Despite COVID, Govt projects 2pc economic growth this fiscal

Despite the global recession due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Pakistan’s economic growth is projected to be two percent during the current fiscal year, the Senate was told on Friday.

During the question hour session at the Senate, Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar told the house that the stimulus package of Rs 1,240 billion announced by the government in the wake of the pandemic has provided necessary succor to different sectors including the SMEs.

Hammad said the economic indicators are positive with remittances witnessing 20 percent increase as compared to previous years, whereas the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is exceeding its revenue targets which manifest increased activity in the industries including automobiles and textiles.

The government’s growth projection contradicts projection given by international bodies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected GDP growth rate for Pakistan at 1 percent for 2021 against -0.4 percent in 2020. Whereas the World Bank (WB) has projected Pakistan’s GDP growth rate at 0.5 percent.

Talking about FATF, the minister said despite resistance from some quarters, the government has strengthened money laundering laws. He said the money laundering has now been declared a cognizable offense.

Hammad was confident that the progress made in this regard will be noted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in its next meeting.

Responding to a question, Hammad Azhar said efforts are afoot to revive Pakistan Steel Mills. He said our aim is to involve a private party to run the core operations of the mills.