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ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has stated that the government firmly supports the private sector as an engine of growth, and believes in building institutional capacity for sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

While addressing the second segment of the plenary session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Country Strategy Dialogue (CSD) through video link on Wednesday, the adviser added that the “we followed a liberal foreign investment regime and introduced measures to promote ease of doing business in the country.”

He said that the current leadership welcomed foreign investors and believed in transparency, accountability, and openness.

“Our agenda is to empower people with key focus on human resource development,” the adviser finance said.

During his virtual address, the adviser finance briefed the forum that the current government inherited a very precarious economic situation in 2018 and therefore, had to introduce strict financial discipline to curtail excessive government expenditure, increase revenue collection, introduce market-driven exchange rate, remove large tax exemptions, and discourage imports.

As a consequence, Pakistan witnessed remarkable improvement in fiscal and current account deficits.

Similarly, Pakistan had a primary balance surplus which is unprecedented.

All fundamental economic indicators reflected significant improvement before Covid-19, the adviser said.

Shaikh stated that during Covid-19, the government of Pakistan introduced “Smart Lockdown” to balance the imperative to contain the spread of the disease with the need to keep the economy functional.

The smart lockdown allowed many businesses to reopen or continue operations on limited scale to lessen the adverse economic impact and support the vulnerable segment of the society, added Shaikh.

The adviser said that to provide relief to vulnerable groups especially daily wage earners, the Government of Pakistan gave cash payments to 15 million families under “Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program”.

He also outlined that amid Covid-19, the government had taken several initiatives to facilitate agriculture and construction sectors to accelerate economic recovery.

A relief package for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) shielded against insolvency and joblessness.

The recent data complements the strengthening and expansion of the economy in “recovery” mode.

Despite Covid-19, Pakistan has registered an upward trend in foreign remittances and FDI, which is a clear reflection of confidence in Pakistan’s economy, the adviser added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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