ISLAMABAD: Earlier this month, the caretaker Prime Minister had constituted a Cabinet Committee on Economic Revival (CCER) to deliberate on strategies and policies to revitalize the economy. The committee, under the chair of finance minister Shamshad Akhtar, was supposed to finalize a proposal within two weeks for the revival of the economy. However, almost four weeks later, the CCER has yet to firm up proposals under the economic revival plan.
According to sources privy to the development, the cabinet panel could still not finalize the proposals despite conducting a meeting under the chair of finance minister Shamshad Akhtar on Monday. Since the committee is likely to propose budget cuts, reallocations, and relief plans, the delay exists because all the relevant ministries or divisions want maximum share of relief in the proposed recovery plan, as per sources. It has also been intimated that the proposal will be submitted to the federal cabinet later this week.
In the ministries pushing for lenient treatment, caretaker commerce minister Dr Gohar Ijaz pushed for the provision of cheap electricity for exporters to meet current year’s export targets. Similarly, he also wanted the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to issue refunds to exporters so the business community could reinvest.
On the other hand, the energy minister Muhammad Ali has proposed different options including curtailing circular debt and line losses. Contrary to Dr. Gohar Ijaz’s suggestions, he opposed any kind of subsidy for exporters.
During the meeting, the caretaker minister of Railway, Maritime Affairs and Communication, Shahid Ashraf Tarrar advised the CCER to deliberate on the sudden mushroom growth of acquiring agricultural land and converting it into real estate projects. He said that the public-private partnership mechanism could be helpful in enhancing the performance of Pakistan Railways.
The Minister for IT, Telecommunication and Science & Technology also highlighted hurdles in the context of FBR regulations, tax anomalies and SBP procedures for the IT industry.
In response to these suggestions, the caretaker finance minister ensured full support and commitment in settling the issues proposed by the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication within the purview of the Standby Arrangement of the IMF.
The Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives mentioned the need for ease of doing business and domestic resource mobilization.
He added that currently, the annual plan and 5Es framework are ready and relevant measures will be shared in upcoming meetings. The Chairperson Shamshad Akhtar stressed on envisioning the revival plan on the private investment-led growth model instead of wholly relying on public investment-led growth.
Reportedly, the finance minister has also directed the Minister for Planning to slash down the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) allocation by Rs 200-250 billion through abolishing projects which have no significant role in promoting growth or are politically motivated.