Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Asad Umar, rebuffing media reports of a $10 billion deal with Saudi Arabia, said that the volume of the deal is yet to be decided.
In an interview with Arab News, Asad Umar said that a Saudi delegation would visit Pakistan in the first week of October to discuss the volume and areas of investment.
Discussing Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia, he said, “The prime minister’s visit was meant to make agreements at the highest level with the King of Saudi Arabia and build a stronger relationship. In principle, only verbal discussions have taken place so far.”
“We have discussed trade-related issues, foreign direct investment, visa fees, and issues faced by our laborers,” he added.
The finance minister also dispelled the notion that Pakistan facing a financial emergency which required it to seek International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) assistance.
“Pakistan is not in an emergency situation that requires it to rush to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to seek a bailout,” he said, adding, “We have neither stopped imports nor imposed financial sanctions.”
He further said, “We need to take well-measured decisions. As a situation emerges, we take steps to manage it. We don’t want to take decisions in an emergency.”
An IMF mission is set to visit Pakistan on September 27. “We are in discussion with them, but this is not to negotiate for a loan. Our purpose is to do our homework, in case we want to approach them at some stage,” the finance minister commented.
Responding to a question about managing the balance of payment deficit, Umar said, “We are eliminating the root cause of this problem, and that root cause is the fiscal deficit. We have done that through the recent finance bill which will reduce our cost of import.”
He said that during his visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, PM Khan discussed measures for trade enhancement and investment. “These are measures which will help fill the external financing gap,” he noted.
He also said that Pakistan is constantly in touch with international commercial markets and banks for financing.
About the measures to increase the country’s exports to ease its external payment obligations, the finance minister said that the issue had been discussed in detail with the Chinese.
“During the upcoming international trade exhibition, which will be attended by the prime minister as one of the chief guests in China on November 4 and 5, we will discuss items line by line so that they can give us trade concessions to increase exports to China,” he said.
“Similarly, when the Saudis will come, decisions will be made here in Pakistan about trade enhancement and investment,” he added, hoping that these steps would mitigate the balance of payments crisis.
The government is also planning to float overseas, dollar-based saving certificates for Pakistanis living abroad. The finance minister said that the amount of issue would be decided at the time of floating these certificates.
“We will float them in October, but it will not be a one-time issue. We will be floating these certificates periodically for overseas Pakistanis,” he concluded.