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    Pakistan, IMF to reach staff level agreement within a few days: Bilal Kayani

    Pakistan, IMF to reach staff level agreement within a few days: Bilal Kayani

    Chitral Times Report

    ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister’s Coordinator on Economy and Energy Bilal Azhar Kayani says staff level agreement with the IMF will pave the way for financial inflows from other multilateral institutions as well. In a Radio Pakistan Podcast, he said the staff level agreement with the IMF is expected to be reached within a few days. As part of the short-term measures for addressing the prevailing economic challenges, Bilal Azhar Kayani said the government is fully determined to complete the IMF programme and enhance exports as well as foreign exchange reserves to a comfortable level of 18 billion dollars. He said reducing burden on people is another important priority. Despite financial constraints, he said, the government increased allocation of funds for Benazir Income Support Programme.

    A mega Ramazan Package has also been announced for the downtrodden segments of the society. In addition, he said, the flood-affected people will also be given special attention under the short-term strategy. He expressed confidence that short-term targets will be achieved before the next general elections. Answering a question regarding tax and revenue collection, the Coordinator said the government is striving to achieve the revenue targets. Coming to a medium-term strategy, Bilal Azhar Kayani emphasized on enhancing Foreign Direct Investment and exports. He also underlined the need for value addition and diversification of exports with a special focus on facilitation of the youth in the start-ups and increase in agricultural produce. Suggesting long-term measures, Bilal Azhar Kayani said Pakistan’s progress will remain elusive without enrolling the out-of-schoolchildren, improving quality of education, and providing better health facilities.

    Women empowerment is another key feature in the long-term strategy. Responding to a question about the expected results from the ongoing austerity drive, he said the coalition government under the leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has been taking all possible measures, including curtailing expenditures, to bring economic stability. Giving context to the current difficult economic situation in the country, Bilal Azhar Kayani said the PTI government’s repetitive mistakes, incompetence of its economic team and breach of agreement with the IMF led to the current economic crisis. He said the PTI, on realization of end of its government in last February 2022, unrealistically reduced prices of petroleum products and electricity and also froze them.He said public debt during the PTI government increased by 75 percent from 25,000 to 44,000 billion rupees.

    Presenting a comparison with the PTI government, Bilal Azhar Kayani said during the PML-N government in 2013-18, inflation was low and fiscal deficit was under control. In his response to a question regarding the recent upgradation of Radio Pakistan studios having state-of-the-art facilities, the Coordinator of the Prime Minister said he was amazed to see the new face of the national broadcaster that harmonizes with the modern-day technological demands. He said Radio Pakistan is a national institution, and its growth and sustainability are vital for building and promoting national narrative. He suggested that Radio Pakistan may earn revenue through various initiatives under public-private partnership.

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