ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday expressed the coalition government’s resolve to complete the current $7bn Extended Fund Facility programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Pakistan entered a $6bn IMF programme in 2019, which was increased to $7bn earlier this year. The programme’s ninth review is currently pending with remote talks being held between IMF officials and the government for the release of $1.18bn.
Earlier on Wednesday, IMF Resident Representative for Pakistan Esther Perez Ruiz told media that discussions between Islamabad and the international moneylender on the ninth review had been “productive” so far.
Addressing a high-level meeting in the Prime Minster’s House regarding the overall economic situation, the premier reaffirmed the commitment towards completing the IMF programme.
“The ninth review of the IMF was discussed while various measures to control the current account deficit were discussed. Reiterating his determination to complete the IMF programme, the prime minister directed all concerned authorities to take necessary steps to control the fiscal and current account deficit,” a press release issued by the information ministry stated.
During the meeting, PM Shehbaz said that the government would focus on all “necessary policy and administrative reforms” with respect to controlling the deficits as he reviewed the present economic situation in detail and deliberated on a number of areas.
The prime minister said that help and all possible facilities, including necessary facilities at ports, identification of new markets, and aid in importing raw materials and machinery, should be provided to exporters to support them in increasing their output
Focusing on IT exports, in particular, PM Shehbaz said their volume could be increased to $5bn from the current $2bn by supporting entrepreneurs and new business start-ups and providing them with facilities.
The prime minister also stressed that overseas Pakistanis should be encouraged to send remittances through banking channels.
Regarding the energy sector, Shehbaz stressed that reforms should be implemented with “full attention and diligence”.
“Reducing circular debt is a top priority. Along with increasing power generation, we also have to deal with circular debt. We have to make efforts to increase the local production of energy so that dependence on imported fuel can gradually end,” the press release quoted him as saying.
The prime minister said that the common man was burdened due to expensive imported fuel. “We have to relieve our people from these sufferings,” he added.
PM Shehbaz instructed that a campaign should also be initiated to improve general attitudes towards energy saving, stressing that people needed to be informed that saving energy was a “national need at this time”.
The statement said that the meeting expressed concern about the state of the economy over the last four years, saying that it suffered the “worst disorder and destruction”.
The meeting noted that GDP growth was 6.1 per cent when the previous government took over but “instead of improving the economic situation, poor governance and economic mismanagement made the economy stagnate.”
“The meeting stated that public debt was Rs25 trillion in 2018, which has increased to Rs44.5tr in 42 months by March 2022. Similarly, other economic indicators also found the present government in a very bad condition. The current government has managed the situation in very difficult circumstances and has given economic stability to the country,” the press release reads.
The meeting declared that due to the situation after the catastrophic floods, the process of economic recovery suffered a setback, but the incumbent government did not let economic difficulties hinder it in helping 33 million flood affectees.
“The determination was reiterated that despite the flood situation, just as the current government did not allow a shortage of food grains and other essential items in the country, in the same way, the country will be gradually brought out of the vortex of economic difficulties.”
PM Shehbaz directed all ministries under the federal administration to save energy and control expenses by “adopting frugality”.__Pakistan Today