Economy moving in right direction: Dar

UK looking at ways to provide further assistance to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD  - Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has said that results of the first half of the current fiscal year indicate that the economy is on track and moving in the right direction.
He made these remarks during a meeting with a delegation of Department for International Development (DFID) which called on him. The delegation comprised High Commissioner of United Kingdom Phlip Barton, Mrs Pauline Haupres, Richard Montgomery and Moazzam Malik.
Finance minister said that Revenue Collectors collection has shown an increase of 16pc, exports 5pc, remittances 9pc and Pakistan Bureau of Statistics has reported growth in the economy in the first quarter at 5%. Besides there has been an unprecedented increase in the Karachi Stock Exchange index which has crossed the 27000-point mark.
Dilating on foreign exchange reserves position, Dar said that the government had inherited a fragile position and entered into an IMF Programme to stabilize it. Pakistan still suffers from negative inflows despite an IMF plan. The government has now chalked out a plan to increase the foreign exchange reserves to $16 billion by the end of the present year.
Moazzam Malik appreciated the economic policies of the present government and said that the United Kingdom is looking at ways to provide further assistance to Pakistan. This, he said, was a testimony to the confidence in the policies of the present government. Richard Montgomery, Head of DFID, appreciated the decision of the government to publish tax directory for parliamentarians.
During the meeting, the Income Support Programme also came under discussion. It was assured that the Finance Ministry would make timely releases so that the beneficiaries of the programme get the money well in time.
Meanwhile, Ishaq Dar reviewed the performance of Federal Board of Revenue for period July-December 2013 at the FBR House. He also reviewed the progress made by FBR in the compilation of tax directory for parliamentarians and its publication by February 15, 2014.
The finance minister said that though an ambitious revenue target of Rs.2475 billion was set by the government, it is satisfying to learn that FBR has achieved a growth of 16% in its revenues. This, he said, was made possible because of pro-business policies of the government, improved financial discipline, clearing of circular debt leading to increase economic activity in the country.
Chairman FBR Tariq Bajwa said that FBR had collected Rs.1031 billion till December 31, 2013. Besides it has refunded Rs.56 billion against Sales Tax compared to Rs.44 billion in the corresponding period last year.
The Finance Minister said that use of information technology for data collection is the way forward to increase revenues and widen tax base in the country. In this connection FBR officials should coordinate with organizations within the country as well as interact with His Majesty Royal Revenue Service United Kingdom and Turkey, which are success stories in increasing and collection of taxes.
The Finance Minister said that while the increase in revenue collection is appreciable. FBR officials will have to redouble their efforts to meet the target as it is critical for the economy of the country.
The Finance Minister, who also chairs a High Powered Committee to streamline and rationalize Statutory Revisionary Orders (SROs), directed FBR to hold its meeting more frequently so that an expeditious decision about SROs can be made at the earliest.

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