“More taxes,
more price-hike”:
IMF giving us
tough time: Shehbaz


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Tuesday his government was ready to take more “difficult and bold” decisions to steer the South Asian country out of a crippling economic crisis. 

The statement came as cash-strapped Pakistan continues to grapple with a widening balance-of-payment crisis, currency depreciation and double-digit inflation. 

The country is making desperate attempts to revive a $6 billion loan program it secured from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2019, which would release around $1 billion and help unlock funding from other external sources. 

In order to meet IMF conditions, the Sharif government has withdrawn all subsidies on petroleum products and electricity as well as introduced a $47 billion budget for 2022-23, aimed at tight fiscal consolidation. 

“We have assumed this responsibility in acutely difficult times, and God willing, we’ll fulfil this responsibility,” the prime minister said, while speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting in Islamabad. 

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaking to media after the cabinet meeting in Islamabad on Tuesday.

“We have taken difficult and bold decisions, and will do more if needed to fix the country’s economy.” 

PM Sharif said his government would not hesitate to take any step to strengthen the country’s dwindling economy. “We will be working diligently and I am sure good times will come,” he said. 

The prime minister said they inherited a “big economic challenge” due to the poor economic policies of the former Imran Khan administration. 

He said the previous government slashed oil prices to lay a trap, when they were sky high in the world, which was entirely based on “ill intention.” 

“If they had cared about public difficulties and problems, they would have left an example of public welfare,” PM Sharif said. 

He said the whole world was facing an economic crunch due to soaring oil and commodity prices. 

“We have decided in this budget, where we had to raise oil prices with a heavy heart, we have provided relief to 70 million people by giving Rs2,000 each to the needy,” the prime minister said. 

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairing meeting of Federal Cabinet in Islamabad on Tuesday.

“We decided to offset pressure on the poor and will impose tax on the rich, even if it is for one time to reassure the poor and widows that this coalition government is trying to provide relief to them.” 

He hoped the affluent would happily share the burden in these difficult times and this would help the government collect hundreds of billion rupees in taxes. 

Shehbaz Sharif said that unfortunately, they had inherited severe economic crises left behind by the previous government, but with hard work and dedication, the collation government would steer the country out of the current challenges.

Speaking to media after chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet, the prime minister, in an apparent reference to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, said that it had left behind a backlog of worst and imprudent economic policies, tainted with poor performance.

Criticizing his predecessors, he said the previous government reduced petroleum prices at the time of their exit from power corridors which smack of conspiracy and based upon ill-will.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairing meeting of Federal Cabinet in Islamabad on Tuesday.

“If they had any concerns and felt pains for the people, they ought to leave behind a precedent of serving the masses by providing any relief in their three and half years rule, so that it can be said that they had worked for the people,” the prime minister regretted.

The prime minister said that these were hard times, and they had taken difficult and bold decisions and hinted that if required in future, they would take such like steps for the economic turnaround.

“We will not budge from taking the necessary steps to set country’s economy on the right track with hard work and nation’s prayers,” he stressed.

The coalition government was determined to steer the country out of the current economic crises by striving day and night.

Expressing his optimism, the prime minister said it was his strong conviction that the good times were in store for the country.

About the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement, the prime minister observed that the previous PTI’s government had promised to increase prices and impose taxes, but they retracted and violated the pact which they ought to abide by.

He said that due to such ploys by the previous government, today, the country was facing difficulty with the IMF. He also mentioned that global economic situation was complicated as the prices of petrol and grains were spiralling.

The government had decided to increase prices of petroleum products with heavy heart, he said, adding, under a decision in the budget, about 70 million people were being provided financial support worth millions of rupees through activation of a helpline.

The prime minister further explained that in the budget, they had decided to divert burden from the poor and levy tax upon the wealthy people.

He expressed the confidence that the affluent and wealthy class would pay taxes and offer sacrifice for the country and nation.