Rupee rebounds as progress made in IMF talks, Chinese loan

— Pakistani rupee gains Rs4.70 against US dollar

— PM Shehbaz, Miftah upbeat on ‘progress in talks with IMF’

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani rupee gained Rs4.70 against the US dollar in the interbank on Thursday, closing at 207.23, following news of an incoming loan from China and a possible deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The rupee closed at 211.93 on Wednesday. According to the Forex Association of Pakistan (FAP), the buying and selling rates of dollar in the open market were recorded at Rs206.5 and Rs209.5 respectively.

The price of Euro depreciated by Rs5.01 and closed at Rs217.73 against the previous day’s closing of Rs222.74.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail also declared that the government has saved Pakistan from bankruptcy, informing that progress had been made in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The finance minister insisted they had saved the country from default and the financial situation of the country was stable now.

Addressing a press conference here along with Information and Broadcasting Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Miftah Ismail said the government had to take some difficult decisions to save the country’s economy from collapse. He, however, hoped the government would be able to control the inflation in the next two to three months.

Miftah informed that the government was expecting to receive $2.3 billion in loan from China by next Monday.

“The rate of US dollar has also come down today and positive signs are coming out of the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX),” he said.

Dispelling the impression that the poor people were bearing the brunt of taxation, the minister claimed that actually the government had levied taxes on the rich people. “We have presented a historic budget in which no new tax has been introduced; the fact is that we plan to increase taxes on sugar mills’ owners and billionaires,” he clarified.

He went on to say that never ever in his life had he seen such a pathetic economic situation of the country.

Miftah again did not forget to lash out at former prime minister Imran Khan, and alleged that he had left behind a ‘bankrupt’ Pakistan. “When we took over, there was a deficit of Rs120 billion,” he said, and asked the purpose of PTI’s ascent to power when according to party Chairman Imran Khan, the purpose was not to reduce the prices of tomatoes, onions and other food items.

“The PTI government had borrowed excessive loans and these were the poor people who were the victims of the last government’s taxation,” he opined.

Miftah claimed that the incumbent government had saved Pakistan from default by increasing the prices of petroleum products. “The government has reached an understanding with the IMF over the budget’s measures,” he added.

The minister said that he will deliver the winding-up speech of the general discussion on the federal budget for the fiscal year 2022-23 in the National Assembly and then they will close the budget. “It is a historic budget as we have neither increased indirect taxes nor imposed taxes on commodities or consumption,” he added.

Lashing out at the PTI government, the finance minister said that they imposed heavy taxes on consumption which cast a bad impact on the poor.

The previous government made four highest-ever budget deficits, he said, adding that Pakistan’s debt since the country’s inception had increased by 80 percent during the PTI tenure. He said that Imran Khan brought the country to the brink of bankruptcy.

He maintained that they only imposed taxes on the rich. “I have imposed taxes even on the companies of the prime minister’s son and my own company will now also pay more tax,” he added.

Miftah said the government has provided relief to poor people by shifting burden of tax on rich people. He said tax would be further increased on rich people having income above 150 million rupees.

Separately, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif told a group of the PML-N senators that the government was committed to steer the country out of prevailing difficult economic situation, reiterating his resolve to prioritize steps aimed at bringing prosperity and development.

The prime minister said though the country could still face the difficult times ahead due to the inefficiency of previous regime, yet the coalition government would counter every challenge effectively.

All the coalition partners, he claimed, were unanimous that the 14-month tenure would be utilized for reformation and improvement by keeping the country above all political interests.

He pointed out that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had struck a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to pass on the change in fuel prices to the people, and had also agreed to raise petroleum levy by Rs30.

He, however, said, the previous government quashed the deal and suddenly reduced the petroleum prices in March (2022) at a time when prices of the crude had skyrocketed globally.

This abnormal imbalance left the country in a difficult economic situation, he added.

The prime minister said his government would keep the nation on board regarding difficult economic decisions and not deceive them, unlike the PTI regime.

The conditions for the deal with the IMF had been finalized, however, its positive results in the shape of development would take some time, he added.

Shehbaz Sharif stressed the need for strengthening the national economy by taking effective steps.

He said the PTI government had no empathy for the common man as it ended several projects of the last Pakistan Muslim League-N tenure that were aimed at public welfare.

He said our forefathers had rendered immense sacrifices to establish a separate homeland to lead a comfortable life. However, during the last 75 years, all governments, including civil and military, could not help get that dream materialized.

PM Shehbaz said China, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar always supported Pakistan in difficult times, besides siding at the diplomatic level.

He mentioned that the recent $2.3 billion loan from China was a respite in the current trying times. For the first time in history, he said, a genuine tax was imposed on the net income of affluent persons to provide relief to the poor, who were the real builders of Pakistan.

Also, to reduce the burden on poor, a Rs 2,000 stipend was announced to provide them relief, he added.

He termed it a political and religious obligation of the rich to accommodate the deserving people and contribute to the prosperity of nation.

He said in next few days, he would address the nation to take them on board regarding the steps taken by the government to improve the economic situation.

The prime minister regretted that several welfare projects launched by PM Nawaz Sharif were stopped by the PTI government. The laptop scheme was termed a “political bribe”, but the time showed that it became a source of online connectivity for the students during Covid-19 pandemic, he added.

He claimed that people did not need a “Naya Pakistan”, but the Pakistan of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Shehbaz Sharif said the PTI regime with its negative approach inflicted damage to the ties with other countries. However, the present government was taking steps to mend them for the benefit of the nation.

Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]


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