ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said that he is trying to make sure that affairs of his ministry are not affected due to his “personal engagements” (court cases) as the minister is increasingly under pressure over the uncertain economic situation of the country.
In an interview with a private TV channel, the finance minister said, “My office work isn’t suffering. Whether I have to sit late, I make sure the work isn’t affected because of my personal engagements.”
Asked about the $17 billion deficit looming over the country, he said there were reasons for the economy to have reached this stage. “Primary reason being the country in expansionary state owing to CPEC, capital goods for industrial growth and 30-40 per cent increase in prices of petroleum products during the past year,” he added.
Dar said the government, in the midst of last year, gave an exports package, which was recently upscaled at a meeting between the prime minister and leading exporters of the country.
“The package is yielding results as our exports have grown by 10.8 per cent in the first quarter. For remittances, we are also going to launch a new initiative in the coming days,” he explained. “Different things and plans are being pondered over in this regard.”
The minister went on to say that liabilities do roll over; adding that even if they didn’t issue bonds in the past four years, they did return old bonds continued since General (r) Musharraf’s tenure.
“In the last quarter, we paid bonds worth hundreds of billions,” he claimed, maintaining, “It is totally under control and there is nothing to worry about.”
“We are trying to be focused and disciplined,” Dar said, in response to a question about their plans to make sure the country’s foreign reserves are not depleted.
Commenting on calls for his resignation by the opposition, he replied it is something entrusted to him by the party and nation.
“Nobody is here forever. For me, Pakistan comes first,” the minister said, adding that he will continue to discharge his responsibilities until the last minute.
Asked whether the ongoing situation is taking a toll on his health, Dar said: “One feels hurt and only time will tell.” “I’m confident that we’ll come out of this successfully.”