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September 17, 2019

NA committee on finance meets IMF team on Tuesday

National

September 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs holds an in-camera session with the visiting team of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday.

“It will be an interactive session with the IMF delegation headed by Director Jihad Azour,” it was announced by the National Assembly secretariat. The 21-member standing committee is headed by former Finance Minister Asad Umar and has, among others, opposition lawmakers, including Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha, Nafisa Shah, Syed Naveed Qamar, Hina Rabbani Khar, Abdul Wasay and Qaisar Ahmed Sheikh.

Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has stated that the IMF team was making a routine visit to Pakistan. This is the first time that the IMF delegation is coming to Islamabad after the financial institution approved the $6 billion loan facility to be disbursed over three years.

Dr Shaikh has mentioned four areas of focus for achieving desired primary balance and said that the tax revenues would be maximized, expenditures would be reduced, non-tax revenue would be increased and finally the macroeconomic stability would promote growth and enhance economic activities would yield increased tax collection.

It was during Asad Umar’s incumbency as the finance minister that a few rounds of talks were held with the IMF to firm up the loan facility package. However, he could not conclude it and was replaced by Dr Shaikh.

A few weeks back, he expressed his displeasure over the absence of government officials from a meeting of the standing committee, which, in protest, deferred according its approval to government bills, including the Foreign Exchange Regulation Amendment Bill, 2019, Anti Money Laundering Amendment Bill, 2019, and Asset Declaration Ordinance, 2019.

“We are postponing the passage of all government bills. If the government is not serious about these bills, then they should at least take the committee members seriously. The committee cannot dictate to the finance ministry and its role is to merely advise, recommend, and monitor.”

Meanwhile, the Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum also meets in-camera on Tuesday to discuss the agreement of Reko dic with Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), the reasons of dispute which arose in it, the present status of the case in International Centre of Settlement for Investment Disputes (ICSID), the penalty imposed on Pakistan and the government’s efforts to defend the case. After the ICSID imposed a hefty penalty of $5.976 billion on Pakistan, the government announced to conduct an internal review of ICSID’s long-standing arbitration between the state and TCC and decided to form a commission to investigate who was responsible for the predicament that may cost Pakistan heavily.

The ICSID, which provides facilities for conciliation and arbitration of international investment disputes, had rendered a 700-page judgement against Pakistan, awarding a $4.08b penalty and $1.87b in interest.

On September 18, the Senate Special Committee on China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) will get a comprehensive briefing on special economic zones and small and medium-sized enterprises; and uninterrupted electricity supply by the power plants along with CPEC routes.

The committee will also be briefed on progress and policy approach towards the second stage of Free Trade Agreement (FTA); and on marine sciences as to how to transform all the country into creative, eco-friendly and sustainable for future generations.

A briefing also be given on delaying tariff determination by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) for coal-based energy project of 300 megawatts in Gwadar.

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