Great progress made towards macroeconomic stability: Finance Minister

Pakistan has made significant progress towards macroeconomic stability, with a remarkable 30 percent growth in revenue collection, slashing the current account deficit and inflation during the outgoing fiscal year. This was stated by Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb, while addressing the launching ceremony of the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2023-24 in Islamabad this evening. He said the Pakistani rupee also witnessed stability due to prudent policies of the government. The Minister said this situation indicates a remarkable turnaround from a precarious economic situation, characterized by a 0.2 percent GDP contraction, 29 percent rupee depreciation, and shrinking foreign exchange reserves, which have declined to just two weeks' worth of import cover. He added the country's GDP growth found a silver lining in the agriculture sector, which has been boosted by bumper crops. He said agriculture and the dairy and livestock sector are expected to remain a key driver of growth in the years to come. As regar ds negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, Muhammad Aurangzeb said we have had constructive and positive dialogue with the international lender and these are progressing well. He recalled that Pakistan successfully concluded a Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF and the economic discipline demonstrated by the country was recognized by the lender. He said the successful conclusion of the IMF's Stand-By Arrangement has also restored the confidence in Pakistan's economy. The Finance Minister expressed the commitment to block leakages in the economy. He said there are no sacred cows and everybody has to contribute to the economy. He said a process has been started for digitization of the FBR. Quoting survey statistics, Muhammad Aurangzeb said the real GDP has posted a positive growth of 2.38 percent during the outgoing fiscal year as against the negative growth of the last year due to prudent policy measures. He said the robust growth of 6.25 percent in the agriculture sector is the highest in the l ast 19 years, which is a major hallmark. This growth has been mainly driven by 16.82 percent growth in important crops such as wheat, rice, and cotton. He said the industrial sector posted a positive growth of 1.21 percent. Industrial sector performance is mainly driven by the manufacturing sector and construction sector. The services sector also witnessed a moderate growth of 1.21 percent. The Finance Minister said the inflation has come down to 11.8 percent and there has been an unprecedented increase of thirty percent in revenue collection. Muhammad Aurangzeb said it was estimated that the Current Account Deficit will remain at six billion dollars this year. However, it is expected to be two hundred million dollars. He said the Current Account remained in surplus for three months and the month of May is also expected to be in surplus. The Minister said that the foreign exchange reserves have reached about nine billion dollars, sufficient for a two-month import. He said the markets are also responding positivity as a result of macroeconomic stability. Answering a question, Muhammad Aurangzeb said repayment will not be a challenge once IMF programme is finalized as we are entering the next fiscal year with a stronger note as compared to the last year. Replying to another question, he said high-impact projects are being given priority under the Public Sector Development Programme. According to the Economic Survey, per capita income increased by 129 dollars to 1680 dollars as compared to 1,551 dollars last year on account of an increase in economic activity and appreciation in the exchange rate. Similarly, the saving to GDP ratio has been recorded at thirteen percent this fiscal year compared to 13.2 percent last year. The Mining and Quarrying sector posted growth of 4.9 percent during the current fiscal year against a contraction of 3.3 percent last year. The mineral sector witnessed significant growth such as Coal 37.7 percent, Chromites 36.9, Iron Ore 63.9, Soapstone 29.3, Magnesite 34.4 and Marble witnessed an increase of 23.2 percent. Total development expenditures grew by 14.2 percent to 1,158.1 billion rupees against 1,014.0 billion rupees last year. Remittances grew by 3.5 percent during the first ten months of the current fiscal year and were recorded at 23.8 billion dollars as against 23 billion dollars last year. The Foreign Direct Investment inflow increased by 8.1 percent to 1.5 billion dollars during the first ten months of the current year as compared to 1.3 billion dollars in the same period last year. In his remarks, Minister of State for Finance Ali Pervaiz said the country has moved from a difficult economic situation to fiscal stability over the last one year. Ali Pervaiz said there is confidence in currency and stock markets and foreign investors are coming to Pakistan for investment in different sectors. The Minister of State expressed the commitment to protect the vulnerable segments of society. He said the government is also committed to the documentation of the economy. Sou rce: Radio Pakistan