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Pakistan closer to reaching accord with IMF: Asad

Updated March 17, 2019

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Finance minister says no amount for bailout package has been decided yet.— PID/File
Finance minister says no amount for bailout package has been decided yet.— PID/File

TAXILA: Federal Finance Minister Asad Umar has hinted that bailout package talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are in their final stages and the government will have further negotiations with the newly appointed IMF mission before reaching an agreement.

“Pakistan has come closer to reaching an agreement with the IMF as the differences between Pakistan and the IMF over a possible bailout package have decreased,” said Mr Umar while talking to reporters after administering the oath to the newly elected body of the Tarnol Press Club on Saturday.

Take a look: Why Pakistan will go to the IMF again, and again and again

The IMF mission chief was due on March 26, the finance minister said, adding that a deal would materialise only after a detailed discussion with him. He made it clear that no final amount for the bailout package had been decided so far, as negotiations were still under way.

Finance minister says no amount for bailout package has been decided yet

He said the IMF had asked Pakistan to take strict measures but “we did not bow to their demands”. He said the IMF understood Pakistan’s position. And “now we are about to reach an agreement with the IMF,” he added.

Just a day before the scheduled arrival of the IMF mission here, a delegation of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) Asia Pacific Group would visit Islamabad. The minister said the FATF delegation would be briefed about the steps the government had recently taken to tighten noose around terror financing.

He said India had made all-out efforts to get Pakistan blacklisted but it failed in its attempt. He admitted that FATF ‘grey list’ was a major challenge the country was facing.

Mr Umar also rejected reports that he had made a statement predicting a surge in inflation that would add to people’s sufferings. He clarified that the country’s economy was going through a tough phase, but the people would ‘eventually’ see improvement.

The finance minister said losses in electricity and gas sectors would be recovered from the accounts of former premier Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari.

Responding to a question about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, the minister said not “even a single penny is being cut” from the CPEC projects.

The minister then discussed the development projects planned for the neighbourhood. He said two steel pedestrian bridges would be established on GT Road at the cost of around Rs50 million to facilitate people crossing GT Road. He said work on the project would be initiated soon. Besides, a six-bed basic health unit would be established for residents of eight union councils, he added. He said development work at a cost of Rs170 million would be carried out to improve the living standard of the residents under which primary schools would be upgraded to middle and more buildings would be constructed. He also promised a water supply scheme and two graveyards — one comprising 20 acres and other of 25 acres — for the area.

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2019