“IMF doesn’t trust Pakistan, more difficult time to come”: Shehbaz

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Thursday that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) did not trust Pakistan because the previous government had gone back on its agreement with the institution. “In this odd situation, only this can be said that more difficult time has yet to come”, he stressed.

Addressing a meeting of his party’s senators in Islamabad on Thursday, the prime minister said the PTI-led government should not have agreed to the terms of the Fund if it had issues with it, adding that once an agreement was signed, it should have been enforced.

“The IMF was adamant on us fulfilling all the conditions of the agreement […] it was a difficult stage and I want to say that more difficulties are to come.”

The premier said the terms of the agreement with the IMF had been decided, expressing the hope that matters would be settled within the next few days. However, he warned that the situation would not improve overnight once a deal was signed.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaks to PML-N senators at the PM Office in Islamabad, on Thursday. 

“Will prosperity come overnight after an agreement is signed? Not at all […] we have to strengthen our financial position.”

He said that taking the nation towards prosperity was the responsibility of the government, the cabinet and state institutions. “We will have to rise above personal interests and work hard to take decisions which will make us prosper.”

He said that the government had provided a relief package wherein the common man would get Rs2,000 per month. “More measures will be taken to provide relief.”

Talking about the budget for the new fiscal year, PM Shehbaz said that “genuine taxes” were being imposed on the net income of wealthy citizens.

The premier said he would address the nation in the next few days to take them onboard regarding the steps taken by the government to improve the economic situation.

Reiterating his message of working together for the betterment of the country, the prime minister said nations were made through hard work, and blood, sweat and tears.

“This is the approach which we have to adopt and I am ready, along with our allied parties and institutions, to work together and this make this nation prosper.”

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

Shehbaz Sharif said that the country may witness more difficult times as it struggles to steer itself out of the ongoing economic crisis. The coalition government has recently taken some “tough” decisions, including a massive increase on petroleum prices.

PM Shehbaz Sharif, while addressing PML-N senators, said that some of his “companions” suggested making election reforms and announcing elections but the government plans to complete its constitutional term. “We faced many challenges when I took oath as the prime minister,” the premier said.

He said that the former government had struck a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to pass on the international prices of oil and gas.

PM Shehbaz Sharif said that the terms with the IMF have been finalised and the deal with the Fund will close soon, barring any other conditions set by the global lender.

Criticising the PTI government further, he said that the previous government never felt strongly about doing anything for widows and the poor. “They saw their defeat in March and so they lowered fuel prices,” the prime minister said, adding that they just arbitrarily made the decision.

The previous government signed a petroleum levy of Rs30 with the IMF, he said.

Speaking of lost opportunities, the premier said that “billions and trillions of treasures” are buried in Reko Diq “but we could not dig them out”. “This is the fault of the leadership which dealt with the matter in the wrong way,” he said.

The premier said that the PTI is facing scandals of gas and wheat exports. “They gave billions in subsidies, emptied the coffers, and the cartels had a field day,” he said. He went on to say that “it will no do good to look back and cry”.

Chinese loan

The premier also talked about the $2.3 billion loan from China, thanking the neighbouring country for extending their help during these trying times.

He attributed the country’s economic woes to the habit of asking for loans. He said that “crying over the past” would not fix existing issues. Our fate will change if we mend our ways and bring improvement, he said, adding that the country had been blessed with natural wealth and resources.

“How long will China help us? Saudi Arabia must be wondering when their brothers will learn to stand on their own two feet,” PM Shehbaz remarked.

PM Shehbaz also said that it caused the PML-N led coalition government great pain to hike petrol prices prices but said that its priorities were first the state, then politics.

PM Shehbaz, referring to the recently inked $2.3bn loan agreement with a Chinese consortium of banks, said: “How long will China help us?” “China and Saudi Arabia must be wondering when Pakistan will stand on its own feet,” he remarked.

The prime minister said it was the need of the hour to set aside politics and put the state above everything else. “If the state survives, so will our politics.”