Islamabad: Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Hammad Azhar on Sunday said despite challenges, the economy of the country was in much better condition than it was back in 2018 when the incumbent government assumed the power.
In a live conference call with Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Federal Minister said that there is no doubt that challenges exist, but there are huge differences between Pakistan in 2018 and Pakistan today.
He said, in 2018, Pakistan was at the verge of default but today’s Pakistan, even after the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, was moving ahead on the path of growth and progress in better manner and was much ahead of growth forecast.
He said in 2018, the economic indicators were in worse condition and couldn’t be shared with the public through media for their negative impact.
“Had we openly talked to people about these indicators it would have created crisis in currency market and stock market,” he said and remarked that the country was virtually at the brink of default.
The foreign exchange reserves had almost finished and the existing around US $7 to US $8 billion, that were in State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), were reserves on the basis of short term loans, which had to be paid back in two to three months.
The minister added that in this case, the government must make some difficult decisions and must devalue the currency and raise interest rates. Afterwards, these decisions began to produce results, and the historical current account deficit inherited by the government turned into a surplus 17 years later.
After that, the world organization that downgraded the economy earlier began to upgrade the economy a year after the current government took office.
He said that the economic recovery of the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the world and shrinking by 5% to 10% (including India, the United Kingdom and other countries) was successfully carried out during the economic recovery.
However, he said that due to the government’s prudent policy, Pakistan made the right decision at the right time to save people’s lives and livelihoods, so Pakistan’s economic growth shrank by only 0.4%.
“We moved forward with a proper strategy and did not follow the Western policy blindly and our economy suffered just 0.4 percent contraction and that too was covered very early,” he added.
He said the government had introduced timely package during covid-19, waived off electricity bills to three million businesses, whereas 170 million families were provided immediate relief through EHSAS programme.
He said business were provided easy loans and a number of packages were announced which resulted in economic recovery and growth as is evident from the fact that SBP was now predicting double growth compared to earlier projections.
He said, despite COVID-19, the Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) was growing at eight percent whereas automobile and cement witnessed historic sales. Urea fertilizer sales broke 10 years record whereas there were also record tractor sales.
In the meantime, he said, around 100 textile mills that were closed in PML tenures were revived whereas thousands of power looms which were closed in Faisalabad were also restored.