Pakistan needs another IMF programme to ensure microeconomic stability: PM

Pakistan needs another IMF programme to ensure microeconomic stability: PM

Islamabad (Web Desk/Agencies): Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday said that deep rooted structural reforms have become inevitable to ensure macroeconomic stability and to put the country on path of development and progress which would not be possible without another bailout programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Addressing the meeting of the Apex Committee of Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) in Islamabad, the prime minister said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had concluded the review for issuance of the last tranche of US$1.1 billion that hopefully be received by next month.

The prime minister said that Pakistan also wanted to start another programme with the IMF for a period of three years during which the government will take strict measures to bring deep-rooted structural reforms in the country.
“With the reforms we will succeed to gradually break the begging bowl and come out of debt trap,” he said.

He said that the burden of these measures would primarily fall on the wealthy and elite, with safeguards in place to protect the interests of the poor and vulnerable.

PM Shehbaz sought support of all political parties and the provincial governments to successfully implement the agenda of macroeconomic stability in the country.

“For this we will have to work together. With the support of all the provinces, we will together resolve all the challenges and difficulties faced by the country”, he added.

The premier said that the presence of chief ministers of all the provincial governments, the army chief, and other concerned officials from across the country conveyed a clear message to the nation that all had gathered here for the cause of the country’s development, prosperity and integrity.

He said the SIFC was formed in June 2023 to remove bottlenecks in the investment process and since then nine meetings of the Apex Committee had been held besides more than 200 relevant meetings. Consequent to the meetings, he said a number of important decisions had been taken and implemented under the umbrella of the Council.

The prime minister pointed out that when the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government took over the charge of the government in 2022, Pakistan was at the brink of bankruptcy but all the coalition partners decided to save the country from plunging into default by putting their politics at stake.

He said unfortunately a major chunk of the country’s resources drained down in shape of corruption. “This year’s target of tax collection is Rs9 trillion but its potential was over Rs1.3 trillion.

Similarly, he said the cases of the taxes worth of Rs2.7 trillion were pending either in the tribunals or courts that should have been resolved as soon as possible.

The annual power theft is around Rs400 billion in the country while the combined circular debt of electricity and gas was over Rs5 trillion, the prime minister added.

As regards the achievements of the interim government under SIFC, the prime minister informed that the caretaker setup, due to its measures against power theft, saved Rs87 billion. Similarly, strict measures were also taken to curb smuggling besides introducing reforms in the land information system. Besides, it also successfully concluded the privatization process of Heavy Mechanical Complex (HMC).

The prime minister highlighted that annually hundreds of billions of rupees were lost in the state-owned Enterprises as PIA alone owed debt wort of Rs825 billion.

PM Shehbaz added that the interim government also signed many important agreements with different countries including United Arab Emirates (UAE) valuing $10 billion to bring investment in the country.

Earlier today, the SIFC Apex Committee met in Islamabad today with Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif in the chair.

The meeting was briefed about the SIFC initiative and major contributions made towards investments, privatization and overall micro-economic stabilisation of the country.

The committee underscored the need for continuing a consensual approach under SIFC to overcome the challenges being faced by the country.

It admired the leadership of PM Shehbaz envisioning and launching the SIFC last year, which evolved progressively under the caretaker setup.

On the occasion, Chief of Army Staff General (COAS) Syed Asim Munir reassured the fullest support of Pakistan Armed Forces to backstop the economic initiatives of the government and ensure the provision of safe, secure and conducive environment to nurture country's true economic potential.

The meeting was attended by former caretaker premier Anwaar Ul Haq Kakar, the army chief members of outgoing and incoming federal cabinet and provincial chief ministers and senior government officials.