Adviser to the P.M. on Finance says key sticking point on autonomy of State Bank of Pakistan has been resolved
Adviser to the P.M. on Finance Shaukat Tarin on Monday claimed that the government had resolved all concerns voiced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and an agreement to resume the suspended $6 billion Extended Fund Facility will be signed this week.
Addressing a ceremony to launch the Pakistan Single Window—a system intended to provide a single entry point for traders and transporters to fulfill regulatory requirements—he noted a key issue had been the global lender’s demand for total autonomy for the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). “We have shared the legal opinion on the State Bank of Pakistan with the Fund,” he said, adding that the IMF had been informed that the government needed a constitutional amendment for this and lacked the numbers in Parliament to ensure it.
The de facto finance minister returned to Pakistan last week after spending several weeks in Washington in a bid to revive the suspended Extended Fund Facility. However, no deal could be signed, as both sides had disagreements over some conditions of the IMF. In his address, Tarin stressed that all issues had now been resolved and there would be “good news” for the nation within this week.
Tarin said the government’s basic job was to provide facilities to the people. “We are giving targeted subsidies to control inflation. It is a global problem and prices in the international market are out of my control,” he said of rampant inflation. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, inflation in Pakistan’s consumer prices climbed from 9 percent in September to 9.2 percent in October.
The adviser sought to offload blame to the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing that it had badly affected the global supply chain while the cost of production and shipping had also gone up. He said the world economy was on the path to recovery and business activities would not only resume, but also grow at a much faster pace. In this scenario, he said, there was dire need to take advantage of this situation.
“The worst seems to be over and as economies begin to recover globally, we expect business activity to resume and in fact grow at a much faster pace. Pakistan and Pakistani businesses have to be ready to take advantage of new opportunities,” he said.
Discussing the Pakistan Single Window initiative, he said it would not only facilitate international trade but also help accelerate the digital transformation of the public sector agencies connected to international trade. He said the initiative would promote competitiveness, transparency and efficiency and lauded Pakistan Customs for leading it.
He said he expected the Single Window to provide a comparative advantage to Pakistani businesses and the trading community to enter new markets to enhance exports. In addition, he said, it would help counter financial crimes and trade-based money laundering through the integration of international shipping and databases, adding that it would eventually allow for the seamless provision of information to Customs, State Bank of Pakistan and other relevant agencies.