Trying to better economy, Asad Umar says in Senate session

Published: February 1, 2019
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PTI leader Asad Umer. PHOTO: FILE

PTI leader Asad Umer. PHOTO: FILE

Minister for Finance Asad Umar on Friday said that all efforts are being made and he is trying his best to better the economy while speaking at a Senate session.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani presided over the session, where Umar criticised the opposition for taking hits at him for what he called ‘point scoring’ and for not being in the House when he is present to reply to their queries and critiques.

Umar, while defending the mini-budget, said that it was merely an economic reform package and an effort towards improving the country’s economic condition.

He said that the stock market also picked up in January and has recovered from the losses it incurred in 2018. He also claimed that internationally, the highest improvement in Asia’s bond market was seen in Pakistan and now trust in banks is being restored as well.

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The government on Thursday launched five-year dollar-denominated diaspora bonds at an interest rate of 6.75%, which is higher than the price at which Pakistan had issued the last two bonds of the same tenure.

Officially called Pakistan Banao Certificates, the government invited the overseas Pakistanis to invest in the three-year paper at 6.25% interest rate and in five-year bonds at 6.75% interest rate.

Prime Minister Imran Khan officially launched the bonds at a ceremony at his office. He said that the balance of payments crisis “was not over” yet — a stance that was different from an earlier statement by the Finance Minister Asad Umar.

Umar also said on Thursday that the balance of payments crisis was not over but there was an improvement in it. Umar described the diaspora bonds as his “out-of-the-box solution” to Pakistan’s persistent external sector problems.

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The bonds have been launched to raise funds for the current account deficit financing, as the gross official foreign currency reserves remained at $8.2 billion only, despite loans from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. The $8.2 billion reserves are not enough for even seven weeks of imports.

It was the second appeal that Prime Minister Khan had launched. Earlier, he had appealed to the overseas Pakistanis to give donations for building dams. “I appeal to the overseas Pakistanis to invest in Pakistan Banao Certificates,” Prime Minister Khan said.

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