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Miftah slams ex-finance minister’s comments on state of economy

Newly-appointed MiFinance nister Miftah Ismail on Wednesday slammed Asad Umar, saying that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader is spreading ‘misinformation’ pertaining to the economy.

The remarks came after the ex-finance minister took to Twitter on Tuesday to paint a rosy picture of the economy. Umar said that the current government has got the “economy vehicle in the best running condition … with record exports, record crops growth, increase in industrial production, rapid increase in employment opportunities.”

However, Umar added that due to the “sluggish and incompetent” decision making of the new  the economic engine “seems to have started emitting smoke”.

The comments didn’t sit well with Miftah, tasked with quickly arresting a downward economic spiral and getting International Monetary Fund (IMF) talks back on track. He criticised Umar for spreading misinformation.

“Facing the largest budget deficit and largest trade deficit in history, the highest inflation, forced to import wheat and sugar that we used to export, historical depreciation of the rupee, and a record decline in foreign exchange reserves and yet Asad Umar is saying that the economy is in good condition?” said Miftah.

 

“There is a limit to misinformation,” he added.

As he assumes charge of the finance ministry, central bank’s foreign reserves have fallen to $10.8 billion from $16.2 billion in just one month, according to figures released last Thursday. Miftah said this will provide import cover of only around 50 days.

To rebuild reserves and bring the economy back on track, Miftah wants to secure a successful IMF review to release a tranche of more than $900 million and unlock finances from other international lenders that require a clean bill of health from the Fund.

 

Miftah has said he intends to restart talks soon to resume the 39-month, $6-billion bailout programme, which Pakistan entered in 2019, but negotiations will be tough with many targets off track.

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