Wednesday, March 15, 2023
An over-optimistic Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday asserted that the government's prudent policies reversed the looming risks of Pakistan's default on its international obligations, reported Radio Pakistan, the state broadcaster.
But the prime minister's views were contrary to more than two dozen economists, who believe that Pakistan faces the renewed risk of recession amid a deepening political and economic crisis and a delay in the revival of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) bailout programme.
In the last few months, the cash-strapped nation has failed to meet several deadlines to secure funds to stave off a default, which has raised concerns that Pakistan might have to pause debt repayments.
The premier — who came into power last year in April — told a delegation of Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors in Islamabad that the coalition government is making all-out efforts to bring the economy out of the prevailing "quagmire" and put the country on the path of development and prosperity.
The political crisis has also deepened this week after clashes erupted as the police tried to arrest former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, who is demanding early elections since his ouster via a no-confidence motion in April last year.
Pakistan needs funds to revive its $350 billion economy, ease widespread shortages and rebuild its foreign currency reserves. The nation’s dollar stockpile has fallen to less than a month’s worth of imports, restricting its ability to fund overseas purchases, stranding thousands of containers of supplies at ports, forcing plant shutdowns and putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk.
In order to kickstart the $350 billion economy, the prime minister expressed the confidence that agreement with the IMF would be inked very soon — a claim that he and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar have been making back and forth, with no results.
PM Shehbaz said the government is cognizant of the sufferings of common people due to the prevailing situation — which has sent inflation to a historic high.
The prime minister also lauded the role of all coalition partners for running the government's affairs effectively and said that the government is united and moving ahead to bring the country out of turmoil.