Islamabad - Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has expressed satisfaction over the progress made so far in achieving the economic targets set by the PML-N government for the present fiscal year.

He was presiding over a meeting at the Finance Ministry to review the state of economy. Secretary Finance Dr Waqar Masood briefed the finance minister on the measures taken to contain inflation and said that these had started showing results as reflected in the a continuous decline in Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) in the last eight weeks including five weeks of December 2013 and three weeks in January 2014. The SPI measures price trend of 53 most essential items.

The meeting was told that essential items prices like eggs (farm), vegetable gee, onion, tomato, banana, red chili, rice, basmati (broken) and wheat flour were showing decreasing trends, whereas there is stability in the prices of bread, beef, chicken farm, fresh milk, cooked dal, gas charges, matchbox, petrol, diesel and bath soap. The meeting also reviewed the balance of payments position. The finance minister was informed that while the cumulative current account deficit stood at $1.6 billion, a current account surplus was posted in December 2013 ($285 million) on account of robust growth in remittances which increased by 9.5% on average as compared to the same period last year. Moreover, exports showed an increase of 3.2% against 0.6% last year and imports increased by 3.9% against 0.1% last year. It was also noted that growth in exports of textile sector was very encouraging whereas the imports of machinery had increased by 26.3% which was a positive development.

While reviewing external inflows, the finance minister expressed hope that in the coming months the situation would improve further due to positive impact of GSP plus .  The finance minister expressed satisfaction that credit to the private sector had increased to Rs.230 billion during Jan 2014 as compared to Rs. 53 billion in the same period last year. Overview of the real sector was also discussed and it was noted that large scale manufacturing (LSM) had shown a growth of 5.2% during July-Nov FY14 against 2.2% during the corresponding period of last year. In agriculture sector the arrival of 12.88 million bales of cotton had been reported up to 15th January 2014, showing a growth of 7.5% over the last year which is also a positive signal and would have multiplier effect on LSM and services sector and augment growth prospects during the current fiscal year.

The meeting was attended by senior officials of the Finance Ministry including Advisor to the Finance Ministry Rana Asad Amin.