$1.5 billion grant sans conditions: Dar

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Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar on Wednesday categorically stated that the grant of 1.5 billion dollars was a gift of a friendly country, and without any conditions.

Making a policy statement in the National Assembly (NA), he clarified that the grant would not have to be paid back to the country. The grant shows confidence of the international community in Pakistan’s economy, he said.

He informed the House that the government would not sent Pakistani forces to any other country, including Syria at any cost. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had already issued the statement in this regard.

“Our foreign policy is very clear, that Pakistan will not interfere in other country’s affairs,” he said. He assured the House that Pakistan Army would not cooperate with any country against the country’s interests.

Giving details of the $ 1.5 billion, he said the first tranche of 750 million dollars was received on February 19, while the second was transferred on the 7th of this month. This transaction took place from one Central Bank to the other. He said no road shows or conferences were conducted for this assistance, as the friendly country came forward on its own to help Pakistan’s economy.

The minister said the friendly country is amongst 26 countries of Friends of Democratic Forum, which was launched in September 2008, adding that the forum had provided only 341 million dollars, out of the six billion dollars pledged during the era of the PPP.

The minister called for avoiding negative statements on the aid, and assured the House that the assistance would be used for the welfare of people.

He said the Karachi-Lahore Motorway Project is the flagship project of the prime minister, for which 800 billion rupees are required. He said the incumbent government plans to undertake 19 mega projects in the fields of infrastructure and energy.

Expressing satisfaction over the economic performance of the past eight months, Ishaq Dar said that tax collection, home remittances and exports have witnessed a growth during this period. The positive economic indicators have also restored the confidence of the international financial institutions. These institutions are now declaring Pakistan as an attractive place for investment.

Dar announced that the government has decided to float Euro Bond in the international market in the first week of April, keeping in view the confidence expressed by the foreign investors.

“So far 17 percent growth has been recorded in tax collection,” Dar said.

Regarding increase in electricity tariff, he said the government has nothing to do with it, as it was an automatic system. The difference of oil prices is adjusted after every month. The government is already giving subsidy of up to Rs 250 billion to 270 billion (per annum) to the power consumers.

“The cheaper dollar impact would reflect in power prices from next month,” he concluded.