Senator Nasreen says finance minister should resign after COAS’ statement on economic situation

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ISLAMABAD: Showing its disappointment over the attitude of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar towards parliamentary committees, the Senate Committee on Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs and Narcotics on Thursday decided to call Dar to brief the committee on the latest economic situation of the country.

“The finance minister should immediately resign after the statement of Army chief, which shows the level of concerns regarding the economic situation. Finance minister’s reluctance to step down—despite his involvement in personal cases—is causing losses to the economy of the country,” Senator Nasreen Jalil said during the meeting of the finance committee, which was chaired by Committee Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla. She also suggested Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi appoint new finance minister, as the ministry under Dar has “become almost dysfunctional.”

However, Senator Saud Majeed said that members of the committee should not interfere in the affairs of government.

Talking to media after the meeting, Jalil said under the prevailing situation, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was unable to proceed with a case rebate or return without the approval of the finance minister—who is busy in his personal cases at NAB courts.

The Senate body once against showed its displeasure over the finance ministry’s lack of response to various issues raised by the committee. “We will request the finance minister to come to the next meeting of the committee and speak about the apprehensions about the economy,” said Mandviwalla.

Discussing an agenda, chairman of the committee asked the officials of Ministry of Finance whether World Bank, as its statement said, has suspended loan/budgetary support programme, owing to the deteriorating macroeconomic situation in Pakistan. The representatives of the ministry informed the committee that World Bank had neither suspended its loans or budgetary programme with Pakistan nor had it put future programmes on hold.

The committee was told that the ministry had already submitted a detailed report to the committee on the issue. However, the chairman asked the ministry that if the statement about the suspension of the programme has wrongly been attributed to World Bank, the finance minister should approach the bank to get a direct feedback. “Should we ask the bank about such development directly?” he asked.

Meanwhile, on the issue of settlement of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) with the CNG sector, the committee was informed that a summary had already been sent to the Cabinet Division on October 6; hopefully, it would be sent back within the current month.

The committee also decided to call the Minister of Water and Power and secretary of the committee to brief on the reply it had submitted on the report of a Standing Committee on Finance—adopted by the house on the issue of payments made to clear the circular debt of power sector amounting to Rs480bn during 2013. The members of the committee showed their dissatisfaction over the response of the said ministry regarding the payment of Rs32bn to IPPs (independent power producers) under the head of idle capacity charges.

Among others, the meeting was attended by Senators Ayesha Raza Farooq, Osman Saifullah Khan, and representatives from finance ministry, water and power ministry and other relevant departments.

 

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