ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Ishaq Dar chaired a meeting here on Thursday to finalise the modalities for launching the EXIM Bank of Pakistan.

Senior officials concerned of the Ministry of Finance, Governor State Bank of Pakistan and other SBP officials were present in the meeting.

The meeting was informed that the Bank having a paid up capital of Rs. 10 billion will give a boost to export focused SME’s in the country by offering them access to export credit and providing insurance of export receivables.

The Finance Minister appreciated the support of the State bank of Pakistan in setting up the EXIM Bank and gave guidance to the effect that the bank should begin operations at the earliest. Various steps necessary for early operationalisation of the Bank were also discussed in detail.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister also chaired a meeting with the representatives of Exchange Companies in Lahore. Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, and other SBP officials also attended the meeting.

The representatives of exchange companies briefed the Finance Minister about the issues faced by them and also discussed in detail the trends and developments in foreign exchange market. The meeting noted that the external account of Pakistan is stable on the back of lower commodity prices, healthy workers’ remittances, and continued support from the international financial institutions. As a result of these developments and the overall macroeconomic stability achieved by the Government in the last two years, the country’s foreign exchange reserves have reached an all-time high level of USD 20.44 billion. The participants agreed that in the backdrop of stable outlook in the external account, the recent exchange rate fluctuations in the kerb market are not justified. To curb speculative pressures in the kerb market, the representatives of exchange companies shared their views and made suggestions.

Appreciating the suggestions made by exchange companies, the Finance Minister assured that the Government will address the issues faced by exchange companies and also act upon the suggested measures for curbing smuggling and speculative trading which are causing pressures in the foreign exchange market.

FM directed FBR to require importers to produce proof of payment and origin of payment for non LC imports at the time of custom clearance. FM also assured to address the grievance of exchange companies relating to raids by the Agencies. In this regard, he will take up the matter with the relevant quarters to include SBP representative in joint investigation teams if there was any credible information regarding illegal foreign exchange activities by the exchange companies licensed by the SBP. It was also noticed that some elements are currently indulging in dollarization. The Finance Minister reiterated that the dollarization of the economy will not be allowed and SBP, in its role of regulator, will take all necessary measures to curb such activities.

The representatives of exchange companies were of the view that with the foregoing measures, the current pressure on Pak rupee against US dollar in the kerb market will ease.