ISLAMABAD            -     Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, concluding debate on budget 2020-21, in Thursday’s national assembly said that PTI’s government was fully optimistic to achieve the FBR tax collection of Rs4.96 trillion set for the fiscal budget 2020-21.

Minister shared with the house the tax collection was increasing at a rate of 17 percent compared to last year due to the Corona crisis.

The minister pointed out that the present government inherited a weak economy but due to its concerted efforts, the government succeeded in stabilizing the economy.”All the international financial institutions are praising Pakistan government performance on economic front prior to outbreak of the pandemic,” he said , mentioning that the COVID-19 had affected the whole world and the world economy was projected to be slowed down causing loss of US$12 trillion.

Minister said normally tax collection during last quarter of the financial year remained highest as compared to the first three quarters but unfortunately outbreak of the pandemic dented the overall economy and revised tax target of Rs 4.8 trillion could not be achieved.

The minister said that incumbent government reduced the current account deficit by 73 percent, trade deficit 31 percent and fiscal deficit by 3.8 percent in the first nine months of current fiscal year. He said Foreign Direct Investment also doubled from $1 billion to $2 billion and refunds of Rs 250 billion were also made to the businesses.

The minister said that Rs75 billion were allocated for bulk purchases of personal protective equipment’.

Sharing the main points of the budget, the minister said that no new tax had been imposed rather several taxes had been waived off.

The minister categorically stated that the federal government had not withheld the amounts of the provinces under the National Finance Commission and an additional amount of Rs.88 billion had been given to Balochistan.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi assured that all resources would be utilized to cope with the challenge posed by locusts.

He said a comprehensive plan in this regard has also been prepared. He said a coordinated effort is required to deal with the issue. He said we are thankful to the Armed Forces of Pakistan for extending cooperation in the fight against locusts.

Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam expressed the commitment to develop the agriculture sector on scientific lines in order to enhance yield of major crops including wheat, cotton and rice.

Fakhar Imam said Pakistan would not require loans from IMF and Asian Development Bank if the cotton production was doubled in the country. PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal said a national effort was required to revive the economy as no single party can tackle the current challenges.

Parliamentary Secretary for National Health Services Dr Nausheen Hamid lauded the government for giving importance to the health sector in the budget. She said there were currently 129 laboratories across the country where the testing capacity for Coronavirus had significantly been enhanced.