Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has apparently been misled by Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who on Wednesday told the premier that the country had achieved its export target of $25 billion – a claim contrary to reality.
The premier, in turn, took no time in felicitating the nation for an achievement that was never achieved.
“The achievement of the $25 billion export target set by the government during FY2011-12 is a great success, in view of the global economic crunch when exports are registering a decreasing trend worldwide,” said a press release, quoting Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf congratulating the nation.
This statement was issued after a meeting between Prime Minister Ashraf and Senior Minister for Commerce Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who called on him at the Prime Minister’s House on Wednesday.
The premier went on to say that the achievement speaks volumes about the potency of the ‘trade, not aid’ policy employed by the incumbent government.
Contrary to the premier’s claims, to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics says exports plummeted 4.7% and stood at $23.64 billion during the financial year ended June 30. The figure is not only $2.2 billion below the target, but is also $1.2 billion lower than the worth of exports during the preceding fiscal year according to official statistics.
The lower exports and higher imports have resulted in a historical trade deficit of $21.3 billion, exposing the country’s external sector to vulnerabilities. Despite the grave situation, it is unfathomable why the Commerce Minister misled the premier instead of advising him to take some measures to minimise the adverse implications of the situation for the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
When contacted, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim was not available for comments.
The premier has already been blamed for misleading the nation on the issue of bringing an end to power outages. After his taking the oath of premiership, the government had come up with the novel justification that the bureaucracy had misled the then Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on the extent of the power crisis.
The prime minister has also urged the Ministry of Commerce to keep up the ‘export momentum’, while cheering the latter’s ‘success’.
According to the PM House, the premier has said that this success is the outcome of the emphasis the government has placed on promoting trade relations with neighbouring countries and beyond. The prime minister has also said that the currency swap agreements Pakistan has signed with China and Turkey will give the requisite impetus to increasing export volumes to these countries.
The minister for commerce has told the prime minister that his ministry is committed to exploring all avenues aimed at increasing trade by working on diversification of export items.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2012.
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