EVEN before assumption of his office, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, in several interviews, explained his pro-Pakistan agenda and on Monday dropped strong hints to pursue it at all costs.
Speaking at a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance, he lamented harsh conditions imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in exchange for a $6b loan, expressing government resolve to renegotiate some of these terms especially those relating to substantial hike in power tariff and increase in rates of taxes.
Luckily, the Minister has a clear strategy to jack up revenues and accelerate the GDP growth rate without burdening the masses further and putting more strains on economy in the name of structural reforms.
Neutral experts fully agree with analysis of Mr Tarin that instead of resolving problems of the power sector, frequent hikes in power tariff are leading to inflationary pressure and causing corruption.
Similarly, world over stimulus packages are being offered to different sectors of the economy but strangely enough Pakistan is being forced to add burden of taxes on various sectors.
In this backdrop, the Minister has made a welcome statement that government would strive to increase revenue collection not by increasing rates of taxes but expanding the tax net.
This is the most viable strategy as repeated increase in rates of taxes, energy tariff and prices of petroleum products is the real cause of inflation and subdued economic activity in the country.
It is an open secret that majority of wealthy people, industrialists and businessmen are not paying even a fraction of what they should contribute to the national exchequer by way of taxes and there is a need to make them pay in proportion to their incomes.
The announcement by the Minister that government would increase allocation for development projects through Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) is also a step in the right direction and implementation of this pledge in letter and in spirit has the potential to kick-start economic activities and provide more job opportunities to people.
After a long time, someone in a responsible position has also hinted at revision of the mindless pursuit of privatisation as the Minister pledged to privatise only those public sector entities that government was unable to run, which should mean an end to policy of selling national assets just to finance budgetary deficit.
The plan to prepare a roadmap for achieving price stability, agriculture, industry, tax revenues, housing, social protection, services sector, debt management and other issues can also help contribute towards sustainable growth and development.