December 12, 2018 (MLN): Finance Minister Asad Umar, in his recent interview to BBC, talked about the challenges faced by the government of Pakistan and the current status of the economy.
When being called a Mr. U-turner along with the Prime Minister Imran Khan for doing the exact opposite of what they proclaimed to do during the election campaigns, the Finance Minister said that by the time the government came into power, it was a well-known fact that Pakistan was in need of a bailout and that he had repeatedly said it before elections had even started.
“It is not something to be proud of and we are ashamed of it” the minister said. “You have to have low self-respect to go around doing what the Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Pakistan have been doing in the current circumstances and be proud of that” he added.
Asad Umar said that Pakistan has been using its growth strategy, which is consumption led imported capital finance, that has repeatedly landed the country into current account deficit cycles and taken its external debt to a level which is not sustainable.
“We are not going to get out of begging bowl syndrome until we switch to domestic resources and make Pakistan an export oriented economy” he said.
When asked if the government was tempted to take loans from Saudi Arabia and China because it wanted to avoid rigorous conditions from IMF, he said that the government had reached out to its bilateral countries and IMF simultaneously, as there was no time to work out a strategy.
“We do not need IMF to impose any sanctions on us as we have already done what is required for our economy” he retorted.
“We have increased gas and electricity prices, put in a supplementary finance budget and increased taxes. The Central Bank has increased the policy rate as well as devalued rupee and adjusted the currency. Both the fiscal and monetary policy have been moving in the direction of reforms that our needed” he further added.
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