Islamabad, May 18, 2015 (PPI-OT): The Sixth Meeting of the Economic Advisory Council was held here Monday evening. Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting. In his opening remarks, the Finance Minister welcomed all participants and gave a brief overview of recent developments on the economic front. He shared latest figures for different sectors of the economy of the important and covered developments on the fiscal front.
He stated that the fiscal space available to the government had been contained due to the higher expenditures on security related operations floods and settlement of Displaced persons. These expenditures are going to continue in the next fiscal year for which adequate space is being created in the budget for FY2015-16.
He gave an overview of the budget making process for the coming fiscal year 2015-16 and stated that the government would welcome useful proposals from EAC members for inclusion in the Budget. He informed that economic growth rate for the current year will be slightly lower than target due to economic disruptions, lower prices in the commodity sector and unusually long winter had a negative impact on the crops.
The deficit target was met and inflation had been curtailed to under 5% percent in the current financial year. He apprised the meeting that economic indicators have started showing stability and recovery in the economy and future would focus on increasing growth.
During the ensuing discussions, members of EAC gave proposals for development of key sectors of economy including energy, aviation, taxation, public expenditure, food security, trade competitiveness and social safety nets. Finance Minister ensured that due consideration will be given to the proposals of EAC members as a number of proposals were incorporated in last year’s budget.
The members of EAC appreciated efforts of the government for improving macroeconomic situation of the country. They urged the Government to take active measures for improving the growth trajectory of the country. In this regard, it was suggested that private sector participation should be encouraged especially in infrastructure development and other fiscal measures should be put in place to bolster economic activity and consequently job creation.
It was also discussed that Government needs to strengthen efforts to address regional disparities in the country and adopt inclusive growth strategies to ensure backward regions are able to keep pace with the more developed parts of the country. It was deliberated that tax recovery needs to be further improved while ensuring facilitation for the tax payers.
The EAC also emphasized the need to engage provincial governments to undertake integrated and coherent initiatives to improve service delivery and infrastructure development in key areas of economy. The imperatives of investing in agricultural infrastructure to improve productivity in this sector were emphasized upon. Finance Minister thanked all participants for presenting valuable input on budget 2015-16 and it was decided to hold another meeting to deliberate and firm up concrete proposals for budget 2015-16.
The meeting besides senior officials of Finance Division and other ministries was attended by Dr. Ishrat Husain, Mr. Abid Hasan, Mr. Farooq Rahmatullah, Mr. Arshad Zuberi, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Dr. Ashfaque H. Khan, Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Mr. Sakib Sherani, Mr. Qazi Azmat Isa, Mr. A. Razak Dawood, Mr. Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Mr. Tariq Bajwa, Chairman, F.B.R. Dr. Miftah Ismail, Chairman, BOI attended the meeting.
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