ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Ishaq Dar yesterday made it loud and clear that no one would be allowed to lockdown federal capital.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of new building of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Ishaq Dar said certain elements did not want to see the country’s economic progress because it would diminish their future politics in 2018 general elections.

Due to government’s prudent policies, the country’s economy has made a turnaround from the verge of collapse to stability, Dar said. “The opponents are aware of the fact that if the current government completes its tenure, it would be hard for them to win next election as the PML-N government has not only taken the country out of crisis but has also developed economy on sustainable grounds,” the finance minster added.

He said the government aimed at lifting the GDP growth rate from current 4.7 percent upto 7 percent in near future. He added that economic indicators had shown considerable progress during the past three years of the government.

He said world institutions including World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) had predicted 5 per cent growth rate during the current fiscal year.

Dar said the foreign exchange reserves had increased from less than $7 billion three years ago to over $24 billion now while the forex reserves of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) had also increased from Just $3 billion to $19 billion.

He said the country’s economy had performed well and ranked from negative to positive and now stable. Dar said that 22 reputed financial institutions of the world had acknowledged and appreciated the economic performance by Pakistan. The minister said that there had been 60 percent increase in the tax collection during the past three years which was a healthy sign for economy.

He said despite slow down in the world economy, a good response was witnessed in the sale of Sukuk bond in the international market which was taken at 5.5 percent rate, expressing the hope that the position would further improve when Pakistan approaches international bond market next time.

Dar said that businessmen were equal partners in this journey of progress and prosperity and lauded the services of prominent businessman, Iftikhar Malik for promoting the interests of business community. The minister said that there was need of focusing on national interests instead of defending personal ones.

He stressed the need for separating politics from economy saying that he had been advocating for developing sustainable economic policy in consensus with all the political parties to take the country forward.

APP adds: Speaking to a private TV channel, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar Saturday said another ‘political drama’ being staged by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) would cause a huge economic loss to the country like its last year’s sit-in.

Any such activity always impacted the national economy negatively as nowhere in the world people’s businesses and state affairs were paralysed in the name of protest, he said. Dar said PTI’s plan to shut down Islamabad was unlawful and unconstitutional. There was no logic to protest against the government after the Supreme Court had taken up its petition for hearing.

In fact the PTI was frustrated because of the speedy progress and development going on in the country and it was fearing defeat in 2018 general elections, he added. Dar said Prime Minister Sharif was elected by the people and he would continue serving them. He would not resign on the demand of a ‘mob’, he added.  He said the government was introducing long term policies to boost the economy. Economic indicators were improving day by day due to its prudent policies. The budget deficit had been reduced by 50 per cent than that of the previous government.

He said there was a considerable decrease in the number of people living below poverty line from 61 per cent in 2002 to 29 per cent.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government, he said, had made a big increase in the financial assistance for the poor and needy under the Income Support Programme from Rs 40 billion to Rs 117 billion.

Dar said Karachi was the country’s commercial hub and the prime minister took steps in consultation with all the stakeholders, including business community, political parties and the provincial government, to restore peace in the mega city.