PR No.265 Economic Advisory Council Meets Islamabad : March 29, 2016

The 7th meeting of the Economic Advisory Council was held here on Tuesday. Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting.

At the outset of the meeting, the Finance Minister welcomed all participants and gave a brief overview of recent positive developments on the economic front. He stated that most macroeconomic indicators had shown remarkable improvement during the last two & a half years. He referred to the latest figures on GDP growth, revenue collection, fiscal deficit, PSDP, social protection, inflation, remittance, foreign exchange reserves, credit to private and agriculture sector have stated that all of these had markedly improved as compared to the pre-2013 period. He stated that having achieved economic stabilization the government was now fully focused on inclusive economic growth and was aiming at achieving a GDP growth rate of over 5 percent in FY 2015-16. He asked the members of the EAC to provide guidance to the government for further improving economic management.

Secretary Finance made a detailed presentation to the Committee on the economic progress. He also briefed the meeting on the debt situation and informed that the cost and risk profile and considerably improved during the last two and a half years. Chairman FBR informed the meeting that FBR was on track to achieve the revenue target of Rs.3,104 billion set for 2015-16. He said that the Government would continue the policy of eliminating concessionary SROs in the next budget.

Leading the proceedings, the Convener – Dr. Ishrat Husain spoke at length on the economic turnaround witnessed by the country over the last two and a half years as a result of the successful implementation of the economic revival agenda of the government. He praised the efforts of the Finance Minister and the entire economic team for this remarkable achievement in a difficult environment. He emphasized the need for strengthening the tax administration and removing the contact between taxpayer and tax collector. He also highlighted the importance of federal and provincial fiscal coordination. He suggested that the government should look into setting up a long term infrastructure financing fund.

Other EAC members, including, Abid Hasan, Razzaq Dawood, Arshid A Zuberi, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Abid Qayyum Sulehri, Syed Akbar Zaidi, Farrukh Qayyum and Qazi Asmat Isa acknowledged the commendable progress made by the government in revitalizing the economy. There was a consensus on capitalizing on the economic gains made so far by Pakistan to embark on a sustainably higher growth path. The efforts made for the re-profiling of the domestic debt away from short term maturity were greatly appreciated by the members. The members acknowledged the vital role of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as an impetus of growth through employment creation and development, especially in the less developed regions of the country.

The meeting highlighted that exports can be increased through proper implementation of the recently announced Strategic Trade Policy Framework. Members of the EAC made suggestions related to the potential role of federal equalization grants for removing regional disparities. The participants also underscored the need for the dissemination of information of the improved economic situation and stated that many achievements of the government are not fully acknowledged by the public due to lack of information. Meeting stresses need for augmenting government’s efforts to expand tax net, simplification of taxation procedures. Endorsing its economic revival agenda, the members of EAC expressed their full support in helping in dissemination of the gains made so far.

While concluding the Finance Minister stated that the government will improve information disseminatation through press and electronic means. he Minister thanked all participants for attending the meeting and sharing their valuable insights with the government.

The meeting was attended, apart from the members of EAC, by Federal Secretaries of economic ministries as well as senior officials of State Bank of Pakistan.