Dubai: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said his nation needed “painful” economic reforms to cut back on its debt soon after meeting the head of the IMF.
In a speech at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday, Khan said his government faced a massive fiscal deficit when it took office in 2018 and was making efforts to slash it.
“I repeat the reforms are painful … It’s like a surgery. When you conduct surgery for a while, the patient suffers, but that improves,” Khan said.
“The worst thing that can happen for society is that you keep postponing reforms because of the fear that you would have opposition, the vested interests stand up and you don’t do reforms.”
Pakistan has about $100bn in external debt and liabilities, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.
“I reiterated that the IMF stands ready to support Pakistan,” a statement from Lagarde said.
“I also highlighted that decisive policies and a strong package of economic reforms would enable Pakistan to restore the resilience of its economy and lay the foundations for stronger and more inclusive growth.”
Pakistan, a regular borrower from the IMF since the 1980s, last received an IMF bailout in 2013 to the tune of $6.6bn.
Forecasts by the IMF and World Bank suggest the Pakistani economy is likely to grow between 4.0 and 4.5 percent for the fiscal year ending June 2019, compared with 5.8 percent growth in the last fiscal year.