ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s economic growth stood at 5.37 % during last year despite COVID-19 pandemic repercussions in respect of industrial production, foreign trade, and travel coupled with the imposition of pandemic restrictions in the country. It was shared by the Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar during a news conference in Islamabad on Thursday.
Hammad termed this success a result of the reforms introduced by the PTI government in various sectors of the national economy such as taxation on remittances, reduction in circular debt, the introduction of fiscal discipline, increase in tax bed, and implementation of the aggressive industrial policy during the last three and half years.
Federal Minister for Energy claimed that the PTI government remained successful in achieving the goal of sustainable growth of 5.4 percent in its third year in office while the PML-N government could not achieve the stated 5.4 % growth in the true sense during its last year in office because they failed to control circular debt, increase in exports and foreign exchange reserves, and also lent $ 7.5 billion loans on annual basis.
According to him, the incumbent government not only achieve a remarkable growth rate during last year but also maintained other economic indicators including a $ 5 billion increase in foreign exchange reserves, debt payment of about $ 11 billion, and a reduction in Rs. 130 billion in the head of circular debt.
Hammad claimed that government will maintain this growth rate during the next 5 years and so on.
While commenting on the shortage of urea in the country, Federal Minister was of the view that the current shortage of urea is a result of the demand factor instead of the production factor. According to him, the fertilizer industry is running 24/7 and producing 450,000 bags per day however farmers are using urea solely for their crops because DAP prices are very high around the globe.
While answering another question regarding the ban on gas connections in the country, Hammad Azhar said that due to the depletion of gas reserves in the country, the ban was imposed by the PPP government which was later continued by the PML-N except for the last year in office. While responding to a media query regarding the shortage of gas, Hammad Azhar said that the gas corporations around the world have reached on the verge of default due to a global price hike but the government tied its level best to retain gas price at the level of 2019 in bid to provide relief to the public.
While commenting on the prices of electricity, Hammad was of the view that fuel cost adjustment and generation of electricity from costly imported coal and oil are the real reason for it, however, he claimed that fuel cost adjustment is an old practice while PML-N introduced power plants using imported fuel during its tenure. While answering another question Azhar said that local gas is relatively inexpensive than imported gas, while the problem of gas shortage in Karachi is largely due to court stay order otherwise the government is continuously providing gas to 1870 industrial units in Karachi including fertilizer companies and only 200 units had affected from the recent shortage.
According to him, the people of Karachi had suffered due to gas shortage however after the removal of the stay order by the court the situation will improve in the province. increase in foreign exchange and exports, various tough decisions to put the country’s economy on the track including liberalizing foreign exchange rate.