‘Lender of last resort’: No IMF deal ‘above’ national security: Asad

Says lower house to be kept in loop during IMF talks

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Islamabad

National security will not be compromised in any deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), confirmed Finance Minister Asad Umar during a talk show with a private television channel on Wednesday.

He added that conditions presented by the IMF will be taken to the National Assembly for discussion. An IMF delegation is currently in Pakistan for two weeks and the finance minister said a bailout of at least $5 – $6 billion would be negotiated.

Umar added that Pakistan is going to friendly countries including Saudi Arabia and China for financial assistance to ensure that if the IMF presents terms of agreement for a bailout package that are “not amenable to us”, the country will not have to compromise and clarified no such terms had arisen as yet.

Calling the IMF a “lender of the last resort”, he further added that going to the IMF is not a desirable option and both military and democratic governments had resorted to IMF bailout packages in the past.

The finance minister pointed out that previous governments were also bailed out in their first 6 months as previous governments had racked up debt and left it for successive governments.

“This would be the last time Pakistan would have to do this,” claimed the finance minister.

Umar said the country could expect good news from China as the government had received assurances from the Chinese head of state Xi Jinping that the country would assist Pakistan with immediate financing and in increasing exports to China. With this, he assured the immediate balance of payment crisis has ended.

Referring to the recent increase in electricity prices, the minister clarified that the hike was not made at the request of the IMF, adding that the hikes were a measure the government independently felt had been a long time coming.

“If we do not increase prices and keep taking loans, the burden falls on the poorest parts of the population who have no electricity. We have been spending beyond our means and the effects are now upon us.”

The finance minister stated the government was bringing Chinese cybersecurity experts to bring in more secure technology transfer in light of the recent hacking attack targetting local banks.

Umar further confirmed that Rs1 billion have been approved for paying the pensioners of Pakistan Steel Mills employee’s widows that had been stopped for four years and confirmed that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and steel mills were not being privatised. NEWS DESK

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