Islamabad April 9 2023: Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar on Saturday said the main reason behind the cancellation of his visit to the United States (US) for the annual and spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank was the prevailing political and constitutional situation in the country.
However, the said he was attending virtual review meetings, where a team of senior officials comprising the Governor State Bank of Pakistan, the Secretary of Finance, the Secretary Economic Affairs Division and other authorities concerned was attending the mandatory sessions as per the schedule, in complete coordination with him.
Addressing a press conference, the minister categorically rejected the speculative reports circulating regarding the cancellation of his official visit to the US and participation in the meetings of the IMF and World Bank.
Ishaq Dar said he cancelled his visit under the directives of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif after a political and constitutional crisis emerged followed by the decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a case regarding the polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
He said the court had directed the federal government to ensure the provision of Rs21 billion to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) before April 10, 2023, for finalizing the arrangements for the election of the Punjab provincial assembly.
The minister said the apex court had also directed the ECP to submit a report on the provisions of funds by April 11, adding that under such a situation, it was the responsibility of the Finance Ministry to look into the matter and fulfill its responsibilities.
Besides, the Ministry of Defence was also asked to apprise the court about the security arrangements.
The minister said Pakistan was a sovereign country and fulfilled all its international commitments, despite tough economic conditions, adding that $11 billion had been paid to international financial institutions.
He reiterated the firm resolve of the government to fulfil all the commitments that were made with other institutions within the given timeframe.
Dar said that he had also attended the meetings of the IMF when Pakistan was facing global economic sanctions due to a nuclear test, but some analysts were portraying a strange picture, which he said was against national interest.
He said that some internal and external elements were trying to push the country into crisis and spreading rumours of default and about the IMF program.
The Finance Minister said that he along with his delegation held meetings with IMF and invited them to visit Pakistan by October 2022, adding that due to unknown reasons, the IMF delegation visited Pakistan on January 31, 2023 for the 9th review.
He said it was a 10-day review, and as a result, some prior actions including Rs 170 billion taxation were taken.
He said that the last government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has not fulfilled its commitments but rather fixed mines for the next government, which was clearly expressed by its leader.
He said at the time of the 8th review, some friendly countries had provided support to Pakistan for covering its external account gap, adding that now this time one of the friendly countries had confirmed to provide $2 billion, whereas confirmation of $1 billion from another country was awaited.
Dar expressed the firm hope that after the confirmation the staff-level agreement would be finalized, adding that the government has completed its work.
The Finance Minister further informed that all the questions of the fund about the proposed subsidy scheme of petroleum for small cars and motorcycles were also discussed as it was not part of any budgetary measures.
He reaffirmed the commitment to bring the country out of economic crisis and put it back on track for development and prosperity.