Pakistan might seek IMF bailout

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—PM Khan says Pakistan would go to friends first for funding

—Imran rules out NRO, vows stern action against crooked

—Prime minister denies involvement in Shehbaz’s arrest, says govt can’t victimise anyone on old cases

 

LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday talked about the possibility of going to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout but said that his government would seek funding from friendly countries first.

Addressing a press conference during his day-long trip to Lahore, PM Imran Khan said, “We may go to IMF for a loan to handle the country’s financial issues.”

“But, first we will try to get assistance from other countries as we have requested three countries to deposit money in the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) that would help boost national reserves,” the premier said. He, however, did not name the countries or provide any details of the requests.

According to reports, the government has already decided to approach the IMF later this year as the Fund has already given a nod to Pakistan in this regard. PTI government’s finance team, under the leadership of Finance Minister Asad Umar, has been briefed on the matter.

Reports stated that PM Khan was informed that going to IMF would not only help the country come out of the current economic crisis but would also improve Pakistan’s image among other international organisations.

Pakistan is likely to formally request the IMF by the end of the year.

The government required around $9 billion to meet the deficit this year. However, the government was not in favour of calling this ‘deal’ a bailout package, according to reports.

Taking strong exception to corrupt elemnts, Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated his government’s policy of zero tolerance against corruption and vowed to take stern action against the corrupt, with the government all set to introduce a whistle-blower and witness protection act within a week.

The prime minister assured the nation that no corrupt element would get off scot-free. “Had the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) been under my control, fifty more corrupt personalities would have been landed in the jail,” he added.

“The government will give all required help to the NAB. People should know that there will be no NRO. We will take stern action against corruption,” he added.

Denying involvement in the arrest of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif, the prime minister slammed those who accused him of a political manhunt. “The government can not victimise anyone on cases registered 10 months ago,” he said, adding that the government will not be blackmailed by any move.

The prime minister maintained that NAB was an independent entity and it had also summoned PTI leaders as well but they appeared before it without raising hue and cry like the PML-N leadership. He said that he had wondered when prior to general elections, the NAB in a statement deferred proceedings against Shehbaz Sharif.

The premier took a jibe at the opposition leader by saying, “I decided to hold this press conference after watching Shehbaz Sharif’s attempt of becoming Nelson Mandela.”

“I have been saying from last 22 years that the biggest problem of this country is corruption,” he said.

The prime minister said that those elements in the PML-N were now crying foul who had fears of being nabbed for corruption. “There is no threat to democracy,” he said and offered the PML-N leaders his container for sit-in or to hold protests inside parliament.

One thing should be remembered that the government would not let anyone walk away who had done injustices with the country and its people. “I want to tell the nation that anyone who did wrong would not get off scot-free,” he added.

Expressing his wonder over the protest with regards to arrest of Shehbaz Sharif, the prime minister said that recently, Malaysian president’s wife had been nabbed for money laundering and in China, different ministers were arrested and hanged in corruption cases, but no one sensed any threat to democracy and the system there.

The prime minister said a democratic system would gain strength and thrive when the rulers were made answerable for their acts.

Terming the decision of PML-N and PPP to contest the by-elections jointly as a ‘coalition of corruption’, the prime minister said that they both the parties were afraid of accountability.

The prime minister also informed that a unit including people from the State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue and Federal Investigation Agency has been set up in the PM office for the recovery of assets.

PM Khan said that bringing back looted wealth stashed abroad is the only way to stabilise economy without taking foreign loans. “Rs1,200 billion increase in circular debt will be observed if the electricity prices are not raised,” he said.

Moreover, the prime minister said that during the ongoing anti-encroachment drive, 4,647 kanals of land worth billions had been retrieved in the federal capital, whereas 2,000 acres of land in Punjab was recovered from illegal occupation.

The premier said that the previous rulers, during the last ten years, left behind a debt of Rs28,000 billion as compared to Rs6,000 billion in 2008.

PM Khan revealed that the PTI government will be announcing the Whistleblower Act next week and a witness protection programme.

“Anyone who can identify corruption and assist in the recovery of the embezzled amount will be rewarded with 20 per cent of the sum,” the premier announced.

“Recovering looted wealth from within the country and abroad is the only way we can save people from the burden of inflation and heavy taxes,” he said while encouraging people to come forward with information on anyone engaged in corruption.

Imran further remarked that Pakistan might need to return to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address its mounting balance of payments crisis but would seek funding from friendly countries first.

 

 

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