Finance minister says dollar-rupee parity widened as heavy foreign payments made in July n Govt to exempt small shops with 150 power units per month bill from tax n PTI govt’s heavy international borrowings ruined economy n Pakistan saved from default.

ISLAMABAD    -   Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Sunday said that as finance minister inflation and growth has never been his top priorities, as his number one priority was to save the country from default.

While addressing a press con­ference here, the Finance Minis­ter hoped that pressure on Pa­kistani rupee will ease in next couple of weeks.

“Even though I don’t speculate on the currency market, how­ever, I think that the true value of the rupee is far greater than this,” the minister added while responding to a query.

Citing the reason for the ru­pee depreciations in recent weeks, Miftah said that during the months of June and July, the government had to make pay­ments worth billions which had brought rupee under pressure.

The pressure on the rupee would end by next month, he said. The government efforts to reduce imports would bear fruit and the value of the dollar vis-à-vis would fall and an improve­ment would be seen within the next two weeks, he added. “Let me be honest, no one knows the market. I can believe the fun­damentals are in my favour but speculation, sentiments also play a role,” Miftah said.

Meanwhile, after facing Oppo­sition from traders related to the collection of taxes via electrici­ty bills and requests from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail announced certain mea­sures to satisfy small retailers.

“The Prime Minister has also called me and instructed me to

 ensure that small traders are completely satisfied with the new tax law. This I shall do to­morrow,” tweeted the minister.

The finance minister said that to address the concerns of the small retailers the government will “exempt shops with bills of less than 150 units” from the tax. “We will charge Rs3,000 even to those shopkeepers who are not registered with the Fed­eral Board of Revenue (FBR). The tax paid will be full and fi­nal. No tax notice will be issued to shops nor will FBR officers visit their shops,” tweeted the finance minister.

About the current account deficit, the Finance Minister told the media that last year, there was a current account deficit of $17.5 billion and promised to control the deficit by reducing imports and increasing exports.

The minister said that the country’s imports were $7.7 bil­lion during June which were re­duced to $5 billion during July. The country witnessed an im­port reduction of $2.7 billion in July as compared to the previ­ous month, he added. The min­ister said that he will strive to ensure that the daily inflow of dollars would be more than its outflow. The Finance Minister said that for now the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had given approval to lift the ban on imports which has yet to get the nod of the prime min­ister and the cabinet. The gov­ernment is removing the ban on most items, except for vehicles, mobile phones and home appli­ances. Ban on these three cate­gories of items would remain in place for some time, he added.

“We have saved Pakistan from default, we have not saved it from default only, but we plan to make the economy healthy,” he said adding they are deter­mined to minimise the current account deficit and will turn it into surplus within a year or so.

The minister said that the gov­ernment had succeeded in curb­ing imports and would make ef­forts to increase exports over the next two to three months.

It has always been the first priority of a finance minister to control inflation and maximize the growth, unfortunately it had not been my top priorities; my first priority was to save coun­try from default, Miftah Ismail said while reply a query.

The minister also announced that from next year the govern­ment will impose tax on the ex­port oriented industry, that will not export 10pc of its goods.

The minister questioned that why the PTI government had returned millions of pound to one human being? “It is his right to gift his money to someone,” the minister said while reply­ing to query and added that “I I and you have no right to gift Pa­kistan’s money to anyone. If the agreement is of nature where the incumbent government can­not do anything, otherwise the recovery of that amount is the basic duty of the government, he said.

The Minister also came down hard on the former PTI govern­ment and held it responsible for the current economic woes. The coalition government was not capable of bringing the coun­try out of the crisis in just three months. “The ones who brought the country to this point were the PTI and you Khan Sab,” he maintained.

He said that in 2018, Paki­stan’s debt was approximate­ly $25 billion. When the incum­bent government came into power, it had soared to $44.5 billion. In the three-and-a-half years, the PTI government in­creased the debt by $20 billion.

In its tenure, the PTI could not reach the tax-GDP ratio of the PML-N government. “We had left it at 11.1pc and the PTI took it to 9pc,” he added.

“When you are reducing tax collection every year and in­creasing your budget deficit, then you will be in debt,” Miftah said. He added that the previous government had imposed indi­rect taxes which forced the co­alition government to present a “difficult budget” by imposing direct taxes.

He also blamed the PTI gov­ernment for the increase in cir­cular debt, saying that it had gone from Rs1100 billion to Rs 2500 billion during its tenure.

Miftah said that the PTI gov­ernment had violated the agree­ment made with the Interna­tional Monetary Fund (IMF) and had sold oil and petrol at a loss