PM Shehbaz says IMF officials due in 2-3 days to finalise ninth review

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ISLAMABAD, JAN 6: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Friday said an International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation was slated to visit Pakistan in 2-3 days to “take up and finalise” the ninth review of the economy to unstick a direly needed bailout tranche of $1.1 billion.

“I spoke to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva [Thursday] and emphasised that Pakistan wishes to complete the IMF bailout programme,” the premier said during an address at the inauguration ceremony of Hazara Electric Supply Company (HAZECO).

“I urged her to soften the terms of the deal because the masses cannot be burdened anymore. We have slapped taxes on the rich segments of society,” the premier claimed.

“I also pleaded with her to dispatch a delegation for the 9th review under the loan programme and she replied that IMF officials are scheduled to visit Pakistan in over a couple of days (2-3) days.”

Pakistan to complete IMF programme

The prime minister said that he had assured the IMF official that, unlike its predecessor, the incumbent government would abide by its commitments with Fund without further burdening the masses.

PM Shehbaz also quoted the IMF official as saying that China had urged the Fund to support Pakistan.

The development comes as Pakistan strives to allay fears that the country was inching towards a default, as a stalemate over the ninth review of the IMF bailout programme continues owing to differences between the two sides. This impasse has resulted in the holdup of a $1.1 billion tranche, which could have been released somewhere in November.

Unlocking foreign inflows

It must be noted that other critical multilateral and bilateral financing avenues were also tied to the IMF programme, so Pakistan remains under whopping pressure to meet its external financing requirements of over $30 billion until June 2023. This also includes debt repayments and costs of energy imports.

The PM further said he had sensitised the IMF head over the country’s economic condition adversely affected by the worst floods and made it clear his government had already taxed the rich but could no more burden the poor.

‘Thankless’ Imran

The prime minister criticised the previous government for undermining Pakistan’s relations with friendly countries including China, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE because ex-prime minister Imran Khan utilised most of his energies for political victimisation and blaming the opponents.

Calling Imran a thankless person, the prime minister said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief had nothing to claim the credit for any development project in KP, Sindh, AJK, GB, and Hazara.

He said despite enjoying the immense support from the army, the PTI chief was ungrateful to the former military leadership — General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa — and was instead hurling blames at him.

Calling Imran Khan a “hypocrite”, PM Shehbaz said how Gen (retd) Bajwa helped Imran Khan come into power was not a secret anymore.

In a bid to steer the country out of the crisis, Pakistan’s armed forces and Gen (retd) Bajwa provided all possible support to Imran Khan but he proved a failed prime minister.

PM Shehbaz said the coalition government inherited unimaginably poor economic conditions with the energy crisis, halted CPEC projects, and strained foreign relations.

He said at the upcoming International Conference of Climate Resilient Pakistan, the prime minister said he would fight the case of Pakistan.

The prime minister resolved that under PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif’s leadership, the incumbent government would lead Pakistan to become a great nation.

Appeal to support energy plan

The prime minister also entreated the business community to support the government’s recently announced energy conservation plan marking the early closure of markets and restaurants, to ensure judicious use of national resources and reduce the import bill.

“I appeal to the business community to extend their support to the government (for energy conservation). This will reduce the oil import and bring down the dollar rate which would later be spent on country’s progress including agriculture and medicine,” the prime minister said.

Covering a total area of over 16,774 square kilometres, Hazara Electric Supply Company would cater to the needs of around 726,000 consumers across Haripur, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Battagram, Torgarh, Kohistan Upper, Kohistan Lower and Kolai Plus.

The prime minister said any difficulty faced by a nation necessitated collective action and expressed the hope that the traders from across the country would take part in this “jihad” to save the national resources.

Speaking highly for the Pak-China fraternal relations, the prime minister said in his meeting, the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had also urged the IMF chief to support Pakistan considering the tough circumstances.

He also apprised the gathering of his 45-minute-long telephonic conversation with the Chinese Premier on Thursday.

Completing unfinished projects

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Energy Engineer Khurram Dastgir said, the previous government halted major development projects including Shanghai Electric Power Project but the incumbent took the project to completion.

He said a grid of 765KV was ready for inauguration in Mansehra and the current government had resumed the development course impeded by the PTI government.

PML-N leader Captain (retd) Safdar said with the establishment of HAZECO, the government had fulfilled a long-standing demand of the people of Hazara who were also thankful to the PML-N leadership for building the motorway and Muzaffarabad road for their facilitation.

Senator Pir Sabir Shah and Engineer Amir Muqam thanked the prime minister for the establishment of the HAZECO and demanded of the government to lift the ban on jobs in distribution companies.