ISLAMABAD – Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar has said the economy is moving on the right track with 4.4% GDP growth rate for the first quarter of the current financial year as against 2.9% last year.
Addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, he said industrial sector grew by 5.2%; service sector 5.7% and agriculture sector 2.5% during the period.
He expressed the confidence that with focus on agriculture the economy would move towards achieving the growth target of six to eight percent as envisaged in the three year Macro-Economic Programme of the present Government.
Ishaq Dar said the industrial growth was mainly because of retirement of the circular debt that helped add 1700 MW of electricity to the system and the industries got the power to run.
The Finance Minister said the revenue collection also increased by 17% in the first five months of the current financial year as against less than 3% same period last year.
He said as against 679 billion rupees during first five months of the last year, FBR has succeeded to collect 792 billion rupees in comparable period this year. The target of 167 billion for the last month was surpassed with the collection of 170 billion rupees worth of taxes. He said the Ministry of Finance has so far released 143 billion rupees for development projects.
The Finance Minister said budgetary deficit has also come down from 2.9% or 690 billion rupees during first five months of the last year to 2.2% or 570 billion rupees same period this year.
The Minister said the present pressure on foreign exchange reserves is not extraordinary as it was in line with projections of the cash inflows.
He, however, said the position is improving as the country today received second tranche of 137 million dollars from Islamic Development Bank out of total commitment of one billion dollars.
Ishaq Dar said arrangements are being finalized for receipt of 500 million dollar worth of oil trade facility from IFC, CITI Bank and Habib Bank which would help release pressure on oil imports worth 16 billion dollar per year.
He said negotiations have also been held with the IFC for issuance of Global Rupee Bonds worth one billion dollars. Overseas Pakistanis can buy these bonds against dollars but repayments would be made in rupees.
The Finance Minister said next Euro Bond worth 500 million dollars would also be issued soon for which seven institutions have expressed keen interest.
He said initially 500 million dollar worth of Pakistan Diaspora-based bonds would be issued soon and the target is to go for three to five billion dollars.
The Minister expressed the confidence that privatization of some of the 31 entities on the disinvestment list would fetch about two hundred billion rupees. He said time is ripe for off-loading their shares as the stock market is booming.
He hoped that Pakistan would also receive reimbursement worth 790 million dollars out of Coalition Support Fund. The issue was raised with the US Defence Secretary during his visit to Pakistan who promised to expedite the process.
Ishaq Dar said a delegation of UAE company Etisalat is coming to Pakistan on 18th of this month to sort out the issue of payment of 800 million dollar, which have been held up since long by the company due to non-transfer of some properties of PTCL.
The Minister was also confident that 3-G Spectrum would also be auctioned in February next year fetching between 1.2 to two billion dollars.