Friday Dec 02, 2022
Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar Friday ruled out taking dictations from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on managing Pakistan's finances.
Dar, in an interview during Geo News' programme "Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath", said he would not beg the IMF for providing loans to Pakistan and he has told the lender's officials that "you can't dictate; if the money doesn't come in, we'll manage".
The finance minister — who assumed office in September — said if the IMF does not provide funds, "he doesn't care" and the Fund can wait for Pakistan to manage its economy as the government could not burden the people by surging the petroleum products prices.
The FinMin said all the commitments with the international money lender were in order and the government has been holding weekly meetings with the Fund for the ninth review.
The News reported that Pakistan and the IMF talks are continuing on the ninth review, but both sides are yet to strike a broader agreement on a revised macroeconomic framework for the current financial year.
The lingering of the talks may delay the conclusion of the ninth review and release of the $1 billion tranche till the next calendar year 2023.
Both Pakistan and the global lender are tight-lipped and no one is willing to say anything on record but background discussions suggest that the talks were in limbo because of differences over the revised macroeconomic and fiscal framework shared with the IMF.
But the finance minister said Pakistan has met all of the Fund's demands, but as both sides are yet to strike an agreement, the lender is "behaving abnormally".
"However, I have never and I will never take dictations from institutions like IMF. Luckily or unluckily, IMF has been declared as the financial doctor of countries," he lamented.
The minister's statement comes amid Pakistan's foreign reserves not being in an ideal condition as they can cover imports for only the next 1.6 months — and after the floods, the imports are expected to increase.
Although the trade deficit shrunk by 30.14% to $14.4 billion in the first five months of the ongoing fiscal year 2022-23, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)-held foreign exchange reserves declined by 4.17% to $7,498.7 million as of November 25.
Pakistan, which has suffered flood losses worth $30 billion, is expected to receive funds from international donors, but the commitments from friendly are yet to materialise as they hang in limbo.
However, the finance minister is hopeful that Pakistan would not only meet the requirements of the IMF, but the government would also ensure that funds keep trickling into the SBP's account.
Without naming the nation, he said that "a friendly country" would provide $3 billion to Pakistan in the next two weeks.
Categorically rejecting PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s claims about the expected economic collapse, the finance minister assured Pakistan would never default.
“Neither has Pakistan defaulted nor will it [in the future], Inshallah.”
Berating the former PTI government, the finance minister said that it had left the country in “shambles”.
Referring to Khan’s statements about default, Dar said that he should think that he was not serving the country by giving such remarks as it sends a "bad impression" to the international community.
He reiterated that the government was taking measures to repay the debt on time. Dar maintained that Pakistan's potential default could be among Khan's wishes, however, it would never be fulfilled.
The finance minister also accused the PTI chairman of giving priority to his politics over the state.
Dar suggested Khan wait for the election as the schedule and procedure for the polls have been described in the constitution.
Lashing out at the PTI, he maintained after the party was ousted from the government, it left $9 billion in reserves and of that, $3 billion were loans of a country and the rest of the amount was of other countries.
Criticising the former finance minister of his own party, the finance czar said that Miftah Ismail should be asked what he had arranged to pay the debt.
“Should Miftah Ismail have not arranged 32 million,” asked the finance minister. Dar maintained that he did not want to respond to Miftah's statements as he was a member of his party.