ISLAMABAD: Federal Finance Minister, Mohammad Ishaq Dar emphasized the need for all political parties to ink a charter of economy which, he said was the way to ensuring sustained economic development and continuity of policies. The Federal Minister said there should be “no politicking on economic matters, economy should be placed above all other considerations”, he remarked.
The Minister was addressing the Roundtable conference on Investment opportunities in Pakistan.
The Minister said it was investment that helped countries like China, India and other developing nations make economic headway. After achieving economic stability, we are now treading on the path to economic growth and foreign investment can be a leading contributing factor in our quest, Dar added.
The Minister said that with dedicated efforts we have achieved the merger of three stock exchanges of the country into one Pakistan Stock Exchange which has sent a positive signal to the foreign investors. We hope it would attract known international companies to our market, the Minister said.
Minister Dar said that on one hand we have cut down on non-development expenditure by 30-40% and on the other increased development expenditure. In 2013, development expenditure was recorded at Rs.315 billion while we expect it to reach Rs.700 in this fiscal year. The country’s forex reserves stand at $18.5 billion, a record high and all international rating agencies hold our economy in high esteem, Dar added.
He acknowledged that for economic growth it was necessary to ensure supply of energy. “We are working on that, we are all set to add over 10,000 MW of electricity to the national grid by the end of 2017”. In step with that we are developing the evacuation and transmission system to ensure that the additional power could be properly utilized, Dar remarked. He said the government did not stop at that but also had initiated steps that could help generate more energy beyond 2018.
Minister said the government had taken concrete measures to address the issue of militancy and restore normalcy. The All Parties Conference set the ball rolling and operation in Karachi was initiated in September 2013. In two years peace and normalcy have been restored in the metropolis to a large extent. The business community there is pleased about it. During last Eid ul Fitr, Karachi witnessed record sale worth Rs 90 billion. Millions from across the country thronged scenic spots in Northern areas which was a sign of people’s building confidence in the security situation. The Minister said launch of Zarb e Azb operation has greatly helped curb the scourge of militancy and a number of high profile targets He said the international community should realize our sacrifices in the war on terror. We have suffered economic losses worth over $100 billion and also suffered over 50,000 casualties including civilians and military personnel in the war on terror.
Minister Dar said that amelioration of the lot of most needy people was a priority for the government. He said the sapling that he had planted in the form of Income Support Programme back in 2008, has now blossomed into a tree. From Rs.30 billion in 2013, we have taken its allocation to Rs.102 billion in fiscal year 2015. The number of beneficiaries has likewise risen from three million in 2013 to 5.3 million in this fiscal year.
Finance Minister on this occasion also mentioned government’s resolve for nurturing regional cohesion . He cited CPEC, CASA1000 and TAPI as examples to forge regional integration. He said the government was pursuing these projects with zeal and vigour.
Minister Dar also reiterated that promotion of tax culture in the country was very important for economic prosperity. He said the government was willing to resolve all genuine problems of the traders and the business community. The Minister in the end lauded the efforts of the Pakistan Observer and BOI for holding the Roundtable Conference which he said helped generate interest among foreign investors to invest in Pakistan.