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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Thursday the government was going to take tough economic decisions to steer the country out of crisis assuring the protection of downtrodden segments of the society, state-run APP reported.

He said that the burden of these measures would primarily fall on the wealthy and elite, with safeguards in place to protect the interests of the poor and vulnerable.

Addressing the meeting of the Apex Committee of Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) here, the prime minister said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had concluded the review for issuance of the last tranche of US$1.1 billion that hopefully be received by the next month.

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After this, he said Pakistan also wanted to start another programme with the IMF for a period of three years during which the government will take strict measures to bring deep-rooted structural reforms in the country.

With the reforms, he said, “we will succeed in gradually breaking the begging bowl and come out of the debt trap”.

The prime minister sought support of all political parties and the provincial governments to successfully implement the agenda of macroeconomic stability in the country.

“For this, we will have to work together. With the support of all the provinces, we will together resolve all the challenges and difficulties faced by the country”, he added.

PM Shehbaz said the presence of chief ministers of all the provincial governments, Army Chief, and other concerned officials from across the country conveyed a clear message to the nation that all had gathered here for the cause of the country’s development, prosperity and integrity.

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He said the SIFC was formed in June 2023 to remove bottlenecks in the investment process and since then nine meetings of the Apex Committee have been held besides more than 200 relevant meetings. Consequent to the meetings, he said a number of important decisions had been taken and implemented under the umbrella of the Council.

The prime minister pointed out that when the PDM government took over the charge of the government in 2022, Pakistan was at the brink of bankruptcy but all the coalition partners decided to save the country from plunging into default by putting their politics at stake.

He said unfortunately a major chunk of the country’s resources drained down in shape of corruption. “This year’s target of tax collection is Rs9 trillion but its potential was over Rs1.3 trillion.

Similarly, he said the cases of the taxes worth Rs2.7 trillion were pending either in the tribunals or courts and should have been resolved as soon as possible.

The annual power theft is around Rs400 billion in the country while the combined circular debt of electricity and gas was over Rs5 trillion, the prime minister added.

As regards the achievements of the interim government under SIFC, the prime minister informed that the caretaker setup, due to its measures against power theft, saved Rs87 billion. Similarly, strict measures were also taken to curb smuggling besides introducing reforms in the land information system. Besides, it also successfully concluded the privatization process of the Heavy Mechanical Complex (HMC).

The prime minister highlighted that annually hundreds of billions of rupees were lost in the State-Owned Enterprises as PIA alone owed debt worth Rs825 billion. Likewise, he said that the interim government also signed many important agreements with different countries to bring investment in the country including that with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) valuing $10 billion.

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Doc Asad Mar 21, 2024 10:00pm
First ministers should cut down their protocol expenses and allowances to start from themselves.
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