Wednesday May 22, 2024

Ishaq Dar hopes Saudi Arabia beefing up deposit 'in a matter of days'

Finance minister insists Pakistan will never default, terms PTI's White Paper "devoid of context"

By Business Desk & Saifur Rahman
January 04, 2023
Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Ishaq Dar adresses a presser in Islamabad January 4, 2023. — Screengrab via YouTube/PTV News
Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Ishaq Dar adresses a presser in Islamabad January 4, 2023. — Screengrab via YouTube/PTV News

Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Ishaq Dar Wednesday said he expects that Saudi Arabia will beef up its deposits in Pakistan "within a matter of days, not weeks", as the country faces an ongoing economic crisis.

Dar's statement comes at a time when Pakistan remains under the shadow of a default risk, rupee continues to depreciate against the US dollar, and forex reserves plunge to record lows — covering merely a month's imports.

Voicing concerns since the previous government's ouster in April 2022, financial pundits believe that the country's financial side will remain vulnerable until there is political stability.

The incumbent government has tried to get the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme back on track and is attempting to complete the ninth review, however, the Fund and Islamabad have not made any headway so far.

In a press conference in Islamabad today alongside federal ministers, Dar said that the government was committed to completing the latest review and expressed hope of receiving the loan soon.

But despite the bleak situation and Pakistan having to pay billions of dollars worth of loans in the next three months, the finance minister assured of meeting the international obligations and ruled out default.

"[Our government] saved the country from default. And with complete conviction, I can say that Pakistan will never default," Dar, who has held the finance portfolio multiple times, said.

FinMin Dar said the government is taking steps for economic stability and has cleared letters of credit (LCs) worth $100,000 so far. "The government has also opened LCs for the import industries as well."

"We will repay all the debts and people should not worry about it. [The PDM] came into power to save the state, not for mere politics," the finance minister stressed.

'PTI's White Paper deceiving'

Castigating the PTI and its chief, Imran Khan, Dar asked the PTI to stop "propagating" misleading reports of Pakistan's default as he said that due to the party's governance, all international rating agencies had downgraded the country.

Earlier in the presser, FinMin Dar sharply criticised the PTI for "deceiving" the masses through its "White Paper" on the economy.

The finance minister said the economy was in a "better condition" during Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's government (PML-N) compared to PTI's four-year tenure.

In its document, the PTI said inflation in the country has seen a sharp rise, in the past eight months, and all economic indicators — including exports, foreign direct investment, and remittances — have shown a downward trend.

But responding to the PTI's claims, the finance minister said in 2018, the budget deficit was 5.8% and not 7.6%, as stated by the Imran Khan-led party's document.

"During PTI's first year in government, the growth rate of the economy was 3.12%. In 2018, the inflation was at 4.7% and during PTI's first year, it reached 7.5%," the finmin said.

He added that the PML-N government kept the monetary policy at 7.5%, but the PTI increased it to 13.25% in July 2019. Dar added that the PML-N ended load shedding, but PTI's government could not carry the legacy forward and load shedding hit the masses once more.

The finance minister said PTI added Rs19,000 billion in loans, while it left total loans worth Rs53,544 billion for the coalition government.