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Pakistan's economy out of crisis phase: Finance Minister

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: April 8, 2019  | 22:43 IST

Islamabad, Apr 8 (PTI) Finance Minister Asad Umar said on Monday that Pakistan's economy was out of the crisis phase even as the cash-strapped country's economic growth is projected to slump further to 3.9 per cent in fiscal year 2019 from 5.2 per cent in 2018. "The crisis phase for the economy is over, however, we are still in the stabilisation phase," Umar was quoted as saying by Geo TV. He said this stabilisation phase would continue for the next one and a half years as he compared Pakistan's economy to a patient in the ICU who had been treated and now brought back to a normal ward, the channel reported. "The situation right now is that we are not taking loans to pay off past loans, but to pay off interest," he said. Umar said Pakistan was facing three main problems on the economic front. "We are stuck with the fiscal deficit, current account deficit and saving and investment gap," he said. He called on the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to simplify the tax return system with easier forms and lesser questions. "The amount of questions FBR asks you for your returns is more than those asked when you are accepting a marriage proposal for your daughter," Umar said. He said Pakistan's talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a financial package were in its final stage. On March 16, Umar had hinted that bailout package talks with the IMF are in their final stages and the government will have further negotiations with the newly appointed IMF mission chief before reaching an agreement. Cash-strapped Pakistan is seeking USD 8 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bail itself out from a severe balance-of-payments crisis that threatens to cripple the country's economy. With the generous Chinese assistance, Pakistan has so far received a total of USD 9.1 billion in financial aid packages from friendly countries during the current fiscal year. While China has pumped-in USD 4.1 billion, Pakistan has got USD 3 billion from Saudi Arabia and USD 2 billion from United Arab Emirates (UAE). In its flagship economic publication titled "Asian Development Outlook 2019," the Manila-based Asian Development Bank said Pakistan's economic growth decelerated in fiscal year 2018 despite revived agriculture. Pakistan's GDP growth is forecast to decelerate further to 3.9 per cent in FY2019 as macroeconomic challenges continue and despite steps to tighten fiscal and monetary policies to rein in high and unsustainable twin deficits. Continued fiscal consolidation in FY2020 will keep growth subdued at 3.6 per cent, the ADB said. PTI ZH ZH

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