PPP, Musharraf responsible for outstanding loans: Dar

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Staff Reporter

Islamabad—Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar stated on Saturday that Pakistan Muslim League-N should not be held responsible for the loans acquired by the country since its creation, adding that Pakistan People’s Party and Pervez Musharraf were responsible for the outstanding loans.
While addressing in the National Assembly, Dar said that details regarding his assets were submitted in the Election Commission of Pakistan and that if anyone levels false allegations against him then he will take them to the court.
He said the process getting loans started in 1947. The
debts stood at Rs 3,000 billion till June 30, 1999, reached Rs 5,800 billion in the Musharraf regime and further increased to Rs 14,318 billion in the Pakistan People’s Party last tenure.
Winding up discussion on charges expenditures, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the present government has reduced the fiscal deficit by half from 8.8 percent to 4.3 percent over the last three years. Apart from this, the development expenditures have been doubled while allocations for the social safety nets have been enhanced by three times. He said we are trying to reduce dependence on loans.
Rejecting criticism of the opposition members on the expenditures of the President house, the Finance Minister said that the allocations have been made keeping in view his responsibilities and activities as he has to represent the country at international forums.
Ishaq Dar assured that the salaries of MNAs will be reviewed after the return of the Prime Minister from London. The Finance Minister said credit goes to the present government for doing away with the secret funds.
He said after the 18th amendment the provinces could take loans, adding that three out of four provinces have announced deficit budget.
Ishaq Dar said fiscal deficit has been decreased by 50 percent during three years of current government. He said the begging bowl has not been made by current government but it was made by PPP and Musharraf governments. He said the current government is trying to overcome the begging bowl.
He said the PML N government would bring the debt to GDP ratio to 60 per cent by 2018, which would be further reduced to 50 per cent in next 15 years.
He said the criticism on the presidency budget is unjustified and unfair. He said there is no secret service fund of anyone except intelligence agencies.
He said the government is aware and conscious about the Torkham situation. He said prime minister has summoned Special Assistant Syed Tariq Fatemi in London and he has left for London. He said people should eat chicken instead of pulses. He said chicken is Rs 200 per kilogram and Mash pulse is Rs 260 per kilogram.
Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told National Assembly that he has challenged a political party’s leader over forensic audit of assets. “I have challenged a political party leader that we both shall conduct a forensic audit of our assets, whoever owns illegal assets will pay the fee,” Ishaq Dar told NA.
Referring to Imran Khan, he told the house that when a senior parliamentarian, leader of a party, blamed his son (Ali Dar) “he served a legal notice to him”.
Answering opposition bench member Sheikh Rashid’s allegations, the minister said that he will leave politics if Rasheed proves that he has single rupee stashed abroad. He said this year three out of four provinces had deficit budget and they should concentrate on their capacity as after their devolution under the 18th Amendment they did not properly spend the amount they got from the federal divisible pool. But he added the government should focus on the federal deficit. He said for the first time in the country’s history, the government had approved 62 per cent of the recommendations forwarded by the Senate for incorporation in the Finance Bill 2016 17.
To the questions related to interest or mark up on debt, the Finance Minister said the debt servicing had direct relevance with loans.”When you take debt you have to pay mark up.” He said Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company (PMIC) would be operational from the beginning of next fiscal year to cater to demands of 25 million people who need microfinance.
The Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund and Germany’s Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) have already signed an agreement in this regard, he added. In July the company would be operationalize and it would have big base and professional capacity, he said.
Speaking on the charged expenditures, the members said the government should revisit its privatization policy and profitable units should not be privatized to pay off the foreign and domestic loans. They pointed out that a major amount of the budget is going in debt servicing and the government should cut non-development expenditures and put the country on self-reliance.
They said Pakistan Post Office has a big infrastructure and facilities like the acquisition of passport should be made available at the post offices. They recommended that the salaries of elected parliamentarians should be enhanced, as it will also help end corruption. The members said that services of Pakistan Railways should be improved for the convenience of the passengers. They said reforms should be introduced in the judiciary in order to provide inexpensive and prompt justice to the masses.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly on Saturday passed 75 demands for grants relating to different ministries, divisions and departments for the next fiscal year on Saturday.
These related to Climate Change, Commerce Division, Communications Division, Pakistan Post Office, Defense Division, Federal Government Educational Institutions, Housing and Works, Industries and Production Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan, Law and Justice Division, Council of Islamic Ideology, NAB, the National Assembly, the Senate, National Health Services, Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, Planning and Development, Pakistan Railways, Ministry of Religious Affairs, Frontier Regions, Federally Administered Tribal areas and the Textile industry. The opposition moved no cut motions on these demands for grants. The House held discussion on the Charged Expenditures included in the Demands for Grants and Appropriations for financial year 2016-17.

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