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Country is going towards a big programme with the IMF: Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb

KARACHI: Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb has said that the country is going towards a big programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Addressing Gong ceremony at Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi on Friday, Muhammad Aurangzeb said the government would continue engagement for microeconomic stability with the IMF.

The minister said the government would hold talks with the IMF on April 14 and 15 in Washington and discuss initial features of the new programme. However, a detailed discussion on the programme would be held in Pakistan, Muhammad Aurangzeb added.

He said the caretaker government also worked to improve the economy and due to its efforts the economy would stabilise soon. He acknowledged that the caretakers’ staff level agreement with the IMF was important for economic stability.

Muhammad Aurangzeb said that the stock market has an important role in improving the economy. Looking at things, it seemed that the stock market was going in the right direction, he added.

He also highlighted the performance of the agriculture sector which grew by 5 percent, with high yield of rice and wheat. He said the government was working fast for reforms in the FBR (Federal Board of Revenue).

He admitted “tax leakages” and said it has to be stopped. "There are Rs1.7 trillion worth cases pending with the FBR. Efforts are being made to decide the cases within three months," he continued.

Muhammad Aurangzeb said that thanks to better economic policies, the economy would soon be stable. He was all praise for Shehbaz Sharif for the SBA agreement during his term as a caretaker. He claimed that inflation has decreased and exchange rate is stable due to former caretaker regime’s steps.

He said the government would outsource airports and privatise PIA. The work on privatisation of PIA has started, he added.

Aleem Khan cannot carry out privatisation programme alone, other ministries have to work together, he maintained.

Finance Minister stressed for reforming tax system to improve country's economy. Highlighting the role of private sector in economic development, he said the importance of capital market in promoting economic development is fundamental.

He said in coordination with the relevant departments, the government will work on creating a conducive regulatory environment for economic growth.

The government will focus more on capital market to enhance market efficiency, transparency and investor protection.

Alluding to importance of Chinese investment and partnership, the Finance Minister called for increasing cooperation between Pakistan Stock Exchange and Chinese stock exchanges.

Later, talking to media, he said a twelve billion rupees Ramadan package has already been given by government to provide relief to the people.

He said current account of the country is improving and it was in surplus last month.

PSX Chairman Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, while speaking through video link, said that positive steps were being taken to improve the stock market.

She said that the banking sector was performing better and we are planning to sign agreements with the sector.

She expressed the hope that these agreements would open new avenues for investors.

She revealed that the World Bank has expressed desire to work in the energy sector.

Dr. Shamshad stressed on strengthen the linkages between the banking sector and the capital market. She placed emphasis on digitisation of revenue system.

Earlier, Finance Minister Aurangzeb attended the gong ceremony of the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) and opened day's trading by ringing the bell.

The KSE-100 index gained 90 points to reach 67,232 points in the early morning trading.