ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umer Friday told the Upper House of parliament that an amount of $9 billion was urgently needed to run the government. “As per budget for fiscal year 2018-19, $9 billion are required to run the country. We are trying to address the root causes that have necessitated borrowing of this money,” he said, adding, “Off course, we know any policy will take time to yield results.”The minister said the decision to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for loan will be taken after consultation and taking the parliament into confidence. He said a plan to this effect would be finalized in next one or two weeks and then would be presented before the parliament for discussion. The minister informed the Upper House that the government has formed a national action committee to address with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) concerns. The committee will be chaired by finance minister and comprise officials from NAB, FIA and SECP. It will work to address the 27 deficiencies identified by the international body.Asad said Prime Minister Imran Khan will chair a meeting on Monday to discuss issues related to currency smuggling and money service providers. He expressed the confidence that Pakistan would come out of the FATF grey list by meeting its obligations. Pakistan has 15 months to overcome its deficiencies relating to currency smuggling, hawala/hundi and terror financing with the deadline set to expire in September 2019, he said, adding that addressing these deficiencies was in the greater interest of the country. The minister said an FATF delegation travelled to Pakistan earlier this month for a routine evaluation and the visit did not pertain to the grey list. He said the next review of the FATF will take place in Jakarta on September 11-12. “We have to take definite actions before the next meeting of FATF. We will have our own review on September 8 which will be completed before the next FATF review,” he added.The finance minister told the House during the question hour that the new FBR chairman had been appointed and next week a meeting would be held with the board officials to discuss implementation of the reforms strategy. He said currently one million people were filling their tax returns and there was a room to enhance the figure to about three million. Asad said the government had in principle decided to launch Diaspora and Sukuk bonds. He said some other initiatives would also be taken to improve the flow of remittances to the country. He pointed out that exports saw a decline and imports surged over the last five years, and the government had to obtain loans to fill the gaps.Minister for Planning and Development Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar told the House that a comprehensive security blanket has been put in place for the security of CPEC projects. He said that special security division comprising nine battalions of Pakistan Army and six wings of civil armed force have been raised for the security of Chinese working on CPEC projects across the country. He pointed out that there were certain elements who do not want CPEC to become successful. He said the new government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan was looking at all aspects of this mega project and is committed to take it forward.Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razzaq Dawood told the Senators in clear terms that Utility Stores Corporation was not being closed down. “We will rationalize its branches which have no business and latest technology will be introduced in USC to make it more efficient,” he said, adding that the corporation faced loss of Rs 4.7 billion last year.The House will now meet on Monday at 3 pm.Published in Daily Times, September 1st 2018.