SBP bill hands over economy's reins to IMF: Abbasi

Former prime minister calls for reversing the bill to evolve consensus

Khalid Mehmood January 17, 2022


Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan on Monday said that by bulldozing the bill regarding the autonomy of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the government has virtually handed over the reins of the country’s economy to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), warning the “economic surrender” will result in havoc.

“The governor of the state bank has been made the second most powerful person. It will be difficult for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to smoothly manage the national affairs and development process,” he said while addressing a press conference.

The PML-N leader called for bringing the bill back from the upper house to the National Assembly so that a consensus can be evolved.

The ruling party on January 13 bulldozed its Finance (Supplementary) Bill, generally known as the "mini-budget", and the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill 2021 amid fierce objection from the opposition benches.

Also read: Opposition blasts IMF-backed bills, power tariff hike

The finance bill and the SBP bill, both tabled on Dec 30, are necessary to ensure that Pakistan’s sixth review of the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility gets cleared by the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) executive board.

“The government will now be subject to the will of the SBP to undertake any policy for the betterment of the people as it will be bound by the law to conform to the state bank,” the former premier said during Monday's presser.

He added that the SBP was granted absolute autonomy whereby it will no longer be answerable to the government or the parliament.

While cautioning about the consequences of the bill, Mr Abbasi feared that the conditions which were previously imposed by the international financial institutions will now be imposed by the SBP.

He claimed that under the said law, SBP will replace the entire government apparatus to call the shots in matters pertaining to governance. “Neither the government nor the parliament will be able to remove the government, deputy governor and board members.”

The former prime minister warned that the state bank will also use its powers to exchange Pakistan's economic information with the IMF and others countries.


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