ISLAMABAD: As barbs flew in the Senate over the issue of rupee devaluation, the PML-N blasted the previous PTI government for giving absolute autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

Leader of the House in the Senate Ishaq Dar not only criticised the PTI’s decision to make SBP unanswerable to the government but also blamed a handful of speculators for the economic mess.

He said there were individuals who caused a loss of trillions to the country for their “small gains”. He, however, said the country’s currency remained stable for four years from 2014 to 2017.

Senator Dar claimed that till December 2017, the Pakistani rupee was the most stable currency in Asia while when Nawaz Sharif left the government the dollar was at Rs104 and when former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi took office the dollar rate was at Rs124.

Speaking on his motion about the devaluation of rupee, Kamran Murtaza said the value of dollar in 1947 was Rs3.31 and there had been steady increase over the years in its value but it increased tremendously in recent years, as it rose to Rs335.

He insisted that dollar could not be controlled by holding a two-minute meeting and using force and that instead adopting a scientific method was imperative to achieve the desired results.

Senate told there is no shortage of wheat in country

PTI Senator Mohsin Aziz regretted that dollar used to be bought at Rs172 before the (PDM) coalition government assumed power, but within a year, its value shot up to Rs335.

He said there were several factors behind this increase in the value of dollar and devaluation of Pakistani currency and so a serious study should be done to fix the problem.

He alleged the flight of the dollar from the country was not controlled, adding that the State Bank of Pakistan, despite having been given autonomy, had failed to play its role to control the flight of dollar from the country.

PML-N Senator Dr Afnanullah Khan said that over the last 75 years, the country witnessed three PML-N and PPP governments each, three or four martial laws, floods, earthquakes and disintegration of the country, but dollar was valued at Rs110 in 2018, but then the ‘government of change’ came and the dollar value reached Rs184 and when the PDM formed its government, the former prime minister started making statements that Pakistan was going to be bankrupt soon.

No wheat shortage

Another matter that came under discussion in the Senate on Monday was wheat stock position in the country.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Information Murtaza Solangi told the Senate that the country had ample wheat stocks and concrete measures would be taken to address if there was any flour shortage due to supply chain problems.

In response to a motion moved by Senator Sania Nishtar about wheat shortage, the minister denied there was any shortage.

Senator Nishtar said smuggling might be a major factor behind wheat shortage in addition to hoarding. However, the minister assured the house that there was an adequate stock of wheat in the country as public wheat stock included 39,24,367 tonnes in Punjab, 8,17,394 tonnes in Sindh, 2,15,082 tonnes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and 89,354 tonnes in Balochistan.

A highlight of the day’s proceedings was rejection of a motion seeking to address the issue of clash of interest of the chairmen and members of the Senate committees.

The proposal for the substitution of Rule 185 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012, made by Senator Nishtar, was rejected by the house with a majority vote.

Dasu, Diamer-Bhasha dams

Meanwhile, the Senate passed a resolution expressing deep concern over the present situation in areas of Dasu and Diamer-Bhasha dams and sought recruitment of people in the projects as per the quota fixed for them. The resolution was tabled by Mohammad Talha Mahmood.

The resolution said that the salary of those working on the projects should not be less than the minimum wage, i.e., Rs32,000 per month, as fixed by the government in the budget for the current fiscal year.

It also emphasised that workers on the projects should be paid at least Rs1,500 per day. It urged the government to provide compensation to all the people affected by those projects.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2023

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