Successful Pakistan-IMF negotiations brightens chances of loan program revival


ISLAMABAD, JUN 22 (DNA) — The chances of the revival of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan program for Pakistan have brightened after, what the finance ministry terms, a successful round of negotiations with the IMF staff mission.

IMF’s Resident Representative to Pakistan Esther Perez Ruiz has said that major progress was made on budget targets for the next fiscal year during discussions with the Pakistan authorities. “Discussion between the IMF staff and the authorities on policies to strengthen macroeconomic stability in the coming year continue,” said Ruiz.

The talks were held via video link between the IMF staff mission and the Pakistani economic team, led by Finance Minister Miftah Ismail. Earlier, the IMF had expressed reservations about the budget 2022-23 soon after it was tabled in the National Assembly on June 10.

Officials of the Ministry of Finance tried to address the reservations after which major progress was made. An agreement on the targets of the budget set by the IMF has also been reached. “We have now locked the budget in consultation with the IMF,” Miftah Ismail told reporters on Wednesday.

Earlier, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Officials Shakeel Ahmed said that the government was preparing to amend the draft budget proposals to meet the demands set by the IMF. The federal government had lowered the number of tax slabs from twelve to seven and allowed a relief of Rs47 billion to the salaried person, but the IMF expressed concerns over the budgetary measure.

The Fund instead urged the government to increase its tax collection from the salaried person by Rs125 billion. The IMF would not revive its program for Pakistan until the relief granted to salaries persons is reversed, said Shakeel Ahmed. Miftah Ismail later confirmed the conditions set by the IMF but insisted that the tax exemption for salaried individuals earning up to Rs1.2 million annually would not be withdrawn. =DNA


Civil, military leadership expresses grief over loss of lives in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD, JUN 22 (DNA) — Civil and military leadership of Pakistan has expressed grief and sorrow over loss of precious human lives in Afghanistan earthquake.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that Pakistan stands with Afghan brothers and sisters in this difficult time and it will provide all possible assistance to the people of Afghanistan. Shehbaz Sharif also directed the authorities concerned to assist the affected people in Afghanistan.

Director General (DG) of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) also took to Twitter and expressed “deepest condolences over tragic loss of precious lives and damage to infrastructure.”

Armed Forces of Pakistan are ready to provide all possible humanitarian assistance to people of Afghanistan, he said.

In addition, former prime minister Imran Khan directed his KP government to facilitate medical facilities for the affected people in the neighboring country.

“My condolences and prayers go to the government and people of Afghanistan for the loss of lives suffered in the earthquake,” he said and added that he had asked the KP government to especially facilitate the provision of all medical assistance.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also expressed sorrow over loss of innocent lives and reiterated that Pakistan stands with its neighbor in these testing times. He urged international community to play its role to help Afghan people.

KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has also expressed sorrow and decided to send medical teams and aid to the quake-hit areas of the neighboring country. “We stand by the people of Afghanistan in testing times and will offer support and resources to deal with the situation,” he said. =DNA