Ishaq Dar rubbishes speculations surrounding Pakistan 'defaulting'

Finance czar agrees there are economic hardships, says “we have taken efficient steps to overcome them”

Nausheen Yusuf

  • Finance czar agrees there are economic hardships.
  • He assures Senate “we have taken efficient steps”.
  • Senate could reduce fuel limit for committees' chairpersons.

ISLAMABAD: Amid speculations that cash-strapped Pakistan is on the brink of a default, Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Ishaq Dar on Saturday once again rubbished rumours about the country "defaulting".

Addressing a special session of the Senate’s Business Advisory Committee, Dar agreed that there are economic hardships but “we have taken efficient steps to overcome them”. He further reiterated his stance that he will pull the county out of the economic mess.

The finance czar emphasised that it is the collective responsibility and the whole nation has to contribute.

“There is a need to avoid unnecessary expenditures,” Dar — who took the reins of Pakistan’s tumbling economy in September from his predecessor Miftah Ismail — said.

Dar has been facing mounting headwinds for the $350 billion economy battling to stave off a balance of payments pressures due to dwindling foreign currency reserves and a widening current account deficit.

The special session was convened by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani at the Parliament House to review and discuss austerity measures in wake of the current financial situation of the country.

At the outset of the session, Sanjrani observed that hard decisions have to be taken to overcome challenges on the economic front, seeking recommendations from parliamentary heads of various political parties.

During the meeting, it was learnt that the Senate Secretariat was also working on a proposal to reduce the fuel limit for chairpersons of committees. Besides, no additional honorarium will be extended to employees of the senate during the current financial year, he said.

There was also a proposal to impose a ban on foreign visits for three months.

Following Dar’s assurance regarding the efforts of the Ministry of Finance, Sanjrani expressed satisfaction with the steps taken by Dar and his team. 

While Dar rebutted rumours that Pakistan was on the brink of default, his fellow minister Khawaja Asif had claimed that Pakistan has "already defaulted". 

The defence minister, last week, said that the cash-strapped nation has "already defaulted".

The senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, while addressing a convention at a private college in Sialkot, stressed: "The country has defaulted. We live in a state that has defaulted."

Due to the serious economic crisis that has forced several industries to shut down operations and pushed millions of people on the brink of poverty, the centre is trying to get the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on board in the next day or two as depleting reserves and upcoming repayments on external fronts have pushed the government into the corner.