n Finance minister says PM will make a final decision on mini budget n Calls for identifying mistakes

behind slow progress of Pakistan.


ISLAMABAD    -   Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Wednesday said that no decision has been taken about introducing new taxes through an ordinance for additional revenue generation, as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would make a final decision in this regard.

The government is contemplating to bring a mini budget to offset the impact of tax relief given to the traders. The government is facing revenue loss of Rs15 billion after waiving off fixed tax collected from small traders through electricity bills. It would be able to collect Rs27 billion from traders during the current fiscal year as against the target of Rs42 billion.

The Finance Minister informed the media here that the Prime Minister would make the decision to bring a mini budget through Presidential Ordinance.

He said that the government has sent the letter of intent (LoI) back to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after fulfilling the pre-requisites. The LoI was signed by Finance Minister and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Acting Governor Murtaza Syed. Now, the IMF’s executive board would meet on August 29 to approve the two tranches for Pakistan worth of $1.17 billion.

Earlier, addressing the Business Leaders’ Summit, the Finance Minister said that the government will provide full support to the companies having plans for exporting their products to different countries because it is a daunting task that must be taken as a challenge. Various business groups in Pakistan are performing outstandingly and contributing to the national economy through taxes and different ways but they spend $200 million on imports every year which needs to be addressed by enhancing our exports, he said.

“If you make something, sell it abroad, if you build, go construct abroad, if you offer a service, offer it abroad. The nation should set the direction to the promotion of exports,” he said.

Businesses in Pakistan should think beyond the local market to explore foreign markets to enhance their exports through aggressive value-addition.

Dr. Ismail insisted on 3 things essential for progress, exports, bring sustainability and technology to the agriculture and educate every child.

Containing the expenses in imports can stabilize the budget deficit including the trade deficit and current account deficit in tandem. He further said that the government may not enhance the export overnight but it did control imports of non-essential goods which impacted inflows of foreign exchange to the tune of $700-800 million in the interbank market in the last few months while the country also paid its scheduled debt-servicing in the first week of August that a balance has to be created between our income and expenses.

The Finance Minister said Pakistan was not at the place where it should have been now according to the vision of Qaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The government is working to bring country’s budget deficit to Rs4 trillion during the current fiscal year from Rs5.2 trillion in previous fiscal year. The budget deficit remained at around Rs3.5 trillion per year in the last four years of PTI government as against Rs1.6 trillion per year during the 5 years of PML-N and it was even less in the PPP government.

He said that there was a dire need to have focus on enhancing exports from the country by diversifying the field. He said, no proper heed was paid to this sector as the exports form the country could not witness any substantial growth during past eleven years. Rather, the exports receded in terms of quantity. He said, the country was witnessing around 15 percent wheat harvesting losses whereas as it had to import 1.1 million tons of grains worth $450 million to meet its requirement. He said instead of importing, if proper attention was given to agriculture and harvesting losses are curtailed, it would reduce import bill.

“Pakistan is not there where it should be. Pakistan is not there where we have the capacity to reach. Countries everywhere in the East and the West have gone ahead of us. We must have made some mistake.” He said there was a dire need to identify the mistakes that kept Pakistan behind in progress as compared to the other countries.