Tuesday May 21, 2024

Punjab minister warned spoiling IMF bailout will be ‘high treason’

Mohsin Leghari was advised to take up the issue with the political leadership as it would spoil the IMF bailout

By Ansar Abbasi
August 30, 2022
Punjab Finance Minister Mohsin Leghari. —Pildat
Punjab Finance Minister Mohsin Leghari. —Pildat

ISLAMABAD: In an extra-ordinary development, Punjab civil bureaucracy prevented the provincial government from writing Shaukat Tarin-dictated letter to sabotage IMF bailout by issuing a candid and timely warning that such an act would be tantamount to “criminal conspiracy” and “high treason”.

Informed sources said that Punjab Finance Minister Mohsin Leghari, who had already sounded his concern to Tarin about the risk of such an act for the state of Pakistan, also agreed with the serious warning of the bureaucracy and decided not to do what his counterpart in Khyber Pakhrunkhwa did.

These sources said that when the finance minister of Punjab discussed the wish of Tarin with key members of the provincial bureaucracy, they warned him how the provincial government could do it knowing very well that the consequences of such an act would be extremely damaging for Pakistan.

Leghari was warned that writing such a letter, a few days before the IMF board meeting, would be tantamount to “criminal conspiracy” and “high treason”. Leghari, these sources said, agreed to what was told to him by the bureaucracy. Leghari was advised to take up the issue with the political leadership and convince them not to write the letter to the federal minister as it would spoil the IMF bailout.

The bureaucracy also told the political leadership that even otherwise at this stage the province could not talk about deficit budget because the State Bank has all the details including the fact that presently the province has surplus budget.

Because of the responsible role of the provincial bureaucracy, Punjab decided not to withdraw its fiscal commitments regarding agreement with the IMF. As per the strategy of the PTI, Punjab was required to follow what the KP Finance Minister Taimoor Khan Jhagra did. In his letter to the federal finance minister, he expressed uncertainty to fulfil the KP government’s fiscal commitment with regard to the federal government’s deal with the IMF.

As is reflected from the latest audio leaks, the former finance minister of PTI government and Imran Khan’s key aide on economy Tarin had asked Leghari to draft a letter for federal government to the effect that Punjab government would not be able to honor their commitment of provincial surplus made in the context of Memorandum of Economic and Fiscal Policies inked between the federal government and the IMF.

Tarin said that the main reason for this deviation should be attributed to recent floods. Leghari was of the view that such a move would damage Pakistan as a state. Tarin impressed upon him that although it could damage the country, how the PTI could accommodate the federal government when the latter was registering cases against them.

The former finance minister also told Leghari that Imran Khan would give the final go-ahead as to whether the letter was to be released to the IMF or would be sent to the federal government only. Subsequently, Tarin and Leghari discussed the option to release it on social media so that the IMF should know it even if they don’t send it officially to the Fund.