KARACHI: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said that the government has successfully repaid debts worth Rs5 trillion during the last two years.
He expressed these views while addressing the meeting of the business community organized by the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) here on Saturday.
He said the government had to take tough decisions to restore the economy affected by the coronavirus pandemic. He said efforts are being made to provide an investment-friendly atmosphere in the country.
He said that the economy is now moving forward on the right path after gaining stability due to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s prudent and timely policies. The government is confident to surpass the growth target set for the current fiscal year as the country is moving fast towards the right path on the internal and external fronts, he said.
He said the government took austerity measures and reduced its expenditures, besides freezing expenditures of the military and pay of high officials. Besides freezing all expenditures, no new tax was imposed in the budget, he said, adding that no supplementary grants were approved.
The expenditures of Prime Minister House were decreased by 35 per cent, while expenditures of President House were decreased by 30 per cent, the advisor further said.
Shaikh said the government paid special attention to the revival of downtrodden segments of the society and Ehsaas programme was launched to provide relief to people. When Covid-19 hit the whole world, there were two immediate challenges faced by the country. The first challenge was to save common people from its economic effects and others to protect businesses, Shaikh said.
The government announced Rs1,240 billion relief package, with different components, the biggest one to transfer cash to common and vulnerable people, it was historic, he said adding, Rs 250 billion were disbursed among 16 million people without any discrimination and irrespective of geographic or political affiliation.
In addition to this, the government ensured liquidity to the business community and helped them in many ways by offering soft loans, delaying their due loans, and paying utility bills of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Dr Shaikh said that there has been growth in exports, reduction in the current account deficit and stable foreign exchange reserves.
The stock market has also been stable. At the same time, however, the overall revenue collection had also increased, he added.
The private sector, vulnerable segments of society, and ignored regions of the country were given special attention in the budget.
He said that Rs192 billion were provided for the development of FATA areas and subsidy was given on electricity, gas and on tube-well. “When I was privatisation minister back in 2006, the then government had privatised 34 SOEs”, he said, adding since then no SOE was privatized.
The adviser said the neutral institutions of the world have been appreciative of the government policies. The government has a clear policy that all tax refunds, whether fresh or old, should be paid back without any excuse, Dr Shaikh said. He said efforts are being made to provide an investment-friendly atmosphere in the country.