‘No other option’ but to implement IMF deal: Pak PM Shehbaz Sharif

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said his government has “no choice” but to implement the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program to revive the cash-strapped economy.
He regretted that if the government wanted to give subsidies in any sector, it had to go to the IMF “which is a factor and a painful reality”, quoted the Associated Press of Pakistan. sheriff as said in a meeting on Tuesday.
He said the coalition government had never wanted to shift the burden of rising prices onto the people, but added that the country should implement the IMF program because “they had no other choice. “.
The Prime Minister also said that the agreement with the IMF had been flagrantly violated by the PTI government led by Imran Khan in the past.
Cash-strapped Pakistan this year relaunched a stalled $6 billion IMF program originally agreed in 2019 but struggling to meet tough terms from the Washington-based global lender. According to reports, the IMF may not release more funds under the program until the promises made by the government are fulfilled.
Pakistan and the IMF had a series of pledges on Nov. 18 but could not finalize a timetable for formal talks on the overdue ninth review.
The IMF board approved the seventh and eighth reviews of Pakistan’s bailout program in August, releasing more than $1.1 billion.
The IMF’s much-needed bailout helped Pakistan stave off impending default, amid lingering political uncertainty and devastating floods that displaced more than 33 million people.
Shehbaz also said that they have drawn up a plan to immediately convert all federal government entity buildings to solar power by April next year to reduce the country’s fuel import bill by about $27 billion.
Unveiling more details, the Prime Minister said that solar energy conversion procedures should be speeded up as they had set April 2023 as the timetable for the implementation of this plan.
He also urged all relevant authorities and stakeholders to complete the required process by the end of April next year and to adhere to the timetable that had been set.
“Consider it our political, social, national and religious duty to implement it as soon as possible,” he said.
“It is the only option for our survival as a nation,” he added.
The Prime Minister said that with these urgent measures, they would be able to generate 300MW to 500MW of cheap electricity, reducing the import bill by billions of dollars each year.
The Prime Minister said that the process of producing 10,000 MW of solar power in the country has already started and such a conversation by federal government buildings would be the first phase.
Listing the economic challenges facing the country due to soaring fuel and gas prices after the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, he said developing countries like Pakistan had to bear the brunt.
He said that under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), coal and gas powered projects were completed by the Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government in 2015 to overcome 20 hours of crippling power outages across the country.
Pakistan needs funds to support its struggling economy, amplified by the devastating floods that have affected the country’s agriculture and infrastructure in recent months.
On December 23, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar held a virtual meeting with IMF Mission Chief, Nathan Porteraimed at finding common ground to solve problems in the electricity sector, the Express Tribune newspaper reported.
The electricity sector has become the biggest stumbling block on the way to the 9th IMF review mission, which is the precondition for the approval of the next loan tranche of more than 1.1 billion of dollars.
In accordance with the revised timetable, the IMF’s Executive Board was supposed to approve the 9th review and the release of the tranche by November 3.
However, due to the failure of the Pakistani authorities to comply with the program conditions for the 9th review, the global lender has not yet dispatched a mission to Pakistan.
The IMF is seeking a clear roadmap for the electricity sector, taxation and the resolution of any fiscal imbalances due to three key factors – higher than agreed circular debt in the current fiscal year, a fiscal deficit higher-than-agreed primary and post-flood rehabilitation and reconstruction spending, the report quoted the sources as saying.


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