Pakistan has achieved all economic goals, IMF says


–Global financial body says ‘govt has made considerable progress in last few months to advance economic reforms’

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday announced that Pakistan has achieved all of its economic goals in terms of performance, as it concluded its 10-day talks with the government.

“Considerable progress has been made in the last few months in advancing reforms and continuing with sound economic policies,” the global financial body said.

The IMF further noted in its statement that “all end-December performance criteria were met and structural benchmarks have been completed” and in terms of performance, Pakistan achieved all economic targets.

“Steadfast progress on program implementation will pave the way for the IMF Executive Board’s consideration of the review,” it said, adding that “development and social spending have been accelerated” through programme implementation.

Earlier it was reported that the financial body has asked Pakistan “to reduce its trade and commerce reliance on Beijing” and look for other international options by signing free trade agreements (FTAs) with other countries as well, bringing a new challenge as Islamabad was not prepared to even reconsider this position.

According to reports, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had wished for a further reduction in its revised Rs5.24-trillion target — already cut down from Rs5.50 trillion — but the IMF desired to focus on removing distortions and expanding narrowed tax base on a permanent basis.

The body stressed that the Pakistani government must correct the situation halfway instead of waiting for the next fiscal year if the need arises.

Reports also claimed that the PTI government was opposed to hiking electricity and gas tariffs for the next 12-18 months as Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked relevant ministries to freeze tariffs for a certain period. However, the IMF highlighted that the cash-bleeding losses would not be curtailed if there was no cost recovery of energy utilities.

“The IMF is asking for a viable alternate plan,” the reports said, adding that the issue pertaining to increasing sales taxes on agricultural inputs was also deferred for next fiscal year.

The IMF delegation approved the decision to import wheat in the country for fulfilling national needs and also allowed a targeted subsidy aimed at facilitating the citizens currently suffering from higher prices of basic food items.