Mandviwalla dispels fears about country going bankrupt
ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Saleem H. Mandviwalla said here on Tuesday that Pakistan had never faced bankruptcy in the past nor would it in future. “We should not take rumour-mongering seriously.”
He was responding to a question at his first press conference as the fifth finance minister in as many years. He said the process of budget preparation was continuing and the budget team was making good progress.
Responding to a question, he said he could not say why he had been appointed finance minister for less than a month, adding that it was a decision of the leadership. “My predecessor had some other plans or he wanted to go somewhere else from here,” Mr Mandviwalla said while referring to the resignation of Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.
He said he would work for strengthening national economy with prudent and transparent economic policies and austerity measures. He said his ministry had finalised a Shariat complaint bond for Haj under which intending pilgrims would be given an opportunity to purchase Islamic Sukuk Bonds worth Rs300,000.
Likewise, dollar-denominated bonds would be offered to overseas Pakistanis who would get return in Pakistani currency on maturity.
He said he had set a medium-term increase of remittances to $20 billion from this year’s $14.5 billion.
He said it was not his responsibility to look into technicalities and pros and cons of every aspect of a matter while taking a decision as head of the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet.
“It is for the relevant ministries to examine all issues involved and present all facts in their summaries and other stakeholders get an opportunity to present divergent views at the ECC meeting,” he said.
He was replying to questions relating to decisions taken by two meetings of the ECC held in four days and to some summaries which were presented to ECC during the meeting instead of customary circulation to all ministries in advance for their opinion.
When reminded that line ministries usually came up with arguments which supported their summaries and in one of such instances in rental power project issue former finance minister Shaukat Tarin had been put on the exit control list, Mr Mandviwalla said he was not afraid of being put on the Exit Control List.
“It is better to take decision instead of taking no decision at all and when we take decisions there is a possibility of mistakes as well,” he said, adding that he had directed all line ministries to put up all outstanding issues so that we can take decisions”.
The minister agreed that in some cases some ministries did not give their comments when summaries were circulated but they had the option to express their views at the ECC meeting.
He denied that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority had opposed allowing transportation costs of channelling petroleum products through the inland freight equalisation margin or for increasing the dealer commission and OMC’s margin and added that one of the refineries was enjoying the facility which had been extended to others as well.
He said he had addressed all pending issues of urgent nature within a week since taking over as the finance minister because the time was limited and the tasks were difficult. He said he would not say where all these outstanding issues had been held up but his aim was to resolve pendency by removing bureaucratic and system delays.
He said he was trying to resolve all outstanding chronic issues and had directed the ministry not to hold any file for more than three days. He said he himself was setting an example by disposing of all files within a day. “We have cleared the entire backlog and have no pending issues,” he said.