Cash-strapped Pakistan’s economy for the first time crossed the $ 300-billion mark and achieved over five per cent GDP growth. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar today announced that Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had grown 5.28 per cent in fiscal year 2016-17, against the target of 5.7 per cent. The finance minister shared the report of National Economy Survey 2016-17 ahead of federal budget which he would present before the parliament tomorrow. “The 5.28 per cent growth is less than our target but still is huge improvement to the 3.5 per cent when the government took over in 2013,” he said.
“We had set a challenging target and I am satisfied with the growth,” Dar said. “There has been a visible growth in the national economy. This is the first time in 10 years that we have crossed the five per cent GDP growth mark,” Dar said. “For the first time, Pakistan’s economy crossed the $ 300-billion mark,” he added.
The industrial sector grew 5.02 per cent, agriculture 3.46 per cent and services 5.98 per cent, the finance minister said. He said the growth rate for the next fiscal year has been set over 6 per cent. “Pakistan’s growth is far better than the global growth,” he said. The government also met its budget deficit target of 3.8 per cent, with the actual deficit registering at 3.7 per cent.
Proudly sharing the massive recovery of the economy, Dar said by 2030 Pakistan would be part of G20 group of nations. “By 2050, Pakistan would surpass Canada, Italy and South Korea,” he said. He also said that by 2019 Pakistan would not need to go the IMF for loans. He said there was 22 per cent growth in per capita income which has increased from $ 1,333 last year to $ 1629.
Dar said the FDI inflow would also double to $ 2.58 by the end of current fiscal year on June 30. Foreign reserves have increased to $ 21 billion from paltry $ 6 billion in 2013. “When we took over, there was danger of default. And now we are being branded as one of the leading economy,” he said. The remittances are expected to reach $ 19.5 billion for this year.
Talking about growth of utilities, he said there was 3.4 per cent increase recorded in electricity, gas supply in the existing fiscal year. He said so far the country has lost $ 123.13 billion due to war on terror. He also said that 25,000 security personnel were killed and as many were injured since the start of crackdown against terrorists post 9/11. Talking about debt, he said public debt was at 53.1 per cent of GDP in 2008, which went up to 60.2 per cent of GDP and it was now at 59.3.
The import of heavy machinery surged 70 per cent, textile sector showed a 23 per cent increase while the construction increased by 67 per cent and agriculture 37 per cent. “As far as (lower-than-expected) exports are concerned, as oil prices declined so did the prices of commodities (which Pakistan exports),” Dar said. “Our future is in diversified exports and we are focusing on IT exports for this purpose. We have announced an IT park with Korea in Islamabad — we will replicate the model in Karachi and Lahore,” he said.