Pakistan imports go up by 43 percent

Islamabad, May 26 (IANS) Pakistan's imports in the first nine months of the current financial year amounted to $20.693 billion as against $14.446 billion in the same period in the last fiscal, a finance ministry official said here Friday.

'Due to strong economic recovery taking place in the country, both imports and exports are growing at a double-digit level,' advisor to finance ministry Ashfaque Hassan Khan told state-run APP news agency.

He said the imports in the first nine months had shown an increase of $6.247 billion or 43 percent compared to the same period last year.

The major contributor in the trade gap was oil import bill, which was up by $1.8 billion, he said, adding that contrary to the general perception, imports of consumer durables like cars, TV, fridge and air conditioners, had contributed only 9.2 percent.

Khan said the country had achieved economic stability and progress by attaining six to seven percent growth rate during the current fiscal despite last year's devastating earthquake.

He added that 5.58 million jobs had been created since the financial year 2003-04, and the country had succeeded in reducing poverty from 32.1 percent in 2000-01 to 25.4 percent in 2004-05.

'We have reduced our budget deficit as well as debt burden,' Khan said.

The public debt burden has declined from 100 percent of GDP to 57 percent, he added. The Central Board of Revenue (CBR) was also collecting more taxes than the targets.

About inflation, he said it had increased to 11 percent in April 2005, but came down to 6.2 percent in April 2006.

Khan said the government had for the first time launched sovereign bonds of 10 years and 30 years in the international capital market.

He said the international investors had taken a risk for 30 years on Pakistan's economy; otherwise the same investors were at one time reluctant to take a risk for even three months.

Khan added that about six years ago only 32,000 cars were manufactured in the country, but now the number had increased to 1,45,000.

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