The Express Tribune
Published Date: Jan 26, 2019
Govt. to unveil medium-term economic framework next week
ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar has revealed that the government will announce a medium-term economic framework next week, where more supply-side measures will be taken to give a fresh boost to exports and investments.
He termed the economic reform package, announced on Wednesday, a neutral budget in terms of fiscal and monetary measures but said it would revive and facilitate investment and economic growth.
“Moreover, the government is moving towards direct taxation while gradually curtailing indirect taxes,” he said while speaking at a seminar titled “Economic Reforms: Way Forward”, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Friday.
“Our economy is consumption-based where in the last 10 years our fiscal and monetary policies failed to revive growth and facilitate investment,” he said.
He was of the view that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government (PTI) had taken tough measures, which led to stabilisation of the economy, adding the sole aim of the reform package was to boost supply-side of the economy and enhance production and exports.
He highlighted that the government had proposed a simplified and friendly tax regime to ensure ease of doing businesses. Responding to a question, he said the government was neither planning nor was in favour of any tax amnesty scheme.
Board of Investment (BOI) Chairman Haroon Sharif said all foreign state visits of the prime minister were fundamentally aimed at reaching out to investors to steer Pakistan’s economy out of crisis.
“At BOI, we have four objectives – increasing productivity, technology transfer, facilitating investments to support the export sector and job creation,” he remarked.
Sharif pointed out that first phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had matured and in the second phase Pakistan had got five concrete proposals from China, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and South Korea in sectors like petroleum products, renewable energy, hospitality and tourism.
“The feedback received from the investors and business community is on the taxation structure which is repressive, inconsistency in policies and lack of contract enforcement capacity,” Haroon said, adding that with the help of technology, the government reduced the number of taxes to 16 from 47.
This “is a significant improvement whereas we intend to further slash the number of taxes to a single tax in the next one year,” the BOI chief said.
Such corrective measures, he stressed, had set the direction of the economy, which would build confidence of investors.
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SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri called the reform package an attempt to improve the cost and ease of doing business. “Sometimes governments opt for unpopular corrective measures to get the economy out of crisis. This is for the first time any government is trying to engage Gulf states in an institutional manner, which is a positive step towards improved ties with these states,” he added.