Khusro invites Opposition to jointly work for invigorating economy

ISLAMABAD:Minister for National Food Security Khusro Bakhtiar Thursday invited the Opposition to work out a charter of economy, outlining a reform package for revival of agriculture, industry, tax collection, banking and energy sectors in the country.

Speaking in the National Assembly, the minister said the government was facing economic challenges including rising inflation and stagnant exports. He said the federal government held a meeting on the issue of wheat and the Sindh government had committed to procure 1.4 million tons a year. He said when the government came into power, the foreign exchange reserves were at $ 8 billion and the current account deficit was at $ 19 billion.The debt had risen to 78 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), he added. He said on the one side, Pakistan had the challenge of rising population and on the other its per acre yield was low.

The government had devised export-oriented policies to increase exports, he said adding prices of agricultural products were dependent on demand and supply and the government was taking initiatives to keep prices low. Speaking in the House, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal said the government itself affirmed that people were facing the issue of price hikes and high inflation, adding reportedly food inflation was at 24 percent in rural areas. He said the concerns of Opposition regarding inflation and economic slowdown had proven right. Ahsan said in 2018, the World Bank had projected a growth rate of six percent while in 2019 it forecast growth of 2 percent and added the nation may be informed about the real reasons. PPP leader Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said at present Pakistan had the lowest economic growth rate in the region. He said poor people were badly affected due to worsening economic conditions.