Islamabad: Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Federal Minister for Finance, called on President Asif Ali Zardari at Aiwan-e-Sadr today. Dr. Waqar Masood, Finance Secretary was also present during the meeting.
The Finance Minister and Finance Secretary briefed the President about overall economic situation in the country.
Briefing the media, Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar said that the economic managers briefed the President about various aspects of the economy and economic performance during the first five months of the current fiscal year focusing on critical indicators like broadening tax base, fiscal austerity, exports, remittances, imports and inflation.
Finance Minister Dr. Hafeez Shaikh informed that as a result of difficult economic decisions taken by the present Government, the economy was stable and various indicators were showing encouraging signs.
He said that efforts to broaden the tax base have registered a significant success. Up to 16th of December of the current fiscal year, Rs. 712 billion tax had been collected as against Rs. 555 billion collection during the corresponding period last year. It amounted to an increase of 28 per cent over the corresponding period and exceeded the target of 25%.
On austerity measures, the Finance Minister informed that that various measures adopted by the Government have also yielded positive results. He said that the budgetary expenditure during first five months of the year which was envisaged to be 42% was brought down to 38% indicating that the budgetary control measures were successful.
Despite worldwide slump in demand, Pakistani exports during first five months of the current fiscal year have registered an increase of 12% over that of the corresponding period last year.
On remittance side, an increase of 18% was witnessed with $5.2 billion remittances for the first five months of the current year.
Finance Minister also informed that by the end of December, the Government would have provided a total of Rs. 100 billion for developmental projects in the country. This amount, he said, would be spent on mega projects in energy, communications and water sector thereby creating jobs and building infrastructure. The energy projects included that of Bhasha Dam and Chashma Power Projects, he informed the President.
The imports during the first five months of the current fiscal year have registered an increase of 20% over the corresponding period of last year indicating that the economic activity was gradually picking up and was on steady course, the President was informed.
The President was briefed that inflation has also come down during the first five months of the current fiscal year. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) which was 14% in November last year was 10.2% in November 2011. Similarly, the sensitive price index was also witnessing continuously downward trend during past five weeks.
The President inquired about the steps taken for extending social safety net to the poorest of the poor. It was informed that Rs. 20 billion would be provided for BISP by the end of December which would benefit tens of thousands of the poor families living below poverty line.
The President remarked that the improvements in economic indicators were encouraging however, efforts should continue to keep up the pace and momentum of economic turnaround.
He said that gas and power shortages continue to haunt people and we need to step up our efforts to meet these challenges. He said that the prevailing international economic situation was not very healthy and efforts must continue to further stabilize the economy and to fight economic challenges facing the country.
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