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Print Print 2024-03-22

SIFC apex body vows to take ‘tough’ decisions

  • Underscores the need to continue a consensual approach under SIFC to navigate the myriad of challenges being faced by the country
Published March 22, 2024

ISLAMABAD: The Special Apex Committee of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) has vowed to ensure the continuation of policies and take tough decisions in the larger interest of the country by setting correct economic priorities.

The meeting of the Special Apex Committee of the SIFC held on Thursday was presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and attended by former caretaker prime minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar, Chief of the Army Staff, members of the outgoing and incoming federal cabinet and provincial chief ministers as well as high-level government officials.

The meeting was conducted with a singular focus of briefing the cabinet in the presence of the caretaker cabinet, marking a historic moment of seamless transition.

PM brings role of SIFC under the Gulf focus

According to the PM Office, the committee was briefed about the SIFC initiative and major contributions made towards the investments, privatisation and overall micro-economic stabilisation of the country.

The committee admired the leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for envisioning and launching the SIFC in June 2023, which has now moved from its formative phase and evolved progressively under the caretaker government.

The committee underscored the need to continue a consensual approach under SIFC to navigate the myriad of challenges being faced by the country.

The former caretaker prime minister congratulated Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, his cabinet, and chief ministers on assuming their responsibilities and wished good luck in dealing with economic challenges and transforming Pakistan into one of the top economies of the world.

The Chief of Army Staff reassured the fullest support of the Pakistan Armed Forces to backstop the economic initiatives of the government and ensured the provision of a safe, secure, and conducive environment to nurture the country’s true economic potential.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that SIFC is the way forward in the challenging times and an iron resolve is needed to serve the country like never before.

He urged the federal cabinet to join hands, keep political differences aside, and work as a cohesive team to keep the momentum of economic stability.

He also thanked the caretaker government for the continuation of the larger national economic agenda in a befitting manner.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday said deep-rooted structural reforms along with an International Monetary Fund’s new programme have to be undertaken to bring about sustained economic stability in the country.

Addressing the special session of the Apex Committee of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), the prime minister said that Pakistan needs another 2-3 years IMF programme and along with it “we have to undertake deep-rooted structural reforms.” He said without reforms prosperity and the bleeding economy would not be stopped.

Shehbaz said the SIFC was established in June 2023 for the reasons that challenges to the investment within Pakistan and from abroad could not be resolved by previous governments due to NAB, red tape, inefficiencies and lack of capacity. This, he said necessitated establishment of the SIFC.

The premier said the Chief of Army Staff played an important role in this regard and assured full cooperation to the government. He said in total more than 200 meetings – Apex Committee, Executive Committee as well Working Level – have taken place during the last eight to nine months and concrete decisions were taken and implemented.

He said this mechanism has stopped inordinate delays in decision-making. The prime minister added that a Stand-By-Arrangement was also reached with the IMF which was implemented strictly by the interim government and now Pakistan would get an installment of more than $1 billion as a Staff Level Agreement (SLA) has been reached following the second and final review during the ongoing week.

He said, is this an ultimate achievement, the answer is a big No. He said that there is a need to bring about economic stability and for which the government has to undertake reforms. The premier said the question is whether another IMF programme would bring economic stability and put the country on a growth trajectory, the answer is a big No.

He said if the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is not digitized, the revenue gap would not be plugged. He said the revenue estimate is projected at Rs9 trillion for this year, whereas, conservative estimates suggest that actual revenue should have been Rs13-14 trillion. If the FBR was not digitised, this drain in revenue would continue.

He said the contested claims whether from FBR or client have reached Rs2,700 billion, with bifurcation of Rs1 trillion in tribunals and the same amount with appellate courts and Rs700 billion in high courts and even if half of it (Rs1,300 billion) is realized, the country would move gradually towards breaking the begging bowl and reduce the debt trap gradually, these are the challenges the new government is facing and federation and provinces have to work together as federal government cannot alone solve these challenges.

Inflation is spiking and the common man is suffering, annual electricity theft is Rs400 billion and circular debt of gas sector is over Rs5 trillion. He said during the interim government, the SIFC’s achievement included Rs87 billion saved in the theft of electricity. He said that the smuggling was stopped and HEC transaction was completed, adding SOEs’ annual losses are unbearable as PIA’s debt alone stood at Rs825 billion.

Additionally, he said there is corruption and mismanagement in Discos. He said tough and difficult decisions have to be taken because in the last 75 years, elite culture was promoted and subsidies were provided to them. He said the next budget has to be prepared keeping in view his suggestions that only put burden on those who can bear the burden besides keeping in mind a new and long-term IMF programme.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

Comments

Comments are closed.

Aamir Mar 22, 2024 05:11am
First privatize all SOEs. Cut govt and unnecessary defense expenditures and then ask the nation to pay taxes. We have had enough already as we get nothing in return.
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Arif Mar 22, 2024 08:53am
Try to be normal and less special , maybe then we might start to live like a normal country .
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KU Mar 22, 2024 09:09am
Only good luck will not solve economic issues, the economic rebuild requires concrete and achievable steps without bias or favour. Perhaps business plan basics needs to be revisited.
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mustafa Mar 22, 2024 10:05am
they should take all hard decisions fast ... let it be done for once and all ...
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Aamir Mar 22, 2024 11:33am
@mustafa, they can never take hard decisions regarding reducing the govt footprint and luxury spending by govt officials. They can never ask the military to rationalize expenditure.
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John Khan Mar 22, 2024 02:29pm
All talk and no action. Don't hold your breath folks.
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Ch K A Nye Mar 22, 2024 02:56pm
@Aamir , Sadly you're absolutely right. All this Is an eyewash and they'll soon go back to doing things the same way that they've always been doing.
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Sumaroo Mar 23, 2024 01:27pm
These dudes have zero credibility...hence outcome will be zilch zero!
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Mafia Shahid Mar 23, 2024 02:26pm
Help me
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