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Pakistan

PM Shehbaz asks authorities to 'immediately engage' IMF regarding Extended Fund Facility

  • Premier directs authorities concerned to prepare an action plan on an emergency basis to revive the national economy
Published March 4, 2024

Newly-elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Monday directed authorities concerned to “immediately engage” with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to advance discussions regarding the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), Radio Pakistan reported.

He gave these directions while presiding over a meeting to review strategies for the country’s economic revival and growth in Islamabad hours after he was elected the premier.

The premier also asked the authorities concerned to prepare an action plan on an emergency basis to revive the national economy.

The development comes days after Bloomberg News reported that Pakistan plans to seek a new loan of at least $6 billion from the IMF to help the incoming government repay billions in debt due this year.

The country will seek to negotiate an Extended Fund Facility with the IMF, the report said, adding that the talks with the global lender were expected to start in March or April.

Pakistan averted default last summer thanks to a short-term IMF bailout, but the programme expires next month and a new government will have to negotiate a long-term arrangement to keep the $350-billion economy stable.

In his first meeting with the finance team, PM Shehbaz declared that his administration would endeavor to enhance the nation’s economic climate by encouraging investment and supporting the business community.

He said economic revitalisation stands as the foremost priority of his administration, and there is an urgent need for decisive action to address pressing economic concerns.

He stressed the importance of providing the necessary infrastructure and support to entrepreneurs and investors to foster a conducive business environment.

The Prime Minister also underscored the government’s resolve to reduce bureaucratic hurdles and create an enabling environment for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

This initiative underscores the government’s commitment to securing external support for bolstering the country’s economic resilience.

During the session, Shehbaz Sharif was given a comprehensive briefing from the Finance Secretary on the current state of the national economy.

Discussions during the briefing revolved around key economic indicators, challenges, and potential solutions to stimulate economic recovery.

On the occasion, the Federal Board of Revenue’s clearance of tax refunds totaling 65 billion rupees was also announced, reflecting the government’s proactive measures to ease financial burdens on taxpayers and stimulate economic activity.

In line with the government’s agenda to streamline operations and enhance efficiency, Shehbaz Sharif ordered the formation of an E-committee to rationalize membership on government boards.

Moreover, directives were issued to expedite the transition to smart metering in the power and gas sectors, aimed at reducing line losses and improving service delivery.

The session concluded with a commitment to ongoing dialogue and collaboration with stakeholders across sectors to chart a path towards sustainable economic growth and prosperity.

Besides others, dignitaries, including Senator Masood Malik, Members of the National Assembly Ata Tarar, Shiza Fatima, Rominah Khurshid, Ahad Cheema, and Jehanzib Khan also attended the meeting.

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