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Govt to focus on high growth rate, controlled inflation in next budget: Miftah Ismail

Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Miftah Ismail Friday said the government will mainly
focus on setting the target of high economic growth rate and controlled inflation rate in
budget 2018-19, to be announced on April 27, besides setting ambitious revenue targets
for the next fiscal year.
“This year the country’s economic growth will remain around 6 per cent while during
next year, the growth will rise further, which will help speed up the overall business
activities,” he said.
He said “We are below the target for inflation rate of less than 4 per cent which is
a good sign for common people”.
Addressing media at the Finance Ministry, the Adviser said during current year,
the country is set to achieve history’s highest growth of 6 percent and the lowest
inflation rate which show that the overall economy has turned around in the last
five years.
He said although the current account deficit was a bit high but there was no
need to worry as it was because of import of machinery for installing various
energy industries of over 12000 MW.
However, he said by next year, the current account and budget deficit would
remain under control as the import of such machinery would reduce while the
exports will eventually increase at fast pace.
Replying to a question regarding recent report of International Monetary Fund,
he said IMF’s projections were not always accurate as it had estimated the
country’s growth rate at 5.5 per cent for current year while in fact it was touching
around 6 per cent.
Similarly, he said the IMF projected 6 percent inflation rate for the year while
it remained under 4 per cent, he added.
To another question, Miftah Ismail said the country’s economy was on the
right track and there was no need to worry about the increasing debts because
overall debt-to-GDP rate was under control.
“Our economy is growing faster than our debts, besides exports were also
growing fast; therefore we need not worry about it,” he added.
To another query regarding closure of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), the
Adviser said when the mill was functioning , it was selling its products worth
Rs 850 million at the cost of Rs 2 billion monthly and it was was not possible
for the government to pay huge subsidy on that account.
He said the total number of employees in PSM was 10 times higher than
the standard number that was why it was running in losses.
Regarding circular debt, he said as per approval by the Economic Coordination
Committee of the Cabinet (ECC), the government will pay most of the circular debts
to the IPPs, Gencos, Discos, nuclear power companies, and Pakistan State Oil
(PSO) by Monday next.
Miftah Ismail said the government will prefer to pay the Independent Power
Producers (IPPs) on priority and they will be cleared within few weeks.
The Adviser Finance said the government will also give relief to the people
specially the government employees as their salaries would be raised according
to the inflation rate.
To another question regarding Free Trade Agreement with China, the Adviser
said after signing of the agreement, Pakistan had to look for new markets in China
to increase its export to the country.

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