KARACHI: Pakistan is finally out of its precarious financial situation due to the timely help of friendly nations such as Saudi Arabia, Unites Arab Emirates and China, officials said on Tuesday.
“The government was following various economic strategies such as managing the balance-of-payments crisis, fixing structural problems of the economy, and attracting foreign investment into the country,” Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, member of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC), told Arab News.
The balance-of-payments issue has been resolved at least for the current fiscal year, he said.
“The country is now looking into the ease and cost of doing business in the country. As for the situation on the foreign investment front, the recent visit of the Saudi crown prince was quite successful,” he added.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the first leg of his Asia tour landed in Islamabad on Sunday, and the two countries signed MoUs and agreement worth $20 billion.
“This is a very good beginning. This visit will also benefit Pakistan since other countries will start looking at it as an investment destination,” Dr Ashfaque Hassan Khan, another EAC member, told Arab News.
He added: “The Saudi investment includes all three types of investment: There is a short term investment of about $7 billion, medium term investment of $2 billion, and long term projects of $12 billion. This is a major development.”
“Now the ball is in our court,” Dr Khan said, adding: “Consider it the first phase of foreign investment. If we finish this in time, the second phase will also start. Like Saudi Arabia, other countries, including Japan, Germany, Turkey, are also in the queue to invest in Pakistan.”
Pakistan is currently also negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to secure about $6 billion, though it has not taken any final decision until now. Experts believe, however, that the country will avail the program for the next fiscal year that begins from July 2019.
“For the next fiscal year, we will most probably be going to the IMF,” Dr Suleri said. “I can say that Pakistan’s economy is on the right track. For the current year, we are out of the balance-of-payments crisis.”
However, Dr Khan strongly opposed the idea of approaching the IMF. “It is strange that despite all these developments, we are still insisting on going to the IMF. The day we will go to the Fund, we will find ourselves in a lot of trouble,” he warned.
It may be recalled, however, that Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar recently said that his government and the IMF were close to signing a deal for a bailout program. “The differences have been narrowed down with the IMF as both sides share common views on the need for structural reforms,” Umar said while addressing a gathering in Peshawar earlier this month.