KARACHI: There was a lot of talk about Chinese debt and when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission came to Pakistan we shared data on the very first day, said Finance Minister Asad Umar.
“There is nothing really to hide. It is less than 10% of the public debt of Pakistan,” the minister said in a video interview with Bilal Lakhani for The Express Tribune.
Responding to a question on whether Chinese loans were an issue in IMF meetings, Umar said discussions were on policy measures and dealing with the extreme balance of payments crisis.
“There was a difference of opinion between us and the IMF and that’s what was taking long.” Umar shared that there was never any doubt in what direction the government should be headed to fix the economy.
“You could not be running losses of 1.7% of GDP in the electricity and gas sectors. Similarly, the fiscal deficit, which is running at 6.5-6.6%, is not sustainable.” He added, “So the direction is clear that you have to close these gaps but we want to go beyond that. Survival is not good enough. We have to undertake structural reforms which take us on a path of sustainable growth where you are not going through these repeated cycles that Pakistan has been facing.”
Talking about rupee devaluation and stagnant exports, Umar said the impact would be witnessed from April.
“In April, the new season will start and that’s when you will start to see a pickup in exports, so this is the month, the time has arrived, so let’s hope the export numbers are better.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2019.