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ISLAMABAD: Federal Energy Minister Hammad Azhar on Saturday said that the government is targeting a 4% economic growth for ongoing fiscal year.

Speaking at a presser, he said a four percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate would be achieved in the current fiscal year.

“All GDP growth-related targets have been achieved. There are many analyses that suggest that the growth rate will be even more than four percent,” he added.

He said total GDP increase from $263 billion to $296 billion – an increase of $33 billion during the current fiscal year – was the highest ever in any year.

He said the country’s exports stood at $ 3.2 billion in March, while the remittances witnessed a 29 percent increase from July 2020 to April 2021.

At the same time, he said that 15 percent growth was recorded in tax revenue collection during the said period.

He said the country’s foreign reserves had also jumped to $ 23 billion, adding the large-scale manufacturing (LSM) sector showed an unprecedented healthy growth of 9.29%, while cement sales also witnessed a 17 percent increase.

The minister said the current account (C/A) surplus stood at $ 250 million, and not a single penny borrowing was done from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

He said the previous regime of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had borrowed Rs7000 billion from SBP.

Despite the huge challenge posed to the economy by the COVID-19 pandemic, he added, the country’s economy witnessed growth.

“It was proof of the success of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s economic policies. It was not a temporary growth but would be sustained and further strengthened,” he added.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had made the Public Accounts Committee free and independent as he always believed in impartial umpire.

He hoped that the economy would grow further at a rapid rate from the new fiscal year, adding that agriculture and industrial sectors would also gain more momentum, which would also help generate more job opportunities.

The minister said the government would further extend various programmes like social protection Ehsaas and health cards to help the poor.

Responding to a question, he said that oil prices were lower in Pakistan compared to other countries in the region, adding the government also slashed petroleum levy duty.

He continued that the prices of edible oil and wheat witnessed an increase in the international market. However, the government is giving targeted subsidies to help the poor, he added.

He said the government had a management plan to address the circular debt issue, adding the circular debt has two components - stock and flow. In the first phase, he added, the deceleration of flow started, and in the next phase, the stock issue would be addressed.

He said only an 8 paisa per unit increase would be made in consumer tariff in October.

The minister said the government has been able to reach this level of growth due to the prudent economic policies that were pursued despite the negative impact of Covid-19.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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