Govt will not take over commercial banks' dollars, clarifies Dar.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar clarified on Wednesday that the government would not take over foreign exchange held by commercial banks, saying that his earlier statement on the country's reserves had been twisted by certain sections.

His remarks come days after he said in an interview that Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves stand at $10 billion, a much higher figure than the central bank's $5.6bn reserves as of Dec 30, 2022, because 'dollars held by commercial banks also belonged to the country'. This comment gave rise to fears that the government may confiscate dollars from private banks as had been done in 1998 when Dar was the finance minister.

However, Dar said today that his comment was 'greatly misconstrued' and 'nothing of the sort will happen'.

In a press conference alongside Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other federal cabinet members, Dar elaborated that prior to 1999, every cent that came into the country was deposited with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and private banks were not allowed to keep dollars.

'In February 1999, when I was the finance minister, we devised a system whereby a substantial amount [of dollars] remain with [private] banks. It was on June 30, 1999 that reserves were broken down into three columns - those with the SBP, commercial banks and total.

'Whenever Pakistan's reserves are quoted anywhere in the world - a survey or a document - the [total figure] is quoted and then a breakdown is given. I gave a breakdown too,' he added.

The minister said 'some people' had worsened the country's situation to the extent that it had slipped from being the 24th largest economy in 2016 to the 47th.

'Even now, they cannot tolerate any good development. They gave such a twist [to my statement],' he said, adding that while the federal cabinet was busy working for Pakistan under PM Shehbaz's guidance, such people were spreading rumours that the government would take dollars from commercial banks.

'Nothing of that sort will happen. Everything is all worked out ... and in order. Nothing to worry about,' he assured, urging those 'spreading the rumours' to play a positive national role.

Dar also tweeted about the reserves later, saying national foreign exchange reserves always include forex held with SBP and commercial banks.

'Recently I quoted the forex reserves figure based on this...

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