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ISLAMABAD: The Economic Advisory Council (EAC) has been asked to come up with short-, medium-, and long-term road maps for important sectors of the economy with a view to achieving sustainable economic development as the government wants to include short-term proposals in the upcoming budget for the next fiscal year.

Prime Minister Imran Khan presided over the first meeting of the EAC, held in the Finance Ministry, through a video link in which the outlined government’s priorities while the first session was chaired by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin.

An official told Business Recorder that short-term plans for economic growth, if feasible, will be made part of the upcoming budget for the next fiscal year.

The prime minister asked the EAC to formulate long-, medium- and short-term roadmaps for important sectors of the economy – energy, construction, price stability, agriculture, tourism, social protection, subsidies, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and remittances.

The prime minister also sought suggestions to further organise public-private partnership.

He also underlined the need for out-of-the-box solutions to provide relief to the masses, adding that the purpose of the council was to work in the light of proposals of economic experts to put the economy on path of sustainable growth.

The prime minister further stated that the measures taken by the government have improved business environment as the confidence of the business community has been restored. The prime minister said the government’s focus is to formulate polices in consultation with the business community.

He also highlighted that ongoing reforms in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and stated that reforms in this sectors have been the government priority.

The first session of the meeting was chaired by Minister for Finance and Revenue and he formulated sub-groups and assigned areas for further deliberations and directed all the concerned to firm up proposals.

He underscored the need for short-, medium- and long-term plans with timelines for an effective way forward.

The EAC will meet regularly and its members would present their recommendations before the Committee for detailed discussions.

The finance minister emphasised the importance of evolving consensus on macro-economic stabilisation measures and reform agenda for an inclusive and sustained economic growth after taking all the stakeholders on board.

Tarin further stated that the EAC would follow a consultative process and suggest policy initiatives to optimise and further strengthen the financial and economic policies aimed at enhancing public welfare.

The Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Revenue, Dr Waqar Masood, made a detailed presentation and outlined key priority areas for productive discussion, including sustained and inclusive economic growth, employment generation, price stability mechanism, tax reforms, housing sector, ease of doing business, pension reforms, rationalisation of subsidies, food security, revamping power and energy sectors, social protection network, health and improvement in overall governance.

The ministers briefed the Committee about the initiatives taken and progress made in their respective areas.

The private members of the EAC also gave their inputs regarding the need for strengthening blue economy, road-to-market infrastructure development, import substitution, mechanized farming, gender-sensitive employment initiatives, harmonising tax and tariff structures, climate change, SMEs, and streamlining the circular debt and other power-related issues.

The finance minister appreciated the ideas floated by the members and emphasised active participation of stakeholders in evolving consensus for sound economic planning.

He underscored the importance of provincial participation in concerned areas for working out holistic solutions to the current economic problems.

The finance minister, in his concluding remarks, stated that the EAC is a well-informed and well-represented forum comprising official and private representatives.

There is a need to instill confidence and build public sentiment for sustainable and all-inclusive economic growth, he added.

He expressed hope that collective decision-making would help in putting an end to repeated boom-and-bust cycles, which played havoc with country’s national economy over the years.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Industries and Production Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Minister for Economic Affairs Division Omar Ayub Khan, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, SAPM on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Dr Sania Nishtar, SAPM on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood, Chairman Board of Investment (BOI) and Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Reza Baqir participated as official members in addition to leading representatives from the private corporate sector.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021