Shehbaz vehemently dispels default speculations

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Debts will be paid on time, PM informed

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday said that “those who wish to turn Pakistan into Sri Lanka will be disappointed as always” as he shunned rumours of further deteriorating the country’s economy.

PM Shehbaz made these remarks while presiding over a meeting of the government’s economic team and vowed to “save” the economy that he said, “was destroyed by the previous government”.

PM Shehbaz directed the government’s economic team to take all necessary steps to stabilise the economy and provide relief to the people.

The premier also ordered strict action against the smuggling of dollars and other foreign currency. During the meeting, it was also stressed that Pakistan must meet its commitments to all financial institutions.

Earlier, the federal cabinet formally accorded its approval to the signing of a final deal over the Reko Diq project on Dec 15. After the approval given to the ministry of petroleum and other relevant ministries and with its final signing, the agreement over Reko Diq project would be implemented.

The federal cabinet meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The meeting comprehensively discussed the reconstitution of the Reko Diq project agreement, PM Office Media Wing said in a press release. Addressing the participants, the prime minister said the government of Pakistan would ensure protection of the rights of investors and fulfill its commitment.

The federal cabinet endorsed a decision of the Economic Coordination Committee taken on Dec 11 regarding the Reko Diq project funding plan. The meeting was apprised that for the settlement of the agreement of Reko Diq project, a legal opinion was solicited from the Supreme Court through filing of a presidential reference under Article 186 of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court on Dec 9 had given an opinion, observing that the reconstitution process of the Reko Diq project was transparent and the agreements signed in this regard were legal. The Supreme Court’s advice was already sought over the Foreign Investment (Promotion and Protection) Bill, 2022 (Amendment Act) under discussion in parliament, it was added.

The meeting accorded approval to the inking of final agreements over the settlement of Reko Diq project upon the recommendation of Petroleum Division. In this regard, under Rules of Business 1973, the secretary/additional secretary petroleum division were given a nod to sign the said deal on behalf of the government of Pakistan.

The cabinet approved the regulatory framework for the state-owned enterprises and its special purposes vehicles (SPVs), the government of Balochistan SPVs and Reko Diq project company.

The meeting was apprised that with the consensus of allied parties, it was agreed that the legislation was related to the extent of Reko Diq project only.

To remove certain legal issues, a five-member cabinet committee including Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar, Minister for Trade Syed Naveed Qamar and Minister for Economic Division Sardar Ayaz Sadiq was formed.

The committee would hold discussions with the leaders of the allied parties and would remove their apprehensions by taking them on board. It was further agreed that in consultations with the relevant parties, the amendment would be made.

During the meeting Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan and the Federal Board of Revenue officials briefed the premier on the country’s economic situation.

The country’s loan repayment schedule and ongoing talks with the global money lender, the IMF, were also discussed.

The economic team also informed the PM about the country’s foreign exchange reserves and the factors impacting the dollar.

“There is no chance of bankruptcy,” the finance minister said adding that “debts will be paid on time”.