PM Sharif Vows To End Pakistan's Dependency On Foreign Aid And IMF Bailouts

Sharif addressed the nation on Saturday and expressed hope that the next deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package would be the last in Pakistan's history.

File Photo
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif | File Photo

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has pledged to end Pakistan's dependency on foreign aid and IMF bailouts and surpass neighbouring nations in economic activity, as he outlined a series of bold reforms to reduce the cash-strapped government's expenses and revive the economy.

Sharif addressed the nation on Saturday and expressed hope that the next deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package would be the last in Pakistan's history.

The Pakistan government is currently in talks with the IMF for a loan estimated to be between USD 6 billion to USD 8 billion, as it strives to avert a default in a slow-paced economy.

Sharif emphasised that every penny would be spent on the progress of the nation and its people. He expressed commitment to reduce expenses and, within five years, provide education and skills to the youth.

“Inshallah, this will be the last IMF programme in Pakistan's history. We will stand on our feet and surpass our neighbouring countries in economic activity," he said in the televised address.

Sharif was addressing the nation after his government completed 100 days of rule.

Sharif had taken oath on March 4 after stitching together a coalition with five other parties and foiling the chances of jailing former prime minister Imran Khan to stage a political comeback. Sharif said that there were countries in the world that sought assistance from the IMF once and never needed it again.

"We have approached the IMF 24 to 25 times. I assure you today if we adhere to our programme and targets, the next IMF agreement will be the last in Pakistan's history," he said.

"I informed foreign nations that I am here for trade relations, not to ask for loans. I believe this is how Pakistan will break the debt cycle," he added. Sharif highlighted the importance of tough decisions for the sake of the nation.

He vowed to abolish all institutions, ministries, and other departments burdening the national exchequer and have nothing to do with public service, asserting this move alone would save taxpayers’ billions and foster prosperity. "It is the prime obligation of the government to end all the extravagant expenses and shut down institutions that are not serving the public in any way," he said.

"One such department is the Public Works Department (PWD). It is known as the "most notorious" one in terms of corruption," the Prime Minister added.

Declaring that the government will save on expenses wherever possible and will not establish more industries or be involved in running them, Sharif said, “Instead, we will work with the private sector.”

He warned that the road ahead is not only “long and difficult” but also “demands sacrifices” from both government personnel and the salaried class but his “government is committed to making a change.” After his government took oath on March 4, Sharif claimed inflation dropped to 12 per cent from 38 per cent and interest rates on loans were slashed to 20.5 per cent from the previous 22 per cent.

“In a couple of months, this will bear fruit, and I will present the results. This step alone will lead to the saving of millions of rupees. God willing, within a month and a half, there will be positive results to share with all of you,” Sharif asserted.

The prime minister also highlighted the need to combat corruption and inefficiency, particularly in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), which is being 100% digitalised.

"Incompetent people in the FBR have been sidelined, and better and competent people have been brought forth," he said.

Sharif called for a collective effort to achieve these goals. "Every terrorist, smuggler, power thief, and tax evader is an enemy of the economy," he said.