Dar terms $1.5bn donation a ‘gift from friends’

Published March 15, 2014
Federal Minister for Finance Senator Ishaq Dar speaks during a press briefing on Pakistan Development Fund Project at PM Secretariat in Islamabad on Saturday. – Photo by APP
Federal Minister for Finance Senator Ishaq Dar speaks during a press briefing on Pakistan Development Fund Project at PM Secretariat in Islamabad on Saturday. – Photo by APP

ISLAMABAD: Without taking any names, Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar on Saturday said the donation of 1.5 billion dollars by ‘friendly countries’ was a “gift for the people of Pakistan.”

Chairing a meeting of Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) here, he said these friendly countries had full confidence in Pakistan and the government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and donated $1.5 billion unconditionally in Pakistan Development Fund (PDF).

Clarifying the ‘rumours’ regarding the status of the donation, the minister said it was neither loan nor given in return for any services.

The amount should be accepted with thanks and not be made controversial, he added.

Foreign news agency Reuters had reported earlier this week that Saudi Arabia “loaned” $1.5 billion to Pakistan last month to help Islamabad shore up its foreign exchange reserves, meet debt-service obligations and undertake large energy and infrastructure projects.

The ‘friendly assistance’ has contributed to a sharp recovery of the Pakistani rupee, which rose to a nine-month high of 97.40 from 105.40 against the dollar between March 4 and 12, its strongest rally in 30 years.

Ishaq Dar said the amount would be spent on different development projects in various sectors, including energy, infrastructure, railways, communication and transportation.

“The most important project is linking Sindh with other areas of the country through Motorway. It is the initiative of PML-N government and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gives priority to its completion,” he added.

The minister said work on the Motorway project in the country was continuing at full pace, which would cost about Rs800 billion.

He said the economy had performed well during the first eight months of current fiscal year as was evident from major economic indicators, such as growth rate, inflation, foreign remittances, foreign exchange reserves, external trade and industrial growth.

The minister said tax collection during the period increased by 17.7 per cent as compared to the last year.

The provinces would receive more than Rs200 billion this year due to increased tax collection, he added.

He said Pakistan had been ranked second in the world in terms of business growth in a survey conducted by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) while it had potential to become the 18th largest economy of world by 2050, according to another report.

However, the government would try its best to realise the dream of 18th largest economy by 2025, he added.

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