Assets abroad: Dar says will step down if allegations are true

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar Saturday gave an open challenge that he would step down if anybody proves his assets abroad.

The Finance Minister was responding to Awami Muslim League (AML) Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed’s allegations on the floor of the National Assembly who accused him of having assets abroad.

“I have tolerated the wrong statements being made by others against me for a long time and from now I will take all those to the court who would give wrong statement or for any loose talk against me,” Dar warned, adding that he was performing his duty with honesty and due responsibility.

“I am performing my duty faithfully,” he said. In yet another response to Sheikh Rasheed, Dar said he was not the one to engage in smuggling silk from China.

He said he has submitted a statement about his assets to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and anybody interested to know about his assets should approach the ECP.

In an apparent response to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, Dar said that he had challenged a leader of a political party on a TV program of conducting forensic audit of their assets.

“I will pay fee for the audit process if my assets were proved in any country abroad, otherwise he will pay the fee if his assets were proven in any country abroad,” he added.

He further said that this House should not be disturbed with the politics of sit-ins and road agitations, adding there was a need to learn to respect each other and speak the truth.

The Finance Minister also said while winding up discussion on charged expenditures that the people should eat chicken as the government has removed the taxes on it instead of buying expensive pulses.

The minister said the fiscal deficit has been brought down to 4.3 percent from 8.2 percent during the last three years and it will be further decreased to 3.8 percent in the next financial year.

The minister said the total increase in the foreign debt is $5.23 billion and the average mark-up on all the foreign loans obtained during the PML-N government stands at 3.3 percent.

He said that the net public debt to GDP has been reduced from 63.8 percent to 63.3 percent during the last three years of the government.

The net public debt to GDP would be reduced to 60 percent at the end of 2018 and it would further reduce to 50 percent in next fifteen year.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said apart from this, the development expenditures have been doubled while allocations for the social safety nets have been enhanced by three times. He said we are trying to reduce dependence on loans.

Ishaq Dar also assured that the salaries of MNAs would be reviewed after the return of the Prime Minister from London. He said that the credit goes to the present government for doing away with the secret funds of 32 departments out of 34.

Rejecting criticism of the opposition members on the expenditures of the President House, the Finance Minister said that the allocations have been made keeping in view his responsibilities and activities, as he has to represent the country at international forums.

Earlier, the opposition members said while discussing the charged expenditure that the government should reduce non-developmental expenditures.

They said that there is need to reduce the non-developmental expenditures of the Presidency and foreign tours. The members also said that their salaries should be increased at least at the level of 21 grade officer.

They said that the salary of government servants should be increased from 13 percent to 15 percent. Ghulam Sarwar of PTI said that the 25 percent pension of Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) should be increased.

Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said that there is need to increase the strength of judges in courts. He also claimed that some government members including the Finance Minister have assets in foreign country. He also said to increase the salaries of parliamentarians.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2016