ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Thursday hoped that government would receive $2.5 billion in foreign exchange in months to come that included Etisalat’s pending dues, Coalition Support Fund (CSF) from US and Auction of 3-G Spectrum Licence.

He said this while briefing the parliamentarians about the national economy.

The Finance Minister informed the meeting that economic situation is improving as inflation has reduced to single digit figure of 9.8 per cent in December 2011; exports went up by four per cent during first six months (July-December) of the ongoing fiscal year. Similarly, he said, import increased by 18 per cent which is also an indicator of increasing activity in our economic and commercial field.

While highlighting the tax revenue position he said that 17 per cent increase has been achieved during the last six months, and remittances showed a star performance. In addition to that, foreign exchange reserves touched the highest figure in the history of Pakistan, he said. Dr Shaikh also said that we are facing certain issues in energy sector, PIA, Railways and Steel Mills. He, however, informed that the Cabinet Committee on Restructuring of the Public Sector enterprises has been relentlessly working on revamping of these enterprises and we have made certain good advances in this regard, and hopefully these corporations shall start functioning under the economic vision of the present government.

While pondering on the Railways he said that government has managed to create a consortium of banks to provide requested Rs billion to Pakistan Railways and said that government of Pakistan is paying the salaries and pension of Railway’s in-service and retired workers. Although the Railway is a public sector corporation which should by itself arranges salaries and pensions, moreover the government is going to pay to the electricity bill of Pakistan Railway also.

As the gas is not being provided to the fertilizer plants, the government has decided to import 12 lakh tons of fertilizers so that the poor farmers may not affect.

In this regards, government is providing subsidy of Rs 40-50 billion on the prices of fertilizer to farmers, Minister added.

He apprised of three factors which are causing burden on our national economy. First, severe flood in 2010 which caused damage of $10 billion as estimated by the World Bank, increase in oil prices at the international level, and security situation.

The Federal Minister has also said that government must be credited for some of the outstanding measures taken for the improvement of country’s poor, that are the provision of Balochistan Package, funding to the Gilgit Baltistan Province and AJK, plus the alleviation of poor through the Benazir Income Support Programme through which almost six million poor families are getting financial help.

Chairman Federal Board of Revenue informed the parliamentarian about the significant achievements in tax collection. He told that FBR has collected Rs 840 billion tax revenue in last six months by removing tax exemption in many sectors.