‘Financial crisis compelled govt to turn to IMF’

Dr Hafeez Shaikh says govt’s policy centers around common man


NEWS DESK February 21, 2021
Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh talking to the media person in Islamabad on February 21, 2021. SCREENSHOT

ISLAMABAD:

Federal Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has said the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan had to seek help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in view of an economic crisis that the country was facing when the PTI came into power.

“Nobody wants to turn to the IMF. Prime Minister Imran Khan had to seek help from the lender due to an economic crisis. However, the economic situation of the country is improving,” the finance minister said on Sunday while talking to the media after meeting leaders of the allied parties.

“When the government took over the reins, the economic condition was really bad. Pakistan was facing a trade deficit of $20billion then. In this situation, we had to take some harsh decisions and now that trade deficit has turned into surplus,” he added.

He said despite the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s economy is recovering. The exports of India and Bangladesh are decreasing but Pakistan’s exports are on the rise. International institutions have also acknowledged the better economic performance of Pakistan, the minister claimed.

According to Dr Shaikh, the prime minister’s top priority is to reduce inflation and check rising prices of essential commodities.  He said it is a big challenge for the government to minimize tax on imported items and to stop hike in prices.

Also read: Economic indicators improving despite challenges: PM Imran

“The government’s policy revolves around the common man.  This is why we have raised the budget for the Ehsaas Programme from Rs100billion to Rs200billion. The government provides subsidy on a number of items available at the Utility Stores and 72% of the people get subsidy on electricity.

“[In view of the lockdowns imposed last year to stop the spread of coronavirus,] the government gave Rs12,000 each to around 150million families under the Ehsaas Cash Programme,” he added.

Talking with reference to the upcoming Senate elections, the federal minister said the contest for the Islamabad seat of the upper house is a political contest and not a personal conflict.

“The elected representatives will use their votes independently. We want to make the Senate elections transparent so that the nation may take pride in it,” he added. Dr Shaikh is the ruling party’s candidate for one of the two Senate general seats from Islamabad.  

On Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the country's economic indicators have been on a positive trajectory despite challenges faced by the country, including the coronavirus pandemic.