Friday Jan 27, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday said that his government will be able to strike an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the ninth review of the Extended Fund Facility this month.
“I am hopeful that we will reach an agreement with the IMF this month and we will come out of these difficulties and then multilateral and bilateral institutions will work with us,” the premier said while addressing the inauguration ceremony of the Green Line Express Train Service at the Margalla Train Station.
The premier said that considering the dire situation of the foreign exchange reserves the government has developed a list of items that need to be imported based on their necessity.
He added that the list includes food and medical items.
“How long Pakistan would rely on others to run its matters,” he questioned, adding this journey is difficult but not impossible, however, they will have to work day and night to come out of this crisis.
Commenting on Green Line Express Train Service, the premier said that the foundation laying ceremony of the project was held during his brother Nawaz Sharif’s tenure but like other projects, "this one also failed to take life".
“Khawaja Saad Rafique worked very hard to improve railways. Look at the state of railways after Saad Rafique,” PM Shehbaz said, adding that like other departments Pakistan Railways was also struggling.
The premier said that he wished that ML-1 was not subject to "unnecessary accusations” adding that unnecessary corruption claims were made against Chinese companies and ties with Beijing were harmed.
The PM's assurance comes a day after the global lender's representative in Pakistan said that an IMF delegation will be visiting Pakistan soon to hash out details of the stalled ninth Extended Fund Facility review.
Islamabad is dealing with a severe economic crunch as the foreign exchange reserves are at their lowest levels in more than eight years and the Pakistani rupee has dropped to historic lows, with the government now eyeing to revive the bailout programme as it nears a default risk.
"At the request of the authorities, an in-person Fund mission is scheduled to visit Islamabad from January 31 to February 9 in order to continue the discussions under the ninth EFF review," IMF Resident Representative in Pakistan Esther Pérez Ruiz told Geo.tv on Thursday.
The representative mentioned that the delegation would be focusing on several policy areas during their meetings with the Pakistani officials, who are now taking steps to meet the Fund's prerequisites for the programme's revival.
"The mission will focus on policies to restore domestic and external sustainability, including to strengthen the fiscal position with durable and high-quality measures while supporting the vulnerable and those affected by the floods; restore the viability of the power sector and reverse the continued accumulation of circular debt; and reestablish the proper functioning of the FX market, allowing the exchange rate to clear the FX shortage."
Stronger policy efforts and reforms, she said, are critical to reducing the current elevated uncertainty that weighs on the outlook, strengthening Pakistan’s resilience, and obtaining financing support from official partners and the markets that are vital for Pakistan’s sustainable development.