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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Ishaq Dar a performer, not used to making hollow promises

ISLAMABAD: Finance minister Senator Ishaq Dar has amazed a vast majority of disbelievers, who took his public pledge to bring the roaring greenback (dollar) to below Rs100 as an empty slogan of the government to create feel-good sentiments.

A thorough professional like Dar hardly knows political antics and gimmickry. Since joining politics, he has not been known for making shallow political promises to attract attention and garner political support. He is always focused on the specialized job he is assigned. He takes it as a challenge. He did the same when he previously served as commerce minister and finance minister during earlier Nawaz Sharif government. It was because of Dar’s suave nature, competence and dedication that Asif Ali Zardari had preferred him as the finance minister of his government when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had joined hands with the Pakistan Peoples Party for a while in 2008. He did not serve for too long as the alliance fell apart due to political compulsions. Dar is one of less than half a dozen federal ministers, who are the real assets of Nawaz Sharif’s team. They are working overtime to make a difference in the portfolios they have been allotted. The prime minister is happy with this lot and is displeased with others, who are taking their assignments lightly. Dar’s test would be to stabilise the exchange rate. In December last, he declared to reduce the greenback to less than Rs100. He then asked those who have amassed dollars to cash them hurriedly otherwise they would suffer huge losses. Such investors who did not heed his advice are now at a loss. Sheikh Rashid stood out among the leading disbelievers and had announced that he would resign his National Assembly seat if the finance minister fulfilled his promise of bringing dollar to Rs98. The good news is that the greenback touched this figure on Wednesday with its constant depreciation. However, as this was about to happen, Sheikh Rashid made it known that he would not quit and instead alluded to a conspiracy theory in the appreciation of the rupee. He hasn’t elaborated the plot, but asked the government during a TV interview to explain how it got $1.5 billion. “It should tell how rupee rose and dollar slid otherwise I will spill the beans,” he threatened. But Dar did not want Sheikh Rashid to go home and said in a TV interview that he was thankful to those who threw the challenge to him that kept him on his toes to meet his commitment. Sheikh Rashid is the lone warrior, who is not willing to accept the magic done by the finance minister. Many others compliment the achievement.The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) said on Wednesday that dollar’s continued retreat would help stabilise economy, tame inflation and restore investors’ confidence. “The rising rupee will further push the US dollar down to set new records but stabilising the exchange rate which has remained volatile since long will be a test for the economic managers,” PEW president Dr. Murtaza Mughal said. He believed that fulfillment of the commitment by the finance minister will bring down prices of imported commodities and will have a positive impact on every person in Pakistan. He attributed the strength of rupee to excess supply of dollar, ban on gold import since January, encouraging International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports, Chinese decision to invest billions in Pakistan, award of GSP plus, expected sale of next generation telecom licences, positive interference by State Bank of Pakistan and 11% hike in remittances. Mughal said that exports have not increased to the satisfactory level which was must to maintain the trend. Terming the dramatic fall of dollar and its reducing demand a good omen for the economy, he said that dollar should remain under pressure despite hue and cry by exporters. The government should keep a hawk’s eye on speculators, currency dealers and on some banks who have been playing havoc with the economy for personal gains, and must encourage the deprecation of dollar below Rs98 in the national interest. A report said that Pakistan is expected to receive some $1.1 billion through auctions of 3G and 4G telecom licences, about $1 billion and $500 million from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and $550 million from the IMF along with $500 million raised through the issuance of Eurobonds.,-not-used-to-making-hollow-promises