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IMF talks: Pakistan to seek 'break' on rates of petroleum product, says Miftah

  • Prior to departure to Doha, finance minister expresses hope of loan-rollover by Saudi Arabia and UAE
Updated 23 May, 2022

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail prior to his departure to Doha to meet the International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation on Monday said that his team would seek a ‘’break’’ from the international lender, as the government could not hike the prices of petroleum products.

Battling a widening current account deficit amid a hike in import bill, and depleting foreign exchange reserves, Pakistan seeks a revival of the stalled $6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme. Experts have said that the resumption of the IMF programme is crucial, as a green signal from the international lender would pave for further funding from other creditors.

“A few weeks ago the IMF mission informed us that they would not visit Pakistan, due to an expected ‘long march’ announced by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan,” said Miftah while talking to media persons.

Criticising the former prime minister, Miftah said that the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping was canceled due to Imran Khan's sit-in in 2014. “He (Imran Khan) always put personal interests first,” said Miftah, adding that the PTI chairman has been obstructing progress.

He said that the former prime minister alongside then finance minister Shaukat Tarin made an agreement with the IMF to increase the price of petroleum products.

“As per the agreement made between Imran Khan and Shaukat Tarin with the IMF, the government should increase diesel and petrol price by Rs150 and Rs100 per litre, respectively,” he said.

“However, I will tell the IMF that the Pakistani public could not bear such a massive increase in POL rates, therefore, I would ask the international lender to give us a break in this regard,” said Miftah, adding that the nation cannot afford increase in petrol prices at present.

‘Long march’ to Islamabad on 25th

Miftah said that claims made by Tarin are ‘laughable’, saying that the Imran-led cabinet left Rs1,300 billion worth of primary trade deficit in the country and described their decisions as a “landmine” for the new coalition government.

“The last government borrowed Rs20,000 billion, the highest in the country’s history,” he said.

“Pakistan has to pay back $21 billion next year, including deposits by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE),” said the finance minister. “However, we are optimistic that the government would be able to have a re-rollover of deposits from the UAE and KSA,” he said.

The finance minister was however hopeful that he would reach an agreement with the IMF. “In two days, we would reach an agreement with the IMF, and bring positive development from the lender,” he said.

Miftah said that due to Imran, there is a shortage of fuel in the country today. He also damaged the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) agreement, he added.

Earlier on Sunday, Tarin said that the economic performance of PTI government was much better than that of the present coalition government which he claimed has completely failed to resolve the economic issues.

Addressing a press conference, Tarin urged for setting up an interim government and assured his full support to the interim government to overcome the ongoing economic crisis.

“With the poor performance of the present government, Pakistan is gradually moving towards the bankruptcy and there is a need to immediately form a strong interim government to hold general elections. We will fully support the interim government, but not this government, to bring the economy on the right track”, he said.


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