ISLAMABAD: Members of the cabinet addressed the media Tuesday to highlight the government’s achievement as the PTI government marked two years since it took over the reins of the country.
Speaking after information minister Shibli Faraz, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the Indian government had failed to isolate Pakistan internationally, adding that the “narrative has shifted on Kashmir” and that the people of the occupied territory will get the right to self-determination.
The foreign minister pointed out how Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his first speech as Pakistan’s premier, had highlighted the issue of occupied Kashmir.
“You can compare the speeches of Nawaz Sharif and before that, Asif Zardari at the UN and see for yourself how often the word Kashmir was used in their speeches,” he said.
Current account deficit reduced
Highlighting the performance of the finance ministry, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said that Pakistan was faced with a mountain of challenges when the government came to power.
He stated that Pakistan was faced with a huge current account deficit which the incumbent government had reduced drastically due to its sound fiscal policies.
The finance adviser said that the government of Pakistan, civil and military leadership both, had reduced their budgets in its bid to practice austerity in times of crisis.
Shaikh said that the government had not borrowed from the State Bank of Pakistan throughout the current year.
“The biggest point of the prime minister’s package was that cash was given to ordinary people who were impacted [by the coronavirus],” he said, referring to the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.
Shaikh said that for the first time in Pakistan’s history, Rs250bn were provided to the people of Pakistan “in every city and goth”. “This money was provided to 100 million people,” he said.
He said that the government had not imposed any new tax in budget 2020-21, adding that the first month of the fiscal year brought about good news.
Shaikh disclosed that Pakistan’s exports grew by 6% in July, adding that these were a result of the government’s policies and budget measures.
“The FBR collected Rs300bn [the amount] was 23 times more than their internal estimates,” he said.
He spoke about the performance of the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) stating that international publications such as Bloomberg were praising it.
‘Wide recognition’ from global community on FATF targets
Federal Minister of Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said that the government brought about a construction package which was one of its kind. He said that its results were already being felt in the country’s economy, adding that construction in the country would speed up after the monsoon region.
He said that the government had cut down smuggling of phones in the country through technological means. “70% of the phones in our country used to be smuggled. We cut that through technological means,” he added.
Referring to the Pakistan Steel Mills, among other institutions, Azhar said that a lot of sectors had been “kept in the morgue” by previous governments.
“The Pakistan Steel Mills was given Rs35bn in salaries over the past five years and bailout packages worth Rs80bn were given as well. It went from recording profits to losses and currently owes Rs236bn,” he said.
Azhar added that the government had tackled the problem “head on” by taking big decisions and had taken the decision to involve a joint stakeholder from the private sector to manage the institution.
Speaking about the Financial Action Task Force’s action items list, he said that Pakistan was put on the grey list during the previous government’s tenure. “We were given a 27-point strict action item by a joint group, which wasn’t previously given to any other country, in such a short span of time” he said.
Azhar said that the government had completed 14 of the 27 action items and out of the remaining 13, 11 had been ‘partially completed’.
The minister said that Pakistan used to be previously criticised at the FATF forum for not doing enough to tackle money laundering and crimes. However, he said during the past one year, the country had received “wide recognition” from the global community.
‘Ehsaas programme biggest social safety net’
Taking over the press conference, Dr Sania Nishtar gave a detailed briefing on the Ehsaas programme and its components.
Dr Nishtar said the programme, which launched fifteen months ago, is the country’s biggest-ever social safety net.
“Ehsaas programme will be further expanded and its access to the masses will be ensured,” she said, adding that a separate programme is being launched in the next fifteen days in all districts of Pakistan under which the children of deserving families will be given scholarships.