Pakistan won’t shun IMF, but wants space: Tarin

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin on Wednesday said Pakistan will not be exiting the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) programme, whose “strict conditions” also come with a “political cost”.

Addressing a news conference here, Tarin said while the country would not leave the programme, the government would seek “space” from the international financial institution given the current situation of Covid-19, state-run Radio Pakistan reported. He said: “We have already held some good talks with the IMF and the World Bank.”

He also discussed the way forward to take the economy towards growth. Tarin said the goal will be achieved by incentivising industries, agriculture and housing sectors. This, he said, will provide job opportunities to the people.

He said 12 working groups have been constituted in the Economic Advisory Council to frame short, medium and long term policies for various sectors. The finance minister said: “Price stability is our key focus and it is the aim of the government to check the inflation to provide relief to the common man.

The minister said the scope of social protection will be further expanded under the Ehsaas Programme. Healthcare, employment and skills development will also be made part of it.

The finance minister pointed out that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) “has done some good work” to enhance revenue collection. However, more programmes will be announced in the next budget to “eliminate harassment” to encourage the people to pay taxes.

He said there was growth of 57 per cent in revenue collection in the month of April this year as compared to the corresponding period last year. He added: “It is our target to further expand the tax base.”

The finance minister said reforms in the energy sector will be introduced and spending on the agriculture sector will be increased to strengthen this vital sector of economy.

Tarin said: “We also want to bring foreign direct investment in export-oriented industries in order to bolster our exports.” He said there is a great potential of growth in IT and its exports are expected to be 2 billion dollars this year and these can be enhanced to 8 billion dollars in the next two to three years.

He said a program will be introduced to increase loans for small and medium enterprises. Similarly, the Kamyab Jawan and Kamyab Kisan programmes will be further strengthened to bring prosperity to the grassroots level.

Reacting to the finance minister’s press conference, opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif said: “With inflation in double digits, masses waiting in queues for hours in Ramadan Bazaars, and real incomes having gone down, government spells disaster for the country. Almost three years into the term and the players of the cabinet are being reshuffled, as people are fed with hollow claims.”

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