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IMF package only way to put economy back on track: Asad Umar

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance Asad Umar has said an IMF bailout package was unavoidable for Pakistan, which, according to economic experts, was the only way to put the national economy back on track.

Talking to the state-run TV channel, the minister said the government had to take the decision to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because of the high current account deficit as a result of the wrong economic policies adopted by the past government.

Referring to his meetings with the IMF officials in Indonesia, he said both the sides had expressed the desire that it might be the last bailout package for Pakistan.

He said,“We have sought the package only to get relief for the time being and run the country’s economic system smoothly.” Meanwhile, the government had planned to improve its capacity by gradually reducing trade deficit, increasing exports, increasing foreign remittances, improving tax revenues, and introducing other revenue generation measures to avoid the IMF packages in future, he added.

The minister said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had reduced the burden on common man, while the last PML-N government had levied increased taxes on those items, which were necessary for common man. The present also imposed heavy taxes on luxury cars and expensive mobile phones, he added.

He said $12 billion was required to beef up foreign exchange reserves, which was essential for the country’s economic stability. However, the government would bring reforms in the economic system, he added.
Asad Umar said in the Ministry of Finance decisions were not being made on political basis.

Replying to a question, he said after consultations with the friendly countries, the government had decided to approach the IMF. Negotiations were also underway with Saudi Arabia and China, he added.

He said the government was taking concrete measures to facilitate the industrial sector, including provision of cheap gas and electricity, so that exports could be boosted.
The government, he said, had announced Apna Ghar Scheme to provide shelter to the shelterless and the private investors would also be engaged.

Replying to another question, the minister said the US should better worry about repayment of its own loans which it had obtained from China.

He said the PTI government would introduce a strong regulatory system in the country and legislation if required would be undertaken.

The minister said the PTI government would not take any step contrary to the party’s manifesto. Measures were being taken to get back the stolen national wealth stashed abroad and for the purpose national institutions were being strengthened, he added.
He said National Electricity Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) had recommended Rs 3.79 per unit increase in the electricity tariff.

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