Minister for Finance Asad Umar Monday said the Financial Action Task Force review team would visit Pakistan in the third week of May 2019 as the country took steps to improve its compliance with the FATF action plan and also moved ahead against proscribed outfits. He informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance that he again raised the issue of Indian's lobbying as co-chair of FATF during his meeting with FATF President who assured that compliance would be gauged on technical grounds instead of political consideration. He said that Pakistan would shortly dispatch its compliance report on FATF action plan.
Asked whether Pakistan considers the FATF President as neutral, the minister replied, "No comments." He added that keeping in view the requirements of his office, he should ensure fair treatment.
He said he reminded FATF President Marshall Billingslea during his US visit that India co-chairing a review group is not neutral and has been publicly speaking against Pakistan's interest. He said the FATF chief promised that politics will not be allowed to play a role in its reviews and Pakistan needs not to worry about that.
He said that FATF is quite critical issue and has no links with IMF conditionalities. He said that Pakistan obtained packages from friendly countries to buy some time to negotiate package with the IMF.
He informed the committee that after signing IMF agreement, the WB and ADB funding would be resumed. He said that other international donor agencies will also provide funding as the World Bank (WB) will lend $7.5 to $8 billion and Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide around $6 billion over three years period. The government is also planning to start process to approach the international capital market for launching bond after signing agreement with the IMF.
The finance minister said that he supports Wealth Tax but the immoveable property falls within the domain of the provincial governments.
During the committee proceedings, Asad Umar said the foreign currency reserves had touched the lowest level when the incumbent government took over and were just enough to meet the needs of only 15 days on front of current account deficit. The country had never seen such an acute balance of payment (BoP) crisis in its whole history.
He said that Pakistan is no longer in critical phase but expressed fear that making efforts to come out from stabilisation phase in haste might cause re-surfacing of crisis again.
Qaiser Sheikh of PML-N said the government should have gone into IMF programme within first 100 days. Ayesha Ghous Pasha said the government shared the strategy but missed out targets which it wants to achieve over the period of three years under the IMF programme.
MNA Nafeesa Shah of PPP said that the NA session was postponed on the pretext of launching amnesty scheme through a presidential ordinance. She said that FATF is asking about placing regulations on gold purchase.
Responding to different queries, Asad Umar said that they did not share details of macroeconomic framework because negotiations were underway and such information could affect ongoing meetings with the IMF.
He said, "Ideologically, there is need to ascertain whether former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar's policy of keeping overvalued exchange rate was correct or exchange rate policy needs different mechanism." During the meeting, the leading representatives from various chambers of commerce and industries and provincial governments opposed the proposed short period being offered for tax amnesty scheme and proposed that the scheme should be well structured and provide sufficient time and education to the people of come into documented regime. The real estate valuations in Sindh and KP had blocked property business, resulting in huge revenue loss to the provinces even though the FBR might have improved its revenues.
Later different chambers and federations including Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI), Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan (ABAD), textile industry, exporters and provincial revenue authorities submitted their budget proposals.