Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Capital Development Authority (CDA) Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan claimed that the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) government had left a current account deficit (CAD) of $20 billion, which was turned by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government into $800 million surplus as its major economic success.
"The former government has left the Rs45 billion in the form of liabilities, including CAD, external debt, circular debt and trade deficits, which led the government to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he stated.
Awan said that despite Covid-19, the government achieved the four per cent annual economic growth that had stunned the opposition parties and international experts. He maintained that this was possible because Prime Minister Imran Khan gave incentives to the farmers and construction sector amid the pandemic.
The SAPM stated that the housing sector was a major focus of the government and "we are providing easy loans to the people on lower interest rates to aid growth in the sector”. He further said that the government had provided relief to the agriculture sector, resulting in acquiring four bomber crops this year.
He informed that the government has allocated an additional Rs25 billion for the growth of the agriculture sector, adding that the government also provided more relief to agri-industry and supported its people for development of a modern agri-industrial base to increase exports.
He maintained that due to the government's wise incentives on agriculture, the rural economy generated Rs1,100 billion. “Today, the world's largest economic gurus and think tanks have confirmed that Imran Khan's planning during the lockdowns was unprecedented, he claimed.
The SAPM added that the government has given a tax-free budget for the upcoming fiscal year 2021-22 and is on track to achieve a revenue target of a record Rs4.1 trillion during the current financial year.
"The government has waived off the tax on industrial raw material to minimise the cost of doing business in the country", he said, adding that the government had also decided to introduce tax reforms and automation in the Federal Board of Revenue for enhancing the efficiency in the tax system and expanding the tax net in the country.
Revenue generation is important for financial inclusion to support the low-income people in the society, he stated.
Awan further said that in the new auto policy, the government announced a reduction of tax on the 1000 CC vehicles while it was already reduced for 800 CC vehicles. He also mentioned that the government has exempted the tax on children's milk, medicines and medical equipment. "We have also reduced the tax from 35 to 20 per cent for the construction industry to benefit around 40 allied industries that would help increase employment in the country" he added.
The SAPM said the government has further decided to grant Rs300,000 loans to each farmer annually in both cropping seasons.
He maintained that even in these difficult economic circumstances, Public Sector Development Programme’s (PSDP) budget has been increased by 32 per cent from Rs650 billion to Rs900 billion from the previous year.
"Major focus of the government is to execute the Ehsaas Programme with its true spirit in 14 different categories for low-income people, including widows, orphans, poor, unemployed, needy students and special citizens in the society," he stated.
Awan mentioned that a significant amount of Rs260 billion has been earmarked for the Ehsaas initiatives that will alleviate the sufferings of widows and orphans while students will also receive scholarships and farmers will be provided loans as well.
He maintained that the government has provided relief worth Rs179 billion to 15 million people from different regions of the country, adding that it had decided to increase the stipend for the Ehsaas Programme from Rs12,000 to Rs13,000.
The SAPM said that the budget announced by the government under the leadership of the Prime Minister Imran Khan has set a direction for the country. “Several measures have been announced in the budget for the sectors, which are playing a vital role in the progress, prosperity and development of the country,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2021.
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