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Meeting with IMF chief was turning point for seuring .loan deal, Shehbaz Sharif

Following the staff-level agreement (SLA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a stand-by arrangement (SBY), Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said his meeting with the global lender’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in Paris was the “turning point” for Pakistan.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar held a press briefing on the recent $3 billion staff-level agreement reached with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) earlier today.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif expressed his gratitude to the IMF, highlighting the sacrifices made by Pakistan to avert a default.

He assured the public that they had managed to secure $4 billion, surpassing the $2 billion gap identified by the IMF.

Furthermore, during the recent Paris visit, discussions were held with the President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) regarding the financial crisis. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif requested assistance from the IDB, citing the $2 billion difference. To Pakistan’s relief, the IDB announced a commitment of $1 billion, offering much-needed support in these testing times.

Expressing gratitude for the aid received, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif acknowledged the invisible help from Allah. He also mentioned that the melting snow in Paris acted as a symbolic turning point.

A staff-level agreement has been reached, with the Executive Board meeting scheduled for July 12. Pakistan is set to receive $3 billion under this nine-month program, and installments will commence after the board meeting.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif extended his appreciation to the IMF, Ishaq Dar, and their team for their dedicated efforts in securing the agreement. He praised their round-the-clock work, which was aimed at benefiting Pakistan. However, he emphasized that this moment should not be regarded as a point of pride but rather as a moment of concern.

Stressing the need to break free from the cycle of loans, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif highlighted the progress made under Nawaz Sharif’s leadership until 2018. He mentioned the end of 20-hour load shedding and the swift progress of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. He also criticized the previous government for their mismanagement, alleging corruption and pocket-filling at the expense of the people.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif expressed hope that this would be the last IMF program for Pakistan, calling on the public to pray for it. He urged everyone to remember the economic burden borne by the people and emphasized the importance of economic stability. Furthermore, he announced an agreement with Azerbaijan for liquefied natural gas (LNG), showcasing efforts to diversify partnerships and boost economic growth.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the support of friendly countries during these challenging times. China’s rollover of $5 billion in commercial loans prevented Pakistan from defaulting. Saudi Arabia has pledged $2 billion, while the UAE has already provided $1 billion. Additionally, the Islamic Development Bank has committed $1 billion to assist Pakistan.

By successfully securing financial assistance, Pakistan has managed to avoid the looming threat of default. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif expressed gratitude to the President of Sri Lanka for his support and dismissed claims that Pakistan was becoming another Sri Lanka, pointing out that the country’s debt troubles would not end this way.

Furthermore, he addressed a conspiracy that targeted Pakistan’s economic stability, involving both internal and external adversaries. The Army Chief played a significant role in completing the loan program and supporting the country’s recovery efforts. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif outlined a comprehensive five-point plan, including measures to increase revenue.

The economic recovery plan for Pakistan involves collaboration between civilian and military leadership, as well as support from allied parties. The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of Gulf states’ investment, stating that it would not only benefit them but also generate employment opportunities for four million individuals in Pakistan.

Pakistan remains hopeful that through increased investment from Gulf states and the implementation of their economic recovery plan, they will be able to bid farewell to the IMF and achieve sustainable progress.

Minister of Finance, Ishaq Dar, said that had the 9th economic review taken place, the subsequent 10th and 11th reviews would have been unnecessary

Through daily discussions with the IMF, Pakistan’s delegation emphasized the importance of securing $2.5 billion to avoid any financial imbalances. The program’s duration was a key consideration, with the preference for a concise nine-month period.

Prime Minister’s relentless efforts in advocating for Pakistan’s economic stability bore fruit as the breakthrough occurred during discussions held in Paris. The letter of intent has been signed, paving the way for the first installment of $1 billion to be received following the executive board meeting scheduled for July 12.

Regarding the new budget, Ishaq Dar expressed reservations about a proposed tax of Rs. 215 billion in his closing speech. However, all previous conditions set forth by the IMF program have been successfully met.

Highlighting Pakistan’s resilience, Minister Dar refuted claims of the country facing default, emphasizing its status as an independent nation. Pakistan possesses substantial assets amounting to billions of dollars, reinforcing its position. The finance minister affirmed that Pakistan is not a beggar but rather a proud member of the IMF.

The ultimate objective is to restore Pakistan’s economy to its deserved position as the 24th largest in the world. Acknowledging the importance of the IMF program, Minister Dar reassured that alternative plans were available to safeguard Pakistan’s interests in case the program had not materialized.

Achieving economic stability is now the focus, and Minister Dar unveiled a future roadmap designed to halt the economic decline. He firmly stated that Pakistan will not face default and emphatically denied any comparisons to Sri Lanka, reinforcing the country’s commitment to financial integrity.

Significant progress has already been made, with $5 billion in commercial bank loans being successfully repaid, contributing to a reduction of $4 billion in external debt. Minister Dar expressed gratitude for China’s substantial assistance, which has played a vital role in boosting Pakistan’s overall reserves to $10 billion. The target is to further increase reserves to $14-15 billion by July.

In the new budget, there is an option to increase the petroleum development levy to Rs. 60 per liter. However, it has been decided to maintain an average rate limited to Rs. 55 per liter in the upcoming year

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