Pakistani, Saudi officials discuss bolstering ties via new media

Pakistan's Additional Secretary Information Shafqat Jalil spoke to the Saudi Minister of Culture and Information, Dr Awad bin Saleh Al Awad to discuss cooperation in the fields of media and culture. (Photo courtesy: @DanyalGilani/Twitter)
Updated 25 June 2018
0

Pakistani, Saudi officials discuss bolstering ties via new media

  • Saudi Minister expressed keenness to evolve Pak-Saudi relationship by way of media exchanges

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Monday discussed ways to bolster bilateral ties by way of increased cooperation in the fields of media and culture.
Shafqat Jalil, additional secretary in Pakistan’s Information Ministry, discussed with Saudi Culture and Information Minister Dr. Awad bin Saleh Al-Awad the importance of new media in the lives of youths, and exploring ways to tap into that.
“We have an independent and vibrant media, and in order to interact and engage with it — the Pakistani and Western mixture of it — we’d have to explore the entire gamut,” Jalil told Arab News.
“Our youths aren’t aware of the relationship we have with Saudi Arabia, and to take forward our relations it’s important to involve new media, be it Facebook, Western media, Twitter etc.,” he said.
“Media personalities from Radio Pakistan and Pakistan Television (PTV) will be extended an invitation for Hajj.”
When asked about a tentative timeline for projects and media exchanges, Jalil said Al-Awad is keen to start but is waiting for Pakistan’s new government to settle in. Al-Awad accepted Jalil’s invitation to visit Pakistan. 
On Saturday, Jalil called for the unconditional restoration of the internationally recognized Yemeni government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and the withdrawal of rebel forces from territories seized by them, including the capital Sanaa.
“Pakistan supports all efforts for peace in Yemen, and urged all parties to return to the negotiation table,” Jalil said.


First round of Pakistan-IMF talks conclude

This file photo shows the logo of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the organization’s headquarters in Washington, DC, May 16, 2011. (AFP/File)
Updated 20 November 2018
0

First round of Pakistan-IMF talks conclude

  • Significant progress has been made that could be supported by a financial arrangement, says IMF.
  • Pakistan refused to increase energy tariff, share information of Chinese assistance, rupee devaluation, local media reports.

KARACHI: Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded talks on Tuesday on a possible bailout package that Islamabad seeks to stabilize its external balance sheet, Pakistani officials confirmed.
“The positive engagement with the IMF will continue over the coming weeks to finalize the program with the Fund,” the Ministry of Finance said in a statement issued at the end of the talks between IMF and Pakistani authorities from Nov. 7 to 20, 2018.
“During this period, extensive talks were held between key ministries of the government of Pakistan, including the Ministries of Finance, Planning, Development and Reform, and Energy, the State Bank of Pakistan, and the IMF Mission,” the statement added.
The discussions covered all sectors of the economy. members of parliament and provincial finance ministries also exchanged views with the mission.
Substantive progress has been made by the government of Pakistan and the IMF mission toward developing a common understanding on the policy and structural reforms framework for the prospective IMF program, including fiscal and monetary measures, corrective interventions for balance of payments sustainability, pro-poor spending, governance and development of a business-friendly environment, the Ministry of Finance said.
“The Pakistani authorities and IMF staff have made significant progress toward reaching an understanding on policy priorities and reforms that could be supported by a financial arrangement with the IMF. Discussions will continue in the coming week toward reaching a staff-level agreement,” the IMF said in its statement issued on Tuesday.
“The IMF mission has been engaged in productive discussions with the Pakistani authorities on economic policies and reforms that could be supported by a financial arrangement with the IMF. In this context, there has been broad agreement on the need for a comprehensive agenda of reforms and policy actions aimed at reducing the fiscal and current account deficits, bolstering international reserves, strengthening social protection, enhancing governance and transparency, and laying the foundations for a sustainable job-creating growth path,” Harald Finger, IMF head of the mission, said.
On Oct. 11, 2018, a Pakistan team headed by Finance Minister Asad Umar had met with Christine Lagarde, managing director of IMF in Bali, Indonesia and had formally requested financial assistance from the IMF to help address Pakistan’s economic challenges.
During meetings with the Pakistani authorities the IMF team called for increasing the power tariff by up to 22 percent, exchange rate flexibility, further monetary tightening, upward revision of tax collection targets, and the sharing of information Islamabad is seeking from Beijing.
However, local media reported that Pakistan has refused to accept demands of an increase in the tax rate and electricity prices. “Disagreements with the IMF continue on certain issues, which include an increase in electricity prices by 20 to 22 percent,” Finance Minister Asad Umar was quoted by local media as saying after the concluding session which he chaired.
Besides, increasing the tax collection target from PKR 4.3 trillion ($0.032 trillion) to PKR 4.7 trillion also remained undecided between the two sides, while Pakistan also refused to further devalue the rupee against the dollar, according to media reports.
On sharing information regarding financial assistance from China, Pakistan refused to “cross red lines.”
The IMF team met with Minister of Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Asad Umar; Minister of Planning Khusro Bakhtiar; Minister of State for Revenues Muhammad Hammad Azhar; Adviser to the Prime Minister for Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood; Adviser to the Prime Minister for Institutional Reforms and Austerity Ishrat Hussain; State Bank of Pakistan Governor Tariq Bajwa; Benazir Income Support Program Chairwoman Sania Nishtar; Finance Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan; Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan, provincial finance ministers, parliamentarians, other senior officials, and representatives of the donor community.
Based on the preliminary findings of this mission, staff will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, will be presented to the IMF’s executive board for discussion and decision.