ISLAMABAD: Terming the new International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme as “highly critical” as it involves all the four provinces, the economic czar of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial government Muzzammil Aslam on Monday called for a national level consultation with regard to decisions pertaining to provinces as demanded by the global lender.

Speaking at a presser here, he said that if the federal government agrees with the IMF to shift the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) to provinces and accepts its demand to reassess the National Finance Commission (NFC) formula, without taking the provinces into confidence, it will create a big crisis in the country.

He said that increasing the petroleum levy to Rs100 per litre from the existing rate of Rs60 per litre along with 18 percent sales tax on petrol besides jacking up the prices of gas and power to meet the IMF’s fiscal tightening conditions to unlock the new programme, is unprecedented.

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Aslam warned that a slight change in the composition of the NFC award would disturb and shake up the entire financial system of the provinces since they got the lion’s share from the center.

He revealed that the IMF was demanding to end the public sector development programme (PSDP), which would shift all the burden of the federally-sponsored projects to the provinces and would further escalate the financial woes of the federating units.

However, he accepted that Pakistan’s prevailing economic woes warranted a new IMF programme, which the PTI would support, but the government should not take a solo flight to hammer out a deal to further plunge the country deep into the quagmire.

He said that Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb was earlier excluded from the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), but Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif suddenly changed his mind to make him head of the economic body by showing his inability to chair the ECC meetings.

He also expressed surprise that despite the lapse of several days, the IMF’s Executive Board meeting is yet to be held and the lender may delay its board meeting until the release of Pakistan’s economic indicators.

He said that the IMF agreement was successfully completed due to PTI founding chairman Imran Khan as an IMF team had sought a formal meeting with Khan before entering into a formal agreement with Pakistani authorities.

About PTI’s letter to the IMF, he noted that the letter PTI wrote to IMF was not meant to block the financial package, which was evident from the lender’s reply in which it stated that IMF encouraged the fair and peaceful resolution of all electoral disputes but had a narrow mandate on economic issues and it did not comment on domestic political developments.

He lashed out at Information Minister Atta Tarar for accusing PTI of writing a letter to the European Union (EU) to revoke Pakistan’s GSP+ status, saying the minister is acting more like a PML-N media cell’s information minister.

Speaking on the occasion, PTI Central Secretary Information Raoof Hasan demanded that the EU polls observer mission to public its fact-based report outlining serious irregularities in the election process, which was handed over to the government recently.

“I call upon the EU to publish its report in its unaltered form to strengthen the fight for genuine democracy and reinforcement of human rights policies in Pakistan,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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Mustafa Mar 26, 2024 09:40am
Those who openly lied after signing agreement should remain silent at least in this matter ..
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