Islamabad: Newly appointed Finance Minister Asad Umar told the Senate on Friday that the federal government requires $9 billion to run Pakistan, reports Dawn.
“The number that we need to borrow, according to the budget, is $9 billion,” said the finance minister. “But we are trying to address the root cause that compels us to borrow these $9bn. Of course, we know any measures [we take] will take time — maybe even two or three years — to bear fruit.“In the meantime, whatever gap there is, we are calculating. As soon as our plan gets finalised, which it should within one to two weeks, we will present in before the parliament, and then we will also seek suggestions from the National Assembly and Senate to improve it further.”
Umar said that the decision to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for loans will be taken after consultations and taking the parliament into confidence.
The finance minister clarified that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) delegation that visited the country earlier this month was there for a routine evaluation and that their visit was not related to Pakistan’s placement on the watchdog’s grey list.
“It was an FATF delegation but it was here for a separate exercise of mutual evaluation, which is conducted after every four or five years,” Umar said.”Even if we were not on the FATF grey list, this delegation would still have come.”
Umar further said that “the next FATF quarterly review will take place in Jakarta on September 11 and 12. They have identified 27 deficiencies in three broad categories, the first of which is currency smuggling. The second is the Havala/Hundi businesses and the third is related with potential terror financing of proscribed organisations.
“To deal with this, a National Executive Committee has been formed. It is chaired by the finance minister (Umar himself) and it has several national institutions such as the FIA, NAB, SECP, etc. Our own review will take place on September 8 and be completed before the next FATF review. We have already identified the action steps needed [to remove] the 27 deficiencies, and also assigned responsibilities.The finance minister said that Pakistan has 15 months to comply with the FATF’s requirements, with the deadline to do so being September 2019.
“If we fulfill their requirements and remove those 27 deficiencies by then, we will be back on the white list,” Umar explained.
Earlier this month, while speaking to the media after he was given his first briefing as the minister for finance by the secretary, Umar had said that the government would soon decide whether to present a fresh federal budget or come up with some other way to lay out the actual economic situation in parliament.