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November 24, 2018

No hurry for IMF package, Asad tells NA

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November 24, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umar on Friday made it clear that the government would never succumb to any pressure to sign an IMF package that was not in the interest of Pakistan’s economy and its people.

“The government is neither in a hurry to sign the IMF package nor will it come under any pressure to take any decision which can burden the country’s economy and its people,” the minister, while giving a policy statement on the floor of the National Assembly (NA) with regard to the government’s engagement with the IMF, said.

On talks with the IMF, he said Pakistan was not in a hurry for the IMF package as alternative arrangements had been made to address immediate economic needs of the country. The minister said the government would not take any decision that adds to the difficulties of the people. He informed the House that talks with the IMF would continue and only that package which is in interest of the country and its people would be acceptable.

The minister said that Pakistan has already signed an economic assistance package with Saudi Arabia while talks with other friendly countries are underway adding the government would have to take steps to reduce trade, current account and budget deficits.

Asad Umar said that 15.50% increase has been witnessed in the remittances over the last three months saying that overseas Pakistanis have sent an additional one billion dollars to Pakistan during this period. “Increase in remittances during the last one month was 30pc,” he informed House.

About the prices of petroleum, the minister said the government had substantially reduced taxes on diesel. "Taxes on diesel were over 100pc, which now have been reduced by many times," he said.

Asad Umar urged the opposition not to do politics on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as it will not augur well for the country. He pointed out that it was for the first time that a government was taking the parliament into confidence regarding the talks with the IMF as in the past there was no such practice. “I want to tell those who give us lectures on democracy that democratic system is strengthened only when parliament is taken into confidence on important national issues,” he said.

Taking a strong exception to criticism unleashed in his earlier speech by Shahbaz Sharif on the prime minister, he said the opposition leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif himself were expert in taking U-turns.

In this connection, he said Shahbaz Sharif, being the Punjab chief minister, used to say that he would rip looted money out of Asif Ali Zardari’s belly, hang him for his corrupt practices and drag him on roads. “But now he is seeking cooperation from Zardari and alleging that the government is trying to create a gulf between him and Zardari,” he said.

The minister also referred to statements of Nawaz Sharif when he made commitment to continue the mission of late General Ziaul Haque. Responding to the points of opposition members on the martyrdom of SP Tahir Dawar, Minister of State for Communication Murad Saeed said those involved in the despicable incident will be brought to justice pointing out that Pakistan had rendered innumerable sacrifices in the war on terrorism.

He said certain elements did not want peace in Pakistan and also wanted to sabotage the CPEC. He said that India stands exposed on the Ajmal Kasab case.

Pakistan People's Party's Raja Pervaiz Ashraf appreciated the government decision to construct the Kartarpura corridor saying it will promote religious tourism in the country and also have a positive impact in the regional context.

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