ISLAMABAD - After facing severe criticism over inflated electricity bills, the incumbent government has decided not to increase the power tariff on the direction of International Monetary Fund (IMF) before receiving fifth tranche worth of $550 million, which has been delayed due to the prolong sit-ins in federal capital.

“We are not going to increase the power tariff, as we will meet other IMF’s demands like auction of Sukuk, divestment of OGDCL shares”, Finance Minister said while talking to journalists here. He added that IMF’s executive board meeting would be held in third or fourth week of October to review the Pakistan’s case. The government would proactively move forward to fetch $2.4 billion through different modes including issue of Sukuk, divestment of OGDCL shares and IMF next release, which delayed due to the sit-ins of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek, he added.

Earlier, there were rumours that IMF has asked Pakistan to increase the power tariff by six to seven percent before getting next tranche worth of $550 million. Ishaq Dar further said that government had missed the target of increasing country’s foreign exchange reserves to $15 billion by September 2014 mainly due to the non-materialisation of $2.4 billion. The country’s current foreign exchange reserves are around $13.3 billion, said the Finance Minister.

Meanwhile, in other development, addressing as guest speaker at the National Defence University here Wednesday, Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar has said that achieving sustainable and inclusive economic growth in an environment of economic sovereignty were the key features of government’s vision of Pakistan’s economy. The government was determined to achieve sustained economic progress breaking the last 67 years’ vicious cycles of on-and-off process of economic development, he added.

Highlighting the theme, “ My Vision of Pakistan Economy in 2018”, the Minister said by strictly adhering to the principles of accountability, transparency and zero tolerance for corruption, the present government led by Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was treading on the path towards complete economic turn around and temporary blurring of its vision of national economy caused by the sit-ins would be overcome in due course of time.

Finance Minister added that the economy was weak and fragile when our government assumed power, growth rate had averaged less than 3pc in the last five years, inflation averaged 12pc, national reserves dropped below $8 billion and circular debt of Rs.503 billion. Public debt, he said was Rs 3 trillion on 30 June 1999 which rose manifold touching 14.4 trillion mark on 30th June 2013.

Dilating on the remedial measures, the Minister said the best way forward was to begin from home and the Government first slashed the expenditure of the PM office by 40pc and the overall expenditure by 30pc. Discretionary and secret service expenditures were discontinued forthwith. He said the Government has a firm resolve to promote tax culture and clamp down on tax evasion. It has earned the honour to publish the country’s first every Parliamentarians Tax Directory and Pakistan became only the 4th country to have such a document. FBR almost achieved its revised target of Rs 2275 billion. The Minister said allocation for National Income Support Programme has been increased to Rs 118 billion FY 2014-15 against Rs. 40 billion in FY 2012-13 and the number of beneficiaries has increased from 4.1 million (FY 2012-13) to 5.3 million (FY 2014-15). Development expenditure under PSDP increased from Rs 324 billion to Rs 441 billion. The Minister mentioned that Pakistan successfully tapped international capital markets after a gap of 7 years by issuing Eurobonds worth $2 billion. It is worth noting that after a period of 5 years, multi-lateral donors like the World Bank and the ADB have started providing credit to Pakistan for balance of payment support as well as project financing. The Government, the Minister said fully focused on enhancing power production and made special mention of Dassu Hydropower Project for which financial close had been achieved and Bhasha Dam for which financial options would be explored.

The Minister said as part of its vision of national economy for 2018, the Government expected GDP growth to arise to around 7pc and desired to keep inflation rate within single digit. Similarly fiscal deficit would be brought down to 4pc of GDP and investment to GDP ratio was envisaged to be 20pc, the Minister added.

Responding to different questions from participants on the occasion, the Minister said, the sit-ins, no doubt, had negative impact on national economy, the most unfortunate aspect was postponement of the visit by Chinese President who was to sign agreements worth $32 billion for economic development in the country. He said, the government in any case wanted a peaceful solution of the sit-ins and did not believe in use of force.

Answering another query, the Minister emphasised that foreign investment was always be preferred over foreign aid and the government would uphold this principle. He agreed that security and peaceful environment was a must to attract investment but wiping out extremism was the key to achieve stability. He said the government had given peace a chance but seeing no hope for resolving the issue, an operation had finally been launched to end the scourge of militancy.