Wednesday 16 January 2019
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Dawn News - 4 days ago

Not going to IMF for now, mini-budget to be unveiled on Jan 23: Asad Umar

The federal government has decided not to enter an International Monitory Fund (IMF) programme for now, Finance Minister Asad Umar said on Saturday. The finance minister made the remarks while talking to businessmen at the Karachi Chamber of Commence and Industry (KCCI). Umar said that instead of rushing into the IMF programme, the government was exploring alternative options. Furthermore, the finance minister announced that the government will unveil a mini-budget on Jan 23 instead of Jan 21. He associated the two-day delay to an impending foreign trip of Prime Minister Imran Khan. The finance minister said that his visits of Lahore and Karachi were regarding a one-point agenda: the amended finance bill, which he said will facilitate businessmen. Umar indicated that the amended bill will also carry some good news for the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) . The minister said that he consulted all stakeholders over the upcoming mini-budget, assuring the assortment of businessmen that tax anomalies will be eliminated in the budget. The minister rejected the impression that the government was only borrowing money, stressing that several agreements have also been signed to bring investment into the country. The impacts of the investment agreements will start surfacing from the next week, he added. Asad Umar, even before he was sworn in, had said that the economy would need an infusion of more than $12 billion within six weeks. In a later interview with Bloomberg, he had said that the nation’s financial gap was somewhere between $10bn to $12bn, adding that the new government would need a bit extra so it doesn’t “live on the edge”. In October last year, Saudi Arabia had announced a $6 billion bailout package for Pakistan’s ailing economy. The package includes $3bn in balance of payments support and just as much in deferred payments on oil imports. The UAE had also announced a package exactly the same size and terms and conditions as given by Saudi Arabia. The all-weather friend, China too, had pledged to lend $2 billion to Pakistan to shore up dwindling foreign exchange reserves. Moreover, Islamabad and Riyadh are expected to ink memorandum of understanding (MoUs) to bring in Saudi investment in excess of $10bn this month. Pakistan is also eyeing similar MoUs with China, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia over the next two months. The federal cabinet has also approved a strategy to issue so-called Panda bonds in the Chinese market to raise foreign exchange from global markets.

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