Asad Umar says depleting foreign reserves most pressing economic problem

Finance minister denies reports of change in currency notes

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The Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Asad Umar chaired a meeting to review the workings of the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) today.

The Minister was given a detailed briefing on various aspects of economic cooperation with various bilateral and multilateral development partners. The briefing included the financial progress of different foreign-funded projects as well as certain aspects of potential projects to be included in the pipeline in future.

The Minister was also briefed on the debt management function of EAD. The Minister on the occasion stated that the assessment of the requirement of foreign assistance was an important function and EAD should regularly update its assessment of various sectors in order to utilize the valuable resources in the most productive manner possible.

Asad Umar said the most pressing challenge facing Pakistan was the country’s depleting foreign exchange reserves.

“We are facing a $2 billion deficit monthly for the last four months in the foreign exchange account. This is the immediate challenge,” Umar told reporters.

Pakistan had loans worth $94 billion, the finance minister said, so no decision had been taken by the government on approaching the International Monetary Fund.

The finance minister emphasised that the government’s fight was with issues such as unemployment and inflation and not with the opposition.

When asked about austerity measures, Umar said that the prime minister wanted to send a message that this is the nation’s money and should be used by them.

On US sanctions on Iran, the finance minister stressed there would be an impact on Pakistan. “We have to see about [what to do with] the pipeline project. The petroleum minister is working on this.”

According to the minister, deadlines on various economic plans were being set according to the 100-day plan. “We won the election on this and our performance is going to be evaluated on the basis of this.”

When asked about a loan from China, Umar replied: “Whatever needs to be done will be done by the people of Pakistan. We work with the entire world and have relations. There is dialogue in accordance to these relations. What I hear on WhatsApp groups and see on social media is not reality.”

The finance minister also dismissed reports of currency notes being changed, and termed the news being circulated on social media as baseless.

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