ISLAMABAD: Raising hopes for a semblance of economic stability, the prime minister has claimed the Asian Development Bank (ADB) was willing to help Pakistan, and that a deal with the IMF will be signed in the next few days.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday met an ADB delegation comprising executive directors of Japan, China and South Korea.
A statement from the PM Office said the delegation expressed the resolve to continue working closely with Pakistan in addressing the economic challenges.
During the meeting, Mr Sharif claimed the staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund would be reached within the next few days, the statement added.
“Pakistan is committed to completing the reforms agreed in the [IMF] programme,” the statement quoted PM Sharif as saying.
The prime minister appreciated the ADB’s financing across various sectors, particularly transport, energy, climate change and social sector.
He expressed the hope that the bank would continue “its strong partnership with Pakistan” in addressing macroeconomic challenges.
The prime minister lauded ADB’s long-standing association with Pakistan, especially the “generous support” in the wake of the 2022 floods.
The delegation “expressed satisfaction” over the government’s efforts to deal with the challenges posed by widespread devastation in the wake of floods.
Economic Affairs Minister Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and other officials were also present during the meeting.
No load-shedding in Ramazan
The prime minister has also announced there will be no power outage during the month of Ramazan.
In the meeting to review the progress on various power projects, the prime minister directed the authorities concerned to mitigate power outages as much as possible.
He also issued directives to expedite the project to convert public buildings to solar power.
The PM was irked by the sluggish progress on the 500KV Thar-Matiari transmission line.
He questioned the delays and said those responsible for the negligence “must be taken to task”.
The prime minister also ordered the restructuring of the board of the National Transmission and & Despatch Company (NTDC).
To expedite the pivot towards electric vehicles or EVs, the meeting was told that a policy regarding local manufacturing of solar motorbikes was also said to be in the final stage.
PM meets GB governor
Separately on Tuesday, the Gilgit-Baltistan governor, Syed Mehdi Shah, met the prime minister to discuss the financial and political situation in the region.
The meeting was also attended by PM’s Advisor on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira.
Sources said the participants also discussed the strategy to dissolve the GB assembly to hold elections in the region in concurrence with the general elections.
The current government in the region, led by the PTI, will complete its tenure in December 2025.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Shah, who belongs to the PPP, said there was no need to send the PTI’s government home, as it would “fall by itself one day”.
He added that the issues faced by the region were discussed in the meeting.
The prime minister was told that many mega projects in the region have been delayed due to the unavailability of funds. The PM issued directives to release development and non-development funds for the region.
During the meeting, Mr Shah complained about the shortage of subsidised wheat in the region and requested to increase the funds allocated for distributing the grain at a reduced rate. He added the prime minister ordered the supply of subsidised wheat to GB from Islamabad.
Jamil Nagri in Gilgit also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2023
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