The Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue, and Economic Affairs has decided to summon the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) and the Director-General (DG) National Accountability Bureau (NAB) amid the recently triggered debate on the record of recoveries claimed by NAB since its inception.
The Senate committee met at the Parliament House on Wednesday with Senator Talha Mehmood in the chair. The committee discussed and expressed annoyance over the devaluation of the Pakistani rupee and the ongoing inflation in the country, in addition to a few other significant issues.
Deputy Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) failed to satisfy the Senate panel. He explained that supply and demand determined the exchange rate. He observed that COVID-19 was also one of the factors due to which the rupee depreciated and inflation rose. He argued that the dollar price had caused inflation in some African countries and Latin America too. He remarked that the central banks all over the world intervened in the value of the dollar.
Senator Talha Mahmood said that dollar was being smuggled to Afghanistan due to which the rupee was depreciating. Senator Sherry Rehman and others also took notice of the statement given by Governor SBP, Raza Baqir, regarding an increase in dollar value against the Pakistani Rupee. Sherry noted that the international organizations were predicting that the dollar would go up to 200 rupees. The committee members termed the statement “irresponsible” and called for an explanation by Raza Baqir. The Chair underlined that Governor SBP was not a political office, so he should not make political statements.
Senator Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar said that it was the responsibility of SBP to control the fluctuations of the rupee. He said that the rupee had depreciated sharply since the arrival of the new Governor SBP. Senator Musadik Malik asked if the SBP had not intervened in the value of the dollar in the last three years. He underlined that the value of the rupee had waned sharply while the exports had increased only by 3% in the last three years. The committee decided to seek clarification from the Governor SBP on the statement.
Senator Saadia Abbasi asserted that the committee should also be informed about the recent negotiations held with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Additional Secretary Ministry of Finance said that he could not give a detailed answer in this regard. He sought more time to get details of the negotiations.
Chairman Committee, Senator Talha Mahmood, expressed his intent to call the Finance Adviser and other officials for a briefing to know the contents of the recent agreement with the IMF. The Chairman Committee was of the view that the rupee continued to mark down sharply against the dollar but exports did not surge. He said that Pakistan had engaged with the IMF twenty-three times, but was still on the grey list of the financial watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force.
Referring to the recoveries claimed by the National Accountability Bureau, the Additional Secretary of Finance informed that so far NAB has recovered Rs. 821 billion. Answering a question raised by Senator Saleem Mandviwala, the Additional Secretary of Finance said it was not known where the recovered money was collected. The money was not being deposited in government accounts. It is not known in which account the NAB deposited the recovery of Rs. 821 billion, he added.
The committee members discerned that no one in the country had a record of such a huge amount of money, which was a matter of surprise and concern. After deliberation, the Chairman decided to pen a letter to the AGP and DG Accounts NAB and summon them to the next meeting. The Chairman emphasized that the amount recovered by NAB would also be audited.
The discussion also took place on question No.39-D, asked by Senator Walid Iqbal, regarding the rules and policies on the appointment of Executive Directors, Directors and representatives from Pakistan at the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Economic organization, World Trade Organization, and any international or regional bodies.
Senator Saleem Mandviwala, Senator Sherry Rehman, Senator Kamil Ali Agha, Senator Musadik Malik, Senator Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, Senator Saadia Abbasi, and Senator Faisal Sabzwari attended the meeting while Senator Walid Iqbal participated as a mover. Additional Secretory Finance Division, Additional Secretory Economic Division, officials from SECP, and FBR were also part of the meeting.