Pakistan is IMF member, no beggar: Dar

Mehtab Haider
Sunday, Apr 09, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar has said that Pakistan is not a beggar but a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) and no one can stop the country’s delegation from attending its meetings. In a televised speech on Saturday, he said that one friendly country had given re-confirmation on $2 billion additional support for Pakistan to the IMF and confirmation was awaited from another friendly country on $1 billion support.

The minister said those who had created the constitutional crisis must have thought about its timings, whether it was the right time or wrong. He said that elections would not be held in 90 days as it did not happen when Benazir Bhutto got martyred and also on some other occasions; so elections were not going to be held this time as well.

About the IMF programme, Dar said after getting this last confirmation of $1 billion, all requirements of the IMF would be fulfilled for signing the Staff Level Agreement.

On cross-fuel subsidy planned by the government, he said that details of the schemes were shared with the IMF and they raised queries that were properly replied because there was no subsidy from the budget.

With regard to the revival of IMF programme, he said that he had attended the annual meetings of IMF/WB in October 2022 and invited the Fund for holding review talks in November 2022 for the completion of the 9th Review. But due to unknown reasons, they came here on January 31, 2023 and talks continued till February 9, 2023. It were the toughest negotiations but got completed and all agreed prior actions implemented despite the fact that the compliance on prior actions was asked before striking the Staff Level Agreement, which usually had to be complied with before the Board meeting, he added.

But on their demands, the government-imposed taxes of Rs170 billion and also undertook other measures to fulfill their demands.

He said that one senior member of the last PTI government had given a statement about laying landmines prior to the no-confidence move, adding that they had laid down landmines against the country and the nation.

Dar said that on the occasion of 7th and 8th Reviews, two friendly countries had committed to help Pakistan on external accounts in writing. It caused delays in striking the Staff Level Agreement due to non-fulfillment of the commitments.

He said that he was scheduled to go to the United States in early hours of Sunday for attending the IMF/WB meetings. “I have scheduled 40 meetings which used to be 58 last time, including interviews.”

He said a constitutional crisis was created as the Supreme Court bench got shrunk from nine to three judges with the verdict to release Rs21 billion for holding elections in Punjab. He said he did not want to go into debate of scheme of things as the debate also continued in parliament.

This verdict of SC, he said, bound the government to release the amount to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) till April 10, 2023, and the ECP was given the direction to apprise the apex court about the released funds on April 11, 2023.

As a cabinet member, it was his responsibility to look into the funding arrangements. In such circumstances, he had to drop his visit on the prime minister’s directives. There was nothing unusual in it because he would participate in the IMF and World Bank meetings virtually.

Pakistan’s delegation, including the finance secretary, State Bank of Pakistan governor and Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, would attend the spring meetings and wherever needed, he would join virtually. “There is nothing unique as some are saying that I was barred by the IMF. The Fund cannot bar me as Pakistan is a member country of the IMF and World Bank. Pakistan is not a beggar and no one can stop us from attending the meetings,” he said.

He recalled when Pakistan conducted the nuclear tests back in 1998 and the IMF programme got suspended, the Pakistani delegation still attended the meetings in October 1998 and he was a part of the team.

“Some are writing that I could not get a nod on the desired meetings while some are saying that I should have gone by putting domestic crisis aside,” Dar said and added that loose talk should be avoided.

He said that despite facing a severe economic crunch, Pakistan did not delay its repayment for a minute. Pakistan has paid out its foreign debt obligations to the tune of $11 billion in the current fiscal year. He asked for not painting a gloomy picture of the country’s economy. “God willing, Pakistan will make its future repayments on time,” he said.

The finance minister said that the previous government had made Pakistan the 47th economy of the world but the PMLN had made it the 24th economy in 2017. It was predicted to become the 20th largest economy of the world but there was a need to ask from those who hatched a conspiracy through the drama of Panama (Leaks) and had imposed a person by rigging the elections. Because of such reasons, the country faced a crisis.

“The delay in the IMF programme is not because of the incumbent government,” he said, adding, they were thankful to the friendly countries for extending support. Pakistan will get this support soon and the Staff Level Agreement will be struck.

He said that different schemes were under preparation, which would help give the country a new direction. The ongoing downslide (in the economy) has been stopped and Pakistan will move towards the trajectory of growth, he hoped.