Miftah defends ban on luxury items import

Karachi: Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said on Saturday that the government will not remove ban on the import of luxury items for the betterment of economy.

Addressing the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) office-bearers, the finance minister said that the government had imposed ban on luxury items for the improvement of economy. He refused to lift ban on the import of mobile phones, home appliances and vehicles.

“We have imposed a ban on CPU cars, mobile phones and home appliances which we will not remove till September. However, the minister said authorities were working on identifying items used by exporters for manufacturing products and their import would not be stopped.

He assured that the government had not stopped payments on any letters of credit that had been opened in the past and would not do so in the future as well.

The minister noted that the country’s imports last year stood at $80 billion while its exports were a mere $31bn. The country’s current account deficit was $17.5bn while the trade deficit, after subtracting the remittances, stood at $18bn, he said.

“If you create such a wide deficit, there will be pressure on your rupee. Today, Bangladesh has increased the price of petrol to 308 (per litre). They are also under pressure. There is a very challenging environment globally.”

He said he felt ashamed when he had to meet the ministers of other countries and ask them for loans. He said when he was in Sri Lanka, he vowed that he would not go to the IMF. But we were giving subsidies worth $500bn on petrol and were not exporting at all. We have to go to Saudi Arabia and UAE and ask them to deal with the IMF, he confessed.

Yesterday, while addressing a ceremony at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX), Miftah said that the government would control imports for the next three months, even if it came at the cost of slower growth.

“I will not allow imports to increase for three months and, in the meantime, we will come up with a policy. I understand that growth will be reduced for a bit but I have no other choice,” he said.

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