Cash-strapped Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday warned that the country may witness more difficult times as it struggles to steer itself out of the ongoing economic crisis.
Sharif also said that his government faced an uphill task to revive a stalled assistance program by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) due to the broken promises with the global lender by the previous government.
He made the remarks while addressing his party Senators just a day after his government clinched an understanding with the IMF to put on track the USD 6 billion program which was signed by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government in 2019 but was suspended as the government failed to fulfill the commitments.
Sharif, who came to power in April after Imran Khan’s government was toppled through a no-confidence vote, made it a priority to revive the IMF program as it would unlock several avenues to access loans from different sources.
After many meetings and hiccups, the two sides on Tuesday night reached a broader understanding to restore the package, providing a much needed boost to Pakistan’s economy.
Sharif said if the previous Khan government had issued with the Fund, it should not have agreed to the terms for the loan, because after inking the deal, it should have been followed.
“The IMF was adamant on us fulfilling all the conditions of the agreementit was a difficult stage and I want to say that more difficulties are to come,” he said.
The premier said that the economic situation would not improve overnight once a deal with the IMF was signed. “Will prosperity come overnight after an agreement is signed? Not at all, (but) we have to strengthen our financial position,” he said.
He said the government had provided a relief package under which the poor families would get Rs 2,000 per month and more steps would be taken to lighten the economic burden of the poor.
He also announced to address the nation in the next few days to inform the people about the steps taken by the government to improve the economic situation.
Sharif thanked China for the USD 2.3 billion loan but added how long countries like China and Saudi Arabia would come to help. He said Pakistan’s fate would change “if we mend our ways and bring improvement”.