Miftah shares details of Rs 28b relief package, says IMF deal to be finalized next month

ISLAMABAD (APP): While sharing the details of Rs28 billion relief package, announced by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Minister for Finance and Revenue, Miftah Ismail here on Saturday said that the staff level agreement with International Monetary Fund would be signed next month (June).
Addressing a press conference here, the minister said that the funds under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) would be released after final approval by the IMF board. The minister was flanked by Minister of State for Finance, Ayesha Ghous Pasha.
Miftah said that the fund, which had to provide $3 billion, has been requested to extend the program by one year and provide additional $2 billion, adding accordingly the country expects around $5 billion from the fund.
He said, that the programme with IMF was not important just because the country gets money from the fund rather, it is important because it opens ways for getting funds from other multilateral organization like Word Bank and Asian Development Bank.
He said, once unlocked by IMF, Pakistan would get money from multilateral organization adding that around $8.9 billion were already in pipeline from World Bank.
The minister justified increase in petrol prices, saying that no doubt it would increase inflation but if the increase had not been done, it would lead to more inflation as the burden would fall on the government and resultantly more devaluation of rupee.
He said, after increasing the prices of petrol, not only rupee was strengthened against Dollar by around 2.5 but stock market also moved positively adding that it would also have positive impact on banks, Kibor would also reduce and mitigate the liquidity pressure faced by government.
The minister said, the government intended to provide relief to the poor against the inflationary pressure which was created due to inability of the previous government.
He said the government would try its best to provide maximum relief to the poor of the country.
Giving details about the PM relief package, the minister said ‘Sasta Petrol and Sasta Diesel’ scheme would benefit around one third population of the country by providing cash to 14 million households (84,000,000 people).
Disbursement of Rs2, 000 to each household would start from June, bringing the total relief amount to Rs28 billion in June.
He said around 7.3 million recipients were already registered with Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) and if these are excluded there are 6.7 poor households having below 37 poverty score.
He said, the BISP participants would be provided immediate relief or Rs2, 000 whereas women head of those households who are not registered should send their CNIC on phone number 786 for registration for the program. Accordingly, all the people having income less than 40,000 would be eligible for the relief.
He said, the relief scheme would be incorporated in the federal budget for the fiscal year 2022-23.
To a question on privatization, the minister said, there was no talk on privatization with IMF this time. However, he added, the country needed to privatize certain entities including Discos and power companies for its own interest to reduce burden on national exchequer.
He said that Saudi Arabia has already announced extension of its $3 billion deposits to Pakistan and hinted that some more support was expected from that country the details of which would be shared in July. To a question on import ban, the minister said that ban was imposed on import of chocolates and perform in bulk, however personally anyone can get it for personal use.

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