PM hopes current bailout package will be Pakistan’s last IMF programme

In televised address to nation, Shehbaz Sharif vows tough reforms, collective effort for national progress

News Desk June 15, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is addressing the nation. SCREENGRAB

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addressed the nation on Saturday, outlining a series of bold reforms aimed at reducing government expenses, improving the economy, and raising the standard of living for all Pakistanis.

In his televised address, the prime minister emphasised that every penny will be spent on the progress of the nation and its people, ensuring that the nation will not be burdened. He announced a commitment to reduce expenses and, within five years, provide education and skills to the youth.“Inshallah, this will be the last IMF programme in Pakistan's history. We will stand on our feet and surpass our neighbouring countries in economic activity.”

"Based on my personal and political experience, there is no progress and success without going through hardships. Therefore, sacrifices must be made to guarantee prosperity," Sharif said. "By taking these actions, we will raise Pakistanis to the level of the rest of the world."

Sharif highlighted the importance of tough decisions for the sake of the nation, stating, "I will not come under pressure from anyone, and hopefully, we will become a great nation. I cannot do this alone; I need your help every step of the way. Without that, this great dream cannot be achieved. This project is being initiated from the affluent class. Let's all pledge to work together to change the fate of our nation."

“There are examples worldwide where nations have only approached the IMF once and learned their lesson. We have gone to the IMF 24-25 times. Inshallah, this will be the last IMF programme in Pakistan's history. We will stand on our feet and surpass our neighbouring countries in economic activity. I informed foreign nations that I am here for trade relations, not to ask for loans. I believe this is how Pakistan will break the debt cycle," he added.

"In order to make our industries competitive in the global market, we have reduced the electricity tariff for them by about Rs10.5, which is a historic step and a quantum jump," he said, adding, "Rs200 billion worth of burden will be relieved in this way. The PSX, after the budget announcement, saw a historic rally, reaching around 77,000 points."

Sharif acknowledged the economic disparity in the country, noting that while the poor struggle to have one meal a day, the affluent class spends millions on weddings. "The poor man is struggling to have one meal, whereas people on the other end of the spectrum earn millions in profits without even doing anything," he said. "The affluent class spends millions on weddings, while the poor struggle to get their children married."

The prime minister praised overseas Pakistanis who sent $3 billion in remittances in April, showing their belief in Pakistan’s prosperous future. "In Punjab, a Rs20 billion endowment fund has been established for children," he said. "In FATA and Balochistan, hundreds and thousands of children will also get education under an endowment fund."

Sharif announced a five-year plan to shut down corrupt ministries, using the saved money to repay debts. "We have decided that the government will save on expenses wherever we can and will not establish more industries, will not be involved in running industries, and will work with the private sector," he said.

The prime minister also highlighted the need to combat corruption and inefficiency, particularly in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), which is being 100% digitalised. "Incompetent people in the FBR have been sidelined, and better and competent people have been brought forth," he said. "This year, we have seen a 30% increase in revenue collection."

Sharif called for a collective effort to achieve these goals. "Every terrorist, smuggler, power thief, and tax evader is an enemy of the economy," he said. "I salute each Pakistani who pays their taxes and fulfils their responsibilities, those who pay their utility bills in times of crisis, and traders who follow all the right protocols. Salute to political parties that worked together and saved Pakistan from defaulting by letting go of politics of self-interest."

He invoked the vision of Quaid-e-Azam and the sacrifices made for Pakistan’s independence. "There is no point in crying and complaining. We must learn from the past, understand what we have lost, and how we can regain Pakistan's status. It is difficult but not impossible if the entire nation decides to destroy self-interest to help the underserved," he said.

Prime Minister Shehbaz emphasised the imperative for his government to eliminate excess expenses. He pointed out that Pakistan's Public Distribution Programme (PDP) is part of ministries entangled in corruption cycles. “Their total benefits, perks, and the funds allocated to them amount to hundreds of billions of rupees, resulting in significant corruption that has persisted for decades,” he said. “As a result, I have decided to shut down such ministries that burden the people and the economy. It is my duty to eliminate these corrupt entities. A committee has been established for this purpose.

“In a couple of months, this will bear fruit, and I will present the results to you. This step alone will lead to the saving of millions of rupees. God willing, within a month and a half, there will be positive results to share with all of you," he added.

At the beginning of his address, the prime minister sent Eidul Azha wishes to the nation and commented on the rising death toll in the Gaza conflict, which has reached almost 40,000. “Such devastating visuals have never been seen before,” he said. He also spoke about the situation in Kashmir, stating, “The valley is covered in the blood of our Kashmiri brothers and sisters.” He prayed for the progress and liberation of Kashmir.

He highlighted that the economic situation in 2022 was evident to everyone, as Pakistan was saved from defaulting, crediting PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif for this achievement. “We delivered on our promises… Pakistan is on the road to progress and development now,” he said.

“I have just returned from China, a brother nation to us. Deals worth millions of dollars have been made. I also visited the UAE, where millions of dollars were pledged. Interim PM Anwarul Haq Kakar and COAS Asim Munir have met with them as well. These deals are finalised, and the groundwork has been laid for these trade relations to develop and prosper in the coming years. However, we must ensure that internal economic activity is thriving first."

The prime minister announced that China will train 300,000 Pakistanis annually to help spread IT throughout Pakistan, enabling the country to join the global race. He acknowledged that the road ahead is not only long and difficult but also demands sacrifices from both government personnel and the salaried class. He vowed to bring a revolution of progress and development in Pakistan.

“After being elected in February, thanks to your vote, our efforts have resulted in a drop in inflation from 38%, which is a welcome and significant development,” he said. He added that the interest rate has also been reduced from 22% to 20%, which will help trade and commerce flourish in the country.

“This is the progress of the last three and a half months,” he said, noting that 100 days of the government have been completed. “Yesterday, petrol prices saw another decrease of over Rs10 per litre, and HSD prices reduced by almost Rs3,” he remarked. “This will provide the nation some respite in these times.”

He acknowledged that this is not enough due to the rise in inflation over the last couple of years. The needs of the average family have taken a hit, he said, adding that the government will work harder to reduce inflation, promote trade, encourage investment and increase economic activity, provide education to the youth, and instill relevant skills in them to establish them as pillars of their families. 

“We boast numerous economic and industrial giants. We need the capacity and expertise that is currently lacking in the country. But in these three months, capacity has been introduced, and progress is being made. In the coming year, the targets set are challenging, but we will collectively work towards them and eliminate gaps," he said. “This is our broader vision, and under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, we are taking this approach further,” he added.

Sharif concluded by calling for a collective effort to achieve these goals, invoking the vision of Quaid-e-Azam and the sacrifices made for Pakistan’s independence. “This will bring us closer to what Quaid-e-Azam had dreamed of, for which millions sacrificed their lives. If we continue to make sacrifices, nothing will be able to stop us… no sea or mountain will be too difficult to overcome.”


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