Thu, 23 Mar 2023

Islamabad [Pakistan], February 8 (ANI): Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Pakistan government should consider the plight of those affected by floods in the country and ensure that they are protected from economic difficulties, Pakistan-based Dawn newspaper reported.

Pakistan is currently in talks with an IMF delegation to release much-needed money under a stalled bailout programme.

The foreign minister while unveiling a post-flood rebuilding project in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sindh, urged the government and the international lender to provide "relief" to flood-hit people similar to the one given countrywide during the pandemic days in 2020.

Zardari said that it was the responsibility of international organisations including the IMF "to suggest reforms for our betterment but flood affectees must also be provided protection so that they can come out of the current situation".

He said the country faced serious damage in the wake of the floods as 33 million people were affected while five million acres of standing crops were destroyed.

"Agriculture is the backbone of our economy but this flood broke our back," he said while referring to the impact of the calamity.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Government of Pakistan are at a stalemate over Rs 900 billion fiscal gap, a major stumbling block in striking a staff-level agreement reported Geo News.

IMF has worked out a larger gap of approximately Rs 900 billion, equivalent to one per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Pakistan.

IMF is asking to jack up the GST rate by one per cent from 17 to 18 per cent or impose 17 per cent GST on Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants (POL) products, reported Geo News.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is contesting the fiscal gap in achieving the primary deficit. Pakistani authorities have asked the IMF for incorporating a flow of reduction under the revised Circular Debt Management Plan (CDMP) and reduced the amount of required additional subsidy of Rs 605 billion against the earlier target of Rs 687 billion.

Therefore, the fiscal gap stood in the range of Rs 400 to Rs 450 billion. (ANI)

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