LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday lamented that it’s a tough time and the authorities have to fulfil the "tough" conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as there is no other option.”
Addressing a ceremony after reviewing the construction work on the six-lane overhead bridge of Imamia Colony railways crossing Shahdra N-5, the premier emphasised that Pakistan has now met all the conditions laid forth by the IMF and now the lender has “no excuse” to delay the staff-level agreement.
PM Shehbaz said even today hard efforts are being made to restart the IMF programme and to secure a much-awaited bailout tranche from the Washington-based lender.
Pakistan signed a $6.5 billion bailout package with the IMF in 2019, but has repeatedly reneged on conditions and so far just $3 billion has been released.
A day earlier, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) confirmed financial support of $1 billion to Pakistan making it the third country, after Saudi Arabia and longtime ally China, to come to the cash-strapped nation's assistance, as external financing is needed to fully fund the balance of payments gap for the fiscal year that ends in June.
The commitments were one of the IMF's last requirements before approving a staff-level pact to release a tranche of $1.1 billion, delayed for months, that is crucial for Pakistan to resolve an acute balance of payments crisis.
“Such tough conditions were set which weren’t easy for Pakistan to fulfil,” the premier said, adding that in the last one-and-a-half-month, the coalition government has made a lot of efforts.
Lavishing praises on Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, PM Shehbaz said the federal ministers were putting in efforts to complete the last condition regarding securing financial guarantees from "key" friendly countries.
The premier added that the Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir also contributed to these efforts after which Saudi Arabia and UAE committed funds.
He expressed his gratitude to Saudi Arabia and the UAE for showing what brotherhood actually is.
He said that China had predicted two-and-a-half-months ago that Pakistan was facing difficulties and thrones were being laid to deepen the economic crisis, therefore, it immediately gave approval for the $2 billion roll over.
The prime minister hoped that now Pakistan will soon reach a staff-level agreement with the Washington-based lender; however, prayed that the country of 220 million gets rid of IMF's shackles.
He further said that there existed economic challenges but the nation would have to decide whether it would depend on foreign debts or want to stand on its feet by carving a niche among the comity of nations with honesty, dedication and hard work.
“If the chronic issues relating to load shedding, the scourge of terrorism could end, free medicines could be provided to the poor, road infrastructure could be laid, then surely, the country could move on the path of progress and prosperity”, he added.
PM Shehaz said: “Pakistan was not created to run on debts and act like beggars because their forefathers and different generations had given sacrifices for the motherland.”
— Additional input from APP
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