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Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs and Privatisation, Ishaq Dar. – File Photo
Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs and Privatisation, Ishaq Dar. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs and Privatisation, Ishaq Dar has said that country's leadership was fully committed to deal with all three Es (Energy, Economy and Extremism) inherited to the present government.

“We inherited an economy that was in a serious state of imbalance,” the Wall Street Journal, one of the leading US newspapers, quoted Ishaq Dar as saying in an interview.

Pakistan's new finance minister, who has already moved to pull the economy from the brink and garnered vital support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said that the country now would launch a wide-scale privatisation programme as it seeks to meet ambitious growth targets.

Dar said that as a result of the planned overhauls, he sought to double the economy's growth rate, currently barely keeping up with the population increase, to 6 per cent in three years.

Under the previous administration of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), investment had collapsed, the budget deficit had jumped to well over 8 per cent, public debt had ballooned, and depleted foreign-exchange reserves meant Pakistan was in danger of defaulting on $3 billion of international loan repayments due this financial year, he said.

The minister said that since then, the government quickly managed to remove the $5 billion chain of “circular” debt that was choking the crucial electricity sector, by paying off and restructuring the liabilities.

Ishaq Dar said that to protect its foreign reserves, the government also secured this month a $6.6 billion loan from the IMF, winning guarded praise from the fund for its agenda. For the past three years, he said multilateral lenders had shunned Pakistan. Publicly owned enterprises have become a major burden on the economy, losing between $4 billion and $5 billion a year, he said. “Surely we can't keep bleeding like that.”

The government's plan is to privatise around 35 public corporations in the next three years, he said. This month, the government announced the first on offer: a minority stake in Pakistan International Airlines, the troubled national carrier.

He added that increasing the tax revenue is another priority.

Dar said that only about one million people pay income tax in Pakistan, a country of 180 million.

He aimed to add 500,000 taxpayers over the government's five- year term, raising tax revenue as a proportion of gross domestic product to 15 per cent from the current 8.5pc.

“Stabilisation measures and structural reforms are always painful,” he said and added: “We have taken some very difficult decisions.”

Comments (7) Closed

K.A.Muhammad Sep 21, 2013 05:34am

Mr. Dar, people of Pakistan are fully aware of the fact that every incoming Government made lot many commitments, laid blames on the out going Government, borrowed loans from both, the IMF and the World Bank to be repaid with Interest, brought in direct or indirect foreign investment/s, built up foreign exchange reserves and else.

What new or extra ordinary idea you are trying to present to the people and how it would help in its true and real sense to progress and prosper?

People of conscience fear God!

AJ Sep 21, 2013 06:04am

If I may humbly ask the honorable minister where did the $ 6 billion come from to pay off the circular debt and to whom did this money went to? Perhaps his solution lies in taking more loans to pay off loans; is that not another name of circular debt to world financial institutions.

A country's economy is planned and run by a 'Economist', Mohan Singh, the Indian PM is such an example. Indian economic prosperity is due to his policy's, planned and implemented during Indira Gandhi rule. An 'Accountant' has not even an iota of understanding of economic pitfalls and solutions, yet we see the honorable minister time and again holding the finance and economic portfolio. Is this the best we can find and do?

salim bakali Sep 21, 2013 11:44am

WHAT IS GST EXCISE ,UTILITY,FUEL SURCHARGES? comam man pay all these taxes.

there is no income left to pay any more tax.

muzammil ullah khan Sep 22, 2013 02:10pm

For once Mr Dar is right . He will make the electric power so expensive that hardly anyone will be able to use it and lo and behold the crises will be resolved and we would be able to export energy to India .

Ali Sep 22, 2013 09:35pm

Living in a fools paradise, ishaq Dar has been given this job only because he is his relative ( in-laws) why the hell should he perform when he knows job is not based on performance. All his actions are to protect Nawaz sharif's interest and not of country, he is doing nothing to stop dollar rising because it benefits Nawaz sharif. Like before Ishaq Dar will ruin Pakistan economy to an irrecoverable level

Sarwat Sep 23, 2013 07:23am

Mr. Dar, you can shove your comments where the sun does not shine. What has the government done so far besides Nawaz visiting abroad. There are serious issues to be dealt with at home and he is wondering elsewhere. House is on fire and he is away, go figure!!!!

Sarwat Sep 23, 2013 07:33am

Dar sahib, You and your party has only proven last 100 days that you guys are incompetent at best.