Sunday, January 08, 2023

IMF conditions to push inflation to 40% in Pakistan: Hammad Azhar

A severe crisis of food items lies ahead, warns PTI leader

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Hammad Azhar addresses an event.— Facebook/PTI
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Hammad Azhar addresses an event.— Facebook/PTI  

  • Govt pushed country to brink of economic collapse, says PTI leader.
  • Azhar says PDM govt should sign fresh pact with IMF in June.
  • "Unpopular, non-serious govt cannot steer country out of crisis."

Former energy minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Hammad Azhar Sunday warned that inflation might jump up to 40% from the current around 25% if the government accepted the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) terms to finalise the ninth review of $7 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

Addressing a ceremony, the former minister also said that a severe crisis of food items lies ahead.

Lashing out at the PML-N-led coalition government, he said that the economy has been brought on the verge of collapse during the past nine months.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, he said, should take the nation into confidence on the issues. "Pakistan will have to decide on a new programme with the IMF as the ongoing deal with the international lending body will expire in June this year. Hence, it is necessary that there should be a newly-elected government in Islamabad that strikes a new deal with the lending body."

Stressing the need for early elections and continuity of policies, the PTI leader said that a government that has a mandate of 5 years can take this decision. “The country is heading towards disaster. An unpopular and non-serious government cannot steer the country out of the ongoing crisis.”

Taking a dig at the leadership of the incumbent government, the former minister said, “You came into power to get quashed the cases lodged against you. You ruined the country.”

The people will have to face a tough time in days to come, he said, adding that the upcoming time would be harder if the coalition government does not approach the IMF, Azhar warned. “There would be a disaster if we do not go to IMF.”

Lashing out at the government, the PTI leader said letters of credit (LCs) for raw materials are not opened and 40% of the country’s industries have closed down.

‘Rupee’s interbank rate becomes worthless’

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had claimed that he would bring the dollar’s rate below Rs190 but he failed. The dollar is being sold at a 40% higher rate in the open market, Azhar said, adding that the interbank prices of the Rupee has become meaningless.

'IMF officials due in 2-3 days'

On January 6, PM Shehbaz said an IMF delegation was slated to visit Pakistan in 2-3 days to “take up and finalise” the ninth review of the economy to unstick a direly needed bailout tranche of $1.1 billion.

“I spoke to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva [Thursday] and emphasised that Pakistan wishes to complete the IMF bailout programme,” the premier said during an address at the inauguration ceremony of Hazara Electric Supply Company (HAZECO).

“I urged her to soften the terms of the deal because the masses cannot be burdened anymore. We have slapped taxes on the rich segments of society," the premier claimed.

"I also pleaded with her to dispatch a delegation for the 9th review under the loan programme and she replied that IMF officials are scheduled to visit Pakistan in over a couple of days (2-3) days."

The prime minister said that he had assured the IMF official that, unlike its predecessor, the incumbent government would abide by its commitments with Fund without further burdening the masses.

The premier also quoted the IMF official as saying that China had urged the Fund to support Pakistan.