Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the government was steering the economy of the country towards stability and growth. He added that the government is committed to completing the IMF programme and fulfilling all international obligations.
He said this while talking to a delegation of M/s Rothschild & Co comprising Eric Lalo, Partner and Thibaud Fourcade, Managing Director in Islamabad on February 21.
The delegation briefed the Finance Minister about their company's profile and the financial services provided to various countries across the world.
The delegation supported government policies aimed at maintaining and enhancing fiscal and monetary stability. The visitors also expressed confidence in achieving sustainable economic development due to the pragmatic policies of the government.
The participants of the meeting discussed the economic challenges being faced by Pakistan and the possible roadmap for economic recovery leading to sustainable growth and development.
Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar appreciated M/s Rothschild's positive intentions for the economic prosperity of Pakistan.
Dar's commitment showed through on February 20 when the National Assembly unanimously approved the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2023 or ‘mini-budget’ — a move mandatory for seeking the $1.1 billion tranche of the IMF loan.
Meanwhile, the government continues its talks with the IMF, the international lender, while adhering to its conditions to help cushion Pakistan's dwindling economy.
The bill increases sales tax from 17 to 25 percent on imports ranging from cars and household appliances to chocolates and cosmetics. A general sales tax was raised from 17% to 18%.
People will also have to pay more for business-class air travel, wedding halls, mobile phones, and sunglasses.
"The prime minister will also unveil (further) austerity measures in the next few days," Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told the lower house of parliament as the bill was passed, adding "we will have to take difficult decisions".
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Finance Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha said Pakistan and the IMF are close to striking a Staff Level Agreement (SLA). The minister of state said that the IMF had demanded the imposing of Rs875 billion in taxes but the government convinced them to bring it down to just Rs170 billion through tough negotiations.
The IMF, she said, wanted the immediate recovery of taxation measures so the government had to increase the GST rate from 17 to 18 percent while the rate on luxury items was increased up to 25 percent.