In his first interaction with the media since being appointed the prime minister's adviser on finance, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh revealed that he had already spoken to finance ministry officials regarding the budget for the next fiscal year.
Speaking outside the finance ministry on Saturday, shortly before he left for a meeting with the prime minister, Shaikh said he had directed the ministry to start drafting a medium-term strategy paper for the economy.
"We will be able to furnish a medium-term strategy paper by the 30th," he said. Shaikh later stated that the budget can be presented no earlier than May 24.
Referring to discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package, Shaikh assured that, "We will be taking our negotiations with the IMF forward."
"Both parties want progress on the matter, and they have a commitment to us. I will be contacting the IMF mission head today evening," he stated.
He held a telephonic discussion with IMF Director Jihad Azour and IMF's mission chief for Pakistan, Ernesto Ramirez Rigo, according to a statement released by the ministry of finance.
"They discussed the progress of negotiations for an IMF-supported program for Pakistan," the press released said, adding that "both sides expressed their commitment for moving the discussions forward. It was agreed that an IMF mission will visit Pakistan by the end of April."
Shaikh's appointment had been notified yesterday after the president accorded his assent to the prime minister's suggestion that Shaikh be appointed his adviser on finance, revenue and economic affairs. He will serve as the de facto finance minister after Asad Umar was asked to step down from the position. The decision had come amidst a major cabinet reshuffle by the PTI only eight months into its tenure.
Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh is an internationally renowned economist with more than 30 years of experience in economic policymaking, management and implementation.
He last served as the finance minister from 2010 to 2013 during the PPP government's rule.