Govt decision to restart talks with IMF lauded. Impossible to run a country without lenders help. IMF may demand autonomy key institutions.

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(April 18, 2022)

Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, and All Karachi Industrial Alliance and Former Provincial Minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday said the decision of the government to restart negotiations with IMF is a welcome move.

It is impossible to run the country without the help of the lender therefore Pakistan must reenter the IMF’s programme without any delay, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that negotiations will start from the point where they were suspended because of the previous government.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that restoring the IMF programme will be a challenge for the government in which there is no option except success.

He said that the IMF would demand a reduction in subsidies, an end to the amnesty schemes, an increase in prices of petrol, gas and electricity, etc.

The lender can also demand autonomy of SECP, CCP, OGRA and NEPRA, among others, as the international body is fully aware of the weak financial position of the new government.

In view of the goodwill of PM Shahbaz Sharif, the IMF may also give a short-term bailout package to the government, he observed.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that at the time of Pervez Musharraf’s departure, the foreign exchange reserves of the central bank were equal to cover imports for three months.

PPP left reserves enough to cover imports for seven weeks, PML-N left power with foreign exchange to cover imports for two months, while PTI left the government with less than two months of import cover.

Over the last 30 years, no government has worked properly for economic development because of political turmoil and uncertainties, as their focus was on remaining in power, appeasing members of parliament and making important economic decisions on a political basis.

All the governments have prioritized the immediate benefits over long-term gains, he said, adding that every government puts its political interests first when making budgets and lays landmines for its successors, which makes their work difficult.

He demanded legislation to save the country from wastage of resources so that prioritizing personal interests can be stopped.

The broad-based government led by Prime Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif is expected to reduce business costs, improve governance and eliminate losses by failed government institutions to revive the economy, he said.

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