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Pak Govt To Limit Imports For Three Months: Finance Minister

Pakistani Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has said that the government would control imports for the next three months even if it came at the cost of slower growth. “I will not allow imports to increase for three months and, in the meantime, we will come up with a policy. I understand that growth will be reduced for a bit but I have no other choice,” he said while addressing a ceremony at the Pakistan Stock Exchange. The minister noted that the government’s import restrictions would affect the automobile and electronic appliances industries, Dawn reports. He said he did not want to create unemployment and his first priority was the reduction of imports. “At this time, we have [stock of] 30 days for diesel and petrol. We have furnace oil [supply] for six months. We are very comfortable in terms of our energy security and energy supply, and other obligations.” Pakistan’s import bill for the previous fiscal year stood at $80 bn while its exports amounted to $31bn. No country can grow and be stable with this kind of current account deficit, Miftah said. The PML-N government, during its previous tenure, had set up power plants generating 11,500 MW of energy but doubling electricity generation had not led to a doubling in the industrial and export sectors, he rued. “Other countries like China set up factories after setting up power plants. We only built wedding halls and we did not [earn] foreign exchange. I think it’s time that we act like a mature, dignified nation. The new tax-to-GDP ratio is 9.2 per cent. You cannot run a country on this. You need more money.”

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