ISLAMABAD - Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar on Tuesday said that Pakistan’s GDP growth would remain at 4.2 percent during ongoing fiscal year as against revised growth of 5.2 percent in the last year.

He briefed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on the current situation of economy in the country. He said that numerous economic challenges were faced at the start of current fiscal year, which was required adjustment to correct the imbalances in the economy.

He said that previous government had artificially controlled the rupee value against dollar, which caused billions of dollars losses. The country’s current account deficit had swelled to $19 billion in last fiscal year due to controlling the currency artificially. He said that the external account remained under pressure, despite recovery in export and remittances. He informed the Committee that during first seven months of current fiscal year, remittances have been increased by 12.2 percent which also helped in containment of current account deficit. He also informed that the government is improving the investment climate to attract the foreign investment in the country.

He informed that government is working to control the budget deficit of the country. The deficit haf increased in the first half (July to December) due to increased spending on interest and defence. He said that country was near to default in August which forced the government to approach friendly countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab of Emirates and China for bailout packages. Due to the financial help of friendly countries, the conditions of International Monetary Fund (IMF) are easing. He said that circular debt had started increasing during the tenure of previous government. He further explained about the large scale manufacturing growth of -1.53% in July—December financial year 2019, compared to the growth of 6.6% during the last year. He added that inflation during July—January finance year 2019 increased upto 6.21 percent against 3.85 percent in the same period of last year. While discussing, the performance of external sector turning point upon the revival of export

Opposition parties members have askt the government to present the roadmap of the economic plan, conditions of IMF and impact of the mini budget.

The 2nd meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs of the National Assembly was held under the Chairmanship of Mr. Faiz Ullah, MNA.

While considering the “Microfinance Institutions (Amendment) Bill, 2019” moved by Ms. Sajid Begum, MNA. She briefed the Committee about the salient features of the Bill. She said that to protect the freedoms and rights of disabled person and to eliminate discrimination against disabled person in all forums, she has decided to introduce the said Bill. After discussion the Committee directed to State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for proper working on the Bill with consultation of the mover.

The Committee considered the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) project of 2019-20 of Finance Division (Main) one by one and recommended for further necessary action as required under rule 201 (7) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007. However, the Committee deferred remaining PSDP projects pertaining to provincial governments and directed to Ministry of Finance to prepare comprehensive presentation in this regard for further consideration on 28th Feb, 2019. The Committee expressed its displeasure on the absence of senior officers from Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms.

The Secretary, Economic Affairs Division (EAD) briefed the Committee about the organizational structure and working of the Division. He said that EAD was responsible for assessment of requirements, programming and negotiations of external economic and technical assistance from foreign government and multilateral agencies, etc. After detailed briefing the Committee recommended to EAD that Parliamentarians should also be considered for foreign trainings.