IMF’s demand to close govt accounts in commercial banks is reasonable: Mian Zahid Hussain

Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday termed the demand of the IMF to close bank accounts of government departments in commercial banks reasonable.

Different departments and state-run corporations operate thousands of accounts in commercial banks illegally, which must be transferred to the central bank to end malpractices and save billions of rupees.  

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the demand of the IMF should not be seen as a bitter pill but a sweet pill and should be accepted without delay.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that different government bodies had opened more than 5,000 accounts in commercial banks in open violation of laws and directives of the Ministry of Finance, and these accounts hold hundreds of billions of rupees.

There are several problems in this practice that need to be addressed without further delay, he said.

He noted that there is competition between commercial banks for government funds, which is prone to corruption.

Commercial banks pay up to 4% interest on their deposits to government institutions and earn up to 10% interest when it lends the same money to the government, causing a loss of billions of rupees to the government.

In addition, the officials of many institutions deposit government funds in personal accounts to earn interest, while many institutions delay plans to make interest.

He noted that some institutions even transfer the public funds to the accounts of private parties before the expiry of the period and later receive them from the same parts; therefore,  it is necessary to bring this business to an end.

Mian Zahid Hussain added that the government takes a bitter pill of debt from the IMF only when the state of the economy has deteriorated drastically. The decline of the economic situation is tolerated to some extent, but when things are moving towards economic instability, the rulers try to prevent this situation.

The conditions set by IMF experts for borrowing countries emphasize the urgent need to address economic instability, including the repayment of external debt and support local spending, which affects the people.

He said that despite the agreement with the IMF, these conditions are not fully implemented in Pakistan, which worsens the economic situation and makes the conditions of the international body more stringent, for which people pay the price.

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