Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday claimed the government has completed all prior conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), adding, “Hopefully, we’ll have some good news this month.”
In an interview with Turkiye’s Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s oath-taking, he said if the talks with the global lender do not achieve the desired results, the Pakistani nation would face the challenge as it had similar issues in the past. If needed, he stressed, the country would “tighten our belt” and rise again. He also maintained that the ruling coalition has navigated prevailing challenges “in the best possible fashion with the help of the people of Pakistan,” as well as the support of “brotherly and friendly countries.”
Last month, the prime minister called IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and requested her to help revive the stalled facility. He told Anadolu that Pakistan’s economic crisis was the result of several factors, including the previous government’s policies, last year’s floods, and record-high inflation. “Pakistan, in April 2022, was on the verge of default because the government of the day had violated the IMF agreement and the economy was in tatters,” he said.
According to local media, the IMF and Islamabad have commenced negotiations on reviving the stalled program, with official of the Finance Ministry claiming the lender is considering clubbing together the 9th and 10th reviews as it examines the country’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Set to expire on June 30, the program stalled in November, with little to indicate any progress despite multiple rounds of talks and prior conditions. The IMF has now sought clarifications on the budgetary framework for FY2023-24 as well as revised estimates for the outgoing fiscal year, stressing on the need for fiscal sustainability.
On bilateral ties between Pakistan and Turkiye, Sharif told Anadolu they were “one soul, two hearts that beat together.” Congratulating the people of Turkiye on Erdogan’s re-election, he said it was a “wonderful development.” He also hoped the two countries would boost cooperation in the near future to enhance trade and foster mutual growth by focusing on areas such as renewable energy.
On questions about the May 9 riots, the premier said PTI chief Imran Khan faced charges of “serious corruption, malpractice, and wheeling-dealing” and the “law had to deal with this.” He alleged Khan’s supporters had been directed to torch buildings, attack institutions, and desecrate graves and monuments if the former prime minister were arrested. “Those people who have attacked civilian installations will be tried under civilian law, and those people who attacked military installations and desecrated institutions will be tried under the military act,” he said.
Upon his return to Pakistan, the prime minister discussed the upcoming federal budget with parties of the ruling coalition, informing them that the Public Sector Development Program was being increased from Rs. 700 billion to Rs. 950 billion to boost GDP growth and generate employment. According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, he said a large part of this would be earmarked for the development of flood-hit areas, adding the National Flood Response Program was being revived.
The statement cited the parties in the ruling coalition as expressing satisfaction that despite the poor economy they had inherited from the PTI government, the economy was on the path to stability.
Separate, per the PMO, Sharif also met his economic team and directed them to ensure special incentives for the poor and middle classes in the budget, including direct subsidy on fertilizers for farmers. “Maximum relief should be provided to people by ensuring the best use of available resources,” he was quoted as saying.