This will be Pakistan’s last deal with IMF: PM

In his televised address to nation, Shehbaz Sharif says departments plagued by corruption to be shut down

PM Shehbaz conveys Eid greetings to leaders of Qatar, Oman.

ISLAMABAD  -  Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday while addressing to nation counted his government’s achievements during the first 100 days and said that we have begun implementing a five-year agenda of economic stability in the country.

As part of this plan, he said, the government is all set to take tough decisions about abolishing corrupt or loss-making ministries and departments besides widening tax net and doing away with red tapism to achieve Quaid’s Pakistan.

The prime minister, in his maiden address to the nation, said that the government’s prudent economic policies had resulted in reduced inflation from 38 percent to 12 percent, interest rate from 22 percent to 20 percent and repeated reduction in oil prices with the latest one on Friday - Rs10.5 per litre reduction in petrol and Rs 2.5 per litre in diesel prices.

“We have defined the future course of action and we will pursue it with utmost honesty and strictness. We will spend every saved penny on public welfare... We will eliminate red tapism... This journey is not only difficult and long but also demands sacrifice from the government authorities as well as the elite,” he said.

He said the country’s economic situation in April 2022, when the PDM government took the charge, was in worst condition and the country was on the brink of default. PM Shehbaz Sharif pointed out that the PDM government under the leadership of the allied party heads including Muhammad Nawaz Sharif took tough decision and saved the country from falling into default at the cost of their political gains.

“As a result of our performance of 16 months in the previous tenure and 100 days in current tenure, today, Pakistan is slowly coming out of the crisis and moving towards stability and development,” he added.

He said the journey of the economic stability and prosperity was not so easy while the people were looking toward the government for immediate relief. Due to the government’s pro-people policies, he said the inflation hit people will get further relief in near future, he said.

“Similarly, the 22 percent interest rate has now come down to 20 percent that would help reducing the interest burden on the country’s debts and further promote the domestic investment in the country.”

He advised the nation to get united and play role for the country’s development and prosperity adding that it should also show a sense of sacrifice and adopt austerity measures in their lifestyles.

PM Shehbaz Sharif cited the Pakistan Public Works Department (PWD) as an example of a government department plagued by corruption, which had a devastating impact on the country’s economy. He revealed that a staggering 50% of funds worth over a hundred billions of rupees allocated to development projects are lost to corruption within this department.

“I have decided that those ministries and departments which had become a hub of corruption must have to be eliminated,” he said adding that in this regard a ministerial committee had also been formed.

He expressed his commitment to take solid decisions in one and a half month-time. “You will see a big change in this regard in less than two months,” he added.

Recently, he said he visited China where the agreements amounting to billions of dollars were signed. Similarly he said, the UAE government had also committed to invest at least $10 billion in various Pakistan’s sectors.

The prime minister told that the government had also chalked out a comprehensive strategy to materialize the committed foreign investment in Pakistan’s various sectors including mines and minerals, agriculture, information technology and others under Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).

“But before that, we have to create such an environment that we should ensure the domestic investment. We have the best financial experts, businessmen, traders and industrialists who could boost the domestic investment and play role in the country’s development and prosperity,” he said.

He informed that the government was in progress to fully digitize the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) system. The digitization of the FBR will help boosting the tax collection and reducing the departmental corruption,” he added.

He said the incapable and corrupt elements in FBR had been side lined while the efficient and honest officers were being encouraged to increase the FBR’s efficiency and boost revenue collection which had already shown a significant increase of record 30 percent this year as compared to the last year.

The prime minister hoped that “if we succeed in implementing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme and achieve the targets set in the recent budget for upcoming fiscal year 2024-25, this will be the country’s last IMF programme and will leave our neighbours far behind in this race of development and economic growth.”

He said that the government on Friday also approved a massive reduction of electricity tariff for the industrial sector across the country which was expected to provide relief of over Rs 200 billion to the industry. “It will help bring down the manufacturing cost of the goods making them competitive in the global market.”

He said the business community had expressed satisfaction over the budget announced by the federal government for the year 2024-25. He also vowed to minimize the gap between rich and poor, saying that without it the country cannot be developed. In May 2024, he said the overseas Pakistanis had dispatched over $3 billions of remittances which reflected their trust on the incumbent government.

The prime minister said the government had established a Pakistan Endowment Fund under which the deserving children and students especially from remote areas of the country would be given free education.

He told that the government had embarked upon its five-year national development plan under which tough decisions would be implemented to bring the country out of economic crisis and put it on the path of prosperity. The government, he said will no more construct industries, nor it will do any business. “We will promote the private sector, facilitate them, and support them so that the private sector could play its due role in the country’s development.”

He emphasised that the journey of development was not an easy task as there were several elements creating hurdles. However, he believed that this time no such elements would succeed in creating hurdles in the country’s journey of development. He resolved that he would not take any pressure and would take every tough decision that would be in the larger interest of the country.

He also sought the nation’s support and guidance in implementing the tough decision taken by the government. Meanwhile, speaking on the Israel’s aggression in Gaza, the prime minister strongly condemned the Israel’s brutality in Gaza where over 40,000 innocent Palestinians including thousands of children had been martyred.

Additionally, he also urged for an immediate end to the atrocities perpetrated by the occupying forces in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir against the innocent Kashmiri people.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday held a telephonic conversation with Amir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani on the auspicious occasion of Eid ul Adha.

The prime minister extended warm greetings and best wishes to the amir, the government, and the brotherly people of Qatar on behalf of the government and people of Pakistan, PM Office Media Wing said in a press release.

The two leaders exchanged views on the importance of Eid ul Adha, which symbolizes sacrifice, compassion, and unity.

“At this joyous moment, both leaders also spoke about the plight of the brave and innocent people of Palestine and urged the international community to redouble peace efforts and ensure an immediate end to violence and bloodshed in the region,” it was further added.

The prime minister and the amir reaffirmed the strong bond of friendship and brotherhood between Pakistan and Qatar, rooted in shared values and mutual respect. They discussed ways to further strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields.

The prime minister expressed his appreciation for Qatar’s support and cooperation with Pakistan, particularly in the areas of trade, investment, and labor.

The two leaders agreed to continue to work together to promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and beyond.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif thanked the amir for graciously accepting the invitation to undertake an official visit to Pakistan and said the dates of his visit would be worked out soon.

Also, Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday held a telephone conversation with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of the Sultanate of Oman to extend warm greetings and best wishes on the auspicious occasion of Eid ul Azha.

The prime minister expressed his heartiest felicitations to the Sultan, the government, and the people of Oman, and prayed for their well-being, prosperity, and happiness.

Sultan Haitham bin Tariq reciprocated the greetings and best wishes and expressed his appreciation for the prime minister’s thoughtful gesture.

On this blessed occasion, both leaders also prayed for peace and unity among the ranks of the Muslim Ummah, PM Office Media Wing said in a press release.

During the conversation, the two leaders reaffirmed the strong bond of friendship and brotherhood between Pakistan and Oman, rooted in shared values and mutual respect.

They also discussed ways to further strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields.

The two leaders also discussed the regional situation, particularly developments in Palestine and agreed to continue to work together to promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and beyond.

The prime minister reiterated his cordial invitation to the Sultan to undertake an official visit to Pakistan at his earliest convenience.

The prime minister, on X account, said that it was a pleasure to speak with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman on the blessed occasion of Eid ul Azha.

“While exchanging Eid greetings, we reaffirmed the strong ties of friendship and cooperation between our two nations as well as our common desire to promote peace, progress and prosperity within the Muslim Ummah and in the broader region,” he added in the post.