Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, has given good news to power and oil consumers. Speaking at a private news channel, Hafeez said that the government will pass on the benefit of reduced oil prices in the international market to consumers by decreasing the oil prices from May 1.
He said that the cost of energy and transport will reduce from May 1 as the government will make an important announcement in this regard at the start of the next month.
Advisor on Finance regretted that Pakistan was hit by the coronavirus pandemic at a time when the country’s economy was showing growth. He said that the PTI-led government had controlled the expenditures strictly. No loan was taken from the State Bank in the past three months, the local currency was stabilizing against the US dollar and the defense budget was also frozen.
Hafeez reflected that after coming into power, the government mobilized $17 billion to steer Pakistan out of bankruptcy and put it on the track of recovery.
Our exports were increasing and imports had declined. The current account deficit had reduced significantly over the past one and a half years. Moreover, our tax collection had also improved by 17 percent.
However, the Covid-19 outbreak forced the government to impose a lockdown that reduced economic activities in the country to almost none. The virus outbreak has dented the country’s economic progress quite significantly, Hafeez said, adding that the GDP growth projected at 3 percent, has slid down to negative 1 percent.
He highlighted that improving relations with IMF and other global lenders proved to be a blessing in disguise as these institutions helped Pakistan at the time of crisis by relaxing the debt servicing terms.
To a question, he said that the construction package was critical during these testing times as an uplifting construction sector mobilizes 35 to 40 other sectors, thus creates jobs, business, and growth opportunities.
He noted that the government has also introduced a powerful package for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to survive during the lockdown.
Under the scheme, he elaborated, SMEs can acquire easy loans at 1 to 3 percent markup from State Bank. He said that the traders and industries were already being facilitated in taxation. Those submitted, have been awarded tax refunds on a fast track basis.