“Never defaulted, and we won’t now”, stresses Pakistan Finance Minister Dar

Cash-strapped Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Friday said that his country had “never defaulted, and we won’t now” as it awaited a much-needed $1.1-billion tranche of funding from the IMF. Mr Dar, who simultaneously blamed ousted premier Imran Khan for “sinking the economy”, said that the incumbent government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had made a principled decision to either save its own politics or the State during last year’s vote of no confidence which had ousted the Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI) chief.

Addressing a press conference on the country’s current economic situation, the minister maintained that Pakistan’s interest was prioritised, which was the “correct decision”. 

“We have never defaulted, and we won’t now. Yes, we were in a precarious situation and are going through it currently,” the Dawn newspaper quoted Mr Dar as saying. 

The floods destroyed crops, therefore increasing imports of materials that were not typically brought into Pakistan, such as wheat, lentils and fertiliser, added Mr Dar. 

He said that global inflation was a major reason for the inflation rising locally. Commenting on foreign exchange reserves, the minister said that reserves had reached $3.82 billion with the State Bank of Pakistan, and combined with amounts held by commercial banks, they came around to $9.26 billion. 

The Pakistani rupee was in a freefall mode, sinking by Rs 18.98 on Thursday compared to the greenback and touching its historic low of 285.09 against one dollar by the end of the day. 

The country is taking various steps to get aid from the global lender under a $7-billion loan facility, which the IMF is refusing unless crucial decisions are made by the government and implemented. 

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