ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance, Ishaq Dar on Monday said that government was focusing on Energy Sector Reforms and control of extremism to enhance the confidence of investors in the country.
“With better energy supply and peace prevailing in the country surely the Foreign Direct Investment will go up and will help in reducing poverty in the country”, the minister said during a meeting with a delegation of Department for International Development (DFID) led by its permanent Secretary Mark Lowcock here.
The Minister told the delegation that the current Government will in no case reduce its spending on the social safety net and Public Sector Development Program.
Mr. Lowcock conveyed to the Minister the greetings and well wishes sent by Justine Greenings which the Finance Minister reciprocated.
The Minister said that she is a great friend and supporter of Pakistan.
The Finance Minister shared with the delegation the details of his recent round of talks with the IMF for its sixth review.
The Minister told the delegation that in current review Pakistan did not have to ask for any waivers and the reform agenda was on track.
Mr. Lowcock appreciated the efforts of the Government in bringing down the fiscal deficit from 8.8% in 2013 to 4.9% proposed for this year.
The Minister told the delegation that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is averaging to 5.77% for the first seven months of the current fiscal Year and for January it stood at 4.4%.
The Minister further shared with the delegation that due to the decline in the world oil prices the government has calculated a loss of 68 billion rupees in revenue but now a few steps have been taken to partially cope with it including imposing RD on luxury items.
The Minister also said that a Charter of Economy based on the Macro- economic frame work given by PML-N manifesto has to be signed by all political parties.
The delegation praised the efforts of the current Government in improving the overall structure of the economy.
Richard Montgomery, Head of DFID in Pakistan said that it is praise worthy effort of the current Government that it has published a Tax directory of the parliamentarians (Pakistan being the fourth country of the world to do so) and bringing in 100,000 new tax payers in the tax net.
On a question by Mr. Montgomery whether the tax Directory will continue to be published, the Minister said that as long as this Government in Power the effort will continue and with the grace of God there is a 98% compliance of tax Return filing by the parliamentarians.
Finance Minister discussed with the delegation the need to improve the Micro-Financing Facility in Pakistan.
The Minister said “We can use the assistance of DFID in improving the structure of Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF)”.
The delegation agreed to provide help in every way possible to improve the organization.
It was decided that DFID team will sit with Secretary EAD and will chalk out a strategy to improve the structure of the Organization to make it more effective.
The meeting was also participated by Ms. Louise Walker, Head of Economic Growth Group, Mr. Alan Whitworth, Senior Economist DFID besides other members of the group.
From the Finance Side Secretary EAD Mr. Saleem Sethi, Rana Assad Amin, Advisor Finance Division, Mr. Tariq Pasha, Special Assistant to Finance Minister and other senior officials of the Finance Ministry participated the meeting.