AT its meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, the economic team of the Government led by Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, took pride in stabilizing the economy to some extent despite the highly negative impact of the Covid-19 situation. It was informed that during the current financial year the primary deficit was surplus, and there was an increase of five per cent in the FBR tax collection, 27 per cent increase in the foreign remittances, and 9.1 percent increase in the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
There are, indeed, positive signs on the economic front and these augur well for the country and that is why the Prime Minister has emphasized the need for a trickle-down effect of the stability to the masses. The Government deserves credit for initiation and continuation of some of the bitter economic and fiscal measures which had political repercussions for an elected government and these have started yielding fruits. Substantial increase in foreign remittances by Overseas Pakistanis and the policy of discouraging unnecessary imports are apparently the main contributors to improvement in the economic conditions. It is rightly said that the country created history with over $2 billion worth of workers’ remittances for the sixth consecutive month in November, which helped it continue to meet its international payment obligations. As per State Bank of Pakistan, persistent efforts by the government and central bank to bring remittances under the Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI) and rising use of digital channels amid limited cross-border travel were some of the important factors behind the sustained improvement in workers’ remittances. However, it is also a fact that incentives provided to the industry and the construction sectors have also helped stimulate the otherwise stumbling economy. There has been a substantial increase in production of cars, which is important in the backdrop of the pressure the industry witnessed during Covid-19 forcing it to lay off staff and the increase in production would serve as a positive message for more companies to invest in the sector. The economic activity is expected to take a quantum jump when all the planned projects under the umbrella of the construction package reach the implementation stage providing job opportunities to thousands. At long last, there is also a ray of hope that the authorities would be able to tackle the menace of rising inflation as prices of wheat and sugar have already started declining after the arrival of imported commodities. However, as pointed out by the Prime Minister himself, trickle-down effect should be visible as people have suffered a lot and deserve immediate relief in multiple ways.