- Finance Minister says coalition govt determined to reduce current account deficit left by PTI
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said on Sunday that pressure on the rupee, which has taken a severe beating against the dollar in recent weeks, would ease in the next two weeks, Aaj News reported.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the finance minister said that former premier Imran Khan was responsible for the country’s economic woes.
Ismail said that the coalition government had saved the country from default. “We plan to give Pakistan a healthy economy. We are determined to minimise the current account deficit and turn it into surplus within a year or so.”
He said that the government was working on a plan to increase exports over the next two to three months. “But the big issue of impending default has been resolved,” he reiterated.
The finance minister said the coalition government did not bring the country to the brink of default in three months.
“In four years, the PTI could not reach the tax-GDP ratio of the PML-N government. We had left it at 11.1pc and the PTI took it to 9pc. Imran Khan used to say he would increase tax [collection] but he reduced it every year.”
He said that the PTI government violated the agreement made with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by selling oil and petrol at a loss.
Earlier on Sunday, Ismail said that the coalition government was determined to minimise the "large current account deficit" left by the outgoing PTI regime.
In a Twitter post, Ismail said that the government's efforts to "reduce imports have finally borne fruit."
"Imports in July, per FBR data, were only $5.0b compared to $7.7b in June," he wrote.
"Given that we have pulled Pakistan back from the brink of default, our govt is determined to minimise the large current account deficit left by PTI."
Ismail’s remarks come amid reports that Pakistan's army chief appealed to Washington to use its leverage to secure the early release of International Monetary Fund money.
Islamabad and the IMF reached a staff-level agreement earlier this month to pave the way for the release of a tranche of $1.17 billion - but the lender is awaiting approval from its board, which is not scheduled to meet until late August.
Meanwhile, a State Department spokesperson said that “U.S. officials talk to Pakistani officials regularly on a range of issues. As standard practice, we don’t comment on the specifics of private diplomatic conversations.”
The United States is the largest shareholder in the IMF.