'No truth to reports of changes in cabinet,' says information minister

Updated April 15, 2019

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Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry says that there is no truth to reports of changes in the cabinet. ─ APP/File
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry says that there is no truth to reports of changes in the cabinet. ─ APP/File

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Monday rubbished reports of a cabinet reshuffle, saying that any such changes would be announced by the government.

Reports began circulating this morning about a possible reshuffle in the post for Minister for Finance and Minister of State for Interior held by Asad Umar and Shehryar Afridi respectively.

Although Chaudhry did not address the specific changes reported in the finance and interior portfolios, he tweeted that there is "no truth to reports circulating regarding changes in the cabinet".

"To change ministers is the prime minister's discretionary right," he added.

Later, while speaking to reporters in Islamabad, Chaudhry said that the prime minister had sent a message that reports about changes in the ministries were incorrect.

"Reports on the performance of ministers have already reached Prime Minister's Office," he said. "Ministers are ministers because the prime minister is satisfied with them."

"The prime minister has the authority to make any changes. Changes of this sort will be announced," he added.

The information minister said that Finance Minister Asad Umar would give a briefing on his recent meetings in Washington with International Monetary Fund officials with whom he had discussed a bailout package for the country's ailing economy.

Umar, in an interview with Express Tribune's Bilal Lakhani, said that his meetings with the IMF had gone well.

"Essentially, we have closure at a policy level. Approximately in a couple of weeks' time, there should be a staff-level mission going back to Pakistan to close all the technical details," Umar said.

He explained that discussions had taken place regarding policy measures that must be implemented, particularly to deal with the "extreme balance of payments crisis, while not crashlanding the economy".

"There was a difference of opinion between us and the IMF, and that's what was taking long."

"Over the last three months, the impact of the measures [...] starting showing up. The IMF could also see the results, and that played a major part."

The finance minister said that although IMF officials were initially concerned about Chinese debt, they had not raised any further concerns after the government shared data with the IMF team. "There's nothing really there to hide, it [Chinese debt] is about maybe 10 per cent of Pakistan's public debt, it's on good terms and is long-tenure."