• Current IMF deal will be last in Pakistan's history: PM Shehbaz

    Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif File photo Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif

    Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday pledged to rid the country of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), saying that the next deal for a bailout package with the global lender will be the last in the country’s history.

    "The current IMF programme will be the last in Pakistan's history," the PM vowed while addressing the nation on Saturday.

    The highlight of PM Shehbaz's address, which was the first since the launch of the federal budget for fiscal year 2024-25, was his pledge to put an end to Pakistan's dependence on foreign aid and bailouts.

    Quality Levels

    The government is currently in talks with the Fund for a loan estimated to be anything between $6 billion to $8 billion, as Pakistan strives to secure a loan programme to avert a default for a slow-paced economy.

    PM Shehbaz Sharif mentioned that there were countries in the world that sought assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) once and never needed it again.

    "We have approached the IMF 24 to 25 times. I assure you today, if we adhere to our programme and targets, the next IMF agreement will be the last in Pakistan's history," PM Shehbaz said.

    He expressed optimism that Pakistan would surpass its neighbouring countries in terms of stability and self-sufficiency.

    The PM urged the entire nation to steer the country towards progress and prosperity.

    Govt to abolish ministries, depts burdening exchequer

    The premier also vowed to abolish all institutions, ministries, and other departments that are burdening the national exchequer and have nothing to do with public service, asserting this move alone would save taxpayers’ billions and foster prosperity.

    “The abolition of all ministries and department which, instead of serving [nation], have become a burden on the masses is indispensable,” the premier stated while addressing the nation on Saturday.

    "It is the prime obligation of the government to end all the extravagant expenses and shut down institutions that are not serving the public in any way.

    "One such department is Public Works Department (PWD). It is known as the "most notorious" one in terms of corruption," the premier added.

    PM Shehbaz slammed the PWD's perks and privileges, including salaries, which he claimed amounted to no less than Rs2 billion annually.

    "The funds this department receives from various ministries and departments for developmental works could total several hundred billion rupees."

    "If the department had a pool of a hundred billion rupees for developmental funds, then 50% or more of that was claimed by corruption," he said.

    The premier said that a ministerial committee had been formed for this purpose and promised the nation positive results in this regard within a few months.

    He added that this move would not only save billions of rupees but also serve as a milestone on the path to prosperity for Pakistan.

    The Prime Minister also announced that one of the world's top companies had been tasked with the complete digitization of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

    "Inefficient personnel within the FBR have been sidelined," he said.

    Govt achieved results on economic front in first 100 days

    “When we came to power, the economic conditions at that time were evident to everyone, and we saved the country from default," he said in the televised address that also marked the completion of one hundred days of government this evening.

    He said that the government's responsible policies had yielded positive results and now the economy was gradually stabilising.

    The PM also noted that all economic indicators were blinking green.

    He credited the former Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leadership including President Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and alliance chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman for pulling the country out of the difficult economic situation.

    PM Shehbaz said inflation dropped to 12% from 38% as a result of the government's policies. Similarly, he noted that the interest rate on loans had been reduced to 20.5% from the previous 22%.

    "This would encourage investment and stimulate business activities and put the country the trajectory of fast-paced prosperity," PM Shehbaz said.

    PM Shehbaz then referred to the latest petrol and diesel price cuts as a "relief" to the inflation-hit masses.

    He, however, admitted that these steps were still not enough amid the "storm of inflation" during the last four years that "broke the backbone" of the poor class.

    Appreciating his government's prudent economic policies, PM Shehbaz said the country was now moving on a path of progress after coming out of economic difficulties.

    "However, this way is not only difficult and long but also requires sacrifice from higher-ups in the government and the elite.

    "The entire nation's eyes are set on the government to see how it steers Pakistan out of the economic crisis and brings about a revolution of prosperity in the country," he added.

    300,000 Pakistanis to be trained in China

    PM Shehbaz promised the nation more measures to provide relief, bring down inflation, expand investments, and create opportunities for higher education for the youth.

    Talking about his visits to China and other countries, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that a system had been established to fully benefit from investments by friendly nations.

    He stressed creating an environment that is conducive to both domestic and foreign investments, ensuring the public sees solid results.

    He also announced plans to train 300,000 Pakistanis in information technology through collaboration with China and to expand IT infrastructure across the country.

    Rising above personal interest

    PM Shehbaz promised that the dream of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and those who sacrificed so much for this country would be realised if the entire nation united to prioritise ending hatred and ego.

    He urged everyone to rise above personal interests and dedicate themselves to serving the poor and destitute.

    "We are committed not only to fulfilling Quaid's dream but also to assuring the nation that no obstacle will be able to deter us if we tirelessly work together with the spirit of sacrifice and selflessness," he added.

    The prime minister said: "Lamenting the past serves no purpose; instead, we must learn from it to reclaim Pakistan's lost glory."

    He emphasised the commitment to realising the vision of Quaid-e-Azam, saying that with a spirit of sacrifice and dedication, "no one can impede our progress."

    PM urges narrowing gap between rich, poor

    The Prime Minister underscored the need to narrow the gaping divide between the rich and the poor, remarking that "the elite are living like royals while salaried class is crushed under the dead weight of taxes".

    In a bid to boost the literacy rate in the country, he said his government had declared an emergency in the education sector to address urgent needs.

    He further stated that institutions dealing billions of rupees of losses annually to the national exchequer over the last many decades were being sold to generate resources. By adopting austerity, the government aims to save money.

    "Instead of establishing factories, we will encourage private sector investment to boost trade," the PM said.

    He noted that all the past attempts of PML-N governments to put the country on the path of progress had always been scuppered by out-of-the-blue disasters or obstacles.

    The PM minced no words as he dubbed terrorists, robbers, electricity pilferers, profiteers, tax evaders, and corrupt officials antagonists of national development and stability and added that "anyone" who disrespected martyrs and veterans was a foe to the nation's progress and prosperity.

    Summing up his address, the PM in his concluding remarks said: "A clear path for the future has been chosen, with no extravagance on public funds and every penny of the nation will be spent on the country's development."