Pakistan successfully completes 10th IMF review: Dar

DUBAI: Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Thursday said that Pakistan has for the first time successfully completed 10th Review with International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Pakistan was on the path of economic trajectory with all indicators showing economy moving in the right direction.

Addressing a joint press conference with IMF Country Director, Herald Finger, who lead the IMF team in the talks, said that the government has initiated structural economic reforms during its two and half year in office which were showing positive results.

He said the government inherited 8.8 percent fiscal deficit when it came into power in 2013 which has now brought down to 5.3 percent and would further be sliced to 4.3 percent during the current fiscal year 2015-16.

The Minister said the CPI based inflation which was 12 percent in 2013 has reduced to 2.1 percent- the lowest in 12 years.

Ishaq Dar said due to prudent policies of the government, the foreign exchange reserves have been increased to over US$ 20 billion despite heavy payments.

He said out of US$ 20.27 billion foreign exchange reserves, State Bank of Pakistan is holding US$ 15.43 billion while commercial banks have US$ 4.48 billion.

Ishaq Dar said the present government has adopted fiscal discipline in all financial sectors and the public development expenditure which were only Rs.400 billion have been increased to Rs.700 billion.

Highlighting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he hoped that it would contribute a lot in furthering economic development.

In financial sector, he said the government has initiated reforms which has further strengthened the financial sectors especially the banking sector in the country.

He also appreciated the IMF team led by Herald Finger for working hard for 10th review with Pakistan.

Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar said that reforms process in government sector institutions was continuing for the improving the efficiency and performance of these organizations.

He added that government was making steps for the promotion of higher education in the country.

Ishaq Dar said that due to fiscal discipline maintained by the government, the deficit has been reduced to more than half.

He added that due to steps taken by the government the chemical, fertilizer and automobile sectors have also registered growth and added that “we will achieve our targets before time”.

Regarding energy sector, the Finance Minister said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has constituted Cabinet Committee on Energy to resolve the energy issues in the country.

When the present government came into power , there was loadshedding of 18-20 hours which has now been reduced to 12-14 hours, now with zero loadsheeding for the industrial sector, he added.

Ishaq Dar said that government has initiated a number of projects for the generation of electricity across the country, adding, due to these efforts the government would be able to add 10,000 MW of electricity by the year 2018.

This, he said would help supply of energy not only to domestic sector but also to industrial sector besides import of LNG through a transparent system, in order to achieve higher growth trajectory.

The Minister said that for the promotion of investment in the country, the government has ensured what he called “one stop shop” by Federal Board of Revenue, Securities, and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and the Board of Investment (BOI) to facilitate the investors and reduce the cost of doing business in the country.

Minister for Finance Mohammad Ishaq Dar said that government was also taking care of the poor segment through social safety net under Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).

He said that for BISP Rs.40 billion to Rs.105 billion in the budget 2015-16 were allocated benefiting more than 5.3 million poor and vulnerables of the society.

The Finance Minister said that number of beneficiaries under BISP have been increased from 3.7 million to 5.3 million.

He added that annual stipend under the programme has also been increased from Rs.10,000 to 15,000 through cash transferred in a transparent manner.

He added that government under fee reimbursement scheme was also providing stipends to the students of under developed areas of the country while the budget of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has also increased.

Highlighting the Voluntary Tax Compliance Scheme, Ishaq Dar said that this scheme has been launched to bring those non filers under the tax net who never filed their returns.

The Minister said that only 711,000 tax payers were the filers now after this scheme the number of filers would reach to one million.

“We are using Information Technology (IT) for keeping record of tax filers besides taking reforms to facilitate the tax payers,” he added.

Regarding debt situation, he informed that during the tenure of present government, only Rs.4,000 billion loan was acquired which is within the limit of fiscal responsibility and debt limitation law.

“If we had not implemented economic reforms agenda, the debt would have increased to Rs.12,000 billion,” he added.

He said that the government was trying its level best to gradually reduce that debt through economic reforms.