The government informed the Senate on Friday that the rupee lost 23% of its value against the US dollar by the end of last month but now the Pakistani currency has been stable for the last three days, emphasising that the opposition should not use the economic situation of the country for political point-scoring.
During the session, chaired by Deputy Chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Federal Minister Chaudhry Salik Hussain said in a written reply that Chinese investment in the country had decreased by 29.27% during the last three years, because of decreased economic activity due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Senator Mohsin Aziz of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) drew attention of the house towards the falling rupee. He said that exports had been declining, while the government had allowed the import of dog and cat food.
He added that the government planned to sell off state enterprises, while the Pakistani State Oil (PSO) was unable to open an LC. “They are bankrupting Pakistan,” the PTI senator told the house, referring to the treasury benches. “The country has defaulted.”
Responding to Senator Aziz’s calling-attention notice, Minister of State for Finance Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha advised the opposition that the economic situation of the country should not be linked with political point-scoring.
She said that the economic situation inherited by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government was visible to everyone. She added that the decisions that should have been taken by the previous government were not taken. “We come and take all the decisions. We are here to fix the economy.”
Speaking about the rupee depreciation, she said that the dollar rate had risen up by 23% by July, adding that it was not just Pakistan but currencies all over the whole world fell against the dollar. “Of the 23% increase in the value of the dollar, 12% was due to global factors,” she added.
“The dollar also rose because the import and export gap widened the current account deficit. When you increase imports to such an extent, the dollar will have to come under pressure and rise. We have tried to manage the situation and the rupee has been stabilising for the past three days,” Dr Pasha said.
She reminded the house that the previous PTI government did not take the necessary economic decisions, therefore, the PML-N came to power and took those measures. “The effects of the measures taken by our government had started appearing now. We are succeeding in our endeavours,” she added.
Earlier, during the Question Hour, Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir told the house that there had been Rs1,467 billion increase in circular debt in the last four years, which reached Rs2,467 billion on March 31, 2022. “We have reduced the circular debt by Rs214 billion and it will further decrease,” he added.
Responding to another question, the minister said that 1,000 megawatts of electricity was supplied to the Karachi Electric (K-E) on a daily basis. He added that the outstanding matters with the K-E would be resolved in the next few weeks.
Minister of State Shahadat Awan called for bringing the PMDC Bill to the house. He said that talks on a no-confidence motion against the chairman of the relevant standing committee, Senator Humayun Mohmand, were under way.
Senator Shibli Faraz said that the PTI government had also worked hard on this bill. “We want this bill to be brought to the house,” he added. The chair directed that the bill should be presented in the house after the Ashura holidays.
Senator Raza Rabbani raised the issue that the state institutions were interfering in each other’s domains. He mentioned that court notices were being issued to the standing committees, while recently, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) sent a notice to the National Assembly speaker.
“This is a serious matter. I wrote a letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairman of the Senate. In the letter, I have demanded a course of action on this issue,” he added. Later, the Senate session was adjourned indefinitely.