Pakistan not in an emergency that it rushes to IMF: Asad Umar

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KARACHI : Finance Minister Asad Umar has dispelled the notion that Pakistan is facing a financial emergency and said that there is no need to rush to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout.

“Pakistan is not in an emergency situation that requires it to rush to the IMF to seek a bailout,” the finance minister said during an interview with Arab News.

“We have neither stopped imports nor imposed financial sanctions,” he continued.

However, the finance minister emphasised, “We need to take well-measured decisions. As a situation emerges, we take steps to manage it. We don’t want to take decisions in emergency.”

Regarding the scheduled visit of IMF’s staff mission to Pakistan on September 27, Umar said, “We are in discussion with them, but this is not to negotiate for a loan. Our purpose is to do our homework, in case we want to approach them at some stage.”

Responding to a question about managing the balance of payment deficit, the finance minister said: “We are eliminating the root cause of this problem, and that root cause is fiscal deficit. We have done that through the recent finance bill which will reduce our cost of import.”

He further said that during his visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister Imran Khan discussed measures for trade enhancement and investment. “These are measures which will help fill the external financing gap,” he noted.

He also said Pakistan was constantly in touch with international commercial markets and banks for financing.

About the measures to increase the country’s exports to ease its external payment obligations, the finance minister said the issue had been discussed in detail with China. “During the upcoming international trade exhibition, which will be attended by the prime minister as one of the chief guests in China on November 4 and 5, we will discuss items line by line so that they can give us trade concessions to increase exports to China.”

“Similarly, when the Saudis will come, decisions will be made here in Pakistan about trade enhancement and investment,” he added.

Umar also said that they are planning to float overseas, dollar-based saving certificates for Pakistanis living abroad. The amount of issue would be decided at the time of floating these certificates, he said.

“We will float them in October, but it will not be a one-time issue. We will be floating these certificates periodically for overseas Pakistanis,” the finance minister added.

‘Pakistan, Saudi will soon finalise areas of investment’

Speaking about Saudi Arabia being a third partner in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the finance minister said the volume and areas of Saudi investment will be decided during the visit of the Kingdom’s delegation to Pakistan scheduled for the first week of October.

Umar also refuted reports claiming Riyadh would “invest $10 billion in Pakistan” and said the volume of investment had not been ascertained as yet.

“The prime minister’s visit was meant to make agreements at the highest level with the King of Saudi Arabia and build a stronger relationship. In principle, only verbal discussions have taken place so far,” he added.

Umar further said, “We have discussed trade-related issues, foreign direct investment, visa fees, and issues faced by our laborers.”

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