US can’t stop us from buying Russian oil: Dar

Finance minister says government trying to provide relief to people

Picture source - AFP

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Sunday said that the United States could not stop Pakistan from buying Russian oil and it would be possible to do so soon.

While addressing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) workers in Dubai, the finance minister said that during his visit to the US last month, he had a meeting with the officials of the State Department in which the matter of oil purchase from Russia was discussed.

Dar furthered that the US authorities were informed that they could not stop Islamabad from buying oil from Moscow as the country’s neighbor India is also buying oil from them. He also said that the ministry would try to purchase oil from Russia on similar terms as it had with India. “In the next few months, you will see that the government will take important steps in favor of Pakistan in this regard,” the finance minister added.

Dar said that the country had financial dealings with Saudi Arabia, China, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). “During the prime minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, meetings were also held with the Saudi authorities. From these meetings, you will see that there will be further improvement for Pakistan,” he said.

The minister also said that Saudi Arabia would set up a refinery in Gwadar, adding that this was an investment of around $11 billion or $12 billion.

He further said that the project was started in October 2015, and added that he was in Riyadh at that time and that he had meetings with senior Saudi officials.

Due to the political crisis and change of government in Pakistan, this refinery could not be established. Now, it has been decided to establish the refinery again,” the minister added.

Dar also slammed the PTI’s government for sinking Pakistan’s economy in their four-year tenure. The minister said that economy faced a negative impact when the dollar spiraled due to Pakistan’s decision to move to a market-based exchange rate. “The economy was destroyed in four years. Pakistan was on the verge of becoming Sri Lanka instead of turning into Singapore,” he said.

The finance minister added that the change of government was decided to save the state and the incumbent government was trying to provide relief to the people, in addition to controlling fuel prices.

Dar, while commenting on the rising dollar rates before he took over as the finance minister, said that the country’s debt increased by Rs4 trillion and assured to maintain balance between the price of dollar and rupee.

“We will try to depreciate dollar below Rs200. Our government is determined to improve rupee’s value against the dollar,” the minister said on plans to ensure currency balance.

The finance minister said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is implementing economic reforms to bring the economy back on its feet. “We will complete the IMF [International Monetary Fund] programme. Around $32 billion to $34 billion are required for the current financial year. We hope to collect the amount,” Dar said speaking about the funds to be received from the global financial institution.

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