KARACHI: Pakistan’s current account deficit widened 37.3 percent to $1.66 billion in December 2018 as the trade balance remained in deficit driven by increases in goods imports while investment from abroad also declined, data issued by State Bank of Pakistan suggested. The current account deficit had clocked in at $1.209 billion in previous month. Imports rose to $4.627 billion in December 2018, up 10.69 percent from the previous month. Exports also increased 5.81 percent to $2.003 billion in December. The State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) data showed the current account deficit shrank to $7.983 billion in the first six months of 2018-19, compared with $8.353 billion in the corresponding period last year. The deficit in the first six months remained at 5.4 percent of the GDP. Former minister for Finance Miftah Ismail on Thursday lambasted the economic policies of the PTI-led regime and said that the higher budget deficit exposed the claims of much hyped austerity drive. In spite of a mini-budget in September 2018, he said that where taxes were increased by Rs180 billion and tax collection targets reduced, government is still short by Rs173 billion. In spite of a record devaluation of 35 percentnt, he said that exports from July to November were actually below their level of last year and only in December the exports increased a bit, so that they are only up by 2.0 percent for the first half of the current fiscal compare this to 13 percent growth in exports last year.