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Going to IMF is still an option for govt: Asad Umer

29 September, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umer Friday said going to the International Monetary Fund was still an option for the government given the weak financial condition of the country.

“I would like anyone to find any answer besides the one I am about to give: we will look at all options including going to the IMF given the situation, after which I will give my recommendation to the prime minister, who can decide to act upon it or look to other avenues,” he told a private TV channel during an interview.

The minister gravely cautioned against the potential difficulties the country will be faced with if the oil prices in the global markets do not stabilise soon, saying in such an event it will be a ‘bad news’ for Pakistan.

In response to a question about the general perception that the government has no idea what to do with the finance ministry, he said, “For four years, they [the past government] did not make any decisions about gas. They wreaked havoc with the department. They did not take any action on the electricity department for years. In the past 30 days, our government has taken clear decisions on all the matters we have touched upon.”

To a question regarding the Saudi investment for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) secured by a delegation which visited the kingdom recently, the minister said, “The visit to Saudi Arabia was symbolic. The three grants were already in the pipeline. The visit showed the world that there is progress being made in the relationship between the two countries.” To a question that more taxes have been imposed on the 1.3 million people who are giving taxes in the country, Umer said, “I have another bad news for you: there are only 1.3 million filers and out of which around 700,000 actually give taxes. We have not levied additional taxes on these taxpayers.” He said the government has started to catch those filers who do not give any taxes but buy vehicles worth millions. “The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) will see to this, and bring those people into the tax net. FBR is going to catch the top 100 people who have bought the most amount of land and cars but are not filers and do not give taxes. This will be done over a span of few weeks after which people who have lavish lifestyles, like those travelling in the business class, will be identified,” he said. “I thought you would ask why only 100 people, let me answer that anyway, it is 100 people so that FBR cannot sidestep this and say that as there are too many people, the exercise will take too long. With only 100 people, the exercise will not take more than a few weeks,” he explained.

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