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Dawn Islamabad

Published Date: Nov 30, 2013

Increasing import-export gap blamed for rupee fall

Adviser to the Chief Minister of Balochistan Dr Kaiser Bengali on
Friday said the increasing gap between imports and exports was the root
cause for continued fall of the rupee.

Speaking at a Policy symposium organized by the Sustainable
Development Policy Institute, Pakistan (SDPI) at local hotel he warned
that if the situation was not arrested, in next three years the rupee
may touch 200 against dollar.

Mr Bangali said that from 1998 to 2004, annual increase in imports
was 4.7 per cent but in 2005 to 2008 annual increase in imports was 26.7
percent.

"We should decrease unnecessary imports like cosmetics which foots import bill of $300 million every year.

"Effectively utilization of railway as mode of transportation will
reduce the oil consumption by 30 per cent," he said adding Thar coal may
also help meet emerging energy needs.

Chairperson, Standing Committee on Finance Senator Nasreen Jalil said
that energy tax reforms were essential for sustained economic growth in
the country.
She said that all exemptions and concessions allowed by the government
should first be debated in the Parliament.

Dr. Khaqaan Najeeb, Director General, Economic Reforms Unit at the
Ministry of Finance said that the government was committed to
maintaining fiscal sustainability through revenue collection and reforms
in the energy sector as well as in public sector enterprises (PSEs).

“The government aims to achieve 15 per cent Tax-to-GDP ratio. Audits
and data mining will be improved in the country. Line losses of
electricity, which currently stand at 21 per cent, should be brought
down to at least 16 per cent,” he observed.

Senator Mohsin Khan Leghari emphasized the need to revisit the direct
tax regime, since indirect taxes tend to burden the underprivileged.

He also said that hydropower resources were best option for energy generation in the country.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr Musadik Malik discussed increase in power prices, and theft in the power transmission.

Owing to these challenges, resorting to coal may become necessary which in turn
may be environmentally detrimental. He also said that there is a need to get rid of subsidies in the energy and power sectors.

Chairman Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority Saeed Ahmed Khan said that
political favoritism had been contributing to the woes of the energy
sector. He also stated that private sector involvement would encourage
the efficiency in gas sector.

Dr Waqar Ahmed, Deputy Executive Director, SDPI explained that it
seems that increase power prices were inevitable to cover higher
generation costs.

"It should be ensured that future administrations should not go back
to untargeted subsidies which are politically maneuvered and it is time
that provincial governments should now be given a role in curbing theft
of electricity," he said.