ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Minister for Finance Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar said on Monday that creation of job opportunities was the top priority of the government in order to absorb the growing workforce.
Addressing the inaugural session of the 75th plenary meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), he said agriculture was a key sector to accommodate the skilled and sami-killed labors in the country.
He said that government was taking necessary steps to promote the local agriculture and develop the industrial sectors to promote the exports.
The event was organized by the Ministry of Textile Industry which was attended by the 400 delegates from 30 members states, besides Director General ICAC Jose Sethi also attended the meeting.
Ishaq Dar said that Pakistan being 4th largest producer of cotton, 3rd largest consumer and 2nd largest yarn exporter of the world has great potential to further enhance its output and earn precious foreign exchange reserves for the economic prosperity.
The cotton crop was contributing about 1 percent to national GDP besides providing raw material to the industrial sector and it was contributing over 60 percent in textile exports, he added.
The minister said that the cotton and textile sectors were also providing 42 percent employment opportunities as the local agri-sector was contributing in the livelihood for a large majority of the population of the country.
Ishaq Dar said that government has taken appropriate measures to boost the agriculture as priority sector of the economy including minimizing the cost of agricultural inputs besides, improving the efficiencies through introducing latest techniques and enhancing the capacities of local businesses and farming community by reducing the cost of doing business.
The government had also announced agriculture package of Rs. 40 billion, besides enhancing the agri-credit from Rs. 336 billion in 2013 to Rs. 700 billion in 2016-17.
He said that government has also introduce credit guarantee scheme for farmers and provided concessions electricity tariff for the farming community.
Highlighting the economic gains of the government, he said that the prudent economic polices of the government has put the country on the path of stabilization and sustainable economic growth.
In the latest report released by the World Bank on ease of doing business, Pakistan has improved its international ranking in ease of doing business by 4 notches which would further enable the local products to make more competitive in international markets.
He said that government has achieved over 4 percent GDP growth in last financial year which was highest in last eight years, adding that all international institutions including World Bank, Asian Development Bank, International Monetary Fund and Haward has upward revised the Pakistan’s GDP growth in current fiscal year.
Ishaq Dar said if this sustainable growth momentum continues, then the country would able to achieve 6-7 percent GDP growth in next two years.
The fiscal deficit which was recorded at 8.7 percent in 2013 brought down to 4.6 percent in 2016 and it would further be reduced to 3.2 percent by 2017-18, he added.
The Finance Minister said that due to efforts of the government, the revenue collection has surged to 60 percent during last three years with an average of 20 percent growth per annum as against 3.3 percent collection of the year 2013.
The forex reserves, he said have increased to US$ 24 billion the highest in the history of the country which was enough to meet the imports of 5 months, he added.
He expressed the hope that the recommendations of the event would help the government to take further measure to overcome challenges faced the agriculture specially the cotton sector.
The minister also read out the message of the Prime Minister on the occasion of 75th ICAC plenary session pledging his government commitment to further boost the cotton sector.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Ministry of Textile Industry, Hassan Iqbal highlighted the aims and objective of the conference and Pakistan’s role as 4th largest producer of cotton in the world.
Speaking on the occasion, DG, ICAC said that Pakistan sami arrid was well suited for the cotton crop as most of the local production was consumed locally.
He said that it became the member of ICAC in July 1948 and it had hosted the meeting of ICAC in 1951.