Imran says party developing ‘viable’ strategy to revive economy after coming to power

His remarks come as the country is in talks with the IMF to secure a final tranche of $1.1 billion since February, which is part of a $6.5 billion bailout package.


In this file photo, former prime minister Imran Khan during an interview with Voice of America on Feb 11, 2023. — screengrab from VoA/file

April 14, 2023

ISLAMABADPTI Chairman Imran Khan said his party is developing a strategy of saving the country from default if he comes to power by negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a “viable way of being able to pay our debts”, it emerged on Thursday.

In an interview with the Financial Times published today, the former premier said: “We’re sitting with our economists [on] how to come up with a plan with which we can sit with the IMF and give them a viable way of being able to pay our debts.

“But at the same time, our economy should not be choked so that our ability to pay debt goes down.”

His remarks come as the country is in talks with the IMF to secure a final tranche of $1.1 billion since February, which is part of a $6.5bn bailout package.

Following Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s multiple assurances in the past few months of sealing the deal soon, an IMF official on Wednesday expressed his confidence that the deal would be signed “soon”.

In his interview, Imran said, “Whatever we do, when we look ahead, the debt is growing, our economy is slowly shrinking. […] From my party’s point of view, we’ve started thinking that we’re stuck.”

Criticising the government for not being able to take the country out of the current economic crisis, he said it “needed to break out of borrowing cycles that have held back developing economies”.

Saying that Pakistan will struggle to break out of a cycle of debilitating debt repayments without reform, he asserted his party would prioritise domestic reforms over seeking debt relief and ruled out a default if his party returned to power.

The Financial Times quoted him explaining that his plans to revive the economy after coming to power included restructuring loss-making state-owned enterprises and boosting the tax base.

“Is the answer getting more loans, or is the answer to restructure the way we run the country?” he asked rhetorically. “We have to conduct surgery in Pakistan in the way we run our government,” the PTI chief told the Financial Times.

“It’s not just Pakistan. Once you start borrowing in dollars and you have to service your debt in dollars,” Imran said. He raised the question of how the country is going to pay its debts if the country’s dollar income doesn’t improve or increase.

“Unless we increase our dollar earnings to exports, I don’t see how we would be able to service any debts in Pakistan — whether it’s Chinese or Paris Club or commercial debts.”

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