KARACHI: A Dialogue on the budget by the Federal Government was arranged by Karachi Council on Foreign Relations (KCFR). A large number of CEOs and MDs of industries and businesses, senior Govt. officials, Bureaucrats, Journalists etc had gathered at a local Hotel in Karachi. Chairman KCFR Mr Ikram sehgal welcomed the Advisor Finance, the Governor State Bank and the Mr Shabbar Zaidi on this occasion. The Finance Advisor spoke at length and explained the Federal Budget to the Audience. During the speech Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh talked about Pakistan’s economy and recently presented budget. He started by saying as to where Pakistan was and where the Govt wanted to take it to. He emphasized Peoples’ connectedness, which helps sell country’s products to others and that remains the responsibility of the private sector. He lamented that in 70 years of history, unfortunately only few elected governments could complete the tenure. Owing to inconsistent policies, we never had a trend of economic growth. We have not been able to do business with others and unable to make international alignments, he mentioned.The Finance Advisor further shared statistics on current economic situation in Pakistan. He said: sadly in the last 5 years, Pakistan’s export growth rate has been 0%. Approaching IMF was the only solution which was unavoidable. The incumbent Govt is paying back interest on the loans taken by past Governments, he added. While talking about budget, he said everyone has to contribute to achieve the set revenue target of Rs. 5.5trillion. He added that exporters have been allowed maximum tax rebates. Government has taken initiatives to control the expenditure as much as it can; freezing budget in many fields including that of the Armed Forces, salaries of senior Officers while the PM house expenditure has also been reduced by 30%. He promised to protect people of Pakistan in every field including provision of health cards to the poorer segment of the society. He added that an amount of Rs. 152 Billion will be dedicated to the people of Fata and Gilgit Baltistan, the most under developed districts of Pakistan. He emphasized on strengthening of institutions especially State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). He announced that Government will not borrow from SBP after 30th June 2019. After his speech an interesting Q&A session followed wherein he elaborated as to how the economic reforms would show increase of exports and maximize revenues. In continuation on the question regarding agricultural tax, Chairman FBR Shabbar Ziadi said that income of the middleman is increased up to Rs.100,000. He answered the questions on tax exemption on tourism industry; Government is trying to minimize cost of tourism equipment and PM is personally focused on the growth of Tourism industry.Governor State Bank Mr. Raza Baqir gave a short brief on SBP. He promised that he shall do utmost to improve the Economy of Pakistan. He asked Overseas Pakistanis to look for opportunities to serve our country. SBP’s goals are to keep firm hand on economic situation of Pakistan and modernization of SBP. He further delivered that Exchange rate is the tool to control inflation in country and if Government stops borrowing from SBP, it will have huge (positive) impact on economy. He appreciated the suggestion to bring an export policy for all industries regarding tax exemption. Currently only 5 industries are availing this tax free facility. This was the first public exposure of the Imran Khan Regime’s Economic “A” Team. The overwhelming verdict was that the tremendous presentation by Dr Hafeez Shaikh and the ended Q & A Session along with Shabbar Zaidi and Dr Reza Baqir made the event an unqualified success in Pakistan’s premier economic hub.The Chairman appreciated the Govt efforts to bring about a feasible Budget under the most stressful conditions and expressed happiness that Govt had taken up austerity measures and had put heavy taxation on import of luxury goods.