- Charity organisations have reportedly proposed help in raising funds to alleviate Pakistan's economic concerns
KARACHI: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday gave his green signal to a reported plan by charitable organisations to help raise around $2 billion from overseas Pakistanis as the country’s economy battles challenges on the foreign exchange front.
At the National Islamic Economic Forum’s (NIEF) ‘Defining a roadmap for Islamization of Pakistan’s economy’ in Karachi, Dar advised the group of charity organisations to meet with officials of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to finalise the mechanism for the proposed fund-raising, which is planned to be “interest-free” for a five-year period.
His statement came after Saylani Welfare Trust and other organisations offered to help raise $2 billion from overseas Pakistanis, a move aimed at dealing with the current economic crisis and a focus on the issue of non-opening of letters of credit (LCs) amid dollar shortage.
Pakistan is currently in the midst of a massive economic battle with the currency hitting yet another record low on Thursday. Its foreign exchange reserves depleted to $3.7 billion last month, an import cover of less than three months.
Its government is currently also locked in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over revival of its bailout programme that got stalled in September last year.
In an effort to help alleviate some concerns, Muhammad Bashir Farooqi, Chairman Saylani Welfare, said that his organisation and around four to five others, including Akhuwat Foundation and The Citizens Foundation, were planning to request “patriotic overseas Pakistanis to lend dollars to the country without any interest for a five-year period”.
“This will help Pakistan escape the current economic crisis,” Farooqi said while speaking at the event.
“This will also help resolve the LC issue and clear up containers stuck at the port,” he said. Farooqi expects to fetch at least $2 billion through this initiative.
He also requested Dar to help facilitate the plan to which the finance minister agreed.
Dar, who addressed via video link, also urged Farooqi to send a team for a meeting with the central bank to discuss details of the strategy as “it will be a documented and transparent process”.
“I will ask the governor (SBP) to meet your team and create the mechanism,” he said.
Earlier in his speech, Dar stated that “Islamisation of the Pakistan economy” was very close to his heart.
“We need to stop Riba (interest) as soon as possible. From 2013 to 2017, I took some measures and implemented them in SECP, SBP, stakeholders, industrialists, banks. We requested Mufti Taqi Usmani to lead the change,” he said.
Giving details on the initiatives introduced by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government in 2013-2018, he stated that special amendments were made during his party’s previous stint when 2% tax rebate was given to listed companies that were Shariah complaint.
“I can now see the dividends of these efforts. Meezan bank was the top Islamic bank and had 100 branches. It now has 1,000 branches,” he said.