LAHORE

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said that new loans were taken to clear the past loans. He said it was because of the efforts of the present government that our total foreign exchange reserves had reached 20 billion dollars and would touch $21 billion mark very soon.

He said revenue collection target of Rs3104 billion would help bringing down the budgetary deficit to 4.3 per cent which in year 2013 was at 8.8 per cent but curtailed to 5.37 per cent at the end of last financial year.

While addressing the officers of the Inland Revenue and Customs at the Regional Tax Office Lahore here on Wednesday, he said that it could have been more less if Pakistan had not to spend on unseen and unbudgeted expenses on war on terrorism and for rehabilitation of flood affectees which stood at Rs 53 billion accumulatively.

The minister said he was well aware of the problems being faced by the country after spending quite long time in opposition and in the upper and lower house. He said that all the international financial institutions in 2013 were predicting that Pakistan may default in year 2014 as its foreign reserves were dwindling and were forecasted to come down to the level which would render the country unable to service its debt.

He said that he had given an economic road map through election manifesto of his party and knew that resolving the problems would be hard and painful. He said revenue collection growth rate had fallen to 3 per cent during the past which during last two years had increased to 16.5 per cent and both the outgoing and incoming FBR leadership deserves appreciation for supplementing the government efforts in this regard.

Ishaq Dar said that the decision taken in the start by the government were unpopular and it cost politically to the government. He said when the present government took over country was facing three issues starting with ‘E’ i.e., instable economy, insufficient energy and extremism.

He said that the government in order to stabilize economy targeted growth in revenue collection and made massive cut on non-developmental expenditures. He claimed that even the Prime Minister was happy to do away with his discretionary funds.

He said during the operation against terrorists hundreds of high valued targets had been killed, scores of centres closed down and now this operation was at its peak.

He said that after coming in to power the present government cleared the old circular debt and planned new projects but it would take time. He said that the government was working on projects of 10,000mw power projects and things would be better by March 2018. He claimed loadshedding had already curtailed and industry was at the top of the preference list as running of industrial wheel would ensure growth and job creation.

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Nisar Muhammad Khan also spoke on this occasion and said that the department had shown 33 per cent growth in tax collection during last two years. He said that the government had also introduced structural and administrative reforms through which tax exemption of Rs 225 billion were eliminated.