ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has termed the $3 billion nine-month Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) a breathing space, but stressed converting it into an opportunity through vision, unity, and strategy to achieve sustainable development.
The premier addressing at the meeting of the federal cabinet also appreciated the role of Chief of the Army Staff General Asim Munir for his efforts in bringing financial support from friendly countries.
He said while keeping in their respective jurisdictions, the institutions should make a united effort for at least the next 15 years to address the country’s economic woes.
He said under the IMF deal, Pakistan would receive the first installment of $1.1 billion in July. The prime minister was however of the view that the agreement with the IMF should not be taken as a matter of pride but a matter of concern.
The prime minister said that during the remaining 40-42 days of the government’s term, the cabinet members should make efforts to leave behind a policy framework providing a roadmap and a vision for future development.
The agreement with the IMF, he said is “a moment of concern” and urged all the national institutions to make concerted efforts to rid the country of loans and put it on the course to progress.
He said the country’s deliverance from loans required a vision, unity, hard work, and sacrifice by the affluent people. “If we opt for this course, no one can stop Pakistan from achieving progress,” he remarked.
The prime minister thanked all of his cabinet members, particularly, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his team, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, and the managing director of the IMF for their respective roles to make Pakistan achieve the nine-month stand-by agreement of $3 billion.
“I pray that this is the last IMF deal. But this is easier said than done,” he commented and mentioned that the state-owned enterprises such as Steel Mills, the PIA, and others were eating up around Rs600 billion annually.
He also thanked the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, for his role in the IMF agreement and for offering his further role in the process, if needed.
The prime minister spoke highly of Chinese support during the last three months by rolling over $5 billion of sovereign and commercial banks’ loans which was unprecedented.
He said the situation would have been different if China had not made this rollover. “The people of Pakistan should never forget this,” he remarked.
The prime minister also thanked Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the Islamic Development Bank for committing $2 billion, and $1 billion each respectively for Pakistan. He particularly appreciated the role of Army Chief Staff General Asim Munir for his efforts to bring in the support of a total $3 billion from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The prime minister said the whole Muslim Ummah including the government and people of Pakistan strongly condemned another incident of burning a copy of holy Quran in Sweden.
“We demand immediate action against the perpetrator. Unfortunately, this is not the first time as a similar incident had also taken place in the past,” he remarked.
He also demanded of the Swedish government to take notice of the Islamophobic and hateful narrative against the Muslim population in their country.
Prime Minister Shehbaz appreciated the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation for convening an urgent meeting on the issue and said that Pakistan endorsed their meeting and decision, with a hope that such Islamophobic incidents did not recur in the future.
Earlier, PM Sharif felicitated the business community and the nation on the unprecedented surge of the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX).
He said as a result of staff-level agreement and a $3 billion standby arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the trust of investors and the business community was rapidly reviving.
After Pakistan’s agreement with the IMF, the PSX opened with a surge of 5.38 per cent, or 2,231 points on Monday. In a statement issued by the PM Office, Shehbaz Sharif said the government’s continued struggle and prudent policies had started bearing fruits as signs of the country’s economic revival were rising.
He said just as between 2013 and 2018 the PML-N government succeeded to free Pakistan from the energy crisis, terrorism and other problems, and brought economic development, it would bring Pakistan on the path of development and prosperity with the same spirit.
Shehbaz Sharif vowed to continue the journey of economic stability and national development with the same direction, spirit, and struggle.
He said now the development process in all sectors including agriculture, information technology and industry would be expedited. Then, he said the inflation would subside and youth would be empowered by providing them employment and business opportunities.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023