PML-N to decide about my resignation as minister: Dar

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  • Minister says govt determined to achieve 6% growth target, no plans to go to IMF
  • ‘World Bank to correct Pakistan’s economic data after acknowledging some misinterpretation’

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Monday said that it was prerogative of the Pakistan Muslim League-N and its leadership to decide whether he should continue his job as the minister or not.

Addressing a press conference regarding economic progress during first quarter of the fiscal year 2018-19 at FBR House in Islamabad, he said that the government was making all out efforts to achieve six per cent growth rate target, and assured that the government had no plan to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for any bailout package, as now the country could stand on its own feet.

“Our focus is on higher growth that would help reduce poverty, generate resources and strengthen economic and security situation,” he said and urged all the citizens that it was their duty too to work for country’s dignity and respect by helping strengthen its economy and security. “Economy is progressing and we must make efforts to help this trend continue and play our role to take the country ahead,” he said.

The minister was flanked by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenues Haroon Akhtar, Parliamentary Secretary on Finance Rana Afzaal, Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Tariq Pasha and other high officials of the Ministry of Finance. Senator Dar said that the World Bank (WB) acknowledged that they had made some misinterpretation of economic data of Pakistan.

The bank had not applied the international formula in calculation while preparing its report, he said adding that it would be corrected. He pointed out towards positive indicators of economy during the first quarter of the current fiscal year, saying the revenue collection during July-September had increased by 20 per cent to Rs765 billion.

He said that the money transfers to provinces had also increased from Rs416 billion during the first quarter of the last year to Rs765 billion during the current fiscal year. He said that expenditure side was also being monitored, managed and controlled and the expenditures were reduced from Rs914 billion last year to Rs894 billion.

The minister said that maintaining fiscal discipline was priority of the government, however he was of the view that the government was expecting payment of surplus amounts from the provinces which could not be made, hence enhancing the deficit by one per cent. He said that overall budget deficit was recorded at Rs324 billion during the first quarter against the deficit of Rs438 billion last year.

He said that the interest rate was also maintained at decades low at 5.57 percent. He said that the export package had also started giving dividends as exports from the country grew by 10.8% during the first quarter, from Rs4.66 billion to Rs5.17 billion. However, he said that the imports into the country had also increased from $11.67 billion last year to $14.26 billion, saying that there was need for taking measures to reduce imports and enhance exports for which the export package would be up-scaled.

The remittances during the period also increased to $4.79 billion against $4.74 billion last year. Senator Dar said that the Foreign Direct Investment into the country during July-August also went up to $457 million compared to $179 million during same period of last year. He said that the GDP growth rate had increased from as low as 3.7 percent in year 2012-13 to 5.3 per cent in 2016-17, Large Scale Manufacturing from 4.5 per cent to 5.9 per cent, remittances from $9 billion to $19 billion while inflation was also maintained within limits.

He said that agriculture credit during this period also increased from Rs330 billion in 2013 to Rs705 billion, companies incorporation went up from less than 4000 in 2013 to over 8000 in 2017, while foreign exchange reserves with the State Bank of Pakistan touched $18 billion figure. He said that total public debt was 61.6 percent of the GDP, 21 per cent of which was foreign debt.

The minister said that the debt figures should not be looked in isolation rather these should be evaluated keeping in view the total GDP of the country which had now risen to $300 billion. He dispelled the impression that Pakistan was having a highest debt rate compared to regional countries and pointed out an example of many countries including India where the debt to GDP was much more than that of Pakistan.

Dar said that load-shedding would be overcome by December this year as more electricity was being added to the national transmission system. He said that many international agencies and organizations had given positive prospectus of Pakistan economy, some predicting it to be 16th biggest economy by 2050, others terming it next big country flag-bearer of positive change, some terming it emerging market, while the rating agencies had up-scaled it rating from negative to stable and then to positive.

‘NOBODY BELIEVES IN DATA:’ Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, while reacting to the press conference of the finance minister, said that nobody believes in the ‘forged’ figures of Senator Ishaq Dar. He said that the minister avoided sharing the actual number of external loan.

Under the policies of Senator Dar, “Pakistan is heading towards bankruptcy,” he claimed. “He (Dar) should tell the nation how much loan Pakistan has to pay back to lenders by next year,” he said, adding that the minister should know that foreign direct investment was less than what was recorded in 2013.

Mandviwalla said that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi should appoint a new finance minister to avoid making the country a laughing stock before the world.