Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said he sees "more burden" coming on the already inflation-hit public as Pakistan scrambles to secure the International Monetary Fund's conditions for reviving the stalled $1.1 billion loan tranche.
Pakistan's economy is in dire straits. The country is awaiting a much-needed $1.1 billion tranche of funding from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF). The funds are part of a $6.5 billion bailout package the IMF approved in 2019, which analysts say is critical if Pakistan is to avoid defaulting on external debt obligations.
The prime minister, in an interview with the private Geo News channel, said joint efforts were being made by both his economic team and other national institutions to make the process a success. The prime minister spoke at length on multiple national issues, including the one-year performance of his government, the economic situation and elections.
Sharif said that when he came into power, he and his partners were aware that the situation was very bad and that Pakistan was on the brink of default. But what he did not know was "that Imran Khan had completely gone back on the promises he made with the IMF, and I was also not aware that [IMF's] trust in Pakistan was also damaged to a great deal." The premier also said that due to Khan's repeated backtracking, the Washington-based global lender is forcing Pakistan to implement the pre-conditions for unlocking the loan tranche.
"Definitely, these conditions resulted in burdening the masses and they will be burdened further. I absolutely acknowledge this," the prime minister said, mentioning that "hardworking Pakistanis will be burdened by this." "The IMF's toughest conditions have been met and we will sign the staff-level agreement within a few days," he said.
The premier said realising the common man’s suffering, the government had decided to provide relief through the Benazir Income Support Programme. However, he said, the imported inflation caused by the Ukraine war also hit the country in form of increased fertiliser and oil prices. Moreover, the floods also affected the national economy, and ex-prime minister Imran Khan’s “shameful” lies about regime change by the United Stated created uncertainty, he added. The prime minister told the interviewer that friendly countries like China were supporting Pakistan even though Imran Khan had hurt their brotherly ties.