Strengthening rupee value will be my top priority: Ishaq Dar

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ISLAMABAD: New elected Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Wednesday said strengthening of rupee value would be his top priority, followed by reducing the inflation and interest rates in order of priority, to revive the economy.

Speaking to journalists outside the ministry office, where he came after taking oath of the office, the fourth time minister for finance and revenue said nobody would be allowed to play with the exchange rate.

“This is not the right place where rupee stands at present,” he said, adding that he knew some speculators were involved in this game that they should stop forthwith. He said he was happy that speculators had already made corrections in two days and improvement in rupee value had reduced the debt worth billions of rupees. “The speculators should set their direction right. This is my top priority to strengthen rupee value. Then we have to reduce inflation and cut down interest rates because we have to revive the economy”.

He said central banks throughout the world had the role to make interventions in the market and there were standards to do that. Responding to a question he said it was big lie that PML-N government burnt dollars in the market to control exchange rate. “There were no dollars, how could one throw dollars,” he said.

Mr Dar said the havoc played with the value of Pakistan currency over the last about four years of the PTI government caused inflation and because of high inflation rates, the interest rates were enhanced. His predecessor Miftah Ismail, he said, made a lot of effort on the basis of his experience but four years of devastation was of such proportions that economic conditions could not be corrected in such a short time. “He did whatever he could and ensured the country to move away from default,” he said, adding he would build upon those foundations with joint efforts.

“Pakistan is faced with the worst-ever economic conditions at present due to four years of mismanagement during the government of Imran Khan” who believed in felling bombs on the country if he was not in power, he remarked, adding what Mr Khan had done to the country could not even have been done by Pakistan’s enemies.

The finance minister said the PML-N government under Nawaz Sharif’s leadership had pulled the country out of crisis after 1998 nuclear detonations and again in 2013 when Pakistan had been declared as ‘macroeconomic unstable country’ and put it on a path that international institutions expected Pakistan as the 18th top economy by 2030.

“We tried to shorten this period by four to five years. Had the country been allowed in that direction, Pakistan would have been ahead of Italy and Canada by 2025-26 at number 18 instead of 54th place where it stands now because of Panama(Papers) drama and similar other tactics and the country had to pay a very heavy price,” he said, adding the country despite three sit-ins recorded 6.3pc growth rate, 4pc rate of inflation, 2pc food inflation, a stable rupee, low interest rates and highest revenue before the PML-N tenure came to an end.

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