IMF’s intrusive approach

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THE delegation of International Monetary Fund (IMF) has extended its stay in Pakistan for making more efforts to strike a consensus on the staff-level agreement as both sides so far persisted with their respective differences on ‘immediate measures’ for reducing the revenue-expenditure gap and fixing cash bleeding energy sector. Apart from pressing the Government to ‘do more’ on the front of ‘tough decisions’, the Fund, reportedly is asking Islamabad “to reduce its trade and commerce reliance on Beijing” and look for other international options by signing free trade agreements with other countries too.
Countries approach IMF because of financial and economic constraints and are, therefore, forced to accept conditionalities that impinge upon their political sovereignty. This is evident from what is happening after signing of a deal between Pakistan and IMF as the authorities are pressurized to do things that have already complicated economic situation in the country. Quality of life has suffered due to the measures adopted by the present Government at the instance of the IMF and it is all the more worrying that the Fund is insisting on carrying forward the same policies. Devaluation of rupee, increase in prices of electricity and gas and imposition of a number of taxes including those on food items have resulted into record inflation but not led to any worthwhile improvement in financial health of the country. More alarmingly, it is now dictating the country on the choice of the countries with which it should do commerce and trade with clear bias towards China. Previously, some vested interests wanted Pakistan to present complete record of CPEC-related projects to IMF and now it is asking Islamabad to reduce its trade with China. Pakistan has signed FTAs with some countries and talks are underway with some others but IMF has no business to tell Pakistan to do or not to do trade with any country as such decisions are made on the basis of national interests.