— Premier emphasises self-reliance, financial stability for political stability
— says ‘real goal’ is achieving self-reliance that is ‘easier said than done’
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has informed him that Pakistan could receive up to $2 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“Miftah Ismail in a message said that we will hopefully be receiving $2 billion instead of $1 billion from the IMF,” the premier said and added that he told the minister that the “real goal” was achieving self-reliance which was “easier said than done”.
The prime minister was addressing the ‘Turnaround Pakistan’ conference organised by the Ministry of Planning and Development.
Shehbaz emphasised the need for all sectors to work together for Pakistan’s progress and reiterated the importance of self-reliance, adding that it guaranteed “political and economic independence”.
The premier’s remarks came shortly after Miftah revealed that Pakistan has received combined economic and financial targets for the seventh and eighth reviews of its IMF bailout programme.
Discussing the recent opening of a mega-development project in Bangladesh, PM Shehbaz said that the Bangladeshi premier had proudly proclaimed that they did so without the help of international benefactors.
“This is a big achievement; however, Pakistan is not lacking in resources or expertise”, he said citing the example of the Reko Diq where he claimed Pakistan had lost billions of rupees but was yet to earn anything from it.
He maintained that 75 years had passed since the inception of the country and loud claims had been made but no action was taken. “We all have a responsibility, but crying will achieve nothing. Unchangeable decisions must be made,” he said.
Shehbaz said that Pakistan was drowning in debt and the country’s liabilities far outweighed its assets.
The premier stated that the money the government collected from the recently announced ‘super tax’ would not be wasted or destroyed.
“The money will not be wasted and will not be spent on government expenditure,” he said, adding that the Rs230 billion collected would be used for the “development and prosperity” of the country.
Shehbaz vowed that his government would try to bring financial stability in the next fourteen months which would then lead to economic stability.
The premier also discussed the hike in coal prices across the globe and said that there was a potential danger of running out of foreign exchange reserves if coal was imported to run power plants.
He maintained that coal would be imported from Afghanistan from July and would be bought in Pakistani rupees, thus saving Rs2 billion.
“The coal will be used to run coal-fired power plants for electricity,” the prime minister said. He further said that the entire world was currently suffering from an economic crisis.
Highlighting the negligence of the previous government, Shehbaz said that the former rulers did not sign any cheap and long-term gas agreements.
“Instead, they delayed development projects,” he said. He maintained that his government was facing huge challenges but was determined to resolve them.
The premier said that recently there was a danger of Pakistan running out of edible oil, however, he wrote to the Indonesian President Joko Widodo in hopes of resolving the issue.
He further said that he instructed a minister to go to Indonesia at his own expense and stay there until the material departed for Pakistan.
“The coalition government covers the four provinces of Pakistan. We must work for the development of the country beyond our personal preferences,” he said.