Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif addresses the Turn Around Pakistan Conference in Islamabad. Photo: Radio Pakistan

PM Shahbaz vows to steer Pakistan out of economic crisis in 14 months

by Pakistan News
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Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif addresses the’ Turn Around Pakistan Conference’ in Islamabad. Photo: Radio Pakistan   

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Tuesday said that he would steer the country out of the financial crisis and take the country towards economic stability in the next 14 months.

Addressing the inaugural session of the “Turnaround Pakistan” conference in Islamabad, PM Shahbaz Sharif said that Pakistan’s “ultimate goal is self-reliance” in response to news that the country will receive not $1 billion but $2 billion in loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Miftah Ismail sent a message this morning saying that Pakistan will receive not $1 billion but $2 billion from the IMF. I told him in response, Alhamdulillah, but our ultimate goal is self-reliance,” the premier told the audience.

The prime minister’s address comes shortly after Ismail confirmed Pakistan has received the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) from the IMF for the seventh and eighth reviews.

The draft MEFP is a prerequisite to pave the way towards striking a staff-level agreement.

Now that Pakistan has received this document, it will be analysed and scrutinised for three days by the country’s economic team. The finance minister and State Bank of Pakistan governor will then sign it if no major problem is found. The staff-level agreement will then be presented before the IMF’s Executive Board next month for approval, after which the tranches will be released.

The MEFP may be considered as the crux of decisions negotiated between Pakistan and the Fund because it includes policy actions and structural benchmarks the two sides agreed on.

PM Shahbaz, in his address, said that achieving the goal of self-reliance is “easier said than done”.

He noted that while a coalition government has certain “plus points”, it has to be acknowledged that consultation between provinces on issues, as is the democratic norm, does carry with it certain challenges.

“We have all accepted this challenge and will InshaAllah fulfil this responsibility,” he said.

PM Shahbaz said that although he may receive opposition in once again using the word that created much political drama in recent weeks, he will ask whether it is the “choosers” that are now going to receive $2 billion or “the other word”, referring to beggars from the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers”.

He said it was a major achievement that neighbouring Bangladesh had recently spent $6 billion on infrastructure without approaching the IMF, World Bank or Asian Development Bank.

There is no shortage of anything in Pakistan and there are experts in every field, PM Shahbaz said, before lamenting that “billions of dollars are buried in Reko Diq but we have not earned a single penny”.

“It is a pity that the country’s development and prosperity have not been achieved,” he said.

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