Dar again offers Imran forensic audit of assets

ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Monday once again asked PTI’s chief Imran Khan for the forensic audit of the two leaders’ assets.

"I am once again offering Imran Khan to get conducted forensic audit of our assets from any international audit firm and whoever owns illegal assets will pay the fee,” the finance minister replied to a question about PTI’s protest against NAB for clearing Ishaq Dar from corruption charges. He said his son had already filed a defamation suit demanding Rs5 billion in damages over Imran Khan's allegations.

He further said that NAB had kept pending an anonymous complaint against him for 15 years, which was only used for political victimization and harassment. “Only law and fact will prevail,” Dar said and added that he was ready for accountability, as he had not made irregularity of a single rupee during his entire political career.

The finance minister said that Ministry of Law and Justice had moved a summary for appointment of the four members of Election Commission of Pakistan to the prime minister for approval.

“I held 10 meetings with the opposition leader in National Assembly on behalf of the prime minister for finalising the names of ECP members,” he said.

He added that government had followed the constitutional way to appoint ECP members. On a question about Imran Khan’s concerns on ECP members, Dar said PTI chief should raise his concerns to the Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, who was responsible for negotiations with opposition parties.

Earlier, addressing the conference on Population and Housing Census, Dar said that government was committed to conduct population and housing census in the country. It was the PML-N government which conducted the last census in the country in 1998.

The minister went on to say that it was in March last year that the government took the decision to go ahead with holding of the 6th census in March 2016. It was also decided that 1998 model would be followed and the Pakistan Army would be deployed to ensure the security of census men and material as well to provide credibility to the data collection operation. He said resources were allocated and made available to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and preparations were on. However, the necessary army strength required for the task could not be made available on the proposed dates due to its commitments in the Zarb-e-Azb operation against terrorists. The issue, he said, had since been reviewed and it had been decided to postpone the census to a date when the required force could be made available.

Giving a brief overview of the economy, he said, “The government, after assuming responsibilities, embarked on a stabilisation programme and now the country is firmly on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth. All economic indicators are showing robust growth over the past three years. Performance of the stock exchange has shown considerable improvement and marked among the best markets of Asia.”

He said that GDP growth was recorded at 4.71 percent, which was highest in the previous eight years. Per capita income increased by 17 percent to $1561 in fiscal year 2015-16 from $1334 in 2013. Inflation has recorded to a decade lowest level of 2.82 percent in previous financial year from 7.4 percent in FY 2012-13. Tax collection of FBR enhanced to Rs3,112 billion in 2015-16 from Rs1,946 billion. Meanwhile, country’s foreign exchange reserves increased to the level of $23.08 billion, which is a new historic height.

Dar said IMF programme would expire in September this year, as the last review under extended fund facility would start in next couple of days. Pakistan had taken $6.2 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) while it repaid $4.5 billion to the Fund.

The minister said he had no doubt that a firm population number obtained through a transparent census will further support the government's policies and plans to achieve a sustained growth trajectory.

The minister stated that census was a huge exercise.

“Presently, the country has over 166,000 census blocks which require posting and training of nearly 200,000 enumerators and supervisors. It has been estimated that the census exercise will cost around Rs 14 billion. This is in addition to the support being provided by country's development partners, especially the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), who has long supplemented government's efforts through financial, material and technical support. In order to successfully carry out this exercise, all available resources will have to be mobilized,” the finance minister remarked.

Earlier, Chief Statistician Asif Bajwa, in his remarks, outlined the history of population census in Pakistan and also briefly touched upon the objectives of holding the international conference. He also apprised the participants about the ongoing preparations for the 6th Population Census.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt