Islamabad, Pakistan (Mumtaz Alvi) | Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar said in the Senate on Wednesday that there was no ban on the opening of foreign currency account in Pakistan and that the government would never resort to such measures.
The House was informed that the current account deficit has amounted to $12.6 billion and $18.98 billion during the fiscal year 2016-17 and 2018-19 respectively, resulting in pressure on Pak rupee and its resultant devaluation.
Replying to a question by Senator Mian Ateeq Shaikh during the Question-hour, Minister for Finance Asad Umar said that the government/SBP was pursuing monetary tightening to curb aggregate demand that would result in reducing the current account deficit.
The Question-hour had a bumpy start, as on finding the ministers concerned absent from the House, whose questions were listed, the joint opposition staged a walkout from the Senate, compelling the Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to order ringing of bells.
In a written reply, the minister noted that administrative measures had also been taken to reduce the import volume and recently the State Bank of Pakistan withdrew the facility of advance payments against imports and had imposed 100 percent cash margin requirement on the import of various non-essential items.
Hammad Azhar said that during the last five years, exports had been between around $24-25 billion. However, there had been a 13-14 percent increase in remittances in the last quarters. He alleged that the freezing of foreign exchange by then finance minister Sartaj Aziz had caused incalculable loss to Pakistan.
To another question by Senator Dilawar Khan, Asad Umar told the House in writing that during the last 10 years, foreign assistance (loans and grants) amounting to $75,344 million were received.

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