State must act against dollar speculators, says Ishaq Dar

Finance minister Ishaq Dar speaks while presenting the economic report for fiscal year 2022-23, in Islamabad on June 8, 2023. — AFP
Finance minister Ishaq Dar speaks while presenting the economic report for fiscal year 2022-23, in Islamabad on June 8, 2023. — AFP
  • Dar says speculators cannot hold Pakistan economy hostage.
  • Former finance czar says there is “no quick fix to any problem”.
  • Rise in electricity tariffs was a “complex issue”: PML-N leader.

LONDON: Former finance minister Ishaq Dar has said that a handful of speculators were responsible for the fluctuation and rise of the US dollar against the Pakistani rupee and the state must take action against such elements.

“The state has to deal with the speculators, they cannot hold Pakistan’s economy hostage. The govt has to use its might to push back, there are a handful of people involved in speculation for their personal gains. This is not the real value; it is all speculation. Real effective exchange rate, that is what you should trade on,” Dar said when asked about the current state of the Rupee and the electricity bills bomb on the masses during a media talk in London on Friday.

Responding to a question about the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PMD) government’s performance and economy under him as finance minister, Dar said there was “no quick fix to any problem”.

He said that when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) took the reins of Pakistan under Nawaz Sharif’s leadership in 2013, it delivered till 2018.

“We had the best stock market. The inflation was low and Pakistan was performing well at all levels. We had become a regional power and an important international player. We were about to enter into G20 and had become the 24th biggest economy in the world but that journey was stopped. An adventure was launched and made [Pakistan] the world’s 47th economy,” Dar said.

He added that the destruction caused over these years couldn’t be revered in a year as it needs the revival of those policies and time to reverse the damage.

The ex-finance czar said he took over Pakistan’s economy after former prime minister Imran Khan’s ouster when the country was on the brink of a default due to the policies of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.

“This country was about to go bankrupt, its economy had shrunk. The country is in this shape because of Project Imran Khan which was launched in 2011 and then Imran Khan was brought to power in 2018 through rigging. Pakistan has been through the toughest times.”

He said that there was a perception that Pakistan may default but the PDM-led government did not let that scenario happen. “Some quarters locally and internationally wished for Pakistan to default first and then negotiate with Pakistan.”

Dar went on to say that if the PML-N under Nawaz’s leadership was given a fresh and full mandate, then the economy could be fixed over time as the party did before.

He said the PML-N will fight the election with full force.

Dar said that there is no future of the PTI chairman and his politics of hate and anarchy.

“A cult cannot be allowed in the name of politics. Pakistan comes first and no compromise on that.”

About the rise in electricity prices, Dar said this was a “complex issue”.

“Electricity is stolen, there are line losses, people don’t pay bills, so there is an issue of expenditure and revenue. Capacity payments have to be made — rupee devaluation is the mother of all economic evil. It’s a major cause of our problems and has an impact on electricity bills,” he concluded.

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