Pakistan economy & IMF programme

Pakistan will have to carry out essential reforms on domestic and international fronts of the economy in order to bring a dramatic change in economic policy making, IMF’s Resident Representative in Pakistan Teresa Daban Sanchez stated While speaking at a seminar titled ‘Pakistan Economy & IMF Programme: Challenges & Opportunities’ organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), the IMF’s Resident Chief claimed that Pakistan was using 25 percent of its collected revenues on debt servicing on the other hand state-owned enterprises were going on in losses. She stated that public debt and inflation were rising in the country. The exchange rate was unnaturally kept stable that resulted into wear and torn of foreign exchange reserves. The IMF, enunciated would undertake first review by end September 2019 and Pakistan would be required to execute essential reforms. She remarked government possessed weak majority into the Parliament so it would have to take opposition into trust to pass the laws from the elected House. She said the government would not be able to borrow from the central bank as the inflationary stress and the SBP would have to take measures to bring advancement. The government and the International Monetary Fund were on the same mind as there was no disagreement by the government on the measures proposed by the IMF, particularly taxation measure. There are around 100 thousand companies registered with the government of Pakistan, where only 60 thousands file their returns, which demonstrates the level of tax observance. The measures taken in the current federal budget will basically change the course of history of Pakistan.
The government is taking steps to tackle the corporate corruption through automation of the taxation system. Dr Shamshad Akhtar, former finance minister stated stabilization of the economy was very crucial for the growth of the country, where one should not look stabilizations in isolation, rather a step-forward towards economic growth. While talking on IMF programme, Dr Shamshad was of the opinion that significant late in going to IMF programme blended the uncertainty, which adversely affected the economy. She said if we negotiated the programme earlier, the country’s economy would possibly in the comfortable zone. The investor’s trust has gradually diminished which the government needs to take care of. IMF policies usually are ever changing which may help Pakistan tackle fiscal disparities. Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director SDPI said there was absence of ownership on the IMF programme, which makes the programme questionable. The government needs to strengthen its social safeguard programme and should increase direct taxation to help reduce burden on the exposed section.
The International Monetary Fund programme faces substantial hazard from a non performance to build political agreement around its essential components, the IMF resident representative to Pakistan has said. Failure to get out of the ‘grey list’ of the Financial Action Task Force could also confuse access to private financing from global markets. While registering the risks facing the programme, Ms Sanchez put political risk at the peak. There are certain actions which require legislation, or change in the legislation. The government right now has no majority to pass legislation, therefore there is need to create unanimity and there is need to convince, to create some sort of support. The government has engaged itself to making amendments to the State Bank Act, Nepra Act, Anti-Money Laundering Act and the State-Owned Enterprise Act as part of the IMF programme. Non compliance to make these legislative amendments will make the government difficult to seek waivers as the programme reviews get on the way. The first review is due in December. After political hazard, Ms Sanchez stated, failure to get out of the FATF ‘grey list’ could have impact for private capital inflows in the coming financial year. She said Fund disbursements as well as those by other multilateral lenders such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank have nothing to do with this listing. The Fund continues to work with countries even if they are in the blacklist. She stated that hindrance to the programme measures would be hard, but the government would have to show resolve to the personal people interest that are going to be affected by the new measures may create some kind of objection, creating difficulties she said. Further the provinces have to be obtained to generate the kinds of surpluses the government is relying on to meet its fiscal deficit target for the current fiscal year.
The current framework of the federal finance ministry is the weakest since the 1990s, commented former finance minister Dr Hafiz Pasha. Speaking at the launch of his book, ‘Growth and Inequality in Pakistan’, Pasha said the capacity of the Ministry of Finance was shamefully low and it was not able to tackle the current crisis. Pasha was of the opnion that the ability to manage crisis was not just the job of a technocrat, it needed political agreement, combined with a thorough understanding in society. These are the the government is required to take to the country out of trouble. Talking about the IMF programme, the former finance minister told the new government should have developed a macroeconomic content first. In the first meeting with the IMF, he said we should face at the highest level that this is what we think, we are a new government, we want to take the country out of crisis and this is what we want to do. Regrettably, such a structure and plan of action does not appear to have been submitted. State Bank of Pakistan’s former governor Dr Shahid Kardar claimed the IMF programme always played a role in restructuring Pakistan’s tax system. The way the IMF is forthcoming its programme, it is going to kill the country’s economy. Pakistan really needs to start worrying as to how it will manage its human resources in coming years. Fresh graduates may not get the jobs, which they are dreaming of. The International Monetary Fund staff report, unlike for the two programmes, is two-and-a-half pages long and crazy programme risks which it states are specifically high.

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