ISLAMABAD (September 15 2008): Pakistan is out of any default risk, as reduction in oil prices in the world market and cut in subsidy have provided it much room to manage its foreign liabilities comfortably. This was a message from the Secretary of Economic Affairs Division (EAD), Furrukh Qayyum, for economists who met here the other day.
The Planning Commission had convened the economists’ meeting for taking input from government departments for its five-year development plan. EAD Secretary shared, with the participants, that Pakistan was 100 percent in comfortable position to meet in time its foreign liabilities, and there was no risk of default at any stage. Finance Secretary Dr Waqar Masood, SBP Governor Dr Shamshad Akhtar, Petroleum Secretary Incharge GA Sabri, Secretary Industries Shahab Khawaja and Secretary Food and Agriculture, and Wapda chairman gave presentations at the meeting on their respective ministries’ issues/challenges and future plans.
Dr Waqar Masood told the participants that Finance Ministry was following a multi-pronged strategy to save every possible penny by cutting down non-developmental expenditure and removing distortions in economy that pushed Pakistan’s economy into the grey area during the last few years.
Petroleum Secretary Incharge GA Sabri told the economists that unprecedented rise in oil prices in the global market had exposed Pakistan’s economy to serious risks. However, with sharp decline in crude oil prices, things were now shaping up for improvement.
Wapda chairman briefed the panel on power crisis. He said that the government was doing its level best for the new power generation projects to materialise to overcome loadshedding. He said the government was focusing on hydel and coal-based power projects to get comparatively cheaper electricity for the consumers.
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Dr Shamshad Akhtar made a stunning disclosure. She said the Shaukat Aziz government had kept her in ‘custody’ for stopping from voicing concern over Pakistan’s deteriorating economy.
“In Previous (Shaukat Aziz) regime, I was not allowed to meet the people to let them know the real economic condition. Now those who are at the helm of the affairs do listen to me and also give weightage to my opinion” she said.
She briefed the panel about SBP’s policies for implementation of the monetary policy. She also had a message for the government that it should minimise borrowing from SBP and live on own resources.
Akhtar had been known for giving this kind of statements at different forums, asking the government not to exceed budgetary limit for borrowing from SBP, but she for the first time accused Shaukat Aziz government of keeping her in ‘custody’ when she wanted to voice concern over Pakistan’s weakening economy.
Source: Business Recorder, 15/9/2008