Thursday Jan 19 2023

Pakistan's macroeconomic stability matter of discussion within US govt: State Dept

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price speaks during a press briefing on Wednesday. — AFP/File
US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price speaks during a press briefing on Wednesday. — AFP/File
  • US "attuned" to Pakistan's economic challenges.
  • State Dept says they are supportive to Pakistan where they can be.
  • Pakistan now ready for "tough" decisions.

WASHINGTON: The State Department Wednesday said that they want to see Pakistan in an “economically sustainable position” and it is a “topic of conversation” within the US administration.

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price expressed these views during a press briefing while commenting on the financial crisis in Pakistan and the US government’s efforts to help the country. 

Depleting forex reserves and worsening political crisis has put the Shehhbaz Sharif-led government in Islamabad in a difficult position as the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) conditions proving a bitter pill for the administration but there’s no way out other than implementing the reforms demanded by the lender.

When asked what suggestions Washington has for Islamabad to overcome these financial challenges and the discussions going on between the two governments, Ned Price said these conversations with “our Pakistani partners often do entail technical issues. Often times these are addressed between the Department of the Treasury and our Pakistani partners”.

He added that “Pakistan’s macroeconomic stability is a topic of conversation between the Department of State and our counterparts, the White House, the Treasury Department, among others.”

He was also asked whether the US is planning to give some debt relief as the country’s forex reserve plunged to a historic low of $4.3 billion — enough for three weeks of imports.

To this, the spokesperson said, “So this is a challenge that we are attuned to. I know that Pakistan has been working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and with international financial institutions. We want to see Pakistan in an economically sustainable position. Those conversations, as I understand it, are ongoing.”

The US official added that they are supportive where they can be of their Pakistani partners, but ultimately these are conversations between Pakistan and international financial institutions.

It is important to note that the US government and other friendly nations have advised Pakistan to introduce reforms as sought by the international institutions to achieve economic growth and have tied monetary assistance with the revival of the IMF programme that has been stalled since months.

Govt ready for 'tough decisions' 

Earlier this month, in a telephonic discussion with the IMF chief, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed the desire to complete the bailout programme but no progress has been made so far.

In a related development, the government has now finally decided to 'tough decisions’ to revive the IMF loan programme.

The tough decisions include hiking the gas and electricity tariffs and unveiling a mini-budget for imposing more taxation measures to fetch Rs150-200 billion.

Official sources told The News, “The premier chaired an online meeting Wednesday evening for around three hours and thirty minutes in which important decisions were taken. However, this meeting is expected to be reconvened on Thursday (today) for taking more crucial decisions.”