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Govt wants tax-to-GDP at 15%, deficit down to 4.7%: Dar

Govt wants tax-to-GDP at 15%, deficit down to 4.7%: Dar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Constitution guarantees fundamental human rights and the present government attaches great importance to implementation of all relevant laws and regulations which safeguards these rights.

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar stated this while talking to European Union Special Representative on Human Rights Stavros Lambrinidis and EU Ambassador Lanrs-Gunnar Wigemark who called on him here.

On the occasion, the minister talked about his visit to the US and China where he had fruitful discussion on funding and investment in various projects in Pakistan. He said that the government had a clear agenda for economic reforms and development and would follow it despite impediments such as the sit-ins which had caused economic losses worth millions of dollars.

Talking about measures taken for people’s welfare, the Finance Minister said that allocation under the National Income Support Programme had been enhanced from Rs 33 billion in FY12-13 to Rs 118 billion in FY14-15 with beneficiaries expected to increase to over 5 million in the current financial year. The government intends to bring the fiscal deficit down to 4.7% and enhance tax-to-GDP ratio to at least 15% in future, he said. The federal government was according due attention to health and education despite the fact that these subjects had been devolved to the provinces after 18th amendment. Dar informed that the government had a target to allocate at least 4% of GDP as the share for education. He said that PSDP had been increased from Rs 441 billion during 2013-14 to Rs 525 billion in 2014-15. Dar also expressed gratitude over enhancement of EU assistance to Pakistan.

The Finance Minister apprised Stavros about the electoral reforms being undertaken by a special parliamentary committee which had just held its 9th meeting. The Committee, he said, aimed at improving the electoral system by taking cognizance of all relevant electoral laws, constitutional provisions as well as ensuring technological support to the ECP. The Committee was reviewing 1,283 proposals received from the general public, parliamentarians, think-tanks, NGOs and other stakeholders to prepare a report for consideration of the national legislature. Dar said the recommendations that the EU had made would also be given due consideration.

During the meeting, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark commented that the reforms process was really praiseworthy and they would extend support for improvement in the system both in terms of hardware and software provision.

Stavros went on to say the EU would extend all possible support to Pakistan in the field of human rights as well as economy. The GSP Plus status accorded to Pakistan was an expression of EU’s desire to see a surge in its economy. He said that Pakistan had undertaken useful legislation regarding women’s rights and education, which was a commendable effort. He, however, added that the establishment of Human Rights Commission and formulation of an action plan on human rights would be greatly befitting.

Dar said Pakistan expected the textile sector to make the most of the GSP Plus status. Indeed award of GSP plus status had helped our economic cause, he said, adding that Pakistan was grateful to EU for awarding her this status.

Stavros expressed concern over the implementation of moratorium on death penalty. Dar said the issue of capital punishment had many aspects to be taken care of. Every country had its own peculiar social and political milieu and needed specific laws to maintain law and order. Pakistan was right now in the midst of a full fledged action against militants and stringent measures were needed to meet the challenge of extremism. While human rights sanctity was of supreme importance, it was also important that those who violated human rights should be strictly dealt with.