Medium-term economic framework launched without any homework: sources

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  • ‘The draft of the three-year plan was actually prepared by two consultants of Asian Development Bank’

ISLAMABAD: Sources have claimed that the Ministry of Finance announced the ‘medium-term economic framework’ without proper homework and in a hurry.

“Unlike the claims of Finance Minister Asad Umar regarding the preparation of the framework through Economic Advisory Council (EAC), the draft of the three-year plan was actually prepared by two consultants of the Asian Development Bank (ADB),” reliable sources informed Pakistan Today.

According to the sources, the announcement of the medium-term economic plan was made in a hurry after an instruction from the Prime Minister’s Office. PM Imran Khan, sources claimed, was suggested by a renowned economist that the lack of implementation on the three-year economic plan, as announced by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf during its election campaign, was the main reason behind the distrust in economic activities of the country.

Interestingly, the draft of the framework, as announced by the finance minister, was supposed to be shared with media and concerned people soon after the press conference. However, the same was uploaded late on Tuesday.

Since the minister had avoided sharing the numbers till finalisation of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is likely that the ministry may accept whatever the numbers will be given by the international lender, sources said.

“We have surrendered to the IMF conditions,” said an economist on the condition of anonymity.

According to him, unlike the previous medium-term economic frameworks, shared by Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the way the new framework was announced was “quite interesting”.

He said neither the finance secretary nor the State Bank governor had accompanied the finance minister during the launch, adding that chief economist should also have been present on the occasion.

“Even the finance minister, at the eleventh hour, was unaware as to who will be reading out the plan. The minister was informed that no one but himself will be conducting the launch,” he revealed, adding that the ministry spokesperson was also not available during the launching ceremony on Monday.

According to sources, the ministry had little role in framing the plan as the same was prepared by the consultants of ADB, another lender/donor.

“Although the ministry had sought the services of an advisor to finance minister by properly advertising the post in December last year, the consultant was not hired so far,” they added.

Sources said that the ruling party had criticised the previous of government when former planning minister Ahsan Iqbal had presented the five-year economic plan despite the fact that he had attached the list of around 2,600 people who were consulted before the framing of the plan.

“How can the government give confidence to the donors and investors when the ministry outsources such plans? The new medium-term economic framework will be the first-ever plan which was launched without any numbers,” sources said, adding that the IMF will now be taking important economic decisions on behalf of Pakistan.

Khaqan Najeeb, the spokesperson of the finance ministry, remained unavailable for comments despite repeated attempts.

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