- Tarin says even if current account reports a deficit, govt will be able to manage it.
- Minister says bureaucracy not performing up to the mark due to fear of NAB.
- China biggest opportunity for Pakistan, says minister.
Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said Tuesday he was not sure whether the current account would remain in surplus next year as well or not, as he spoke in depth about the country’s economic situation.
The finance minister was a guest on the Geo News programme Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath where he revealed that the NAB law will be amended in the next few weeks.
Explaining the rationale behind the amendment, Tarin said the bureaucracy was not performing up to the mark due to the fear of the anti-graft watchdog,
The minister gave the example of the LNG import, saying that it was imported from Qatar at 13.7% above the Brent rate, and later on at 10.4% above the Brent rate. Despite such a lower import rate, NAB had summoned the files of the agreement.
Pakistan’s import bill and CAD
He admitted that Pakistan’s import bill was going up, stressing that lower oil prices in the international market and since Pakistan was importing machinery. The minister said the import bill was expected to reach $5-6 billion if Pakistan showed economic growth.
Speaking on the current account deficit, Tarin said he was unsure whether it would remain in surplus next year or not. However, he added, if it incures a deficit, then it shall be to an extent that the government will be able to manage it.
‘CPEC biggest opportunity for Pakistan’
The minister said China was the biggest opportunity for Pakistan at the moment, as far as investment is concerned. He said Pakistan was establishing special economic zones, adding that Pakistan will have to figure out how to attract Chinese companies who were relocating from Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.
He said the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was being held, which would discuss foreign funding in various projects, and the CPEC was also becoming functional now which would give a boost to the economy.
Tarin said the CPEC authority will have to be revamped. He also agreed that the Board of Investment was performing below par since the last few years.
Speaking about energy costs, Tarin said Pakistan will not hike the power tariff. However, he added that the country may increase oil prices if they go up in the international market. He said one main reasons for food inflation was the import of food items from abroad.
He spoke about tax collection as well, saying that the government intends to introduce some “out-of-the-box” measures to ensure a higher collection rate.