ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umar on Thursday said that the Supplementary Finance Bill (Second Amendment) 2019 was, in reality, ‘economic reforms bill’, which was aimed at promoting investment and giving support to the national economy.
Addressing a post-budget press conference in Islamabad, the finance minister said that Pakistan’s economy had been facing challenges repeatedly, and the increasing gap between exports and imports exacerbated the problem.
“We have taken emergency steps to support the economy; the ‘economic reforms bill’ will herald the beginning of economy’s betterment”, he said.
He said that Pakistan’s economy faced three deficits, i.e. widening gap between exports and imports, a decline in forex reserves, and low investments.
“Situation has, however, improved with steps taken by the State Bank (SBP), and the economic reforms bill would further consolidate the improvements made”, he said.
Umar claimed that the government had worked out the steps needed to reduce the financing gap for FY2019, and an agreement had been reached with China which would be announced soon.
Reflecting on the ‘mini-budget’ presented yesterday, he said that the present government had inherited the economy in a shape like that of a patient in a critical condition.
“Our first step was to operate on this patient, and now there are no more alarm bells”, he said, adding that the government was doing its best to revive the economy in its ‘original shape’.
He disspelled the impression that the government had imposed new taxes worth Rs. 12bn, saying that only one new tax was imposed whereas taxes on cars above 1800cc engine capacity had been increased.
Responding to a question about possible financial assistance from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), he said that it was wrong to assume that the IFC offered ‘free loans’.
“We will not take dictation from any country and will decide [the matters] independently”, he said.