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Pakistan

Saving Pakistan from default is govt's first priority, says Sheikh

The national exchequer had a debt burden of over Rs30,000 billion, when the PTI took over the government. Shei
Updated 07 Feb 2020
  • The national exchequer had a debt burden of over Rs30,000 billion, when the PTI took over the government.
  • Sheikh dismissed reports regarding FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidi, terming it completely false.

Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh while informing about the economic measures has said that the government first priority is to save the country from default.

Talking to Aaj News talkshow Faisla Aap Ka With Asma Sherazi, the advisor said that the national exchequer had a debt burden of over Rs30,000 billion, when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) took over the government. The first task of the government after coming to power was to protect the country from defaulting, he said.

The advisor added that the government decided to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the same purpose. He also said that if the government didn’t approached IMF, the country would have suffered huge losses.

Talking about the government measures, Hafeez Shaikh said that $20 billion current account deficit was limited to $2 billion; and no tax was levied on exporters. He also added that concessions were given on electricity, gas and loans as well.

Tax collection and Shabbar Zaidi

Talking about the tax collection, he said that the authorities recorded the highest ever tax collection in Pakistan’s history, which is 17 percent more than collected in previous year. “We anticipate that the collection would increase to 20-22pc by the end of the year,” he said.

The finance advisor added that the increase in tax collection was witnessed despite ‘deliberate compression’ of imports by the government. “We deliberately forego import taxes, because it was our national goal not to be dependent on imports,” he said.

In the coming months, we would be taking measures to increase the tax revenue, informed Shiekh. “However, we should not become too harsh to negatively affect businesses,” he added.

The FBR provisionally collected Rs2,404 billion during July-January (2019-20) against the downward revised target of Rs 2,622 billion, reflecting a shortfall of Rs218 billion. According to the provisional figures compiled by the FBR, the FBR has collected Rs321 billion during January 2020 against the monthly target of Rs425 billion, reflecting a shortfall of Rs104 billion.

Talking about the issue of export refunds, Sheikh said last year the government has given refunds worth Rs65 billion, whereas, as of this year the government has given over Rs100 billion worth of refunds.

The advisor dismissed reports regarding the removal of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Zaidi, terming it completely false. "We want Shabbar Zaidi to get well soon and return to the office,” he said.

However, if Zaidi's condition does not improve, alternative options can be considered, Sheikh added.