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IMF ‘not interested’ in releasing loan money to Pakistan: Miftah Ismail

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  • Ishaq Dar has “sabotaged IMF agreement”, says ex-finance czar.
  • Miftah Ismail also claims IMF doesn’t trust Pakistan now.
  • “If Pakistan defaults it will be a grave situation.” 

As Pakistan continues to woo the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to secure the much-needed bailout from the global lender, former finance minister Miftah Ismail claimed that the Washington-based lender is “not interested” in giving money to the cash-strapped nation.

Pakistan is now the only South Asian country that’s yet to secure a bailout from the multilateral lender as Sri Lanka clinched financing this week and Bangladesh pushes on with carrying out IMF-mandated reforms.

Pakistan has taken tough measures including increasing taxes and energy prices, and allowing its currency to weaken to restart a $6.5 billion IMF loan package. The funds will offer some relief to a nation still reeling from a dollar shortage that has raised the probability of the economy slipping into a recession ahead of elections this year.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Miftah, while speaking during a session titled ‘Pakistan in the midst of crisis’ organised by a private university in Karachi, said that when he was heading the Ministry of Finance, he spoke to the IMF officials and assured them that Pakistan would not make false statements or violate the agreement; however, when Ishar Dar was sworn in “he sabotaged the agreement”.

He recalled that Pakistan has three times made sovereign commitments and has then gone back on them.

“Now the IMF is not interested in giving money to Pakistan,” he said, emphasising that the Washington-based lender doesn’t trust the government in Islamabad. 

‘Petrol subsidy formula not effective’

Regarding the petrol relief subsidy announced by the government on Sunday, Miftah said that he believes this formula would not be effective.

“We provide subsidies on petrol by taking loans,” he said. Since the government announced the petroleum subsidy — which initially amounted to Rs50 per litre amount and was later increased to Rs100 per litre — several red flags were raised as analysts and economic experts have been criticising the move as it may jeopardise the ongoing struggle to convince the IMF board.

IMF’s resident representative for Pakistan Esther Perez Ruiz had also clarified that said the Washington-based lender wasn’t consulted on the government’s plan to raise fuel prices for wealthier motorists to finance a subsidy for lower-income people.

“Fund staff are seeking greater details on the scheme in terms of its operation, cost, targeting, protections against fraud and abuse, and offsetting measures, and will carefully discuss these elements with the authorities,” she said.

This is not the first time petrol price subsidies have been a sticking point for the IMF. The previous government led by former premier Imran Khan had given out petrol subsidies, which stalled the IMF programme last year.

Warning of the risks, Miftah mentioned that if Pakistan defaults it will be a grave situation for the country as people belonging to the rich segment will bear the brunt but the poor people won’t be able to make ends meet.

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The inaugural flight of Azerbaijan Airlines is between Baku and Karachi.

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The national airline of Azerbaijan launched direct flights from Baku to Karachi today. There will be two weekly flights on this route, on Thursdays and Sundays.

The first flight will land in Karachi, and Azerbaijan’s ambassador, Khazar Farhadov, will be there to greet it.

This evening also marks the departure of the inaugural flight from Karachi to Baku, in addition to the arrival of the flight from Baku.

Azerbaijan Airlines said last month that it would be growing its network and flight operations in Pakistan.

Aviation insiders have verified that Azerbaijan Airlines is preparing to launch service to Karachi in the coming month of April.

In addition to its current services in Islamabad and Lahore, the airline plans to launch its Karachi route on April 18, with the inaugural flight anticipated to depart on that date.

Azerbaijan Airlines has been given permission to operate flights on the Karachi route, according to sources within the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Following a bilateral agreement between the two nations, Azerbaijan Airlines has been given permission to extend its operations in Pakistan.

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Fly Jinnah opens a new route internationally.

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Two weekly flights will be the starting frequency of the new route, which will connect the two cities.

According to a representative for Fly Jinnah, the company is pleased to announce the opening of a third international route from Islamabad to Muscat, the capital city of Oman, marking another significant milestone after the successful debut of flights from Islamabad and Lahore to Sharjah.

According to him, this development is in line with our goal of giving our clients more options for reasonably priced, value-driven local and international air travel.

The airline serves five main cities in Pakistan: Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, and Quetta. Its fleet consists of five Airbus A320 aircraft, all of which are contemporary.

In addition to the current flight path to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, this new route expands Fly Jinnah’s network of foreign destinations.

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Tajir Dost app: traders don’t seem interested in registering

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To tax retailers in Pakistan, the Tajir Dost app was released. The sources stated that the government hopes to tax 3.5 million merchants through the app.

Ajmal Baloch, the president of All-Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran, stated that he made reservations with FBR on the SRO within a week.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), according to him, cannot be a “Tajir Dost” because of its unethical actions.

Baloch believed that since electricity bills allow traders to pay a predetermined advance income tax, further taxes are unnecessary.

The trader, according to him, is already paying thirteen different kinds of taxes on the commercial meter. “A trader already pays between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 20,000 in taxes annually, but you are requesting Rs. 1,200 per month in taxes.”

Mr. Ajmal summoned representatives of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to a meeting with the trade associations to talk about the indirect taxes that the merchants are paying.

Additionally, he claimed that FBR officers are charging the traders, the majority of whom are less educated, “monthly charges.”

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