LAHORE: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Saturday said that Pakistan is heading in the right direction and it will not default despite the opposition’s propaganda.
“Pakistan will not default just because of the propaganda of the opposition (Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf). The country’s direction is right and it is not heading for default,” Mr Dar declared during his interaction with businessmen.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan and other leaders of his party have been predicting Pakistan will default because of the “poor policies” of the coalition government led by PML-N. Mr Khan is of the view that the country’s economy can only be stabilised if a stable government took after fresh elections and tackled the situation.
Mr Dar further said that the opposition was hurting the ‘economic cause’ of the country. “Besides, the opposition is trying to forestall foreign investment in the country by propagating on corruption stories. The PTI needs to show some serious attitude and should not play with the country’s economy,” he emphasised.
The minister rued the treatment meted out to him during the last tenure of the PML’s government. “I was treated like a terrorist. And my only crime was that I was fixing the economic woes of the country. I was forced to live in self-exile (in the UK) for five years,” Mr Dar said.
Rules out possibility of default
He also chided the previous governments of PTI and PML-N for sticking to the rupee devaluation policy. “We devalued the rupee. During the tenure of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, I had made it clear that if a devaluation policy was observed then the government could not arrest depreciation of our currency,” he claimed.
Ishaq Dar was critical of the policies of his party’s former finance minister Miftah Ismail. Upon his return from London in September after securing bail in a NAB corruption reference, Mr Dar replaced Mr Ismail and put his focus on stabilising the local currency.
During his initial weeks in office rupee saw an upward trend but of late it is struggling and currently its value against a US dollar is over Rs230 and in the open market the foreign currency, especially the US dollar and Euro, is hardly available.
Mr Dar said that no more experiments could be made with the national economy. “We are trying our best to stabilise the economy,” he said and added that the government had decided to stop smuggling of wheat on a war footing.
He said the way Pakistan was growing when the PML-N government’s term ended it should have been among G-20 countries today, Samaa TV reported. Instead, he lamented, “our economy is currently ranked 46th in the world”.
The finance minister recalled that in 2013 when they took over, many people said the country was about to default, but the PML-N government managed to avert that.
On the current challenges being faced by the PDM government, Mr Dar said, “We will have to work hard and focus on improving Pakistan’s macroeconomic indicators”.
“Here, the rich get their loans written off, but if [repayments of] loans of a few thousands of poor widows are late, their properties are seized,” he said.
Gohar Ijaz, a participating businessman, urged the government to reduce the interest rate. Turkey had kept the interest rate low despite inflation “why can’t we,” he asked.
Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2022