IMF Program Set to Extend for Three Years: PM Shehbaz

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has signalled that the new International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme is likely to be continued for three years.

Islamabad: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has indicated that the upcoming International Monetary Fund (IMF) program is expected to extend for a duration of three years.

Speaking at a session of the Special Investment Facilitation Council’s (SIFC) apex committee, attended by both civilian and military leadership on Thursday, he mentioned the likelihood of receiving a new installment of loans from the IMF in the coming days, but emphasized the necessity of another program thereafter.

The Prime Minister highlighted the unified stance of civil-military leadership and elected representatives from various political factions towards the development and prosperity of the nation during the session. He commended the former coalition government, comprising 13 political parties, for prioritizing national interests over political agendas.

“There are significant challenges facing the national economy. The SIFC serves as a crucial platform established primarily to address obstacles in attracting foreign investments, and it has convened numerous meetings over the past eight months,” noted Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir, who played a pivotal role in its formation.

Prime Minister Shehbaz emphasized the necessity of implementing reforms under the IMF program, citing the country’s need for macroeconomic stability. “With revenues currently standing at Rs9 trillion, they ideally should be between Rs13 to 14 trillion.”

He announced the federal government’s intention to digitize the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) while highlighting the significant financial loss of Rs400 billion annually due to electricity theft. During the caretaker government, measures were taken that saved Rs87 billion worth of electricity.

PM Shehbaz also addressed the escalating circular debt in electricity and gas, which has reached Rs5 trillion. “Given the coalition government at the center and various political parties governing provinces, addressing these challenges requires us to set aside political differences and collaborate to steer the country out of crisis.”

He urged the acceleration of the privatization process for loss-making state-owned entities such as Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), burdened with debts amounting to Rs825 billion.

Acknowledging the necessity for tough decisions, the Prime Minister admitted that subsidies had previously been granted to the elite, a practice that should not be continued. He stressed the importance of shifting the financial burden resulting from these decisions to segments of society capable of bearing it.