IMF lacks trust as PTI govt reneged on pact: PM

Shehbaz stresses need for country to stand on its feet


Rizwan Shehzad   June 23, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) lacked trust in Pakistan because the previous PTI government had violated the pact it had made with the global lender.

“The IMF was adamant that the government must fulfil all the conditions earlier agreed upon because we don’t trust you [Pakistan],” the premier said while speaking to the senators of his party, the PML-N.

“The biggest credibility of the State is to fulfil its commitments. “Either, they [PTI government] shouldn’t have accepted those conditions and told the IMF that they couldn’t [do it],” he added. “But they accepted the conditions, signed the agreement and then violated it.”

“Today, the IMF tells us that you are also Pakistan’s government; how can we trust you? It was a difficult part and more difficulties will come.”

PM Shehbaz said that the previous government had neither passed on the increase in the prices of petroleum products to the people, nor reduced them when they were down in the international markets.

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“The PTI government had agreed with the IMF that it would increase the petroleum levy of Rs30 and also given the nod to increase 17% general sales tax,” he pointed out.

 “One by one, they violated all the conditions.”

 For example, he said, the PTI government had decreased the prices of petroleum products when they were highest in the international markets -- an action they did not take in its 3.5-year tenure.

“In March this year, when they [PTI government] saw that they could be defeated through a no-confidence motion they suddenly announced decreasing oil prices at a time when the prices were the highest around the world.”

He added that neither funding was arranged for it nor it was decided in the federal cabinet, maintaining that it was a landmine laid down for the upcoming government.

The PM said the coalition government deliberated upon the empty national kitty, exuberant subsidies and the overall mess left behind for it by the PTI regime for a month or so, but then decided that the State came before politics and, painfully, increased prices.

“The survival of politics is linked with the survival of the State.”

Claiming that he would never deceive the nation, PM Shehbaz said he would not make towering claims that he would bring Rs300 billion to the country; end corruption within 90 days; and make a new Pakistan.

He further said the deal with the IMF had been agreed upon. He added that there would not be any further delay in inking the deal if the global lender did not come up with any other condition

However, he clarified that no change would come overnight because of the IMF deal, saying the country needed to solidify its financial condition.

He hoped that the IMF deal would pave the way for funds from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, other money lending institutions and Islamic countries.

“The progress of the country would then be the responsibility of the prime minister, cabinet, coalition government and the institutions and the only priority should be the betterment of the country and sacrifice all the wishes surrounding it.

Read more PM Shehbaz hails budget for taxing the rich

“We have to rise above the personal liking and disliking.”

Admitting that budget brought difficulties for the people, he said the government had given an amount of Rs2,000 to each poor family to provide some relief, pledging that more such actions would be taken.

The premier said the government would impose “genuine taxes” on the net income of wealthy citizens. He regretted that the previous government had rolled back all the “good” initiatives of the PML-N government, including the laptop scheme.

PM Shehbaz regretted that the previous PTI government had “strained” Pakistan’s ties with China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the UAE.

However, the premier vowed to make things work again, saying he firmly believed that it was never too late. “It’s difficult but not impossible,” he said, while referring to the “damaged relationship” with other countries.

Calling the PTI government’s several decisions “mega blunders”, including opting not to buy cheaper gas, the premier said it was now the responsibility of the coalition government to turn around things in favour of Pakistan.

The PM also regretted that the PTI government had criticised China knowing that it was the country, which helped Pakistan in its most difficult times.

He added that the neighbouring countries had progressed a lot in the last 75 years, while referring to the $2.3 billion loan, which Pakistan obtained from China. He also expressed his gratitude to China for assisting Pakistan during these trying times.

Despite criticism by the PTI government, he said, the Chinese leadership had said that they were ready to continue ML-1 and other projects.

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He recalled that the previous government had said it could solve the Kashmir dispute without help from Saudi Arabia. “There is no gain in making friendly countries angry for no reason. To rise as a respectful nation, Pakistan will have to work hard.”

PM Shehbaz said Pakistan was facing problems because it was still asking for loans from other countries, including receiving monetary support from China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and other Muslim countries.

“These countries have extended economic, political and diplomatic support [to Pakistan] in the most difficult circumstances.”

He added that these countries had progressed just because they determined their way forward and worked hard to achieve their goals, adding that Pakistan could also do that if it decided to bring a change in the country.

“How long will China help us; it must be wondering how long will they [Pakistan] keep begging from us,” PM Shehbaz said. “Saudi Arabia is our brotherly country, but it must be thinking when they [Pakistanis] will stand on their feet.”

Referring to the copper and gold deposit at Reko Diq, the PM regretted that Pakistan had not yet utilised these resources and provided any relief to the people.

“It’s not the nation’s fault. It’s the fault of the leadership, which rightly or wrongly dealt with the matter,” he added.

“A treasure is buried and Pakistan has not yet been able to change its condition [through it].”

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