Thursday Nov 08, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will receive some $5-6 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Finance Minister Asad Umar said Wednesday night following the arrival in the country of a delegation representing the organisation earlier in the day.
Speaking in Geo News' programme Capital Talk, Umar noted that the government will be holding various talks with the IMF team, which is in Pakistan for a two-week period.
The stage to discuss bailout package conditions with the IMF is yet to come since the delegation is in Islamabad for two weeks, he mentioned.
"If IMF puts forth conditions that are not in the national interest, we will not accept them. All arrangements made to date have been so that Pakistan does not have to bend over should the IMF set such conditions," Umar explained.
Separately, with regard to Prime Minister Imran Khan's maiden visit to Beijing earlier this week, he said: "Soon, there will be some good news from China.
President Xi Jinping has assured that Beijing will help Islamabad increase imports, he stated.
Further, in light of the recent alleged data theft from banks, he said: "According to my knowledge, data from only one bank was leaked."
However, Khan, he said, has requested China to provide leading cyber-security technology to Pakistan.
The government's move to hike the prices of gas and electricity was questioned, the minister commented, adding that he was told to let it be. However, "there was over-expenditure in the past, more than the country was able to bear, the cost of which is being borne now".
Umar said the government reduced the petroleum prices by Rs6 in the first month and rejected the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority's (OGRA) recommendation summary to increase the price in the second month.
"In the budget, we bumped up taxes on items used by the upper class," he noted. "For the poor people, we did not push up the prices of gas and electricity. We are trying our best to not increase the burden on anyone."
The finance minister also explained that the inflation rate for Pakistan's 20 percent poor population is at 4 percent and not in double digits right now, which it was in the Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) government.
During the year-long timeframe from May 2017 to May 2018, the stock exchange lost 15,000 points, he said, adding that the money that should be spent on the public instead goes to interest on loans.
Underscoring that Abdul Razak Dawood, the advisor to Khan on commerce, textiles, industries production and investment, has 45 days to get the Pakistan Steel Mills running, Umar said: "We are sure that he would be able to bring institutions on their own feet."
As for the visit of Alice Wells, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, to Pakistan, he said most of the dialogue she had was on the economy and the IMF.