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Pakistan going for massive reforms, says PM Shehbaz

Claims massive reforms will also hit him
Closing session of World Economic Forum - PM Shehbaz Sharif addresses - Aaj News

Pakistan is going for massive reforms, said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday as the cash-crunch country seeks new bailout package from the International Monetary Fund to have economic stability.

“We are now going for massive reforms, deep-rooted structural reforms, it will hit me. As the PM obviously I have to lead with an example,” he said while speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Closing Plenary: Rejuvenating Growth’ during the special meeting of the World Economic Forum in Riyadh.

His statements come against the backdrop of talks with the IMF with whom the country is seeking a new multi-billion dollar loan agreement to support its economic reform programme.

The country is nearing the end of a nine-month, $3 billion loan programme with the lender designed to tackle a balance-of-payments crisis which brought it to the brink of default last summer.

Earlier this month, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva told an event that there very important issues to be solved in Pakistan ahead of the new programme. She cited the tax base, the contribution of the richer part of society to the economy, the public spending direction and creating a more transparent environment.

PM Shehbaz had made similar promises in his first stint during the 16-month government of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, like the decision to impose a “super tax”. But in July 2023, the Islamabad High Court declared the imposition of super tax on various companies as against the law.

At the panel discussion, the premier did not explicitly mentioned the reforms.

“We have to stand on our feet,” he said and admitted that it was difficult but not impossible. “We have to go for meaningful austerity,” the premier said and added that the young population of the country was a great opportunity for the country to equip them with skills related to the modern technology.

He was hopeful that such a population could become self-earners, work abroad, and contribute to the economy after acquiring skills. The premier stressed the need for promoting the agriculture sector with modern technologies and providing farmers with best seeds and fertilisers.

“It’s a humongous task. We have to go for higher exports,” he said and reiterated that deep-rooted structural reforms were needed. “You have to separate black sheep from the white.”

While mentioning the government efforts, he said: “Come what may I will not accept any pressure I will move forward with a sense of purpose and make Pakistan fined its place in comity of nations through hard work.”

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According to the premier, he was determined to put things in order.

Before his response, he stated that the world would not be in peace unless there was permanent peace in Gaza.

He mentioned the impact of Ukraine war and 2022 floods on Pakistan. “Global north has to appreciate that global south will survive then they will survive, vice a versa.”

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Shehbaz Sharif

Prime Minister

World Economic Forum

imf Pakistan

IMF programme

Saudia Arabia

Pakistan IMF talks