CPEC has enhanced Pakistan’s global importance, Rs 2,300 billion spent on CPEC projects: Planning Minister

Islamabad: Federal Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal has said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had enhanced Pakistan’s global importance adding Pakistani Rs 2,300 billion had been spent on CPEC projects.

Addressing the seminar on ‘Unblock Pakistan’s Economic Potential’ organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), the minister maintained that the whole world now wanted to invest in Pakistan.

“We have to make our youth skilled and educated. Because of the CPEC project, we got the attention of the world. The world wanted to invest here,” he remarked.

The Minister informed that Pakistan took US $ 29 billion from China and “we spent Rs 2,300 billion on CPEC projects from our development program.” He contended that the Pakistani government had given a lasting infrastructure to Pakistan.

Ahsan Iqbal mentioned that the government was budgeting the deficit at the moment and the current deficit is forcing us to take new loans.

“We have set a revenue target of Rs 7000 billion and in addition there will be Rs 2000 billion non-tax revenue,” he added.

Ahsan Iqbal underlined that this year Pakistan had to repay Rs 4000 billion loans, in addition, “Rs 1,500 billion is our defense expenditure and Rs 500 billion is our government expenditure,” he stated.

The minister observed that the annual pension expenditure was Rs 530 billion of which the defense pension defense annual expenditure was Rs 400 billion and for civilians it was Rs 130 billion.

In addition, he underscored that there was an annual development program of Rs 700 billion while Rs 1200 billion goes to our provinces. He said that the government was giving subsidies of Rs 700 billion this year.

Iqbal noted that in order to balance the annual budget, “we have to move towards export led growth so that the country’s economy is sustainable and inclusive.”

He suggested that that economic growth in Pakistan required strong fiscal discipline and economic management.

“We have to move towards export led growth and bring the tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio closer to the countries of the region,” he mentioned.

Iqbal admitted that Pakistan was lagging behind the other countries of the region as its tax to GDP ratio had never been above 12%.

He lamented that Pakistan was also lagging behind in exports as compared to other regional countries including India and Bangladesh.

Ahsan said that at present Foreign Direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan was only US $ 1.5 billion while in Vietnam it was US $ 30 billion.

He pointed out that Pakistan’s savings and investment ratio was very low which needs improvement.