Finance Minister Miftah Ismail hints at early exit, says ‘may not have much time’

F.P. Report

KARACHI: With the country’s economy teetering amid record-high inflation, Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail has hinted at his early exit, saying that although the coalition government has 13 months, he may not have that much time.

In his address during an event at Karachi’s Institute of Business Administration (IBA), the finance minister spoke at length about politics, national growth strategy, tax collection, increasing population and other important issues hampering economic stabilisation.

“The government has 13 months but I may not have that much time,” said Ismail.

His statement comes in the backdrop of dissatisfaction within PML-N over the Shahbaz Sharif government’s policies.

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif had recently left a government meeting over a petrol price disagreement and expressed anger with the minister for increasing the fuel prices, according to party vice president Maryam Nawaz.

According to senior journalist Suhail Warraich, who met the PML-N supremo in London, Nawaz Sharif was not pleased with the party’s narrative, saying that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif should himself reach out to the masses to explain the government’s policies and causes of inflation.

“Utterly dissatisfied with Miftah Ismail, the former premier believes only Ishaq Dar can bolster the country’s battered economy,” he told Geo News.

Speaking at the IBA event, Miftah Ismail said that the government took difficult decisions in difficult situations as their first priority was to revive the International Monetary Fund’s loan programme.

“We contacted IMF soon after coming to power and with prudent policies saved Pakistan from default.”

The PTI government signed an agreement with the Washington-based lender and then violated the terms of the agreement by announcing subsidies on petroleum products, he said.

The finance minister lamented that the country’s population is increasing at a rate of 2.4%.

He said that Pakistan “has not defaulted and will never default”, adding he feels ashamed asking for loans.

“No one wants to give tax in Pakistan,” he lamented further.

He said that the scope of the tax net is being increased and the business class is being brought under the tax net.

Ismail said that flash floods have caused devastation on a large scale in the country. “Rs28 billion have been disbursed through Benazir Income Support Programme in a transparent manner in order to provide relief to the affected people,” he said.

He said that initially an amount of Rs25,000 is being transferred to affected families so that they can meet their food supply needs.

The finance minister said that the flood-affected people “will not be abandoned in this testing time and will be compensated utilising all available resources, even if it means diverting PSDP funds for their rehabilitation”.