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Good news ‘soon’ about IMF programme, says Shaukat Tarin

Govt working on long-term strategy to strengthen economy: Tarin. (Source: Dawn)

KARACHI: Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin on Sunday asserted that uncertainty surrounding the stalled $6 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme will be over soon, claiming that “good news” was on the cards.

Addressing a ceremony in Karachi, the finance adviser claimed that the global lender wishes to announce the deal on its own. He said that negotiations this time around, compared to March, have been “much better”.

Tarin said the IMF’s expected announcement of the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) resumption would also help arrest the rupee’s devaluation. “Once the settlement with the IMF is reached, it will also rein in speculators causing devaluation of rupee,” the PM’s adviser added.

He pointed out that speculative elements had caused eight to nine rupees’ worth of devaluation to the rupee, adding that an additional demand for dollar by Afghan citizens was also adding to the pressure on the Pakistani currency.

Tarin also thanked Saudi Arabia for giving Pakistan $3 billion in safe deposits and $1.2bn to $1.5bn worth of oil supplies on deferred payments, saying “it will be materialised in the next few days”.

On Thursday, in an exclusive interview with the state-run APP, Saudi Ambassador Nawaf Bin Said Al-Malki said Saudi Arabia would soon disburse cash deposits to Pakistan under the pledged financial assistance after approval of the Royal Court and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in a few days.

“This will happen soon. There will be the agreement from the Royal Court and the MoU will be signed in a few days for the payment, and also for the deferred oil payment [facility],” the Saudi envoy told the press agency.

‘Long-term strategy’

Speaking at the ceremony, the PM’s adviser asserted that the PTI-led federal government was working on a long-term strategy to strengthen the economy on a sustainable basis. He said the government stands with the common man and is taking every possible measure to facilitate the vulnerable segments of the society.

Tarin reminded the nation that the government has launched Ehsaas Rashan programme, under which it will provide a discount of Rs1,000 a month, constituting a 30 percent subsidy on flour, pulses, ghee, and cooking oil per unit purchase, to 130 million people.

Lauding the leadership of PM Imran Khan, he said that the premier took balanced decisions to protect the livelihood of the people as well as the economy during the COVID-19 crisis.

‘Rising prices’

Talking about soaring prices of petroleum products, Tarin refused any relief for the people, saying that the local prices were directly proportional to the rates in international market. “There is no concession in it. Whatever hike comes will be passed through to the public,” he added.

Tarin added that the government had only passed 34 percent of the international price hike to the public, while absorbing around 60pc of the burden itself. Meanwhile, Tarin attributed the hike in food prices to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The prices of food jacked-up internationally. We import some important food items and our common man is affected due to its soaring prices. The purchasing powers in other countries are good, but we have a problem in that area. We are trying to fix it,” he added.