ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umar said the government is seeking help from friendly countries as the previous government left a debt of Rs154 billion and they want to get the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout on better terms.
Addressing a session of the National Assembly, the finance minister said, “The government is seeking financial assistance from friendly countries in order to get the IMF program on better terms.”
“We want the next IMF program to be the last one,” Umar added and expressed confidence that opposition parties will put forward concrete suggestions to achieve that goal.
The finance minister pointed out that short-term stability has been achieved as a result of measures taken in the past two months. “The stock market is becoming stable and increased by five thousand points in the last few days,” he said. Umar was of the view that the stock market had started witnessing a positive trend even before the announcement of the Saudi relief package.
“Saudi Arabia has agreed to deposit $3 billion with the State Bank of Pakistan for one year and will provide $9 billion of oil on deferred payments over three years,” the finance minister said regarding the Saudi package.
Further, the finance minister said that bolstering exports, reducing fiscal and trade deficit and generating job opportunities for the youth are the priorities of the government to steer the country out of the current economic crisis.
Regarding Prime Minister Imran Khan’s upcoming visit to China, Umar said, “Our aim is to take the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Project (CPEC) to the next phase and establish special economic zones (SEZs).”
“A bilateral trade framework is being prepared to reduce the deficit of trade with China. China is fully supporting us in this endeavor,” he added. Further, Umar said, “Joint ventures between Pakistani and Chinese companies in the SEZs will also help Pakistan cut its overall trade deficit.”
The Finance Minister said a coordinated plan is being prepared to provide job opportunities to the youth which are “the nation’s asset”.
Speaking of steps taken to bolster exports, the finance minister said, “We reduced the prices of both gas and power for the export industry. Similarly, the poor were also protected against the increase in the prices of utilities. We also reduced taxes on the export industry in the supplementary budget and we desire to further cut them.”