–Hafeez Shaikh says reforms bearing fruit, economy moving towards stability
–Says privatisation of National Bank, State Life Insurance under consideration
ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh on Sunday said the government after making tough decisions to reform the economy was eyeing a collection of over Rs1 trillion in non-tax revenue.
Addressing a press conference in the federal capital, he said that the government expects to collect Rs200 billion from the renewal fee of cellular licences of telecom companies, namely Jazz, Telenor and Zong, and Rs300bn through the privatisation of Re-Gasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) plants.
Moreover, he said, if the exchange rate remains stable, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) would earn Rs400bn.
“All of these combined with revenues from privatisation of state-owned enterprises and other initiatives would bring in over Rs1 trillion in the coming year,” he said, adding that this increase in revenue would enable the government to pay off its loans and work for the welfare of the people.
He further said that the government has decided to expedite the process in this regard. “The privatisation of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC) is currently under consideration,” he added.
Talking about taxation, the finance adviser said that the government had set the tax collection target at Rs5,500 billion, out of which Rs580 billion have already been collected while the number of tax filers has gone up by 0.6 million to 2.5 million.
“The circular debt was reduced by Rs100 billion and power theft was curtailed,” he said, adding that the government also froze the defence budget.
“The rupee is now stable and the stock market is also seeing growth,” he said.
The finance adviser said that the incumbent government’s financial reforms have started bearing fruit as the economy is moving towards stability.
He said that the country’s economic indicators portrayed a worrisome picture when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) assumed office in August last year.
“The country was on the brink of bankruptcy because of the previous government’s policies but through our financial reforms we have improved the economic situation,” he said, adding that the economy is moving towards stability and the current account deficit had been reduced by 73 per cent.
He further said that the government is working for the betterment of the people of Pakistan and no compromise would be made on taxation.
“We took tough financial decisions for the welfare of the people and we are currently taking measures to promote investment,” he added.
Meanwhile, the government’s decision to privatise state-owned enterprises was welcomed by the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI).
ICCI President Ahmed Hassan Moughal said that loss-making state-owned enterprises had become a big burden on the national exchequer and handing them over to the private hands was the optimum solution to save the taxpayers money from unnecessary wastage.
On Friday, Minister for Privatisation Muhammad Mian Soomro, while briefing investors, had said that the government would sell its share in the SLIC.
Soomro had said that the profit and market share of the SLIC was shrinking; hence the incumbent government had decided to sell its stake in the loss-making organisation.
“SLIC is an important institute and its profit and market share are declining which is a cause for concern. Providing the private sector shares of the State Life will improve its performance,” the minister had said.
“Through privatisation, the national institutes running in losses will be provided better investment opportunities and with the introduction of advanced technology and corporate sector’s better abilities, poverty can be alleviated and tax revenue increased,” he had added.
Responding to a question, the minister had said that the government was focusing on the revival of Pakistan Steel Mills, adding that there were 204 state-owned enterprises and the government could not privatise them all.
He had said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had constituted a team of experts for the revival of loss-making public enterprises.
Earlier on February 22, the Senate’s Standing Committee on Privatisation was informed that the incumbent government had decided to privatise 49 entities over the period of next five years.
Federal Privatisation Secretary Rizwan Malik had told the meeting that government had tasked the Ministry of Privatisation to execute the plan. He had said that eight entities would be privatized in the next one-and-a-half-year, while two LNG power plants would also be sold in the first phase.