Access to Commercial Banks’ Forex not in consideration: Dar

By Ali Imran

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance and Revenue, Ishaq Dar Wednesday said that the government was not considering an access to foreign exchange reserves held with the commercial banks which he said were the property of the citi-zens.
“I have already said that Pakistan’s reserves are $10 billion. The figures I quoted were based on the principle that na-tional foreign exchange reserves always include forex held with SBP and Commercial Banks”, he said while replying to a question in the press conference held here along with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
He said earlier, every cent was transferred to the Central Banks’ accounts, not the the commercial banks but in 1999, when he was finance minister, a system was devised under which a substantial amount was proposed to remain with the commercial banks. So, he said wherever the figures are quoted at the international level, breakdown of the reserves is given.
Mr Dar said some vested elements who ruined this country’s economy in the past, deliberately twisted the reserves situation and started a campaign as if the government was considering an access to foreign exchange held with com-mercial banks.

“It is categorically denied and clarified that there is no such move under consideration of the Govt. Therefore said mis-construed, misinterpreted and malafide, propaganda should be ignored. Pakistan is moving towards improvement in its forex reserves position in the near future, InshaAllah!”, he said.

With respect to the pledges made in the Resilient Pakistan Conference held in Geneva, the minister said the project loan financing announced by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, and the Asian In-frastructure Bank had already crossed already $8, while the $1 billion announced by the Saudi Development Bank was not clear whether it was a programme lending or the project loan.

With respect to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ishaq Dar said he and his team had a detailed meeting with the IMF on the sidelines of the Conference in Geneva earlier this week where the IMF was informed that Pakistan was on track on the power and gas sectors reforms. The 10 percent special tax, he said was delayed due to the stays from the High Court and the matter would be resolved soon.

He said despite the delays in 10% special tax, the government managed to overrun the tax collection target in first five months of current fiscal year. “But in December 2022, he said the target was missed but still the government was con-fident of achieving the yearly target.

But on the safe side, they (IMF) think that even then we will have to take fiscal measures, and (withdraw) some un-budgeted subsidy such as Kissan package and the one that was given to the exporters, he said adding that to achieve the target, the government had already identifies some tax measures which would not affect the common man.

The minister recalled that back in 2016, the country had become part of the top 24 economies of the world and in 2030 it was going to become part of G-20, but due to the bad governane of PTI, the country’s ranking went down to 47 number last year.