ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has proposed four-point formula – investing in education, reducing expenditure (to live within means) and increasing exports and agri-productivity – as critical for moving towards self-reliance.

Speaking at an All Parties Economic Recovery Conference organised by the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) in collaboration with the National Press Club (NPC), the finance minister stated the importance of “charter of economy” for giving education because half of the country’s children are not getting education and consequently, the literacy rate is lower than that of Bangladesh, which should be a concern for us.

The finance minister said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has always spoken for the charter of the economy, not only between political parties but also involving the business community, media, and all the stakeholders.

He said that there is a need to ponder that Japan and Germany, despite being destroyed in World War II, had recovered their economy in 20 years but deplored that “we have not been able to build on the sacrifices made by the people for the creation of the country. On the contrary, the dignity of the country was compromised when the country’s prime minister or the finance minister had to beg other countries for loans.”

He said that the country which was once self-sufficient and now it has become very difficult for him to get the PSOs LC open in the foreign banks and he has to himself make phone calls to the foreign banks requesting them to confirm the LC. He said that the country was almost on the verge of default and the value of Pakistan bonds in the international market was at its lowest ebb following the trade deficit of $80 billion.

These issues could only be addressed by increasing exports and agriculture productivity and everyone from politicians to businessmen have to contribute. The finance minister said that it was unfortunate that whenever the government imposed some tax, people from chambers and traders resist it.

The federal minister said that the biggest problem of Pakistan is economic development, the sovereignty of countries running on debt is compromised, our per capita income is 1,500 dollars. He said that how the government can meet Rs9 trillion expenditure if it does not impose taxes but the sad part is that no one is ready to pay taxes. He said that if the country is able to meet its import bill through exports and remittance, that would be a great achievement while an increase in agriculture productivity, would make the country self-sufficient in food commodities.—ZAHEER ABBASI