Economic indicators show previously ailing economy now on path of growth: Hammad Azhar

November 05, 2019

Federal Minister of Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar on Tuesday said the PTI government had not only uplifted the ailing economy but also virtually put it on a path of growth as clearly shown by various economic indicators.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he said the economy had started picking up as economic indicators including investment inflows, foreign exchange reserves, revenue collection, current account balance, trade balance, ease of doing business, Public Sector Development Programme spending, Stock Exchange performance and inflation were showing positive developments.

Giving a break-up of the performance of various economic indicators, he said the current account deficit in dollar terms came down by 64 per cent during the first quarter of the current fiscal year compared to a reduction by 32pc during the corresponding period of last year.

The fiscal deficit reduced by 1.4pc in the first quarter of the financial year 2019-20, whereas it witnessed about 0.4pc reduction on a year-on-year basis, said Azhar. He said that the primary budget in the first three months was in surplus by Rs285 billion.

Meanwhile, the foreign portfolio investment, which was flowing out for the last three years, had grown by $350 million, equivalent to a growth of 137pc.

The minister said foreign exchange reserves, had constantly been reducing by $500 million per month since 2017, however, they were stable since January despite the fact that the government had made record payments for debt servicing amounting to around $10bn.

On the revenue front, he said the number of tax filers had increased by 55pc as the domestic revenues had increased by 25pc during the first quarter. The minister said there had been a growth of 15pc in overall revenues despite the fact that imports into the country were on a decreasing trend.

He said the government had also achieved a 90pc revenue collection target set for the first quarter after collecting Rs960bn in taxes.

The minister said that circular debt, which had mounted to Rs1,200bn from Rs450bn, mainly during the previous government's last couple of months, was now only witnessing a Rs12bn per month increase. Previously, it had seen a Rs38bn, per month increase. He expressed confidence that the piling up of circular debt would be reduced to zero by December 2020.

Azhar pointed out that the country had also made a significant improvement in ease of doing business by moving up 28 points, adding that steps were being taken to further improve the score.

He said the stock market in the country had grown by 6,500 points since the government took over while the PSX index had surged by 1,500 points in the last three days. He said this was another sign of economic recovery and development.

While talking about exports, he said garment exports had grown by 36pc, rice by 52pc, and footwear by 54pc, respectively, during the first quarter.

He said measures were also being taken to check inflation, which had witnessed an increase due to currency value management.

He clarified that the inflation during the first 13 months of the PTI government was still low at an average of 8pc compared to the previous governments of PPP and PML-N, during whose tenures it had gone as high as 21.5pc and 8.4pc respectively.

The minister said some food commodities had registered an increase in their prices due to seasonal effects and would be stabilised soon.

He said that the federal government, in close coordination with the provincial governments, was making a comprehensive mechanism to control the prices. Under the mechanism, effective monitoring will be ensured for fixed prices in the markets.

Replying to a question, he said issues relating to the Karkey company had been amicably resolved after heads of both the countries played a constructive role in its resolution.

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