Home Latest News P.M. Sharif Orders Expediting Negotiations with IMF for Long-Term Facility

P.M. Sharif Orders Expediting Negotiations with IMF for Long-Term Facility

In first meeting upon assuming office, new premier says improving economy is the government’s top priority

by Staff Report

Photo courtesy PID

Shortly after assuming charge of the Prime Minister’s Office after his oath-taking on Monday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired a meeting on matters related to the economy, ordering to expedite discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a long-term facility.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the finance secretary briefed the new premier during the meeting, which aimed to take immediate measures to correct the country’s struggling economy. It is widely believed that the new government must enter a fresh IMF program immediately upon the conclusion of the ongoing Standby Arrangement, as the country’s foreign exchange reserves remain insufficient to meet its needs, which include significant debt servicing.

“We were given a mandate to improve the country’s economy,” the statement quoted the prime minister as saying. “This is our government’s top priority,” he said, while vowing to provide maximum facilities to the business community and promote investments by adopting effective policies and legislation.

During the briefing, the prime minister was told that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had cleared tax refunds worth Rs. 65 billion. Sharif, read the statement, said that taxpayers who were working for betterment of the national economy and positively contributing to exports would be encouraged at state level. He also emphasized “automation” to maintain transparency in the highest tax collection body.

The prime minister also issued special directives to expedite the implementation of the privatization of loss-making state-owned entities to avoid fiscal burden on the national economy. He ordered the formation of a high-level committee to devise a comprehensive strategy to reduce perks of government board members.

Reviewing steps to address the longstanding issue of power and gas thefts, Sharif ordered the devising of a strategy to introduce smart metering in both sectors to reduce line losses. He also stressed on effective strategies to financially empower youth by providing loans from banks, and other financial institutions for small and medium-level businesses.

The prime minister directed authorities concerned to devise a strategy to reduce government expenditures by merging or closing institutions that are not required for the functioning of state machinery. He also directed the further strengthening of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), describing its establishment as a “very important step for economic stability.”

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