PTI’s inability doubled cost of ML1: Dar

Finance minister offers support for execution of FSC’s decision on judgment on Riba

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar said here on Friday that the cost of Main Line 1 (ML1) had almost doubled owing to the inability of the previous regime of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, which failed to carry out the project in accordance with set timelines.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of the Green Line Train Project here, the minister said the cost of ML1 was projected at $6 billion under $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, however due to failure by the previous regime for not executing on time; it may cost now $11 billion to $12 billion. “This is the legacy of previous government which this government inherited. They [previous government] should have actually implemented that but they could not,” the minister said.

The minister congratulated Federal Minister for Railways, Khawaja Saad Rafiq for reviving the impressive Green Line Railway service. The minister also highlighted the importance of commercialization of railway track, which he said would not only help Railways to stand on its own feet but would make it profit-earning organization to contribute in the national economy. He also underlined the importance for utilizing Railways for freight transport which he said could minimizing the transport cost to a great extent.

The minister said that Pakistan had become 24th largest economy in 2016 however owing to PTI inabilities it stood at 47th number last year. He highlighted the importance of investigating the reasons behind this downfall. He said, Pakistan Muslim League (N) government had turned around the economy at a time when it was predicted to default within a period of 6 months back in 2013. He said, during the past PML(N) tenure, food inflation was just 2 percent; general inflation 4.6 percent, whereas GDP was recorded at 6.8 percent with the highest foreign reserves adding the Pakistan Stock Exchange, was best in South Asia and 5th best performing in the world.

He said, at that time all world organizations were looking towards Pakistan, which was predicted to be the second choicest investment destination. He however deplored that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf ruined all this progress. The minister said, Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif has been meeting many challenges and expressed the hope that he would pull the country out of quagmire. Meanwhile, speaking on the occasion, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal said that railways act as a backbone for the economy, and its development was directly linked with economic development.

He said the PML-N government started the ML-1 railway project under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2017-18 which was aimed at modernizing the railway sector in Pakistan besides increasing the speed of the trains up to 160 kilometers per hour. However, he said the successive PTI government did not give importance to this project due to which progress on the project stopped. Ahsan Iqbal said the country’s economy must have to be based on export-led growth as the exports need to jump from the current $32 billion per year to over $100 billion in few years.

He said just as Pakistan is paying the price of the global carbon emissions due to which the country had to bear a loss of over $30 billion after disastrous flooding last year, the current government is also paying the price of irrational economic decisions and policies of the previous government. However, he resolved to put full force to undo the wrong policies of the previous government and to put the country’s economy again on the path of rapid growth and development.

Finance Minister Dar on Friday extended full support to every effort towards implementation of the decision of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) on judgment on Riba and the Islamic finance system. The minister was chairing the first meeting of the Steering Committee on the implementation of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC)’s judgment on Riba, said a press release issued here. Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Dr. Aisha Ghous Pasha, SAPM on Finance Tariq Bajwa, Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Secretary Finance, members of the Steering Committee, and senior officers from the Finance Division and SBP attended the meeting.

Ishaq Dar appreciated the Governor SBP for his sincere efforts in making a roadmap for implementation of Islamic financing and an interest-free system and hoped that the guidance of Governor SBP will lead the implementation of the interest-free system to its logical destination. He also expressed satisfaction over the role of SBP and the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in withdrawing appeals in the Supreme Court against the judgment of the Federal Shariat Court and paving the way for its implementation.