MINISTER for Finance Asad Umar on Thursday said that the government was still negotiating the bailout package with the International Monetary Fund and as soon as any suitable programme for the betterment of the economy finalised, the agreement with the Fund would be signed. Talking to newsmen, he said the government was making use of other available options for fulfilling financial requirements of the country and taking different measures for economic development and social prosperity of the country.
There is no doubt that financial woes of the Government have mitigated to some extent because of its successful negotiations with friendly countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and China that have provided monetary assistance besides making commitments for short, medium and long term investment in Pakistan. However, the situation is still far from satisfactory and this is evident from dwindling foreign exchange reserves in the backdrop of repayment of loans and their interest. It is also alarming that government borrowing increased by Rs.2.24 trillion in the first five months of the fiscal year which is indicative of lack of required progress in mobilizing domestic financial resources, which the present Government had pledged with the people before and during election. Whatever tax measures so far taken have led to increasing of the burden on the common man while those who have the capacity to pay remain untouched as before. The very fact that we knock at the doors of IMF despite repeated claims by successive governments that the country would not do so is also reflective of lip-service to the cherished objective of reforming the economy and enabling the country to stand on its own feet. As pointed out by the Prime Minister, whether it is IMF or bilateral donors, no one lends money without getting some concessions. The assurance of the Finance Minister that the Government would sign an accord with the IMF as per national requirements is welcome but the fact remains rates of gas and electricity have already been increased significantly besides massive devaluation apparently in fulfilment of the IMF conditions in advance. Based on the lofty claims made by the leadership, people expect prudent approach on different policy issues by the present Government.