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Monday Feb 11 2019

Pakistan close to striking agreement with IMF, says Asad Umar



.PESHAWAR: Finance Minister Asad Umar on Monday said Pakistan is close to striking a deal to secure financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan met IMF chief Christine Lagarde on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai.

Addressing the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industries in Peshawar, Umar said a deal with the IMF looks imminent and that there was a convergence of views between the two parties on the need to implement structural reforms in the country, reiterating the prime minister’s remarks in the aftermath of the meeting.

“There has been a decrease in the difference we had with the IMF. The IMF has changed its position... It seems we have come closer to an agreement with the IMF. Insha'Allah this will be the last agreement. This will happen when businesses grow," he said. 

The finance minister stressed that Pakistan's economy would be lifted by its people, not by anyone coming from the outside. “If we take the right decisions the economy would rise. It is the responsibility of the business and trading community to put Pakistan on the path towards progress."

The prime minister told the IMF that we want to sign on the package, Umar added.

Discussing the importance of strengthening trade ties with the neighbouring countries, Umar said Pakistan is focusing on boosting trade with Iran and Afghanistan. He said trade ties with India could improve if the Kashmir issue was resolved.

He also said Pakistan is working on a Strategic Economic Draft to strengthen economic ties with Turkey.

“Peace in Afghanistan [will lead to] peace in Pakistan. We are playing our role for peace in Afghanistan,” Umar said. 

He further said the government had not stopped PayPal from entering into the Pakistani market.

“PayPal is not stopped on my desk, the State Bank or in any other government institution. We are chasing PayPal,” the finance minister said, stressing that he was aware of PayPal being an excellent source of income for Pakistani youngsters who work from home. 

“They face immense difficulties without PayPal or any effective online payment system. I have taken the initiative myself and sent a message to PayPal CEO that this was important and I was willing to fly to America to hold a meeting,” Umar said.

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