PM Shehbaz Sharif thanks IMF chief for help in concluding $3bn accord

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif photographed on December 14, 2023. PID

LAHORE: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Friday conveyed his profound gratitude to the IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva for her support and assistance in materialising the recently-concluded Stand-by Agreement (SBA) for $3 billion.

During a telephonic conversation with the IMF managing director, Shehbaz appreciated her leadership and professionalism and acknowledged that she strongly felt for the poor and termed her support invaluable.

Ms Georgieva said the prime minister had built a very convincing case, though the IMF Board was skeptical about Pakistan’s commitment to fulfil the conditions of agreement due to the past trust deficit. However, in the light of her continued engagement with the prime minister, she assured the Board that Pakistan will deliver on its commitments as she had personally met the prime minister and seen his seriousness to deliver.

She acknowledged the leadership shown by the prime minister and underlined that there was a strong partnership and mutual trust between both the parties now.

Terming Pakistan an important member of the IMF, she reassured to continue helping Pakistan.

The prime minister, on the occasion, appreciated MD Ms Georgieva for her positive approach and her frank comments during his interaction with her in Paris. Eventually, the hard work on both sides paid off and the Standby Arrangement (SBA) was signed.

The prime minister reassured he will not tolerate an iota of violation of this agreement.

“This government is here till August after which an interim government will take over and I am confident that they will continue to fulfill the obligations.”

He said after the elections, if the people of Pakistan re-elect his government, he is committed to turning over the economy with the help of IMF and development partners.

Referring to Pakistan’s best quality mangoes, the prime minister said it will be an honour to send a gift of Pakistani mangoes to the managing director as a token of respect and deep appreciation.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Thursday performed the ground-breaking of 1,200MW Chashma 5 nuclear power plant in Mianwali on Friday, reports APP.

Speaking on the occasion, he said the history of nuclear energy cooperation between Pakistan and China went back to thirty years. This mutual cooperation to promote clean, efficient and comparatively cheaper energy was a great success, manifesting great friendship and a model for other countries to emulate.

Shehbaz said the Chashma 5 nuclear power project was to be completed in the next seven to eight years. He, however, emphasized reducing this period of installation, saying this would be a great favor to the people of Pakistan.

He also thanked China for providing a discount of Rs30 billion on the project which, he said, was a very kind gesture from the Chinese friends.

Shehbaz Sharif said the K-3 nuclear energy power plant was inaugurated by him in Karachi a few months ago, which was now operational and was equipped with modern technology like C-5.

He said safety arrangements were par excellence and the endorsement in this regard had also come from the head of IAEA.

He commended the financial support provided by China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in recent times.

The prime minister said the risk of potential default had been completely averted through untiring team efforts of all the components of the government.

In her remarks on the occasion, Charge D’affaires of the Chinese Embassy Ms Pang Chunxue said the Chashma 5 nuclear power plant will provide more than 10,000 local jobs and a large number of raw materials, equipment and related services will be purchased locally, which can effectively promote socioeconomic development.

She said China Pakistan cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy had made great achievements. The iron-clad friendship between Pakistan and China was continuously writing new chapters and this was not possible without the joint efforts of both sides, she said. She said under the CPEC, 14 energy projects had been put in commercial operation with a total installed capacity of eight thousand megawatts.

Meanwhile, the prime minister said the government was promoting skilled-based vocational training to expand foreign remittances that would ultimately help improve the current account deficit.

In his address after laying the foundation stone of the central campus of National University of Technology (NUTECH) here, the prime minister said the new campus would help produce thousands of skilled-based human resource every year that would play a key role in the country’s development.

Pledging to make the vocational education as the government’s number one priority, the prime minister said skilled human resource earned more than the raw labour, hence increasing the country’s foreign remittances. He said vocational training was key to prosperity and development in today’s era, as nations get prosperous only at the back of these skilled-based people.

He hoped that after completion, the campus would play a key role in promoting technical and industrial education in the country.

He recalled that he, for the first time in 1997, put his full force to promote vocational training in the country when there was no comprehensive institution to look after this important area of the education sector.

Similarly, he said the Punjab government led by him established the Punjab Education Endowment Fund (PEEF) for which Rs2 billion annual funding was allocated to provide scholarships to talented and deserving students on merit base.

He said this great project under Dr Amjad Saqib brought an educational revolution in the province. Likewise, he said the Danish School project was also his brainchild, which helped bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.

“Until there is discrimination between the rich and poor, especially in the education sector, Quaid-e-Azam’s vision of educational right for all could not be fulfilled.”

He said only one month was left for the PDM government to end and he was still making efforts to provide the maximum relief to the people. Shehbaz also distributed certificates among the high achieving students in various fields.