PM asks EAC to propose relief measures instead of imposing taxes

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday ordered the newly created Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to propose measures for relief to the people instead of imposing more taxes.

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Addressing the concern of members on high inflation, unemployment and low growth, PM Khan directed the newly appointed Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to put forward measures for relief of people rather than imposition of more taxes.

“The most important expectation I have from you (EAC) is to suggest out-of-box solutions as to how to reduce prices,” said the PM according to an official.

He also guaranteed that EAC’s proposals would be actively taken into consideration.

The first session of the EAC meeting was chaired by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin and prime minister joined the second session through video link.

The prime minister said that the primary objective for the creation of the EAC was to benefit from the recommendations of the country’s economic experts to put the national economy on sustainable growth path. To tackle the tough economic conditions, the members should come up with out-of-box solutions for providing relief to the people instead of loading them with more taxes, he added.

In its first meeting, the EAC formed a number of working groups on economic growth, prices, interest rates and central banking, taxation and FBR, agriculture, energy social protection and governance.

For instance, the group on macroeconomy led by Dr Ishrat Husain would comprise Dr Rashid Amjad, Saleem Reza, Dr Ejaz Nabi and Abid Qayyum Sulehri while the group on energy would be convened by Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar.

Syed Fakhar Imam and Mukhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar would jointly lead the group on agriculture and food and Dr Sania Nishtar would lead another group on social safety nets.

The members also voiced their concerns regarding slow utilization of Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) and highlighted that while the government had changed PSDP mechanism by authorising relevant ministries for spending, the ministries have no spending capacity.

Mr Tarin welcomed all the members and stressed the need for an evolving consensus on macroeconomic stabilisation measures and reform agenda for an inclusive and sustained economic growth after taking all stakeholders on board.

Read More: Pakistan’s economic recovery remains fragile, World Bank

For an effective way forward, short-, medium- and long-term plans with respective timelines needed to be presented by the EAC, said Tarin.

According to SAPM on revenue Dr Waqar Masood, the main areas for productive discussion including sustained and inclusive economic growth, employment generation, price stability mechanism, tax reforms, housing sector, ease of doing business, pension reforms, rationalisation of subsidies, food security, revamping power and energy sectors, social protection network, health and improvement in overall governance.

The private members attending the meeting asked for policy actions regarding strengthening blue economy, need for road-to-market infrastructure development, import substitution, mechanised farming, gender-sensitive employment initiatives, harmonising tax and tariff structures, climate change, SMEs, and streamlining circular debt and other power related issues.

The members decided to meet again after Eid ul Fitr to check if there was a need for renegotiation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.

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