Never said we would not approach IMF, says Asad Umar

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ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Asad Umar told reporters on Saturday that approaching the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package was unavoidable and that he never said the government would not approach the Fund.

Addressing a press conference here earlier today, Umar shared that Pakistan has signed a total of 18 loan agreements with the IMF so far, seven of which took place during military rule and the rest during PML-N and PPP tenure.

“I never said we would not approach IMF. Our current account deficit is running into $2 billion a month and our trade deficit has increased due to globally rising petrol prices. The bailout was unavoidable,” he told the media.

The country’s foreign exchange reserves stood at $8.4 billion in September 2018, he said.

Umar said the government is in talks with friendly countries for loans. No one including Saudi Arabia and China has imposed strict restrictions on Pakistan in exchange of loans, he shared.

The finance minister said the past government had also talked to the IMF for a bailout, and the present government did not delay approaching the Fund.

The stock market rose by 600 points the day after news broke of IMF talks, he pointed out.

Umar said the government has told IMF that subsidies are necessary for the poor.

“We have to boost our exports or else we won’t be able to [break the cycle] of debt,” he said, adding that the government will devise a framework with IMF to boost the country’s exports.

On the recent statement by the United States blaming Chinese debt for Pakistan’s bailout request to IMF, Umar said it is not true and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is not the reason.

He added that managing currency is the responsibility of the State Bank, not the Ministry of Finance.

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