ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar Monday accused PTI Chairman Imran Khan of destroying the economy and assured the nation that he would bring the dollar below 200.
“The actual value of the Pakistani rupee is less than 200 against the greenback and it will be brought down, as it is currently undervalued,” he said while talking to Hamid Mir in Capital Talk on Geo News.
Dar said the dollar was strong internationally, but “we will bring it below 200 against our currency soon.” Dar faces the daunting task of stabilizing an economy that has for months been in a tailspin, facing multiple threats of high inflation, a widening current account deficit and falling reserves.
He has strongly favoured intervention in the currency markets in three previous stints in the job and is also expected to strengthen the currency which closed at Rs227.29 against the US dollar on Monday.
Dar said Imran Khan’s speeches in his public gatherings reflected his frustration, adding deals and favouritism were part of Khan’s fate. “Imran contested the elections by cracking deals and staged demonstrations by cracking deals,” he said.
He criticized the PTI chief for holding Islamabad hostage for 126 days which delayed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. Warning him of serious repercussions, Dar asked Imran to take him seriously and stay within his limits.
“Imran and his entire team are obsessed with me because they fear that we [PMLN] will stabilise the economy once again as we did back in 2013,” he said, reiterating his suggestion that the country needs a charter of the economy.
“The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) is an independent institution and it does not involve in manipulative activities,” he said while replying to a question about the PTI leader Hammad Azhar accusing Dar of manipulating the economic data.
Speaking about former finance minister Miftah Ismail, Dar said: “I have to handle the International Monetary Fund (IMF) matters, so from now on, neither Miftah nor anybody else has to worry about anything.”
A day earlier, Miftah termed the government’s decision to not increase the petroleum development levy (PDL) this month without IMF’s approval, “reckless”. “Miftah is my colleague but he has his own point of view and I have mine,” he said, advising him not to worry about the IMF as it is now his responsibility to deal with the body.
“I know how to do it as I have solutions and have been dealing with them for the last 25 years.” The finance minister said: “Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif himself told me that during the United National General Assembly (UNGA) session, where Miftah was also present, he proposed the IMF officials freeze taxes to which they did not refuse.”
“I believe that the flood-and-inflation-weary people shouldn’t be burdened further,” he said while taking a jibe at his fellow PML-N member for “burdening the masses” with his policies. Dar said rupee’s depreciation caused a surge in inflation adding that the suffering the people were currently passing through could not be forgotten.
He said the speculators cashed in on the rising value of dollar against rupee and made a fortune. The finance minister said the credit for the IMF deal went to the PMLN-led government.
Dar advised Imran to keep his mouth shut, as he knew how to deal with him. He said Imran was made for dealing and wheeling and he did not want to wash the PTI chief’s dirty linen in the public.
Meanwhile, the finance minister chaired a meeting at the Finance Division to review cash assistance to the flood victims.
State Minister for Finance and Revenue Dr. Ayesha Ghous Pasha, SBP governor, HBL president, secretary finance, secretary BISP and senior officers attended the meeting.
Secretary BISP informed the meeting that almost 90 percent of beneficiaries had been provided with cash assistance, while the remaining beneficiaries will receive payment within next five days.
He said there were a few complaints of malpractices in payment at the ATMs and POS. SBP governor and HBL president informed the meeting that a big volume of relief cash had been distributed to the flood victims and steps were being taken to address their complaints.
Dar expressed concerns over the malpractices in payments and emphasized that the government stood with the flood victims in this hour of need and will utilize all available resources for their rescue and assistance.
He directed the SBP and HBL to redress the grievances of flood victims and take every possible step for smooth distribution of cash relief. He further directed them to ensure availability of cash at all the distribution points and resolve the cyber related issues to ensure timely payment of relief cash to flood victims.
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