Dar unlikely to attend IMF, WB annual meeting amid NAB cases

  • Special Assistant to PM on Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail or Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Sartaj Aziz may visit instead

  •  This will be second time finance minister will miss annual meetings of IMF, WB, as he had cancelled his visit to Washington last year


ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is unlikely to visit Washington to participate in the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank next week due to his engagement in personal cases at National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

According to reliable sources, Dar is not scheduled to attend the annual programme—which he has previously been attending as finance minister. The annual meetings of the Board of Governors of the World Bank Group (WBG) and the IMF are usually attended by central bankers, ministers of finance and development, parliamentarians, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organisations and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

However, a source at the Ministry of Finance said that the minister has applied for the US visa but the visit is not scheduled; instead Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail or Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Sartaj Aziz might visit the events scheduled to take place in Washington, DC, from October 9 to 15.

According to sources, Dar, instead of visiting Washington, might appear before the accountability court next week, as hearing in his case was earlier adjourned until October 12.

It is pertinent to mention here that the corruption reference—pertaining to Dar’s owning assets that are disproportionate to his known sources of income—was filed by NAB in light of the Supreme Court’s July 28 judgment in the Panama Papers case. After skipping his first hearing on September 20, for which a summons had been issued, Dar appeared in two subsequent hearings at court (on September 25 and October 4) after bailable warrants for his arrest had been issued to ensure his presence.

According to sources, this would be a second time that Dar will miss the annual meetings of IMF and WB, as he had cancelled his visit to Washington last year amid political controversy over the Panama Papers and to ‘look after engagements’ of the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, during his trip to Britain for ‘medical check-up’.

According to analysts, IMF or World Bank might not be willing to talk to a person indicted in corruption cases. This is why the finance minister is not willing to attend the mega events.

During a meeting of Senate’s Standing Committee on Finance Saleem Mandviwalla had opined that no international financial institution will be agreed to dealing with an indicted man. He said the finance minister has lost the legitimacy for holding office, adding that the current situation would eventually lead to eroding of investors’ trust in the country.

Despite the grave situation of the economy, and his engagement with personal cases at NAB court, Dar was in no mood to resign.

Dar was to cancel the week-long visit to Washington at a time, when, keeping in view pressure on reserves, Pakistan might again go to IMF for a further loan. The finance minister is already accused of implementing wrong macroeconomic policies, which are “sinking Pakistan into a debt trap.”