ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister of Finance Adviser Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said on Tuesday the government would provide the public with the benefits of falling oil prices on the international market and people would hear good news in this regard on May 1.
Speaking on a private television channel program, he said energy and travel costs would be reduced by falling oil prices on international markets and the government would be able to further reduce oil prices.
He regretted that the coronavirus hit the country at a time when its economy was recovering. The Government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has tightly controlled its expenditure. No loans were taken from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the defense budget was also frozen, he added. The adviser said that the PTI government, soon after coming to power, had mobilized $ 17 billion to keep the country from the financial crisis. Before the plague, the local currency had stabilized. However, the pandemic has hit our economy badly, he added. The government must impose lockdowns, which reduce economic activity and global economic contraction also reduce our exports, said Hafeez Shaikh.
He said the ongoing situation throughout the world would further affect Pak exports and remittance negatively. He said tax collection would suffer now, which had risen 17% previously and the government had collected taxes of 3,000,000,000.
He said Pakistan’s GDP growth was projected at 3 percent, but might drop 1 to 1.5 percent. However, he added, it was encouraging that our relations with world financial institutions had improved and the IMF and other lenders showed flexibility in facilitating Pakistan.
The PM’s advisor said that we could announce packages for the construction sector because of the situation arising from the coronavirus pandemic. He believes that the construction sector package will support 35 to 40 other sectors in the country.
Hafeez Shaikh said the sectors that would be the focus of the government in the post-corona era were Info-Tech and agriculture. He believes that farmers’ income will increase due to the economic and agricultural package, announced by the PTI government.
Counselors say that the price of electricity is a big challenge for the government, but it facilitates people by deferring their bills for three months and bills for commercial consumers and small traders will be written off. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan focused on solving the problem of the independent power producer (IPP).
The advisor said that the government would provide assistance and liquidity to businesses and companies to overcome the economic problems associated with the virus. He said the government was trying hard to save the company from bankruptcy.
Hafeez Shaikh said that a new business scheme would be introduced and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) would be given bank loans at an interest rate of 1 to 3 percent. He said already the industry and traders were being facilitated and tax returns were being cleared on a fast track.
Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said that the budget would likely be announced in June, which would specifically support the people affected by Covid-19, and special steps would be taken to increase exports.
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