Govt to focus on high growth rate, controlled inflation in next budget: Miftah Ismail

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Miftah

ISLAMABAD:Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Miftah Ismail Friday said the government will mainly focus on setting the target of high economic growth rate and controlled inflation rate in budget 2018-19, to be announced on April 27, besides setting ambitious revenue targets for the next fiscal year. “This year the country’s economic growth will remain around 6 per cent while during next year, the growth will rise further, which will help speed up the overall business activities,” he said.
He said “We are below the target for inflation rate of less than 4 per cent which is a good sign for common people”.
Addressing media at the Finance Ministry, the Adviser said during current year, the country is set to achieve history’s highest growth of 6 percent and the lowest inflation rate which show that the overall economy has turned around in the lastfive years.
He said although the current account deficit was a bit high but there wasno need to worry as it was because of import of machinery for installing various energy industries of over 12000 MW.
However, he said by next year, the current account and budget deficit would remain under control as the import of such machinery would reduce while the exports will eventually increase at fast pace.
Replying to a question regarding recent report of International Monetary Fund, he said IMF’s projections were not always accurate as it had estimated the country’s growth rate at 5.5 per cent for current year while in fact it was touching around 6 per cent. Similarly, he said the IMF projected 6 percent inflation rate for the year while it remained under 4 per cent, he added.
To another question, Miftah Ismail said the country’s economy was on the right track and there was no need to worry about the increasing debts because overall debt-to-GDP rate was under control. “Our economy is growing faster than our debts, besides exports were also growing fast; therefore we need not worry about it,” he added.
To another query regarding closure of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), the Adviser said when the mill was functioning , it was selling its products worth Rs 850 million at the cost of Rs 2 billion monthly and it was was not possible for the government to pay huge subsidy on that account.
He said the total number of employees in PSM was 10 times higher than the standard number that was why it was running in losses.
Regarding circular debt, he said as per approval by the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC), the government will pay most of the circular debts to the IPPs, Gencos, Discos, nuclear power companies, and Pakistan State Oil (PSO) by Monday next.
Miftah Ismail said the government will prefer to pay the Independent PowerProducers (IPPs) on priority and they will be cleared within few weeks. The Adviser Finance said the government will also give relief to the people specially the government employees as their salaries would be raised according to the inflation rate.
To another question regarding Free Trade Agreement with China, the Adviser said after signing of the agreement, Pakistan had to look for new markets in China to increase its export to the country.

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