Ministers count PTI government’s feats in last two years
As the PTI government completed the first two years of its tenure on Tuesday, the federal cabinet members listed their party’s achievements with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi saying that India’s plan to isolate Pakistan failed miserably.
In a joint press conference, Information Minister Shibli Faraz, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Adviser on Finance Hafeez Sheikh, Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar and Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation Sania Nishtar presented the performance of the government.
Qureshi said India had tried to isolate Pakistan but failed in executing the design, adding that even the South Asian countries like Nepal and Bangladesh challenged New Delhi’s hegemony.
About China, the foreign minister said Pakistan already had a strategic partnership with the all-weather friend which was being turned into economic relationship through initiatives like CPEC. The goal was to promote the shared goals, he stressed.
Similarly, he added, Pakistan was entering into strong economic and financial relations with Turkey through the upcoming trade and investment deal.
Islamabad had signed a strategic engagement plan with the European Union while the government also launched the Africa initiative to create foot print in the African market through economic diplomacy, said Qureshi.
He also cited Prime Minister Imran Khan’s efforts for debt reduction at global level as well as the join fight against Islamophobia.
Qureshi mentioned that the entire world had realised after spending trillions of dollars that the peace in Afghanistan could be achieved only through a political process, thus admitting the argument presented by Imran years ago.
Sharing the achievements on the external front, Qureshi said it was because of our effective policy of the last two years that the Kashmir dispute stands internationalized today. He said the UN Security Council held discussions on the outstanding dispute for the third time in a year. He pointed out that Prime Minister Imran Khan in his address to the UN General Assembly and other international forums forcefully raised the dispute.
The Foreign Minister said that intra-Afghan dialogue is about to commence and Pakistan has played its part in it. He said there has been a narrative shift regarding Pakistan over the last two years. He said Pakistan is no longer considered part of the problem but part of the solution. He said Pakistan is now being viewed as a partner in peace.
Qureshi said "We gave the concept of economic diplomacy to enhance our economic footprint. He said during this period, we have also revitalized our relations with our longstanding friends. Foreign Minister said our relationship with China is transforming into a strong economic partnership. He said the second phase of CPEC involves industrialization in Pakistan. Enhancing agriculture productivity, poverty alleviation and human resource development are other important components of the second phase of the corridor project.
Qureshi said Pakistan has signed a strategic engagement plan with the European Union and as part of economic diplomacy also we also engaged with Africa. Foreign Minister said the Prime Minister's global debt relief initiative for the developing countries was acknowledged by the world.
Adviser to the PM on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said the PTI government saved the country from default and reduced the current account deficit to $3 billion from $20 billion. He also claimed that they had reduced government expenditure and increased tax collection.
Highlighting the problems inherited by the present government on the economic front and the steps taken to overcome them, Hafeez Shaikh said that it is our historic performance that the current account deficit was brought down from twenty billion dollars to three billion dollars. He said the government returned loans of five thousand billion rupees.
The Adviser on Finance said the government also curtailed its expenditures. The budgets of President House and the Prime Minister House were reduced whilst that of the armed forces were frozen. He said no borrowing was made from the State Bank of Pakistan during the last fiscal year. No supplementary grants were given during this period.
The Adviser said we gave a mega package of 1240 billion rupees to cope with the situation arising out of Covid-19. He said the biggest portion of the package went to the disadvantaged segments of the society and the people rendered jobless by the breakout of Coronavirus. He said a payment of 250 billion rupees was made to them in the most transparent manner.
The Adviser on Finance said our economic performance is now being hailed by international organizations including IMF, Moody's and Fitch. He said Pakistan Stock Market has been recognized as the best performing market by Bloomberg.
Hafeez Shaikh said no new tax was imposed in the current year budget whilst taxes on import of raw materials were either totally abolished or reduced significantly.
The Adviser said the government's economic policy has started bearing fruit. He said the exports witnessed growth of six percent in the month of July including that of cement by sixty-six percent. He said the domestic sale of cement increased by thirty three percent. Similarly, there has been increase in the sale of fertilizers and vehicles.
Hafeez Shaikh said the month of July received the record remittances of 2.8 billion dollars. He said the FBR collection remained 300 billion rupees in the first month of current fiscal year.
The Adviser said the country is being taken forward through a combined effort. He said the people of Pakistan are the priority of Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said the economic gains will be further consolidated in the days ahead.
Another cabinet member Hammad Azhar said the government maintained supply chain during the coronavirus pandemic and provided relief to various sectors. He also claimed that Pakistan witnessed an increase in exports when compared with India and Bangladesh.
Hammad Azhar said regardless of breakout of Covid-19, all the supply chains were remained open to ensure availability of essential commodities to the people. He said timely decisions were taken by the present government for the gradual reopening of industries.
The Minister said the government has given an incentive package to the construction industry. As a result of this, there is an upsurge in the construction sector. He said this activity will further increase after the monsoon season.
Hammad Azhar said two new policies were given by the government including that of electric vehicle policy and mobile manufacturing policy. He said the manufacturing of two and three wheelers electric vehicles will start this year while Pakistan is also to begin export of smart phones.
Hammad Azhar said difficult decisions have also been taken vis-a-vis state enterprises including Pakistan Steel Mills.
The Minister for Industries said Pakistan has also made significant progress to meet the action plan of FATF.
Federal Minister Asad Umar said the entire world was acknowledging the fact that Pakistan tackled the coronavirus effectively. The death rate in other regional countries like India, Iran and Bangladesh was much higher, he noted.
About the political situation in the country, Asad remarked that Imran wasn’t ready to give NRO to anyone.
Asad Umar said Pakistan is being ranked amongst the few countries which has successfully confronted Covid-19. He said the situation in Pakistan is far better when compared with other countries in the region. He attributed this success to the decisions taken in a timely manner with consensus. He said the government proved it has the competence and the will to address the challenges.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar narrated the initiatives launched under the Ehsas Programme.
Earlier, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said the PTI had ended the politics of right and left, adding that their politics revolved around establishing a welfare state.
“The enemies want to spread hopelessness and anarchy in the country,” said Shibli said and added that the political rivals were following the politics of personal interest.
Sania Nishtar gave a detailed briefing on Ehsaas program and its different components. She said the Ehsaas program was established is the country's biggest ever social safety net.
She said the Ehsaas program will be further expanded and its access to the masses will be ensured. Special Assistant on Poverty Alleviation said that a program is being launched in the next fifteen days in all districts of Pakistan under which the children of deserving families will be given scholarships.
Shibli Faraz said the governments are answerable before the masses in a democratic set-up. He said our aim is to transform Pakistan into a welfare state. He said it is the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to serve the masses especially those belonging to downtrodden segments of the society.
He said the people have rejected the politics of vested interests. He said our enemy wants to destabilize our economy and create anarchy in the country. He said his ministry will fully confront this challenge as a united nation without any division.
The Information Minister said the first two years were difficult but now the good days have started.