Had to take tough decisions to support forex reserves: Hafeez Shaikh
KARACHI: Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Abdul Hafeez Sheikh has said that the government has taken a few important and tough decisions to improve economy after it’s foreign reserves fell to their lowest, $10 billion, ARY News reported.
Addressing a press conference in Karachi on Thursday, Shaikh said that the government was looking to borrow $2-3 billion from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank to support the rapidly-declining reserves.
Expanding upon the current deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Sheikh said: “Approaching IMF is a part of the difficult decision that we are undertaking to save the country from economic turmoil, we are trying to increase employment opportunities and wages for the employed class.”
“The economic growth is meager compared to Inflation,” confessed Sheikh.
“A user consuming 300 or less units will not be effected by any new taxes that might be imposed.”
Talking about the economic situation of the country when the current government came to power, Hafeez said: “The state of the country’s economic affairs was in tatters with a debt worth Rs.31000 billion and an external debt worth Rs.97 billion.”
Prices of gas units will see an increase but the financial advisor ensured that the new prices will not affect 40% of the consumers, he also informed about a meeting which was held between representatives of the state and the businessmen and traders of the country.
“We plan to bump the National development program to Rs.800 billion,” said Sheikh.
The chief financial advisor expressed resolve to keep the people in lower strata of the economy who are economically weak and impoverished under special consideration.
Sheikh added that they were trying to make the country more viable to new business opportunities and investments, he also said that the losses to the economy can be minimized with curbing expenditures.
“People are well aware of our will and determination,” Sheikh opined.
Touching upon the appointment of Mr. Reza Baqir as the new Governor State Bank Hafeez said that he was a well recognized figure in the economic world.
He also talked about the ‘Ehsas Program’ initiative being undertaken by the government, the program is being developed for the poor of the country.
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Talking about the impending budget announcement Sheikh said: “The budget has been made bearing in mind the difficulties being faced by the people, we will try and put the least amount of burden in terms of taxation and I must also emphasize curbing expenditure,” added Sheikh.
Clarifying his stance on the KASB merger case which named the current chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Shabbar Zaidi, the chairman said that he was not named in the case at all.
“No new taxes worth mentioning are being added, the federal budget will be announced by 10 or 11 June,” said Sheikh in closing.