Inflation on mark, forecast of higher industrial activity to boost economy: Dar

DUBAI: Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Wednesday said that the GDP has continued to grow above four percent for the 3rd year.

Dar was speaking to media alongside officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), following discussions with the organisation.

He declared talks with IMF fruitful and satisfactory while the latter also expressed its satisfaction over Pakistan’s economic outlook. However, officials cautioned over challenges that could affect “the hard-won stability gains in period ahead.”

Dar said he hoped that the GDP will grow by five percent this year. “GDP growth would be highest in the last ten years” he added.

Commenting on the latest statistics, for the month of March 2017, the minister said that inflation figures turned out to be as expected.

“Inflation for March 2017 was in order, and, as per the guidance, came out at 4.60 percent,” said the Finance Minister. He added that the figure was recorded at 4.01 percent for the 9-month period from July 2016 to March 2017.

Import of foreign machinery expanded more than 40% in the same time period, noted Dar, highlighting “higher expectation of industrial activity, which, in turn, will help economic growth.”

According to Dar, there was an improvement in various major industrial sectors, including cement, steel, pharmaceuticals, automotive, paper, and electronics, as well. Credit expenses of the private sector, on the other hand, totalled at Rs. 393 billion in the first nine months of this fiscal year.

GDP growth was registered at 4.70 percent, primarily on the back of better performance in the agricultural sector – mainly comprising cotton, sugar, maize, and wheat – which rebounded into greener pastures.

Dar also mentioned that interventions were made via the Finance Bill during 2016-17.

With regard to the Cabinet’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), the Finance Minister mentioned that the government has made efforts to enhance linkages and communication with farmers, especially in terms of lending support to farmers through the pre-set support price

Dar said that Pakistan had reserves at $22billion, which would reach $23 billion by the end of year.

IMF Mission Chief to Pakistan Herald Finger said that Pakistan’s economy was in a better position due to increasing investment related to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and recovering agriculture.

He maintained that reforms would be critical for Pakistan to achieve its broader economic objectives and continued effort will be important in the period ahead.

He said that Pakistan has been facing challenges of “fiscal, external and energy sectors”, adding that consolidated efforts are required to better manage the country’s economy.



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