No decision to approach the IMF yet, says Asad Umar

ISLAMABAD: While speaking on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, Finance Minister Asad Umar said the government has not made a decision to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package yet.

He added that consultations on the current economic situation are underway and a final decision will be taken after taking the Parliament on board. “Even if Pakistan goes to the IMF programme, this won’t be the first time that Pakistan has gone to the IMF programme. We have previously used the programme for a total of 12 times” he added.

The finance minister informed the Senate that previously there was no question on which the country’s banks had given loans to Pakistan.

Regarding the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, Umar said it is a constitutional obligation and on the first day after assuming office he directed the finance secretary to initiate the process for the new NFC Award.

Finance Minister Asad Umar is to chair the first Economic Coordination (ECC) meeting of the government today (Wednesday). The meeting will discuss a five-point agenda which includes circular debt and its impact on the power sector, gas pricing, financial health of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and liquidity position, DAP situation for the Kharif crop, and measures to address a shortage of urea fertilizer.

On Monday, Prime Minister Imran constituted a 12-member committee for the ECC and appointed Asad Umar as the chair.

A notification issued by the cabinet division stated Law Minister Farogh Naseem, Petroleum Minister Ghulam Abbasi, Planning and Development Minister Khusro Bakhtiar and Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid were appointed to the ECC. The committee will also include prime minister’s advisors Razak Dawood and Dr Ishrat Hussain

In addition, six more ministers — communications, national food security, power, privatisation, statistics and water resources — will also be part of the ECC after their appointment.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Asad Umar stressed that the most pressing challenge facing Pakistan was the country’s depleting foreign exchange reserves.

“We are facing a $2 billion deficit monthly for the last four months in the foreign exchange account. This is the immediate challenge,” Umar told reporters.

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