ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the reports of sugar shortage in the country, Federal Minister for Commerce Naveed Qamar on Wednesday informed the National Assembly that the government had not imported any sugar during April-2022 to January 2023, but 5,827 metric tons sugar worth $4.750 million was imported by private sector during the said period.
Speaking in the house, he said that there is no shortage of sugar in the country as there are ample surplus stocks available.
In a written reply to a question, he said that the government had not imported any sugar during April-2022 to January 2023. However, 5,827 metric tons of sugar worth $4.750 million was imported by the private sector during the said period.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha regretted that the previous government did not fulfil the understanding and commitments, reached with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
She expressed optimism that the staff-level agreement would be reached with the international lender soon, saying Pakistan had already met the prior actions and now the IMF wanted us to fulfil the external funding requirements before the release of the next tranche.
She said that China had recently rolled over a loan while there was also progress in securing support from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The National Assembly today passed the Kalam Bibi International Women Institute, Bannu Bill, 2023. It was moved by the parliamentary secretary for education, Zeb Jaffer.
Minister of State for Law Shahadat Awan laid before the house the National Accountability Amendment Bill 2023.
Meanwhile, speaking about the apex court’s verdict in the Punjab election’s delay case, state minister for religious affairs Mufti Abdul Shakoor said that the chief justice of Pakistan should also respect other institutions.
Minister for Information Technology Aminul Haque said justice has not been delivered in the Supreme Court’s decision in the election case. He said the next elections should be held after the digital census and delimitations of constituencies.
Raja Riaz, the opposition leader in the National Assembly, said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, during his term as the prime minister, patronised the corrupt elements and destroyed the country’s institutions.
He said that there was a greater demand for the formation of a full court of Supreme Court to hear the election case but this was not given ear to.
Federal Minister for Power Khurram Dastgir said that the Supreme Court of Pakistan should serve the masses’ interest and defend the state constitutions.
He said that the situation warrants that the apex court brings transparency in its matters and structure its exercise of authority which he said is nowhere to be seen in the recent judgments.
He expressed satisfaction that there was consensus within the parliament for the protection of the Constitution.
“We do not want confrontation but will have to preserve our rights…it is also written in the constitution that the next elections should be held after the census,” he added. Dastgir said the 2023 elections should be held simultaneously in a free, fair, and transparent manner without any interference.
Hashim Notezi of the BNP said that elections of the National Assembly and all four provincial assemblies should be held simultaneously as it is needed for stability in the country.
Aslam Bhootani, Abdul Akbar Chitrali, Naz Baloch, Mehmood Shah, and others also spoke on the apex court’s verdict.
Meanwhile, in a written reply, Minister for Finance and Revenue Ishaq Dar said that the incumbent government inherited an economy in crisis characterised by challenges like shrinking fiscal space, inflationary pressure, growing financing need, exchange rate and external sector pressure, and energy crisis.
“The consumer-led growth overheated the economy. Untargeted subsidies given to the energy sector caused huge fiscal deficits,” he added.
He said that “a huge amount was added to the circular debt which reached Rs2,467 billion, and the total public debt rose to Rs44.4 trillion.
“In FY22, the trade deficit stood at $39.7 billion and the current account deficit (CAD) was about $17.4 billion. On the fiscal side, the deficit was 7.9 percent of GDP. Due to high Trade Deficit/ CAD and pressure of external repayments, SBP forex reserves kept declining,” he added.
He said that the government has made a vibrant external financing plan for FY23. During the course of the first half of FY23, all external payments have been paid on time and going forward all payments will also be honoured timely, he added.
For FY23, he said external payments are around US$ 21 billion (including $7.0 billion friendly deposits), of which $6.4 billion has been repaid and $4.0 billion of friendly deposits have been rolled over).
Following points depict the main aspects of FY23 external borrowing: Most of the external inflows are from multilateral sources (IMF, ADB and World Bank) which are on concessional terms i.e., long tenor and low interest. The major multilateral transactions during Jul-Dec 2022 include $1.2 billion from IMF (under the 7th and 8th review), $1.5 billion from the ADB BRACE programme, and $500 million from AIIB.
“All of Chinese commercial bank maturities during FY23 will be rolled over. Chinese authorities have assured the rollover of SAFE deposits, refinancing of bank loans and increase in the SWAP line from RMB 30 billion to RMB 40 billion,” he added.
He said that the government has recently received $700 million from CDB and further inflows are in pipeline from ICBC, adding friendly countries deposits of $4.0 billion have been rolled over and remaining $3.0 billion will also be rolled over.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023