Shehbaz confident of IMF agreement this month

Saturday, Jan 28, 2023

By News Desk

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday expressed confidence that Pakistan would conclude a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the current month in a bid to overcome the financial challenges.

Speaking at the launch of the Green Line train service between Islamabad and Karachi, the Prime Minister said the headway in talks with the IMF would help the country address the current economic situation.

The IMF delegation will be visiting Islamabad from January 31 to February 9 to continue discussions regarding the ninth review of the $7 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

The Prime Minister emphasised the adoption of austerity measures at a massive scale to tackle difficult economic problems. He said the government had set its priority keeping in view its foreign exchange reserves, thus allowing the import of medicine and food as essential items.

He said courageous nations stand united while braving the challenges with resilience. PM Sharif expressed confidence that with dedication and commitment, the country would soon regain its glory.

He regretted the Green Line project, which was initiated during the tenure of then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was delayed by the previous government with “mala fide intention”. He endorsed the idea of outsourcing Pakistan Railways to make it better equipped and at par with contemporary services. The Prime Minister said Main Line-1 (ML-1) railway track was a top priority of the government and mentioned that China was committed to its early completion.

He pointed out the previous government indulged in baseless accusations of corruption against Chinese companies, and stressed that the coalition government was working on restoring the ties.

The new train service comprising modern coaches imported from China was launched from the Margalla train station in Islamabad. The Prime Minister visited various coaches of the train and appreciated the services provided for the passengers to make their journey comfortable. The Green Line train will have stops at the stations at Rawalpindi, Chaklala, Lahore, Khanewal, Bahawalpur, Rohri, Hyderabad and Drigh Road, Karachi. The turnaround time of the Green Line is set at 22 hours, which will be reduced gradually.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq said the ticket would cover breakfast, lunch, hi-tea, and dinner, besides Wi-Fi. Apart from this, he added, high-quality bedding and utility kits will also be provided to the passengers.

He said Pakistan Railways would formulate rules for the approval of the cabinet in the next few days regarding the collection of revenue from its land.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said Pakistan had become the 24th largest economy in the world under the leadership of then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said the delay in development projects by the previous government caused irreparable losses to the country. Meanwhile, the IMF said in a statement late Thursday that a review team will arrive in Islamabad on Tuesday in a bid to break the deadlock over releasing more financial aid.

“At the request of the authorities, an in-person Fund mission is scheduled to visit Islamabad from January 31 to February 9 in order to continue the discussions under the ninth EFF review,” IMF Resident Representative in Pakistan Esther Pérez Ruiz told

The representative mentioned the delegation would be focusing on several policy areas during their meetings with the Pakistani officials, who are now taking steps to meet the Fund’s prerequisites for the programme’s revival.

“The mission will focus on policies to restore domestic and external sustainability, including to strengthen the fiscal position with durable and high-quality measures while supporting the vulnerable and those affected by the floods; restore the viability of the power sector and reverse the continued accumulation of circular debt; and reestablish the proper functioning of the FX market, allowing the exchange rate to clear the FX shortage.”

Stronger policy efforts and reforms, she said, were critical to reducing the current elevated uncertainty that weighs on the outlook, strengthening Pakistan’s resilience, and obtaining financing support from official partners and the markets that were vital for Pakistan’s sustainable development.