Minister says new programme to be discussed with IMF next month

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KARACHI: Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb Friday said a meeting to discuss the new loan programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was slated for April 14 and 15 in Washington.

Talking to media at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in Karachi, the minister said the fresh programme’s features would be discussed in the forum, whereas detailed talks would be held later in Pakistan.

He also reiterated the plan to enter a major programme with the global lender; while, the microeconomic stability would continue as well with the Fund.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had on March 21 signalled that the new IMF programme was likely to be continued for three years.

“New tranche of loan is likely to be received from the IMF in a few days, however, we would need another programme,” he had said while addressing a session of the Special Investment Facilitation Council’s (SIFC) apex committee attended by civil-military leadership.

Shedding light on the agriculture sector, the finance and revenue minister said growth in the agriculture sector remained at 5%. “We have a bumper rice crop this season and are receiving good news about wheat as well,” he added.

The finance czar maintained that the country’s current account was “better” and exchange rate was also “stable”, while the inflation rate has also decreased. He accredited all the accomplishments to the stand-by arrangement (SBA) agreement during PM Shehbaz’s last tenure in office.

“The caretaker government did better work to restore the economy. The economy will stablise soon owing to better economic policies,” the minister said.

Aurangzeb apprised the media that a significant development had been made on outsourcing of airports and privatisation of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). The government’s job was to provide policy framework and lead the private sector, he insisted.

“Our strategy is twofold. Losses are to be minimised in the short and medium term,” he said.

The minister said the economy got off to a good start in 2024 with an improvement in key economic indicators. He said the Law Ministry and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) were working to remove tax leakage.

“The ministry is working to bring more people into the tax net. We will focus on the capital market to increase transparency and protection of investors. The Ministry of Finance will work with the capital market to facilitate access to the capital for small and medium enterprises,” he said.

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