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ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) is expected to finalise on Monday the incentive package for various sectors and budgetary allocations based on the proposals by as many as 12 sub-groups constituted by the finance minister Shaukat Tarin on different sectors of the economy. On Saturday, finance minister-led EAC presided over the second meeting of sub-groups. The first meeting was held on June 1, 2021. Sources said the third and last meeting of the EAC would be held on Monday to give final shape to the short-, medium- and long-term plans as well as allocations for the plan to be made part of the forthcoming budget before submitting them to the federal cabinet for approval on Tuesday.

In the budget for next fiscal year major incentives would be provided to the agriculture, auto and IT sector, the sources quoted the finance minister as saying.

Auto sector would be provided incentives for manufacturing local parts of motorcycles and vehicles and IT sector for enhancing exports of IT. “Sanity would prevail” in the forthcoming budget, said Tarin. Finance Minister has already stated that the government’s major focus in the budget would be on agriculture sector to increase its output for food security. Sources said that the government may allocate between Rs 250 and Rs 300 billion for Ehsaas programme in the next fiscal year budget and the stipends of the families benefiting from the programme may be increased by over 10 percent.

According to finance ministry statement, Finance Minister chaired a follow-up session of the EAC meeting of sub groups held on June 1 2021.

During the second session of second meeting of Economic Advisory Council, which continued for four hours, four sub-groups gave their detailed presentations.

The four sub-groups which presented their suggestions during second session of the second meeting of EAC included groups on Food Security, Agriculture, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Social Protection and Information Technology & Digitalization. Federal Minister for National Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam, SAPM on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar and Chairman CPEC Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa (retd) gave presentations on behalf of their respective groups. The presentations included in-depth analysis of the relevant sectors, current functioning and ways forward for future. All the participants gave their inputs over the presentations.

The first sub-group presentation on Agriculture was made by the Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Syed Fakhar Imam. Federal Minister for Industries and Production, Khusro Bakhtiar, emphasized the need to introduce the ‘Agricultural Transformation Plan’ which has been prepared by the present government after extensive discussion with the relevant stakeholders and after making detailed analysis of available data. The Finance Minister assured that the proposed plan will be thoroughly considered and firmed up recommendations will be made a part of the upcoming budget.

The sub-group on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) led by Chairman CPEC Authority gave a comprehensive presentation on the progress of the project. The group also thanked the Finance Minister as Chairman ECNEC for according approval to road connectivity projects for Balochistan that will significantly enhance the effectiveness of the project. The group briefed the meeting that the projects under the CPEC are being completed according to our commitment. Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa (retd) discussed the possibilities of investment in the special economic zones in collaboration with the regional development partners in a structured manner through short-, medium- and long-term strategies.

The sub-group on social security led by Sania Nishtar SAPM on Social Protection, briefed the meeting on the proposed plan of interventions by Ehsaas in the next year and submitted proposals for budgetary allocations. The Chair appreciated the proposals and commended the SAPM on evolving a comprehensive programme for social protection and poverty alleviation.

The IT subgroup discussed its proposals to explore the potential of the sector and create an enabling environment for generating exportable surplus. The Finance Minister tasked the group to bring up proposals that facilitate local trade, enhance financial inclusion, pave the way for forming partnerships with international IT experts and develop skills of the untrained youth. He also affirmed his support for the sector by making policy changes according to the needs of the sector.

The next follow-up session would be held soon. The sub-groups on State Owned Enterprises, Energy & Industrialization and Exports will make their presentations in the concluding session.

Shaukat Tarin during the meeting said that fundamental objective for constitution of Economic Advisory Council is to make concrete short-, medium- and long-term strategies for growth and transformation of all sectors of the economy. Different sub-groups have been constituted to get concrete proposals in consultation with all sub-groups.

The Finance Minister immensely appreciated the professional in-depth deliberation on the presentation during the session.

The Finance Minister further directed to make regular discussions a part of the working of the Finance Division with reference to EAC.

The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for Industries and Production Khusro Bakhtiar, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Division Omar Ayub Khan, Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to PM on Institutional Reforms & Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain, SAPM on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar, SAPM on Power Tabish Gauhar, SAPM on Finance and Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood, Governor State Bank of Pakistan Dr Reza Baqir, Abid Suleri, Ali Tabba, Dr Rashid Amjad, Sultan Allana, Syed Salim Raza and many others from the private members category. The first session of the second meeting of Economic Advisory Council was held on 1st June 2021.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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