Monday December 11, 2023

No option but to implement IMF programme: PM Shehbaz Sharif

PM Shehbaz said they would have to implement the IMF programme as there was no other option

By Agencies & our correspondents
December 28, 2022
PM Shehbaz addressing solarisation conference in Islamabad on December 27, 2022. PID
PM Shehbaz addressing solarisation conference in Islamabad on December 27, 2022. PID 

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Tuesday they would have to implement the IMF programme as there was no other option. He lauded the Pakistani nation for braving the burden of price hike with patience and said the government could not cope with the economic issues in eight months alone and needed more time.

The prime minister said the country’s circular debt had increased to Rs2.5 trillion. He said owing to the Russia-Ukraine war, fuel prices increased to a peak level and, as a result, the country’s circular debt had increased a lot. “We are compelled to import expensive fuel, while line losses and electricity thefts are also major reasons for increased circular debt,” he said.

The prime minister maintained that, given the high prices of fuel and economic issues, switching to solar energy was indispensable to save foreign exchange.

He said as the first step, he had decided to solarise all public buildings of federal ministries and divisions across the country by April next year.

“This revolutionary step will help reduce energy import bills and generate cheap and environment-friendly electricity,” the prime minister said while addressing a conference on the use of solar energy and later on Twitter.

The prime minister said that in his meeting with federal secretaries, he impressed upon them the need for proactive leadership to complete the solarisation of public buildings.

“The whole process will be marked by transparency, pre-qualification and third-party audit and we will acknowledge civil servants for their dedication,” he said.

He pointed out that reliance on imported energy, which costs about 27 billion dollars annually, is unsustainable. “The government’s focus on leveraging indigenous and renewable sources of electricity will make the country self-reliant in terms of energy security and provide relief to the common man,” the prime minister said.

He said that the government has started work on 10,000 megawatts of solar power projects to increase the energy mix and reduce the import bill.

He particularly mentioned that the PTI regime showed criminal negligence by not importing oil and gas at cheaper rates, recalling that fuel prices had gone down due to the COVID-19 epidemic across the world.

He said that the NAB-Niazi alliance subjected political opponents to victimisation in the name of accountability and created unprecedented economic issues in the country.

He told the meeting that the PMLN government had in the past started and completed hydropower projects, and thousands of megawatts of electricity were injected into the system, while under CPEC more power generation projects would be installed.

He also asked the provincial and Azad Jammu and Kashmir governments to promote the use of solar energy to supplement the federal government’s efforts to save foreign exchange spent on the import of fuel.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the connectivity projects in the region will not only bring trade communities closer but also usher in a new era of peace and prosperity. He expressed these views as he received a high-level delegation from Uzbekistan led by the deputy prime minister, Minister for Investment and Foreign Trade, Khodjaev Jamshid Abdukhakimovich.

Recalling his recent meetings with Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the sidelines of the SCO Summit held in Samarkand in September and the 6th CICA Summit held in Astana, Kazakhstan, in October 2022, the prime minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to further enhance the excellent relationship between the two brotherly countries.

The prime minister said Pakistan offers connectivity to Central Asia through roads and railways. The delegation apprised the prime minister of their meetings with the economic ministries of Pakistan, during which it was agreed to enhance economic and trade ties between the two countries.

The visiting dignitary also briefed the prime minister on discussions between the business groups of Pakistan and Uzbekistan in various fields.

The prime minister appreciated that fruitful discussion among the business community to establish B2B contacts would enhance bilateral trade and investment. The Uzbek delegation thanked the prime minister and reiterated that the bilateral relationship is further deepening and the pace of interactions is moving towards a positive trajectory.

The prime minister reiterated that the friendship between Pakistan and Uzbekistan is strengthening with time, and the visit of the delegation led by the deputy prime minister of Uzbekistan is a manifestation of the growing relationship.

Meanwhile, in response to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s felicitations, Nepal’s newly-elected Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda expressed a desire to strengthen friendship and collaborate closely for the purpose.

The Maoist Nepalese leader who took to Twitter for a reply, using the Communist Party emblem of a sickle and hammer in front of his name as Comrade Prachanda, has said: “Thank you, Hon. Prime Minister @CMShehbaz, for your warm words. Nepal and Pakistan enjoy cordial relations. I look forward to working closely with you and further strengthening our friendship.”

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday felicitated Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda on assuming the office of the prime minister of Nepal.