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Tuesday Apr 13 2021

IMF chief says Pakistan needs to focus on welfare of people

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and Pakistan's Finance Minister Hammad Azhar. Photo: Files

  • Hammad Azhar, State Bank Governor Reza Baqir hold virtual meeting with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.
  • Azhar says IMF chief urged Pakistan to keep the welfare of people of Pakistan as the focus of all its policy endeavors.
  • Georgieva says the three discussed the way forward for vital economic reforms and external financing needed to build a better future.

ISLAMABAD: International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva emphasized on Monday that Pakistan needs to focus all its policies towards the welfare of people, reported The News.

She passed the comments in a meeting with newly appointed Finance Minister Hammad Azhar and State Bank of Pakistan Governor Reza Baqir.

"Had a productive virtual meeting with IMF MD on the state of Pakistan's economy and implementation of reforms. Grateful that she acknowledged the positive economic indicators and the need to keep the welfare of people of Pakistan as the focus of all our policy endeavors," Hammad said after the meeting.

Read more: Pakistan tells IMF it will either add more taxes or increase tax rates in next fiscal year

However, Georgieva tweeted: "I commended Pakistan's response to the health and economic crisis, and we discussed the way forward for vital economic reforms and external financing needed to build a better future for Pakistan's people."

Recently, Pakistani officials and IMF high-ups held discussions on the occasion of the IMF/World Bank's annual meeting held virtually this time.

Pakistani authorities are urging the IMF to adopt a lenient attitude in the wake of the third wave of COVID-19. The global lender had placed tough conditions for imposing over Rs700 billion additional taxes in the upcoming budget and hiking the electricity tariff by Rs5 per unit till June 2021.

In the next fiscal year, Pakistan will have to hike the gas tariff.

Read more: Inflation, unemployment to increase in Pakistan during current fiscal year, says IMF report

However, Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Power Tabash Ghaur on Monday stated that PM Imran Khan had ordered that the electricity tariff should not be increased till June 2021.

The sources said that if the PM’s instructions are followed then the circular debt might cross the Rs2.587 trillion mark.

When a journalist asked about the possibility of reviewing the programme if Pakistan made the request in this regard a few days back, IMF’s Mission Chief Ernesto Ramirez Rigo replied that the IMF programme was an evolving thing that could be discussed keeping in view ground realities.

However, he said that Pakistan so far not made any formal request to make changes in the targets of the Fund programme.

Read more: Policies in Pakistan's favour to be implemented despite IMF aid, says Dr Reza Baqir

When The News contacted IMF’s Chief in Pakistan Teresa Daban Sanchez to ask her what would happen if Pakistan declined to hike electricity tariff, she replied: “It is not the question that could be either answered right now. The Pakistani authorities and IMF staff remain engaged and we will continue working for next reviews and monitoring the situation in the economy for getting ready for completion of next reviews.”