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Asad Umar rebuffs claim of $10bn deal with Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Asad Umar has rebuffed PTI leader Usman Dar’s claim that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia struck a $10 billion deal during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent trip to the Kingdom. 

Speaking to Arab News, the minister denied that Riyadh would “invest $10 billion in Pakistan,” dismissing the impression that the volume of investment had been ascertained yet.

He said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will decide the quantum and areas of Saudi investment in a meeting with the Kingdom’s delegation which is due to arrive in Islamabad during the first week of October.

In a tweet, PTI leader Usman Dar had claimed that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have signed a $10 billion deal within a month of the formation of the new government in Islamabad.

“The prime minister’s visit was meant to make agreements at the highest level with the King of Saudi Arabia and build a stronger relationship. In principle, only verbal discussions have taken place so far,” Asad Umar explained.

He said, “We have discussed trade-related issues, foreign direct investment, visa fees, and issues faced by our laborers.”

Dispelling the notion that Pakistan was facing a financial emergency, the finance minister maintained: “Pakistan is not in an emergency situation that requires it to rush to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to seek a bailout.”

“We have neither stopped imports nor imposed financial sanctions,” he said, adding:  “We need to take well-measured decisions. As a situation emerges, we take steps to manage it. We don’t want to take decisions in emergency.”

The minister told the Saudi media outlet that Islamabad is in discussion with the IMF, but this is not to negotiate for a loan. “Our purpose is to do our homework, in case we want to approach them at some stage.”

“We are eliminating the root cause of this problem, and that root cause is fiscal deficit. We have done that through the recent finance bill which will reduce our cost of import,”  said Asad Umar.

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