By News Desk
ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said on Wednesday the government had initiated negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an additional grant of $1.4 billion on fast-track basis in view of the evolving situation due to the spread of coronavirus.
The government’s financial team had made a comprehensive funds mobilisation strategy for acquiring $1 billion from the World Bank (WB) and $3.5 million from the Asian Development Bank, besides early release of $900 million earmarked by the latter for different projects, he said at a press conference.
He was flanked by Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile and Industry Abdul Razak Dawood, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Special Assistant to the PM on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar.
The adviser said the $1.4 billion IMF grant would be in line with the previous programme Pakistan had with the fund, which would be disbursed at the earliest.
He said while Pakistan’s economy was improving, the Covid-19 pandemic was expected to dent it considerably. Remittances were likely to fall, as was tax collection, and a slowdown in economic activity throughout the country was imminent, the adviser said. The government had, however, already announced a Rs1.2-trillion relief package to stave off the negative impact of the coronavirus, he said.
The PM’s aide said in that situation, the federation and the provinces would work in collaboration and adopt a united strategy to come out of the crisis and lead the country towards progress and development.
Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar said the government was fully focused and committed to facilitate the people in the critical situation. The provision of medical facilities and food to the people was the topmost priority of the government and for that the government would pursue the WB and the ADB to release their aid amounting to $600 million on different counts on fast track basis, he added. However, all the international financial institutions would be engaged for economic assistance when the coronavirus had been overcome, he said.
The minister said: “We are also in coordination with Japan Intentional Cooperation Agency (JICA) to get assistance for providing facilities to the people in current situation.”
He said the government would provide facilities to the business community for continuing business activities sin the country. Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said it was the government’s priority to save the domestic businesses, including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), retailers and labour.
SAPM Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the media had been playing an important role in the current crisis and the government would take all necessary safety measures to protect the lives of journalists.
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