Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has said that despite that world wide economic recession caused slow down of our economic activities our exports during the current fiscal year are estimated to be around US$ 24.6 billion, which is the highest level in our economic history.
In his opening remarks to National Economic Council, he said at the onset of current fiscal year, he maintained, we were looking forward to reap the benefits of economic stabilization and to regain the momentum of economic growth to a higher level. We were unfortunately hit by the most devastating flood in the recorded human history.
The worst affected sector was agriculture that suffered loss of around Rs. 429 billion, followed by housing (Rs. 135 billion), Transport and Communications (Rs. 113 billion) and financial sector (Rs. 57 billion), he added.
The Prime Minister said to provide immediate relief to the affected people, we had to modify our priorities. The Federal Government had to enforce a cut of Rs. 100 billion in its development budget. The provincial governments also managed savings in their respective budgets to provide rescue, relief and rehabilitation work.
The Prime Minister observed that the flood caused a massive dent to our agriculture sector. Rice and cotton Crops, were the worst hit. Rice production was down by 30%, while cotton crop recorded a reduction of 11%. We had targeted growth rate of Agriculture Sector at 3.8% but it actually grew by only 1.1%, thus negatively impacting our GDP to grow by only 2.4% against the target of 4.5%.
The Prime Minister said that a few persistent issues also caused slow recovery of our economy. Some of these are: power shortages, subsidies and resultant circular debt, and bleeding public sector enterprises.
However, on the external front, we did make some important achievements. Our exports during the current fiscal year are estimated to be around US$ 24.6 billion, which is the highest level in our economic history. Similarly, the Prime Minister added, we expect workers’ remittances around US$ 12 billion, which is also a record. We have been able to maintain a stable exchange rate and the current account deficit is estimated to be much lower this year inspite of high oil prices.
The Prime Minister observed that these enormous challenges have not deterred our resolve to implement the 7th NFC Award in true spirit. During the current fiscal year we transferred more than Rs. 300 billion additional resources to the provinces by cutting the Federal Government resources.
The Prime Minister expressed his hope that the Government further undertook to implement the 18th Amendment and most of the functions of devolved ministries have been passed on to the provinces. The remaining functions are in the process of devolution.
The Prime Minister appreciated the CCI which has been deciding all such matters with consensus.