The National Economic Council (ECC) has approved a target of 4% growth rate for GDP for the following financial year 2019-20. The council meeting held on Wednesday was chaired by the Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The council explained that the set 4% target is based on sectoral growth of agriculture’s 3.5%, industry’s 2.2%, and the services sector’s 4.8%. While it is still well above the IMF’s own forecast of 2.8% next year.
Adding about 300 new federal projects to the portfolio, a consolidated National Development Program for the next fiscal year featuring Rs1.837 trillion was also approved for the federal Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) and the provincial Annual Development Program (ADPs). The outlay includes Rs.952 billion for (PSDP) and Rs.912 billion for (ADPs). The participants were briefed that the PSDP 2019-20 will focus on new initiatives in the fields of agriculture, information technology, higher education, science and technology, and technical education and training. Focused interventions are also anticipated in the less-developed districts to bring them at par with other parts of the country for regional equalization.
The 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Program, the Prime Minister’s Youth Skill Development Initiative, rehabilitation of the affected population residing along the Line of Control, construction of Gilgit-Shandur-Chitral Road, improvement of the sewerage and sanitation system in Gilgit and development of the merged districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) are some of the major priority areas of the PSDP 2019-20.
The meeting also approved the establishment of the Islamabad Development Working Party (IDWP) headed by the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) chief commissioner. Moreover, extension in powers of the special forum for rehabilitation and reconstruction in erstwhile Fata till December 2019 were also confirmed. The special forum, under the chairmanship of 11 Corps Commander, was established by the NEC on May 30, 2016, for a period of two years for fast-track implementation mechanism for rehabilitation and reconstruction in erstwhile Fata.
A program for social safety framework, including Ehsas and nutrition, was withdrawn by the planning commission at the last moment in view of the creation of a new ministry on the social sector that would go through the plan developed by the planning commission and resubmit it in line with its own vision.
The meeting was attended by Adviser to the PM on Finance Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, Commerce Adviser Abdul Razzak Dawood, K-P Governor Shah Farman, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, K-P Chief Minister Mehmood Khan, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan, Gilgit-Baltistan Hafiz Chief Minister Hafiz ur Rehman, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakht, K-P Finance Minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Naheed Durrani and Jan Muhammad Jamali.
Prime Minister Khan told the meeting that the country was facing unprecedented economic crisis and joint efforts of the federal and provincial governments were needed to solve the crisis. He said the government had introduced local government systems in Punjab and K-P to ensure people’s empowerment at the grassroots level and to afford them an opportunity to play their part in the development process.