Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has expressed the resolve to take the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate to 6-7 percent in a couple of years to make the country a regionally competitive economy. The finance minister said this while chairing the second meeting of the Economic Advisor Council (EAC) on Tuesday. He welcomed the participants and highlighted the objective of the formation of EAC, which is the promotion of evidence-based policy formation and reforms with the effective consultation and feedback from all important stakeholders. He said that the ultimate goal of these consultative meetings is to spur growth and take it to around 6-7 percent in two years to make Pakistan a regionally competitive economy. Advisor to PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity, Dr Ishrat Hussain introduced the sub-groups and briefly highlighted the most important challenges in respective sectors. He said that increasing the share of direct taxes, energy cost rationalisation, focusing on education & health, increasing investment to GDP ratio and reducing the cost of doing business are the top priorities of the government. After the brief introduction, the EAC groups gave presentations on the topics namely inclusive and sustainable growth, housing and construction sector, industry and exports, agriculture, revenue and expenditure, financial sector and debt management, energy, social protection and domestic commerce. The finance minister appreciated the hard work done by the sub-groups in formulating their proposals and directed to form liaison with key stakeholders for obtaining valuable feedback and crystallising input. He underscored that the detailed interaction which is taking place at this forum will prove an effective tool for policy making. He also affirmed his support and facilitation for all sub-groups on the occasion. The finance minister especially acknowledged the contribution and ownership provided by the private sector for coming up with innovative ideas that can yield valuable results. The meeting was participated by energy minister, minister for industries and production, adviser to PM on commerce, SA PM on finance and revenue, SA PM on Ehsaas, SA PM on national food security, chairman Board of Investment, chairman Naya Pakistan Housing & Development Authority, Chairman Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, governor State Bank of Pakistan and leading representatives of the private sector which are the notified members of EAC. Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has directed the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) to ensure availability of essential items at affordable prices to facilitate the common people. The finance minister said this while chairing the weekly meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee on Tuesday.