Leaders who themselves went to IMF should not criticise incumbent govt for doing same: Sheikh

ISLAMABAD: Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Monday said those who had themselves approached the International Monetary Fund should not be criticising the government for doing the same.

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Addressing a session of the National Assembly on Wednesday, Shaikh responded to what he said was “undue” criticism from opposition benches.

“Some people have claimed that in negotiations with the IMF, individuals from both parties are representatives of the IMF,” the advisor said, adding that it was disappointing that people like Reza Baqir – who is the incumbent governor of the State Bank of Pakistan – were being discarded for having worked in the IMF earlier.

“We should be proud of Reza Baqir. He went on to study in the best American universities after having completed his initial studies from Lahore. He went on to join the IMF solely on the basis of his capabilities,” Shaikh said, adding that those who did not have the credentials to even enter the halls of IMF were critising the SBP governor for having worked there.

“The situation compels us [to do so].”

“Some people have claimed that in negotiations with the IMF, individuals from both parties are representatives of the IMF,” the advisor said, adding that it was disappointing that people like Reza Baqir — who is the incumbent governor of the State Bank of Pakistan — were being discarded for having worked in the IMF earlier.

“We should be proud of Reza Baqir. He went on to study in the best American universities after having completed his initial studies from Lahore. He went on to join the IMF solely on the basis of his capabilities,” Shaikh said, adding that those who did not have the credentials to even enter the halls of IMF were criticising the SBP governor for having worked there.

The special assistant to the premier on finance also provided some of the advantages of an IMF programme.

The first, he said, was that the financing of $6 billion was on easy conditions, adding that if this money was obtained commercially it would be more expensive.

The second point, he said, was that the whole world was reassured that Pakistan is ready to operate with “discipline” and is ready for partnerships with other parts of the world.

“The direct advantage of this is that other countries and other international organisations including World Bank and Asian Development Bank also increased their support for Pakistan.”

Current govt’s tasks

Shaikh then told the National Assembly about certain steps the current government took to get the country out of the crisis.

He said that one of the things that were required was to reduce expenses.

“This government has taken some decisions which are historic,” he said, adding that one big decision that was taken was to freeze the budget of the Pakistan Army.

“Has anyone taken such a decision before?” he asked.

The premier’s special assistant added that the civilian government’s budget was also reduced by Rs40 billion.

“These are big decisions. I have been a part of various governments, no one used to take such decisions,” Shaikh said.

With regards to managing expenditures, he said that a strict budget was set.

“I want to tell you that taxes in the first seven months, the target was around 2,200 and we achieved around 2,100,” Sheikh said.

Additionally, he said that borrowing from the SBP over the past seven months was at zero, as they had decided not to borrow from the State Bank because such borrowing tends to be inflationary.

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