PESHAWAR: Provincial Minister for Finance Taimur Saleem Jhagra on Sunday demanded of the federal government to clear the outstanding dues under different heads of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said that their demand for releasing funds to the province was constitutional and the province had no intention to deepen differences with the federal government. “We will not give up our constitutional rights and going to court for release of funds is not our priority, however, it is an option with us,” the minister told a press conference.

In response to the video statement of Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar that the country was saved from the risk of default, he said that it was good that someone in the federal government stated something about the country’s economy.

“As a Pakistani, no one would want our country to default. We are the citizens of this country and its development and prosperity are essential for all of us,” said Mr Jhagra.

Minister Jhagra says moving court for release of funds is an option

He said that Moody’s and Fitch’s ratings were reliable as independent institutions. He said that the value of international bonds was falling day by day. “Therefore, the international market has no trust in our economy at present,” he added.

The minister said that previously, the federal government had claimed that it was making efforts to save the country from default. He said that agreement with International Monetary Fund (IMF) was signed to save the country from default. “In this context, the storm of inflation hit the people,” he added.

He said that IMF was hesitant to release the second installment of loan as it did not trust the economy of Pakistan. “The dollar may be controlled in the interbank market, but it is still being sold at Rs240 in the open market,” he said.

Mr Jhagra said that international remittances were decreasing and overseas Pakistanis were sending their money through the open market instead of banks owing to difference between the rates of dollar. He demanded of the federal government to focus on improving economy instead of registering concocted cases against PTI chief Imran Khan.

He said that the federal government should take serious steps to restore the trust of international market to stabilise the country’s economy. He said that member parties of Pakistan Democratic Movement ousted the PTI government but now it they were unable to handle the economy of the country.

The minister said that prior to coming into power, PDM was planning to march on roads against inflation but they took a U-turn after forming government at the centre.

“It is the right of the people to take them into confidence on economic issues. We take the media and people into confidence on the economic issues of Pakhtunkhwa,” he said.

He said that former finance minister Miftah Ismail mentioned failures of government in his recently-published article. He added that all the federating units were bearing the brunt of the failure of the economic policies of federal government.

He alleged that according to Gallup survey, 88 per cent of businessmen believed that the country’s economy was not going in the right direction. He alleged that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sahrif refused to transfer the pledged Rs10 billion for compensation of flood victims in KP.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2022

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