ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed his finance team members to come up with unconventional and out-of-box solutions for economic uplift of the country and urged them to make all stakeholders part of the consultation process to ensure timely implementation of the proposals.
Chairing a meeting in the federal capital on Saturday, PM Imran said making the country economically viable and facilitating the business sector were the top priorities of the government.
Minister for Economic Affairs Hamad Azhar, Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtiar, Adviser on Finance Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Adviser on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, special assistants Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and Yousuf Baig Mirza, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Reza Baqir, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Zaidi, officials of Board of Investment (BoI), Naya Pakistan Housing Authority and Ehsaas Programme, and senior officials of other departments were in attendance.
The premier asked the participants to present a comparative study of past and present economic situation before the people. He called upon the participants to counter negative information being propagated by certain quarters.
Finance Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch told the meeting that a media cell had been established at the finance ministry and Special Finance Secretary Umar Hameed Khan had been made the focal person for all the economic-related ministries to provide correct information on economic matters.
The meeting was told that during the first two months of the current fiscal year, trade deficit had reduced by 38 per cent, besides witnessing growth in exports, improvement in tax collection, widening of the tax net and increasing trend in trade activity.
The prime minister directed different ministries to work out a clear and time-based roadmap to examine the achievement of the quarterly targets.
The premier said that the government had formulated a comprehensive policy for uplifting all sectors related to agriculture.
He noted that strengthening small and medium enterprises (SMEs) was the government’s priority and it was committed to extending all-out facilities to the sector.
PM Imran reiterated that special focus was required to revive the sick industrial units and those which had been closed down due to maladministration.
"All this requires an active role of CRIC, better coordination among all departments, including National Bank of Pakistan, SBP and others, besides formulation of a strategy for revival of sick units," he said.
The premier told the meeting that a proposal was being finalised to give industrial status to the construction sector and impose a fixed tax on construction in big cities.
He asked the Naya Pakistan Housing Authority chairman to submit a report on an incentive package to promote construction of residential apartments and investment in the sector.
The FBR observed that a considerable improvement had been witnessed in the tax collection as compared to the previous month.
“Owing to government’s efforts, the tax net has been widened, which is a positive sign for the national economy,” he said.
The prime minister lauded the performance of the FBR chairman.
Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiar apprised the prime minister of the progress on development projects being executed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Expressing satisfaction over the CPEC progress, PM Imran said besides being the manifestation of Pak-China friendship, CPEC would also have positive impacts on the national as well as the regional economy.
The SBP governor gave a briefing on the growth in exports.
Baqir said the exporters had not only expressed their full satisfaction over government’s policies but also presented various proposals to boost exports.