LAHORE: Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Saturday said that future roadmap of Pakistan and South Asia region was economic growth for which all the SAARC states would have to improve and strengthen their mutual relations on all fronts.
He was addressing a ceremony regarding the SAFA- Best Presented Annual Report 2014 (BPAR) jointly organized by South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA) and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) at a local hotel.
Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Revenue Haroon Akhtar Khan, SAFA Chairman Lasantha Wikram Singhe, SAFA President Naeem Akhtar Sheikh, ICAP President Hafiz Muhammad Yousaf, and a large number of chartered accountants from Pakistan and other South Asian states attended the ceremony.
The Finance Minister stressed the need for bridging connectivity gap- – road, rail and infrastructure. For intra-regional connectivity gap rendered the South Asia underdeveloped as compared to the European Union and other developed regional blocs of the world, he added.
He said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would not only prove beneficial for Pakistan and China but also for the entire region as it would connect it (region) to the Central Asian States, Europe and other parts of the world.
Ishaq Dar said that TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline project, the CPEC, the CASA-1000 (Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project) and AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) were the very important initiatives of this region, which would help improve economic growth rate that would ultimately alleviate poverty; overcome unemployment and other socio-economic issues.
He mentioned that the PML-N government had always put the country’s economy on track to speedy growth. In 2012-13, Pakistan’s economy was declared instable and no country was then ready to do business with the country but today it was one of the preferred destinations for investors. In only two years, the present government managed to consolidate the country’s economy and put on growth, as today 22 credible institutions of the world have declared its economy as much stable, he added.
The Finance Minister said that the PML-N government managed to bring down the budget deficit to 4.3 per cent from 8.8 per cent, besides ensuring tax growth rate up to 33 per cent in two years – 16.5 per cent per annum- while it was mere 3 per cent in the past.
This government had also the credit of setting new record by taking foreign exchange reserves up to USD 21 billion while, the GDP growth rate was now at 4.45 per cent and tax to GDP ratio increased to 11 per cent from 8.5 per cent when the government took office, he added.
He said the agri credit had also been doubled as of today it was Rs 625 billion and development expenditure also enhanced to Rs 700 billion from Rs 316 billion. Pakistan could easily attain six to seven per cent growth rate, he hoped.
Ishaq Dar said that the government was also taking effective steps to end energy crisis. Though there was no quick fix in the energy sector, however, 10,000 MW would be added into the national grid by March 2018, and beyond 2018, another 14000MW would be added to the system on completion of long and medium-term projects.
He said tyhe government also managed to restore overall peace in the country especially in Karachi, Balochistan and tribal areas through effective operation in Karachi and Zarb-e-Azb. “We will not sit with peace until elimination of the last terrorist.”
Ishaq Dar urged the SAFA and ICAP to come up with consolidated ideas and suggestions, and assured them of his and his ministry’s full support in that regard.
Earlier, the Finance Minister distributed BPAR Awards and Certificates of Merit among the representatives of selected firms and companies.