ISLAMABAD      -    Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar on Tuesday said country’s economic situation has improved due to the prudent policies of the incumbent government, as it brought under control the soaring current account and budget deficits.

Addressing a press conference, he said the government would break the record of repaying against previous loans. He further said that government had spent $10 billion on repaying against previous loans and interest payment in previous fiscal year. Sharing details, the minister informed that volume of power sector circular debt had increased to Rs1200 billion when the incumbent government took charge. However, the government had brought down the growing circular debt from Rs38 billion to Rs12 billion per month. The circular debt would be brought to zero in December 2020.

Azhar admitted that inflation increased in the country. However, inflation enhanced at slower pace in first 13 months of the incumbent government as compared to the same period of previous two governments. Inflation had gone up by 8 percent in first 13 months of the incumbent government, which had increased by 8.3 percent in PML-N and 21 percent in PPP’s tenure. He was of the view that inflation would start declining after few months due to reduction in current account deficit. The current account deficit had reduced by 65 percent in the first quarter (July to September) of the current fiscal year, he added.

The minister said that current account and fiscal deficits have decreased, while foreign direct investment and tax base of the country have increased.

Sharing details of the economic figures, he informed that current account deficit had declined by 65 percent in the first quarter of the current fiscal year. Similarly, budget deficit had also decreased by 50 percent in July to September period. Primary budget balance noted a surplus of Rs385 billion. Foreign investment worth of $350 million came to Pakistan, showing an increase of 137 percent. Meanwhile, the foreign exchange reserves also had witnessed an increase of $650 million. He informed that stock market witnesses a growth of 6500 points in last three months. He said ease of doing business index improved by 28 points.

Azhar said that Federal Board of Revenue (FBR)’s tax collection has increased by around 16 percent in four months of the year 2019-2020. Similarly, the country’s tax base has also enhanced by 55 percent. He said Public Sector Development Programmes’ releases have been doubled and exports are also improving. He said exports of readymade garments increased by 38 percent, bedware 23 percent, rice 52 percent and footwear 54 percent.

Responding to a question, the minister said the government is introducing reforms and automation in Federal Board of Revenue but none of the employee is being deprived of job. He said the federal government is collaborating with provincial governments to control food items prices.

However, the minister has skipped the question regarding increase in prices of gas and electricity and in unemployment during the tenure of the incumbent government.