ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar said that SROs issued in the recent past are being examined thoroughly to make necessary amendments. SROs are not being abolished at once, what we are doing is amending unnecessary and ambiguous SROs after proper examining and 31st December will be the date for its final consideration.
In an exclusive interview with Customs Today, the Finance Minister seemed very optimistic and termed granting of GSP Plus status to Pakistan by European Parliament a big victory of the current government. Pakistani exports will get excess to 27 countries on low rates and we are trying to enhance this status to 9 more countries, he said.
Moreover, he said that a number of measures have been taken by the government to fix the economy and regain trust of international community. And these policies have started producing results as duty-free access to European markets would increase country’s exports by $2 billion. On promotion of exports and economic activities, he said this GSP Plus will lead to prosperity in Pakistan, increasing business activities and creating employment opportunities.
He said that people have given us an opportunity through free and fair elections to work for betterment and development of the country. “We believe in corruption-free society and we are working to free Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) of corruption and ‘dirty’ politics to bring stability in the area. We have suffered huge financial losses. Our strategy is to root out terrorism from Pakistan and for this purpose, all parties have reposed full confidence in the government in All Parties Conference”.
He said that it is a fact that our government inherited a number of crises & challenges from the previous regimes as they did not bother to address them. Fiscal deficit was 8.8 percent in the previous government and we brought it down to 6% in the current fiscal year.
“It is also evident that GDP raised up to 5% this year as compared to 2.5% last year and it is a bitter reality that 14 years ago it was at 13.5%. We also inherited high inflation, diminishing investment and energy crises from the previous govt,” he added.
Finance Minister vowed to fulfill the commitments made by his party during the election campaign. He reiterated to resolve the energy crisis and said that government has cleared the mounting circular debt of Rs 480 billion in just 45 days. Senator Dar said that Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) government has generated 14000 megawatt electricity within short time, which would be enhanced to 22000 megawatt in next three and half years, he added.
“The PML-N government has given a three-year macro development programme to the nation rather than a one year budget. It is committed to establish macro-economic stability in the country. The fiscal deficit would be reduced from 8.2 to 4 per cent in the next three years. We are trying to implement those polices announced in our election manifesto and we are not following orders of international donors. Long term assessment of economy is not an easy task. We have made it possible that financial figures should be shared on quarterly basis so that close monitoring of these figures can be done.”
The Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also criticized ‘pseudo intellectuals’ for their predictions about the devaluation of rupee and increase in the US dollar price. The US dollar price would be brought down, he said and urged the investors to encash their dollars to avoid losses.
About the IMF loan, Dar said it was unavoidable as the bad policies adopted by previous regimes were responsible for the current economic situation.
Talking about the economic achievements of the government, he said it had paid 3 billion doallars liabilities of the previous government and fulfilled the sovereign commitments as a dignified nation.
It has achieved 5 per cent GDP growth due to its economic reforms, he added.
Endorsing the idea of privatization for better economic activity, the minister said the government would privatize some of the institutions. The government would recover outstanding Rs 800 million from the Etisalat.
Talking about the recent initiative of his government ‘Youth Business Loan Scheme’, Finance Minister said the government wanted to empower youth of the country by making them self-reliance.
“Yes, we are working on plan to do away with tax exemptions,” the minister said.
The minister said that tax incentive package announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could not be termed as amnesty scheme. He said that he had opposed amnesty scheme during the PPP regime as it envisaged to give clean chit to evaders by giving just Rs 40,000. Now under the existing scheme, those who would avail the investment scheme would have to invest for promoting industrialization in the country.
Sharing details of investment scheme, the minister said that those units could avail this scheme which would start commercial production during the period starting from January 1, 2014 to June 30, 2016. “It is sufficient time for starting commercial operation as this scheme cannot allow this facility for indefinite period,” he added.
The minister said that the Prime Minister also announced incentive for dormant National Tax Number (NTN) holders as they would be exempted from paying any default surcharge. Now the date for availing this scheme has been extended from December 15, 2013 to February 28, 2014, added the minister.
In case of non-filers, the minister said that the date for availing this scheme was again extended up to Feb 28, 2014.
He said that the PML (N) led government exactly fulfilled their commitments by taking additional tax measures to collect Rs 2475 billion in the current budget. Instead of given a clean slate the caretaker left mess for the upcoming government, he added.
He said that the establishing of consensus caretaker government which came into being as result of 18th Constitutional Amendment, had failed to fulfill their constitutional obligation. “Now our government will propose amendments binding the future caretaker government to give clean balance sheet to the upcoming government,” he added.
The minister also spoke about several other topics concerning the economy. To a question, he said no proposal was under consideration to increase gas tariff for domestic consumers.
“The government has no plan to increase the tariff for domestic and private consumers. Such reports are totally wrong and a misunderstanding.”