Hafeez Shaikh reiterates govt’s desire to strengthen businesses

PM’s aide says unemployment graph to go down sharply in coming days

LAHORE: Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said on Thursday that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is taking steps to steer the economy towards sustainable development and to create employment opportunities for the youth.

He said this while addressing a delegation of businessmen at the Lahore Chambers of Commerce and Industries (LCCI). The adviser predicted that unemployment graph would go down sharply in the coming days.

“Upon coming to power, the government faced severe challenges such as current account deficit and artificial exchange rate. These factors were non-industrial, hindering exports and boosting imports.

The government is pushing for increased exports and in this context, duties on several raw materials have been reduced while energy has been provided to the export sector at subsidised rates.”

He continued, “The government is committed to resolving the issue of refunds on a permanent basis and much has been done in this regard. Through the refund system, the private sector will be able to track progress on its refunds. If there is a slight delay, the online system will notify the specific business about the delay. The government is also working to reduce spending.

After many years, the basic deficit has turned into a surplus. Covid-19 has severely affected the federal government’s tax collection. Despite the financial crisis, the government introduced various schemes for payment of taxes, loans for salaries, relaxation of energy bills for small businesses and tax exemptions in the construction sector and facilitated businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.

He said the government has allowed the import of wheat to avoid food shortages. “Utility stores have been given a comprehensive package for groceries. SME policy is being formulated by the Ministry of Industries. Income tax refunds of up to Rs50 million are being paid. The government is ready to bring more sectors like halal food, pharmaceuticals, etc. into the same facility system.”

Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah said that there was a need to reduce energy costs for all export sectors. “The government should ensure 24/7 availability of gas for industries. Small businesses have suffered greatly since the outbreak of the coronavirus and the government should give interest free loans to small traders.”

Shahab Omer
The writer is a member of the staff and can be reached on [email protected]

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