Pakistan misses economic goals


Pakistan misses economic goals
Abdul Hafeez Shaikh (right) at a pre-budget press conference in Islamabad on Sunday.

Dubai - Budget session to continue till June 29

By Waheed Abbas

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Published: Mon 10 Jun 2019, 10:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 11 Jun 2019, 12:12 AM

Pakistan's economic growth fell well short of its target of 6.2 per cent for 2018-19 fiscal year as GDP grew just 3.3 per cent with all the major sectors taking a hit, according to Pakistan Economic Survey released on Monday.
Agriculture sector grew by just 0.85 per cent against target of 3.8 per cent while industries expanded only 1.4 per cent in contrast to 7.6 per cent projected target. Services sector was one of the fastest growing sectors at 4.7 per cent but it also missed the target which was set at 6.5 per cent.
The survey results showed that exports decline by 1.9 per cent despite rupee weakening while imports fell 4.9 per cent.
Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, advisor to the prime minister on finance and revenue, said the government will unveil some steps in the budget today to restore investor confidence in the economy.
Going forward, Shaikh said the priorities are to safeguard the economy and stabilise it, fix the financially weak institutions, improve foreign relations, and giving incentives to the rich and compel them to pay taxes.
He acknowledged that rising prices can be counterproductive for the PTI government but there is no option to increase rates to balance accounts.
"Sometimes raising prices is necessary. We do not have any control over international oil prices and have to follow suit. We are helpless in that case," he told reporters at the launch of Pakistan Economic Survey in Islamabad.
He assured that low-end electricity users - below 300 units - will not see any price hike as the government will subsidise them with Rs216 billion in the budget.
"Our renewable energy - solar and wind - will be increased to 18,000 megawatt by 2030," Shaikh said.
He said the target is to reduce circular debt from over Rs800 billion to zero by December 2020.
He emphasised that the target is to roll over debt on long-term basis as the overall borrowing has swelled to Rs2.82 trillion of which Rs1.22 trillion was due to devaluation of rupee, while Rs1.6 trillion was the net increase. 
Asad Qaiser, Speaker for National Assembly, said budget session will continue till June 29.
It was decided that general discussion on the budget will be initiated from June 14, and advisor to the prime minister on finance and revenue will wind up the general discussion on the Budget followed by discussion on appropriation in respect of charged expenditure 2019-2020 on June 25.
It was further decided that discussion and voting on cut motions and demand for grants in respect of voted expenditure 2019-2020 will be taken up on June 26, and 27.
It decided that the consideration and passage of Finance Bill, 2019 will take place on June 28, whereas the discussion on supplementary demands for grants and appropriation 2018-19 in respect of charged and voted expenditure and laying of schedule of authorised expenditure 2018-2019 would take place on 29thJune, 2019.

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