Pakistan may get up to $2bn from IMF: Shehbaz

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Tuesday said Finance Minister Miftah Ismail had informed him that Pakistan could receive up to $2 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Miftah Ismail in a message said we will hopefully be receiving $2 billion instead of $1 billion from the IMF,” the premier said, adding that he had told the minister that the ‘real goal’ was to achieve self-reliance which was ‘easier said than done’.

Shehbaz was addressing the ‘Turnaround Pakistan’ conference organized by the Ministry of Planning and Development in Islamabad. The prime minister emphasized the need for all sectors to work together for Pakistan’s progress and reiterated the importance of self-reliance, adding that it guaranteed ‘political and economic independence’.

The premier’s remarks came shortly after Miftah revealed that Pakistan had received combined economic and financial targets for the seventh and eighth reviews of its IMF bailout program.

Discussing the recent opening of a mega-development project in Bangladesh, PM Shehbaz said that the Bangladeshi premier had proudly proclaimed that they did so without the help of international benefactors.

“This is a big achievement; however, Pakistan is not lacking in resources or expertise”, he said citing the example of Reko Diq where, he claimed, Pakistan had lost billions of rupees but was yet to earn anything from it.

He maintained that 75 years had passed since the inception of the country and loud claims had been made but no action was taken. “We all have a responsibility, but crying will achieve nothing. Unchangeable decisions must be made,” he said. Shehbaz said Pakistan was drowning in debt and the country’s liabilities far outweighed its assets. The premier said the money the government collected from the recently announced super tax would not be wasted or destroyed.

“The money will not be wasted and will not be spent on government expenditure,” he said, adding that the Rs230 billion collected would be used for the “development and prosperity” of the country. The premier also vowed that his government would try to bring financial stability in the next fourteen months which would then lead to economic stability. Shehbaz also discussed hike in the coal prices across the globe and said there was a potential danger of running out of foreign exchange reserves if coal was imported to run the power plants. He maintained that coal would be imported from Afghanistan from July and would be bought in Pakistani rupees, thus saving Rs2 billion.

“The coal will be used to run coal-fired power plants for electricity,” the prime minister said. He further said that the entire world was currently suffering from an economic crisis. Highlighting the negligence of the previous government, Shehbaz said the former rulers did not sign any cheap and long-term gas agreements. “Instead, they delayed development projects,” he said. He maintained that his government was facing huge challenges but was determined to resolve them. The premier said recently there was a danger of Pakistan running out of edible oil, however, he wrote to the Indonesian President Joko Widodo in hope of resolving the issue. He further said that he had instructed a minister to go to Indonesia at his own expense and stay there until the material departed for Pakistan. “The coalition government covers the four provinces of Pakistan. We must work for the development of the country beyond our personal preferences,” he said.

He also mentioned the support of China during the tough financial times and helping Pakistan in its journey towards economic stability. He said there was no dearth of talent and potential in Pakistan and emphasized setting the right direction to achieve the goals of prosperity. He said wider and inclusive consultations of experts belonging to diversified fields could be helpful in providing solutions to come out of this economic quagmire.

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