Interior minister says ‘only a fool’ will go to IMF in an election year
Says govt won’t fall into ploy to arrest Imran Khan
ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday has said that the government would not go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the election year, adding that those portraying a doomsday scenario about the country’s economy were ill-advised and playing in enemy’s hands.
“Only a fool will go to the IMF in an election year. We will not do that as Pakistan’s economy is doing fine,” said the minister.
He said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan wanted the government to arrest him by defying the courts but the government would not fall into the trap.
Talking to media here on the eve of a dinner reception hosted by Board of Investment for the visiting Chinese investors and industry giants, Ahsan said that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar would continue to serve the country as he deserved it.
Minister Ahsan Iqbal addressing the Delegation of Chinese Experts On Industrial Cooperation visiting Pakistan pic.twitter.com/hoU3FzBhqc
— Minister of Interior (@MofInteriorPK) October 17, 2017
He said Dar had done a great job; he deserved to carry the country to stability.
“He knows the highs and lows of our economy better than anyone else. He knows strengths and weaknesses of our economic system. How can we replace him? It’s a pity that this nation has turned a hero, who served with best of his abilities, into a villain. Better sense should prevail,” the minister asserted.
Ahsan Iqbal said that Pakistan needs to learn from China to make Special Economic Zones successful.
“We need to make successful and viable clusters in Pakistan with help of Chinese model,” he added.
“I hope Chinas help the development of successful economic zones. We have an abundance of youth force. Our strategic location makes Pakistan a special place for industrial development,” he explained.
It is a win-win collaboration, and linking global supply chains will help Pakistan embrace this opportunity of future competitiveness, he said, adding that Chinese President Xi has declared Pakistan as an iron brother.
One belt one road vision is a vision of future and CPEC is its flagship project, he maintained.
“I am happy that every provincial government is working rigorously to make CPEC a success. Since CPEC would be completed by 2030, all future governments will be supporting it,” he said.
Minister Ahsan Iqbal termed CPEC as means to an end where Pakistan will emerge out as a country with strong Industrial & Economic activity! pic.twitter.com/1zNaPRlLcO
— Minister of Interior (@MofInteriorPK) October 17, 2017
More trade and economic activity in the region would lead towards a stable and peaceful region.
Pakistan has turned the tide, he said.
In 2013, Pakistan was struggling with debt burden but the recent World Bank report has put Pakistan as the fastest growth rate country in past ten years, the interior minister concluded.
Earlier, Ahsan Iqbal, while talking to a private news channel, said that the government believes in the stability of institutions and he never had a dispute with the Pakistan Rangers.
The interior minister said that his participation in a passing out parade ceremony of the Rangers is a ‘loud and clear message’ that the government respects the country’s institutions.
“My participation is proof of my solidarity with the institutions,” the minister said.
Responding to a question about the October 2 incident when Rangers, deployed outside an accountability court, blocked entry to the premises where the hearing of the former premier Nawaz Sharif was underway, Iqbal said that the specific incident occurred as a result of a certain policy.
“An internal probe by the paramilitary force into the incident is underway and we will soon sort it out,” he said. “It was an administrative situation and we are waiting for their report.”
The interior minister insisted that the government has ‘no tensions with any institutions.’
“They [armed forces] are our front line, and we have the utmost respect for all of the institutions that are protecting our motherland,” Iqbal said.
It is crucial to note that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Monday also tried to dispel the impression that the country was facing an economic emergency and will need to return to the IMF soon because of depleting foreign exchange reserves.
“There is no need to go to the IMF at the moment,” he claimed, pointing to foreign exchange reserves of $14 billion.
“The country now stands on its own feet,” Dar said, adding that the focus is now on achieving the six per cent growth target for the current fiscal year. “Growth will take the economy in the right direction,” he said.
As for a recent World Bank report that put Pakistan’s external debt servicing obligations at $31bn in the current fiscal year, Dar said the global institution has admitted to the finance secretary that it had “misinterpreted the economic data of Pakistan”. “It will be corrected soon,” he claimed.
He said circular debt stands at Rs390bn, despite a substantial reduction in the hours of load shedding. It was Rs480bn when the PML-N took power, he explained.
He said the revenue collection witnessed a year-on-year growth of 20 per cent to Rs765bn in July-September.
On the basis of this growth in revenue, he said, the overall budget deficit fell to Rs324bn in July-September against Rs438bn a year ago. He said it stood at 0.9pc compared to 1.3pc last year.
On the other hand, the Institute for Policy Reforms (IPR), in its report the “Annual Review of the Economy 2016-17” issued last week, said Pakistan’s economy missed all the targets set by the government for the fiscal year 2016-17, barring inflation, while several economic indicators worsened during the year.
Fiscal consolidation gains of recent years also took a major retreat, the report said, placing the economy in a severe imbalance.
“Though there are signs of revival in FY 18—as seen in several areas including first quarter FBR’s revenue growth of 21%, export revival continued growth in private credit and energy supply—the economy’s weak fundamentals suggest that these gains may be short-lived,” it further said.
The report added that macroeconomic indicators are a major cause for concern with external vulnerability especially alarming considering the high current account deficit of $12.1b or 4 % of GDP.
The report also highlighted other macroeconomic weaknesses. “Overall fiscal deficit was 5.8% of GDP against government’s target of 3.8%. Both primary and revenue balance were negative. FBR revenue fell short of the target.
“After an unprecedented 20% increase in FBR revenue in 2015-16, the government budgeted another 16% growth in revenue with no accompanying reforms. “After two years of a double-digit decline, exports fell by another 1.6% in 2016-17. They have revived since March 2017.”
The report also highlighted the lack of planning over meeting large balance of payment outflows in the medium term emanating from its ambitious investment plans which include massive foreign investment and borrowing.
Lastly, the report cited a lack of forecasts about revenue generation as alarming and having the potential of turning into a crisis.