AHORE  - Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Saturday warned the speculators to immediately refrain from speculations in the forex market or be ready to face the music for causing huge financial loss to the entire economy for their petty gains.

The federal minister was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Chairman Federal Board of Revenue Tariq Bajwa and Deputy Governor State Bank of Pakistan were also present in the meeting. A few hands have taken the whole economy of the country hostage but we will not allow them to play at the cost of the country, said the minister firmly.

The minister assured the businessmen that there would be no witch hunting by the FBR to broaden the tax net. He said 165A is meant for tax evaders only. Name a single tax registered person who has been given notice under 165A? he asked. He said increasing the tax to GDP ratio to 15 percent of the GDP is the first goal of the government which can be achieved only by registering new taxpayers. He said that the government is hopeful of fully reviving growth and economy in next five years. He said even adverse conditions the economy showed robust growth in the first quarter of this fiscal. He said foreign direct investment increased by 83 percent, portfolio investment jumped by 101 percent and the large scale manufacturing grew by 8.5 percent .in the first quarter of this fiscal. The negative trends in growth have been stopped and now we are moving on, he added.

Ishaq Dar said the rating agencies have acknowledged Pakistan’s performance and have upgraded its rating. He said donors have offered lucrative loans to appreciate the efforts of the new government. The federal minister spoke at length on all issues being faced by the economy and the measures being taken to overcome these challenges. He said that a three-year well tailored economic revival plan had already put into the motion that would yield positive results.

The minister said that economy, energy and extremism were the three serious challenges and the government was utilizing all its energies to resolve them. He said that newly imposed taxes were a result of caretaker government’s commitment with the IMF. He, however, added that the government is focused on narrowing down the foreign account and budget deficit.

On the issue of shortage of energy, the minister said that the government was striving to ensure supply of cheaper energy to masses and for this purpose, it has launched medium and short term plans. He said that work on Neelum-Jehlum, Diamir-Basha and Dasu dams were well on way and their completion would help end power shortage in next three years. He said that the government was also working on Civil Nuclear Technology and wind energy projects. He said that the government was determined to add 8500 MW of electricity into the national grid by year 2016.

The Finance Minister announced to form two committees comprising LCCI former President Mian Muhammad Ashraf, Sheikh Muhmmad Asif, Mian Anjum Nisar, Iftikhar Ali Malik and FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa to look into the issues of steel industry, under invoicing, smuggling and Sales Tax Refunds. He said that whatever decisions were taken by the committee would immediately be implemented in letter and spirit. About the transporters strike, the Minister said that he was going to Karachi and hopefully in a day or two the goods transporters would be back to business since their issues were pertaining to the government of Sindh.

About the public sector enterprises, the government said that a mechanism had been devised to revamp these entities on modern lines through partial privatization but in this process the respective employees would be given full protection.

Speaking on the occasion, LCCI acting president Mian Tariq Misbah said that the business community fully understands the worst economic conditions inherited by your government. When PML(N) government took over the charge, there were severe challenges faced by economy including power outages, low economic growth, circular debt, falling investment, huge fiscal deficits, inflation, unprecedented floods, terrorism and worst law & order situation.

These factors resulted in flight of capital from Pakistan that shaved off annual GDP growth by 2% and halted the way of further industrialization in the country. Our GDP growth has stuck at a level, which is half of the level of Pakistan’s long term trend potential of about 6.5% per annum. He said that the industrial sector contains 20.9% of GDP contributing two third in the tax revenue whereas agriculture sector accounts for 21.4% of the GDP but its share in the state revenue is less than 1% and service sector with a share of 57% is contributing much below its potential.

We are of the opinion that every sector of economy should contribute in the national exchequer proportionate to their respective incomes.

Meanwhile, Punjab Governor Ch Muhammad Sarwar and Federal Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar discussed economy, political situation and other issues during a meeting held at Governor’s House here on Saturday.

The Minister told the Governor about the current economic health of the country and positive indicators about its becoming strong in the coming days.

The Governor said that progress and survival of the country lie in economic wellbeing. He said the government is very much live to the need of moving wheel of the national economy in order to overcome the problems and bring prosperity to the life of the people. He said it was also heartening that the government was addressing difficulties and problems of the businessmen and industrialists. He also highlighted the need of introducing Pakistani products at the global level. He also appreciated the fact that textile products of Pakistan got GS+ status at the international level which was a milestone in promoting exports to the tune of one billion dollar.