ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umer on Friday told the members of the Upper House that $9 billion were urgently required to run the country.
Speaking in the Senate, Umar said that the issue to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be decided after taking parliament on board.
“A plan to this effect will be finalised in next one or two weeks and then it will be presented before parliament for discussion,” he added.
Umer informed the House that the tax reforms strategy will be introduced by the government to increase tax-base in the country.
Responding to a question, he said that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman has been appointed and next week a meeting will be held with the department’s officials to discuss the implementation of the reforms strategy.
The minister revealed that currently one million people are filling their tax returns and there is room to further enhance the figure to about three million.
He also said that Prime Minister Imran Khan will chair a high-level meeting on Monday to discuss issues relating to currency smuggling and money service providers.
The minister emphasised that the government had to take definite actions before the next meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Asad Umar asserted that the government has decided in principle to launch Diaspora and Sukuk bonds. He said some other initiatives will also be taken to improve the flow of remittances to the country.
He pointed out that exports saw decline and imports surged over the last five years, and the government had to obtain loans to fill the gaps.
“Our effort is to address the root causes of the loans,” the minister added.
While responding to a calling attention notice, Asad Umar said he was hopeful that Pakistan will come out of the FATF’s grey list by meeting its obligations. He added that Pakistan has 15 months to overcome its deficiencies relating to currency smuggling, hawala/hundi and terror financing. “A national executive committee has been established to address these issues,” he said.
According to the minister, Pakistan had serious reservations on its placement on the grey list.
Taking the floor of the House after Asad Umar, Minister for Planning and Development Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar told senators that a comprehensive security blanket has been put in place for the security of CPEC.
He said that a special security division comprising nine battalions of Pakistan Army and six wings of civil armed force has been raised for the security of Chinese working on CPEC projects across the country.
The planning minister pointed out that there are certain elements who do not want CPEC to become a successful model.
He said due to security-related threats, special arrangements have been made for CPEC.
He said the new government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan is looking at all aspects of this mega project and will take it forward.
Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razzaq Dawood told the House in clear terms that Utility Stores Corporation is not being closed down. He said that we will rationalize its branches which have no business.
He said technology will also be introduced in USC to make it more efficient. He said the USC faced a loss of Rs4.7 billion last year.