81 per cent; and the Services sector which had grown from 5.13 per cent in 2013 to 6.43 per cent in 2018.
He also alluded to an impressive growth recorded in the industrial sector during the last five years with large-scale manufacturing leading the way with 2.98 per cent growth in 2013 to 6.24 in 2018 while even greater growth had been recorded in the construction sector which had risen from 1.08 per cent in 2013 to 9.13 per cent in 2018.
The minister drew the attention of the opposition towards a massive increase in the agriculture credit given to farmers during the last five years, saying while a puny amount of Rs196.12 billion was loaned to farmers in 2013, the figure had reached Rs569.97 billion in 2018, while the target for the financial year 2018 was Rs1,001 billion.
“Similar growth trends can be seen for the last five years in the wheat crop which grew from 24.21 million tonnes in 2013 to 25.49 million tonnes in 2018; rice which grew from 5.54 to 7.44 million tonnes; maize which improved from 4.22 to 5.70 million tonnes; sugarcane which rose from 63.75 to 81.10 million; and wholesale and retail trade which went up from 3.53 WRT to 7.51 WRT.”
Haroon Akhtar Khan also challenged the opposition on the inflation front where in the last five years, the CPI had come down from 7.98 in July-March 2013 to merely 3.78 per cent in July-March 2018, with the core inflation also going down from 10.05 per cent to 5.45 per cent.
“Similarly, our foreign exchange reserves increased from $11.85 billion in April 2013 to $16.91 billion in April 2018, while per capita income had also increased from $1,333 in June 2013 to $1,640 in April 2018,” he added.
He also drew the attention of the opposition towards a 160 per cent hike in the allocations for the BISP which received Rs121 billion in 2017-18 as against Rs46.5 in 2012-13.
“Not only this, we have also brought down the unemployment rate from 6.2 per cent to 5.9 per cent, risen the PSX index from 19,916 to 45,877, market capitalization from Rs5.049 trillion to Rs9.449 trillion at 87.1 per cent growth rate, and incorporation of companies from 2,876 to 8,349, recording an impressive 190.3 per cent growth over FY 2012-13.
Talking about the government’s achievements on the monetary front, Haroon Akhtar said the SBP policy rate had been brought down from 9.0 per cent in 2012-13 to 6.0 per cent in 2017-18 while credit to private sector (flows) had shot from a negative 7.6 per cent for full year in 2012-13 to an impressive Rs469.2 billion in July-March 2017-2018.
He also questioned the opposition’s criticism of the public debt saying the total debt of the government was 60.2 per cent of GDP in 2013 while it was fractionally higher at 61.4 per cent of the GDP in 2017.
Haroon Akhtar Khan also mentioned a remarkable almost 100 per cent growth revenue growth registered by the government during the last five years.
“We provided maximum facilitation to the taxpayers and businesses by introducing one audit in three years with salaried class completely out of the audit, simplified return form for salaried class, 40B to be directly supervised by FBR, 10 per cent payment on automatic stay at Commissioner’s Appeal and making ADRC decisions binding,” he added.
“Similar incentives and concessions have also been given in the areas of Custom duty and Sales tax and many pro-business and pro-growth revenue measures have also been adopted to further steady the existing and achieve 7 per cent growth in the coming years,” he added.