ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar on Thursday told the National Assembly that Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves would reach $15 billion by the end of July 2014 due to the prudent economic policies of the PML-N government.

Presenting a rosy picture of Pakistan’s economy, the finance minister claimed that all the economic indicators had performed more than expectations during the financial year 2013-13.

Dar, in his long speech, highlighted the government performance in different economic fronts, inter alia inflation, revenue, GDP growth, remittances, budget deficit, reserves, export import, rupee value etc. The house unusually saw maximum presence of the treasury benches as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif marked his presence after around two months.

Dar said Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves had gone to around $13 billion from only $7.5 billion a few months back.

He said the State Bank of Pakistan-held reserves were around 8 billion dollars while the rest were of commercial banks. “Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves would reach $15 billion by the end of July 2014,” Minister expressed the hope to achieve the entire target. “Pakistan is fast progressing in economic field,” he said in a confident tone.

The minister further remarked the people were speculating that Pakistan would default in 2014, but the economic policies of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had brought the country out of economic deterioration.

The minister claimed the government had restricted the budget deficit to around four percent of the GDP during 10 months (July-April) of financial year 2014 against 5.5 percent of the last year.

Dar said the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR)’s revenue collection had recorded growth of 15.7pc in 10 months, as it collected Rs 1,745 billion in the period under review against 1,509 billion of the corresponding period of the previous year.

About the inflation rate, the finance minister said the government had successfully restricted it to 8.6 percent during July-April 2013-2014.

The minister said home remittances had also witnessed a growth of 11.4 percent, as it had recorded $ 1289 billion to date as against $ 11.57 billion in the corresponding period last year.

He said exports had risen to 19.11 billion dollars, showing a growth of 6.1 percent. He said trade deficit had also been reduced significantly in the first nine months of the current financial year. In the first nine months, the paid deficit remained 13.93 billion dollars against 14.74 billion dollars during the corresponding year, he asserted.

Talking about the government’s achievement, he said international community had also recognised that the country’s growth was witnessing an upward trend while inflation was on the decline. “Due to economic progress, PM Nawaz Sharif has received greetings from the world,” he said, adding the GDP growth rate was expected to be four percent during the current financial year and it would be enhanced to five percent in the next year.

Dar further said the auction of 3G and 4G spectrum licences was carried out in a transparent manner, which would generate Rs 111 billion for the national kitty. The revenue generated from the auction of 3G/4G would reach Rs 170 billion after the sale of the remaining two licences, he added. “The new technology is expected to generate 900,000 job opportunities in the next four years,” he maintained.

Ishaq Dar said fiscal reforms and increase in foreign exchange reserves had appreciated rupee against dollar. He said, currently, dollar hovers around Rs 99 and the current level will be maintained in the financial year 2014-15.

He came down hard on the PTI chief for making personal attacks on him. “I will settle the score some other time,” he added.

The house also unanimously adopted a resolution, moved by PPP lawmaker Naveed Qamar, to express its grief over the death of more than 270 coal miners as a result of an explosion in a mine in Turkey. Expressing solidarity with the Turkish brethren, the House prayed for safe rescue of around 120 workers still trapped in the mine.

Taking the floor, Science and Technology Minister Zahid Hamid said the PM had sent a message of sympathy to the Turkish counterpart and Pakistani flag was also hoisted half on all government buildings.

Earlier, responding to a call-attention notice, Parliamentary Secretary for Interior and Narcotics Control Maryam Auranzeb said the interior ministry would issue red warrants for the absconders of Karachi once the Sindh government sent a reference to the federal government in this regard. She further said only Uzair Baloch’s reference was sent to the ministry by the Sindh government, which was received today (Thursday).

Taking part in debate on the law and order situation, PPP senior lawmaker Abdus Sattar Bachani said there was a need to be united on one platform to face challenges. He was of the view that operation in any area directly affected the biggest city of the country (Karachi) as refugees stayed there. He asked the government to spend maximum funds to improve law and order situation instead of spending on the Metro bus service.