Miftah Ismail hopeful of positive response from Qatar, Saudi Arabia soon

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail addressing a press conference in Islamabad, on May 28, 2022. — YouTube/PTV

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Miftah Ismail on Monday said that Pakistan has sought financial assistance from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to stabilise the country’s fragile economy.

Speaking during  Geo News‘ programme “Jirga”, Miftah Ismail expressed hope that they would receive a positive response from the countries soon.

“Saudi Arabia, hopefully, will reload [deposit money in Pakistan’s central bank] before December,” the minister told Jirga’s host, “Also, the Kingdom may extend Pakistan’s limit to buy oil on credit.”

The government has also sought support from Qatar, the minister said. “We are talking to Qatar to let us buy liquefied natural gas (LNG) on loan. We are also talking to the UAE [for financial assistance],” he added.

Separately, Ismail explained that a $2.4 billion loan will be received from China in two or three days, as all the formalities related to the loan have been completed after a recent visit by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

Pakistan is also finalising a bailout package with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), prior to which the government hiked up the price of petrol and removed subsidies put in place by the previous government, as demanded by the international lending body.

“If we did not make these decisions [with the IMF] it would have been difficult for Pakistan,” Ismail said on the show. “I am being honest here. We had to save Pakistan from defaulting.” 

The minister added that a further increase in petrol prices cannot be ruled out as it was a “moving target”, meaning it depended on the price of petrol in the international market.

Under a new agreement with the IMF, the price of electricity could also be boosted, revealed the minister.

“In March [former prime minister] Imran Khan reduced the price of electricity by Rs5 per unit,” Miftah Ismail explained, “That will have to be removed at some point.”

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