Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif orders 'immediate' talks with IMF

The prime minister said improving the state of the economy will be the top priority of his government

PM-elect Shehbaz Sharif was sworn in as the 24th Prime Minister of Pakistan on 4 March (photo: PTI)
PM-elect Shehbaz Sharif was sworn in as the 24th Prime Minister of Pakistan on 4 March (photo: PTI)


Pakistan's new prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, has ordered "immediate" talks with the IMF for an extended fund facility for his cash-strapped country, saying that improving the state of the economy would be the top priority of his government, which has received the "mandate".

In January, Pakistan received over $700 million as the second tranche from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of the existing $3 billion stand-by arrangement (SBA) agreed in June 2023, when Pakistan was slowly drifting towards default.

Pakistan has not completed receipt of the last $6.5 billion IMF bailout package, and therefore, the first task of the new government will be to sit with the Washington-based global lender to get the last loan tranche of $1.2 billion.

The official handle of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) president on Monday, 4 March, posted in Urdu on X that a few hours after the swearing-in of Prime Minister Sharif, a meeting was held regarding "the restoration of the country's economy". He was briefed by the finance secretary on the occasion.

The prime minister directed him to "immediately proceed" with the talks with the IMF regarding the extended funds facility, it said.

Sharif also directed his administration to prepare an action plan on an emergency basis to restore the economic situation.

"We have got the mandate to improve the economy of the country and that is the top priority of our government. Our government will work hard to promote investment in the country and provide facilities to the business community," Sharif said.

Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) came in second in the 8 February elections. However, his party and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have formed a coalition government with the help of several other parties so to deny jailed former prime minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) a chance to return to power—even though independents backed by the PTI won the maximum number of seats to Pakistan's parliament.

As part of his administration's efforts to bring back the country's economy on track, Sharif said loss-making government-owned enterprises would be privatised so that these organisations do not become a burden on the country's economy.

"Government size will be reduced and institutions that are no longer needed should either be merged or closed down," he said.

Sharif also decided to set up a committee to formulate a clear strategy for reducing the perks of members of government boards.

He also ordered the relevant authorities to prepare an action plan for the transition of power and gas sectors to smart metering to "help reduce line losses".

All banks and financial institutions should develop strategies for the promotion of small and medium enterprises to help the youth of the country to stand on their own feet, the prime minister said.

He assured to further strengthen the Special Investment Facilitation Council, saying it is a very important step towards economic stability. The prime minister also ordered tax refunds of Rs 65 billion.

"Taxpayers who are working to increase domestic exports and value addition in the country's economy are the crown of our heads, we pay tribute to them," Sharif said.

Noting that automation is inevitable to bring transparency in the Federal Board of Revenue, the prime minister said work on automation of FBR and other institutions should be started immediately.

Sharif was sworn in on Monday as Pakistan's 24th prime minister, taking over the reins of the cash-strapped country for a second time since 2022, amidst staggering economic and security challenges.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines