ISLAMABAD: Former finance minister Ishaq Dar Saturday suggested renegotiating the loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) instead of seeking an extension to the existing package.
Speaking to Geo News programme Naya Pakistan with Shahzad Iqbal, the PMLN leader said, “We have to run the country and not ruin it by taking dictations.” He told the programme host the IMF was asking for a hike in the prices of petrol and diesel. “We cannot overburden the common people by increasing the prices of petroleum products. The PTI government had agreed to very strict conditions in the IMF package,” Dar added.
The biggest problem in Pakistan is inflation, he said, adding the annual budget deficit of Pakistan had been around Rs3,000 billion, and this year it would be Rs5,600 billion. “The PMLN government had put the economy on track but the next government had no planning to take it forward,” he regretted. He said the government would provide subsidy on wheat that would decrease its price within two days. He hoped the KP government would also reduce the wheat price.
Ishaq Dar said the PMLN government and its allies did not intend to continue for one-and-a-half year. “Some people want the government to complete its tenure but Nawaz Sharif is of the view that fair and free elections should be held as early as possible,” he added.
He said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government should also reduce the flour prices. “If the KP government does not reduce the flour prices, the federal government will take action. If the dollar had not been costlier and stood at Rs187, inflation would not have been that high. The last government could not increase revenue and there was a 35pc increase in government expenditures that resulted in heavy borrowing,” he explained.
He said if the PTI government had not devalued the rupee, no subsidy for petrol would have been needed today. He said the IMF was asking for raising the prices of petrol and diesel, but it was not the solution. “The PTI government had reduced petrol and diesel prices as it knew it was being ousted,” he added.
He said there should be a new agreement with the IMF. “Pakistan saves Rs200 billion by controlling the monetary policy by one per cent. We will take no dictation from the IMF,” he said, adding that if Saudi Arabia and the UAE withdrew their $6 billion, the treasury will be empty. “Exports increased by only $800 million during the last three years and the country suffered a Rs4,000 billion loss due to the freefall of rupee. If there is an improvement in GDP growth, the economy will sail smoothly and create employment opportunities. The GDP growth achieved by the PTI government was less than that of the PMLN government. The law governing the State Bank of Pakistan will have to be amended,” he concluded.