ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his team on Tuseday held back-to-back meetings with Islamabad-based diplomats of the US, China, and the UK, and took them into confidence over the economic challenges cited as mostly caused by exogenous factors and difficulties in dealing with IMF staff.
The minister sought help from the three major International Monetary Fund (IMF) shareholders, having 16.5 per cent, 6.08pc and 4.03pc voting rights respectively, for support in seeking $7 billion economic bailout package. He also quashed rumors about any imminent financial emergency in an attempt to pacify jittery markets.
Separately, the finance ministry ‘strongly’ rebutted rumors about economic emergency proposals and ‘categorically’ denied there was any planning to impose economic emergency.
The economic team that also included Special Assistant to the PM on Finance Tariq Bajwa and Finance Secretary Hamed Yaqoob Shaikh held separate meetings with US Ambassador Donald Blome, Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong and British High Commissioner Christian Turner along with UNDP consultant Sir Michael Barber on Tuesday.
The diplomats and the markets were assured that Pakistan was committed to the IMF program despite all the difficulties and there was no truth to the economic emergency in the offing.
The finance minister appeared to be dispelling the notion that the IMF was acting abnormally by requesting forward-looking benchmarks for the upcoming quarter while also implying that energy conservation measures were on the horizon. He also seemed to be saying that he would not beg the IMF because all requirements for the ninth review had been met.
“The message is unfortunately aimed at creating uncertainty about the economic situation in the country and can only be spread by those who do not want to see Pakistan prosper,” the ministry stated.
It said austerity measures would eliminate non-essential expenditure and the ministry was deliberating on energy conservation to reduce the import bill.
“Such deliberations will continue in the cabinet and all decisions will be taken in consultation with all stakeholders and in the best national interest,” it said, adding that negotiations with the IMF on ninth review were “now at an advanced stage”.
Japan, Germany, and France are three other leading voting powers in IMF’s executive board with 6.14pc, 5.31pc and 4.03pc votes.