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Govt to announce ‘alternative plan’ for economic woes before budget: Khurram Dastgir

Govt to announce ‘alternative plan’ for economic woes before budget: Khurram Dastgir

Power Minister Khurram Dastgir has said an “alternative strategy” will be announced before the upcoming budget — scheduled to be presented on June 9 — to deal with “economic troubles and the fascist assault on Pakistan”.

He shared this on Dawn News show ‘Live with Adil Shahzeb’ on Sunday, when asked about the country’s growing economic woes and reports that the government could announce an alternative strategy since a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to secure a $1.1 billion tranche seemed unlikely.

A staff-level accord to release a $1.1bn tranche out of a $6.5bn IMF package has been delayed since November, with nearly 100 days gone since the last staff-level mission to Pakistan. That is the longest such gap since at least 2008.

Amid fears of the country defaulting, the international money lender said earlier this month that Pakistan needed significant additional financing for a successful completion of the long-stalled ninth review of the IMF’s bailout package.

Obtaining commitments of “significant additional financing” is essential before the IMF approved the release of pending bailout funds that are crucial for the country to resolve an acute balance of payments crisis, it added.

So far, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and China have come to Pakistan’s assistance in March and April with pledges that would cover some of the funding deficit.

But as evidenced by the IMF’s recent statement, the government needs to secure more funding amid increasingly bleak prospects of the deal.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar earlier said during a seminar that Pakistan would not default, with or without the IMF.

In this context, when Dastgir was asked whether an alternative plan was in the offing to deal with the country’s economic crisis, he answered by highlighting the “fascist assault” on the country by PTI chief Imran Khan and his supporters.

“They attacked military installations, but their objective was to further harm the economy,” he alleged, recalling that the PTI government in two provinces had previously attempted to “conspire” and derail the IMF deal.

He accused Imran’s supporters of “deliberately spreading uncertainty and anarchy in the country to damage Pakistan’s economy”, making an apparent reference to countrywide protests that erupted after the PTI chief was arrested from the Islamabad High Court on May 9.

“So, since there is uncertainty, we are not getting the support that we expected from the West and budget is about to be finalised […] the prime minister and finance minister will announce an alternative strategy to deal with the economic troubles and this fascist assault on Pakistan,” Dastgir said.

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