PM ready to sacrifice ‘political capital’ at IMF altar

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ISLAMABAD: On Tuesday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif made it clear that the government was finally prepared to accept the bitter pill of the IMF’s “stringent” conditions for reviving the loan program.

Addressing the launch of the “PM Youth Loan Scheme for Business and Agriculture,” he stated that the ruling alliance of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was willing to give up its political career for the benefit of the country. According to Mr. Sharif, the government has made it clear to the IMF that it will finish the ninth review.

He stated, “We are ready and want to sit down regarding your [IMF’s] conditions so that the review can be concluded and Pakistan moves forward.” Pakistan’s position was not immediately clear.

He went on to say, “I spoke to the managing director of the IMF two weeks ago, and we have proactively approached them… so that the program moves forward, in addition to other multilateral and bilateral programs.”

According to him, Pakistan has received a clear signal “from left and right” that it will not be abandoned and should “stitch” the IMF program.

This seemed to be a reference to reports that friendly nations and other global lending institutions are looking into what will happen to the program that was supposed to help Pakistan get money.

Islamabad has been frantically attempting to persuade the IMF to complete the review, which has been pending since September 2022, before releasing funds as the economic crisis worsens.

The global lender and Pakistan, on the other hand, have been at odds over the move’s conditions.

The conditions include the removal of the restriction on the opening of LCs, rationalization of gas tariffs in accordance with international market prices, and a market-determined exchange rate.

The ruling coalition is wary of implementing the demands as it enters the election year because doing so would cause inflation to rise even more, to 24.5 percent in December.

The PM stated that as Pakistanis and Muslims, the rulers should respond to the difficult situation when discussing the collective responsibility to resolve Pakistan’s issues.

He continued, “The people at the helm of affairs – the politicians and the rich – must set an example, as it is unfair to impose price increases on the poor while the elites and governments splurge on loans.”

If these issues are not addressed, what legacy will we leave? It is evident that Pakistan faces significant difficulties, and if we accept responsibility, we will exert every effort to steer the nation out of them.

Energy conservation The government was urged by the prime minister to conserve water, gas, and electricity, as well as to assist the government in lowering its import bill, which had significantly increased over the past few years.

The PM noted that Pakistan’s import of oil for energy generation cost $27 billion and could be cut in half by taking concrete steps.

The prime minister stated that two provincial governments hindered the implementation of the Center’s energy conservation plan, making it appear that he was referring to the PTI government in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is currently in disarray.

The PM stated that one government sought a stay order from the high court, while another government “in the north” delayed implementation.

He stated that the PML-N and other allied parties were dedicated to overcoming the difficulties that exist right now.

Additionally, he pleaded with political parties to avoid politics during times of crisis. They would have to give up politics in order to save Pakistan.

Energy conservation

The nation was urged by the prime minister to reduce its import bill, which had significantly increased over the past few years, and to conserve resources like water, gas, and electricity.

The PM noted that Pakistan’s import of oil for energy generation cost $27 billion and could be cut in half by taking concrete steps.

The prime minister stated that two provincial governments hindered the implementation of the Center’s energy conservation plan, making it appear that he was referring to the PTI government in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is currently in disarray.

The PM stated that one government sought a stay order from the high court, while another government “in the north” delayed implementation.

He stated that the PML-N and other allied parties were dedicated to overcoming the difficulties that exist right now.

Additionally, he pleaded with political parties to avoid politics during times of crisis. They would have to give up politics in order to save Pakistan.

Loan scheme

The PM stated that the loan program aimed to encourage youth entrepreneurship by providing loans at more favorable terms with lower markups.

He also said that 15 commercial, Islamic, and small and medium-sized banks will help the government get the money.

Under the scheme, any Pakistani with entrepreneurial potential between the ages of 21 and 45 can apply for the loan.

While expressing confidence in the youth’s abilities, the prime minister claimed that they were brimming with talent and potential. They would steer Pakistan away from the issues at hand.

He stated that a variety of young people would be eligible for loans under the scheme, giving them the chance to succeed in a variety of fields.

He went on to say that the government was also thinking about a plan to give out 100,000 laptops to students based on merit.

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