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We do not need to go back to the IMF: Ishaq Dar

17 October, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Monday ruled out any possibility or plan of the government to go for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) balance of payment support programme.

Addressing a press conference, Dar strived to express confidence in the level of foreign exchange reserves and strong internal fundamentals of economy, chiefly growth in tax collection to ward off pressure on the external payments.

“We do not need to go back to the IMF … nor there was any plan of the sort,” he said to a question. However, at the same time he admitted a sizeable decrease in the foreign exchange reserves that have come down to $14 billion after touching a peak of $18.9 billion last year. According to the finance minister, it was not the worrisome level of reserves.

To a question about concerns underlined by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, followed by ISPR chief Major-General Asif Ghafoor, Dar referred to earlier statement by Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal.

Asked about the possibility of his stepping down as finance minister in the wake of criticism following his indictment by an accountability court in a corruption reference, he said, “The prerogative to decide about my portfolio lies with Nawaz Sharif as head of the (ruling) party.”

When the questioner insisted on Dar’s personal decision, he threw a smile and said, “You better wait for some time.”

In his brief statement to media before the question-answer session, the minister said the government was focused on higher growth of the economy. “Our real objective should be higher growth that would steer the economy to the right direction,” he said.

The minister said the government was focused on not losing the growth target of six per cent. “We have monitored, managed and controlled expenditures to a large extent,” he said.

Discussing the energy sector, Dar said the past governments ignoring the sector for more than a decade had resulted in a hefty 503 billion rupees circular debt. He claimed reducing the figure to below Rs 400 billion, terming it an achievement especially in the event of growing needs for infrastructure investments to reduce power outage besides the increased spending on security and law enforcement apparatus.

The minister assured that inflation was under control and the interest rates and export refinance rates were at their lowest. “GDP growth has hit 5.3pc which is a 10-year high … inflation has also been contained at 4.2pc. Per capita income has increased from $1,334 to $1,629 in the last four years while remittances have also increased,” he claimed.

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