Federal Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin said on Thursday that the government has decided to trade with Afghanistan which would be done in Pakistani rupee. Briefing Senate’s Committee on Finance, Shaukat met with Senator Talha Mehmood in Islamabad. He said that situation in Afghanistan was being monitored on a daily basis, and Pakistan might send its team to the country to help Taliban stabilise the economy which had suffered a major blow following international monetary organisations withheld the country’s $9 billion and also froze its financial assets. He said it would take a few weeks for Pakistan to know the effects of trade with the landlocked country. He added that the government planned to take the country’s GDP growth which was currently 4 percent to 4.8 percent in the ongoing financial year. Tarin said that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had stopped issuing notices to the tax defaulters. “We have a record of over 15 million people who could pay sales tax,” he said, adding that their data had been obtained from NADRA. “They will receive a message on their cell phones. They will have to reply to it. Otherwise, action will be taken against them,” he disclosed. He claimed that the country’s economy was improving which would further increase the growth rate. He, however, admitted that the country’s import bill witnessed an increase in August. “There is a monthly review of the country’s overall economic situation, including its imports and exports,” he said, and added that the governments in the past used to turn to international money lending organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because the economy in their times was not growing at a reasonable pace. He informed the senate body that Pakistan’s trade deficit stood at $4 billion. When the Tarin was informed about him being the finance minister, the dollar rate at that time was Rs153 which is now at Rs169, he replied that the exchange rate was currently in the same position it was supposed to be. He informed that Kamyab Pakistan Programme will be launched soon. “We will launch a programme for the country’s poor. Earlier, the IMF had raised objections to it. Therefore, the programme for the time being will kick off in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan only and will expand to the other parts of the country later,” he added. Tarin was of the view that Pak Rupee’s depreciation in 2018-19 took a toll on the economy. “Presently, the inflation rate is 8.4 percent while the food inflation stands at 10.50 percent,” he said, and added, “The prices of food items is our biggest concern. There are times when prices of food items go up in the entire world. And we are passing through the same phase, and will control it.” The finance minister said that ghee prices registered an increase of 90 per cent during the last year while pulses 40 to 50 percent. “These are the items which we import from other countries,” he clarified. He said it was the government’s endeavor to give relief to the consumers in petroleum products’ price under the head of the levy. He further said that the government would eliminate the ‘middle man’s role in order to control inflation. Tarin revealed that Indians had hacked the FBR’s website recently. “They had done the same thing in 2019,” he said, and added, “Therefore, the department’s IT system is being updated.” The minister said the government was reviewing the situation in Afghanistan on a daily basis and Pakistan might send its people to the country to help the Taliban government stabilise the economic situation.