ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Finance, Aisha Ghaus Pasha has stated that almost all the prior actions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been fulfilled and the staff-level agreement is expected anytime.
While talking to media after the Senate Standing Committee on Finance meeting presided over by Senator Saleem Mandviwalla on Tuesday, she said that the subsidies received by the rich class are being removed and would be provided only to the poor.
The minister further stated that the country has fulfilled almost all the prior actions of the IMF and was optimistic about the staff-level agreement anytime soon. The minister said that the Parliament has approved the supplementary finance bill with regard to Rs170 billion in additional tax measures, and gas and power tariff was increased for those who consume more and subsidy will be limited to the poor only. In reply to a question, she said that a decision on the policy rate was the prerogative of the State Bank Monetary Committee.
Pasha said that the Fund requirement during the policy-level discussions was to prevent the flow of circular debt as well as to ensure full cost recovery of gas and power from the consumers except the very poor. She said an agreement was reached on the circular debt management plan after a threadbare discussion with the Fund during 10-day talks and the government agreed to provide targeted subsides to power consumers in order to reduce the gap of Rs875 billion to Rs170 billion. Pakistan would not default and the people should not pay any heed to the propaganda of bankruptcy, she said, adding that the country has fulfilled all its international obligations and would also do so in the future as well so the question of default does not arise.
Later on, while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance presided over by Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, Secretary Finance Hamid Yaqoob Sheikh said that the country’s economic challenges would not end instantly and would take at least two to three months, however, the country would be able to have access to external inflows after the staff-level agreement. He said that a major rollover of loan is expected in a day or two while another one in the ongoing week.
The meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance chaired by Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh was given a briefing on the IMF programme.
The secretary finance said that the IMF Executive Board meeting is expected in the first week of March after staff-level approval agreement. Once the staff-level agreement is approved, the country would be able to get funds from other international financial institutions and as a result, economic conditions will improve with the improvement of foreign exchange reserves. He said that there are also positive reports in international financial circles about Pakistan about the revival of the IMF programme. He said that Pakistan has already started getting positive indications.
The Senate Standing Committee has expressed disappointment over the working of the National Bank of Pakistan, especially about the termination to employees after Hafiz Abdul Samad Shaikh, ex OG-I NBP, Ghotki Branch appeared before the committee, to present his story that how he was removed from contractual service in 2015 after a NAB case from which he was later on exonerated.
The committee remarked that the NBP needs to adopt a more professional and fair treatment while running the organisation.
The committee directed the NBP for fair and just treatment.
The committee also directed the NBP to avoid any bad recommendations against him and also directed to reconsider the induction of the employee on sympathetic grounds if applied afresh. The committee also showed reservations about the conduct of the reps of the National Bank in the meeting.
The Senate Standing committee was also given a briefing by the Ministry of Finance on the budgetary proposals relating to the PSDP for the financial year 2023-24.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023