–Foreign minister says 18th Amendment isn’t being rolled back
–Says govt would soon announce a favourable NFC award
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that neither is the 18th Amendment being rolled back nor is presidential system being imposed in the country.
The foreign minister said this in a heated speech on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.
Speaking about the recent appointment of Dr Reza Baqir as the governor of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the foreign minister cautioned others not to distribute “certificates of patriotism”.
Defending Baqir’s appointment, Qureshi said that the government had made the selection on merit. He said that Baqir is a son of Pakistan and he was going to serve the country at a minimal salary.
He said that it was worth looking at why Pakistan had to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He said that the IMF does not approach governments itself, but countries go to the global lender in their time of need.
“Unfortunately, the economy was completely destroyed in the past 10 years. And the nation knows who is responsible for this destruction,” he said, adding that the country had to once again approach the IMF because of the poor condition that previous governments had left the economy in.
He specifically mentioned that forex reserves were at the lowest ebb; the fiscal deficit was 6.6 per cent of GDP and trade deficit was $19 billion.
There was Rs1,300 billion circular debt that the previous government had left for the new government, he added.
“Who is responsible for the decline of public institutions? Whether the growth declined in the last eight months? Whether the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) dropped in the last eight months?” he questioned.
He said international monetary institutions had warned about economic instability and added the PTI government sought help from friendly countries like Saudi Arabia, China and UAE to bridge the huge gap.
“Is this the first time we are going to the IMF? This is the 16th time we are approaching the IMF. Everybody knows who knocked the IMF’s doors during which government’s tenure in the past,” he said.
Responding to comments from the opposition benches, particularly the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the foreign minister said they had taken out the funeral of the economy in the past.
He said that the nation was well aware which government knocked on the IMF’s doors how many times in the last decade.
He said that despite a norm of loot and plunder that had destroyed the economy in the past decade, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government would announce a more favourable National Finance Commission (NFC) award.
Qureshi said that announcing an NFC award was the government’s responsibility according to Article 160 of the Constitution, which says that an NFC award is announced every five years.
He said that a committee formed under former finance minister Ishaq Dar failed to deliver any progress on the matter. Pointing the finger at the Sindh government, he said that provincial governments had also failed to nominate their candidates.
He said that former finance minister Asad Umar had repeatedly requested the provinces to nominate the ex-officio members of the commission but the provincial governments kept on delaying the matter. He said that the Sindh government was mainly responsible for the delay in this regard.
Earlier Senator Sassui Palijo, speaking on her adjournment motion, said that no NFC had been awarded to the provinces after 2010 due to which the economic suffering of the Sindh province has been doubled.
She demanded immediate awarding of NFC award, adding that erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), after its merger, will get the share of NFC award of all provinces, which was not appropriate.
Qureshi also said that there was no danger to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) nor was there any risk to Pakistan’s nuclear program.
“The country is not moving towards a one-unit system,” he said, further dispelling any rumours of rolling back the 18th Amendment or imposition of a presidential system in the country.