IMF told Pakistan won’t increase tariffs: Tarin

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Imran Khan is against tariff hike, saying Pakistan does not have the capacity to increase them.
“We will refuse the IMF [International Monetary Fund’s] demand to increase the power tariff,” the finance minister said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad.
He expressed that 90 per cent programmes of the organisation fail because of its tough conditions. “We have asked the IMF to let the economy be given a breathing space, allow it to function so that the programme’s milestones can be achieved.” The government, he added, entered into an agreement with the organisation despite tough conditions. “We went to the IMF to fill the gap left by the $20 billion deficit, and complied with the programme.”
Tarin added that there is also a “political price of signing a deal with the IMF”, saying the conditions were not as difficult in the previous governments.”
He termed the current account deficit the biggest challenge, besides uplifting the revenue and power sectors, however, he ruled out exiting the programme, saying the government has asked the Fund to not assign revenue targets as the country is battling the third wave of Covid-19.
“We will increase the tax network [to achieve the desired targets],” he maintained. Tarin was of the view that people do not opt to become taxpayers because the FBR harasses them saying, “We will give these assurances in the budget but the taxpayers should not be harassed,” he added.
Tarin further said that the FBR has done some good work to enhance the revenue collection. However, more programs will be announced in the next budget to eliminate harassment to encourage the people to pay taxes. He said there was growth of fifty seven percent in revenue collection in the month of April this year as compared to the corresponding period last year. He said it is our target to further expand the tax base.
Pointing out the current inflation situation Tarin said that the country has to take steps to boost the economy, adding, “We are striving to bring stability in prices. He opined that rising inflation had caused difficulties for the public and must be eliminated.
He pledged to go to any level to overcome inflation and eliminate the role of the middle man. “We are devising short, medium, and long-term strategies.”
Radio Pakistan has quoted Tarin saying the government is pursuing a policy to take the economy towards growth mode. Tarin said that the goal will be achieved by incentivizing the industries, agriculture and housing sectors. This, he said, will provide job opportunities to the people.
Unveiling the way forward, he said twelve working groups have been constituted in the Economic Advisory Council to frame short-, medium- and long-term policies for different sectors. The Finance Minister said that price stability is our key focus and it is the aim of the government to check the inflation to provide relief to the common man.
Shaukat Tarin said the scope of social protection will be further expanded under Ehsaas Program. Healthcare, employment and skills development will also be made part of it.
The Finance Minister said that reforms in the energy sector will be introduced and spending on the agriculture sector will be increased to strengthen this vital sector of economy.
Shaukat Tarin said we also want to bring Foreign Direct Investment in the export-oriented industries in order to bolster our exports. He said there is a great potential of growth in the IT. Its exports will remain two billion dollars this year and these can be enhanced to eight billion dollars in the next two to three years.
He said a program will be introduced to increase loans for the small and medium enterprises. Similarly, Kamyab Jawan and Kamyab Kisan programs will be further strengthened to bring prosperity at the grassroots level.
The Finance Minister said Pakistan will not come out of the IMF program but it will seek space from the financial institution given the current situation of COVID-19. He said we have already held some good talks with the IMF and the World Bank.
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Shaukat Tarin has said that Pakistan is looking forward to further deepening trade and investment ties with the US under the new administration.
The finance minister said this during a meeting with Angela P Aggeler, Charge d’ Affaires of the United States to Pakistan, who called on him on Wednesday. The secretary finance was also present during the meeting.
Extending a warm welcome to Angela Aggeler, the finance minister stated that Pakistan and the US enjoy long-term, broad-based and multidimensional relationship. Bilateral relations between the two countries have further strengthened due to people-to-people ties, economic and business linkages as well as common interests in promoting peace and stability in the region, he added.
The finance minister further said that Pakistan is looking forward to further deepening trade and investment ties with the US. Coupled with a 220 million consumer market, growing middle class and a young vibrant population, Pakistan offers immense opportunities for the US enterprises to invest in sectors such as information technology, agriculture, energy and tourism. Strong bilateral relations would, in turn, facilitate closer economic cooperation between the two countries, he added.
The finance minister reiterated the firm commitment of the government in implementing vital economic reforms and achieving macroeconomic stability to build a better future for the people of Pakistan.
Angela Aggeler congratulated the finance minister on assuming the office and assured the finance minister of full support of the US government and its people to the government of Pakistan during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
She appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan’s focus on geo-economics. Economic growth drives everything else, she stated, and added that a number of US companies are looking for business and economic opportunities in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said on Wednesday that development of Gilgit Baltistan is the key priority of the government under the GB Development Package.
Talking to GB Chief Minister Muhammad Khalid Khursheed in Islamabad Tarin expressed government intends to undertake several projects for hydel power generation, enhancing tourism connectivity and imparting vocational training and granting scholarships for the youth. The Finance Minister affirmed full support and facilitation for the aforesaid Package on the occasion.
While appreciating the active participation of the federating units, the Finance Minister reiterated that the consultative process for Budget making process will bring out positive outcomes and lead the way for concerted efforts towards all-inclusive growth. The Chief Minister GB and his team also discussed budget proposals during the meeting. – TLTP

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