PM Shehbaz addresses federal cabinet meeting on austerity measures


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is currently addressing a federal cabinet meeting regarding the expected austerity measures as a staff-level accord with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is to be signed this week, which the country desperately needs to stave off default.

Addressing the meeting in Islamabad today, Shehbaz said “one or two items” were remaining in the completion of the IMF agreement but it would “soon be achieved”.

He called on the government to display a performance that was needed in this “difficult time” being faced by the country due to various reasons, including “imported inflation, IMF conditions or the performance of the previous government”.

The premier elaborated that the performance comprised “retrenchment, simplicity and sacrifices”, citing that the disasters faced by the nation in the past had involved the poor making the “most sacrifices”.

He raised the question if all “affluent” people had contributed to the efforts made during those difficult times.

Shehbaz called for the nation to “learn from the past and decide to move forward” while admitting that it was “neither easy nor a joke” of how the incumbent government was expected to deal with the current economic crisis.

He asserted the government was trying at its full capacity but “practical steps” were needed. Asking the wealthier segment of society to contribute, he said “leadership by personal example” was needed.

The prime minister’s media talk also coincides with the start of the opposition PTI’s “Jail Bharo Tehreek” — an organised campaign to court arrests — which is billed by party chief Imran Khan as a counter to the “attack” on the party’s fundamental rights and the “economic meltdown”.

The premier further told the meeting, “We have to stand up and accept the challenge today and let the nation know that the Pakistani nation is a strong nation.

“Pakistan’s government is ready to do everything to face these challenges and would not fall into any confusion,” Shehbaz asserted.

Acknowledging that the measures of entrenchment and simplicity would not reduce the burden of inflation, he said they would reduce the resentment “that had been accumulating in the people because of “what had been happening for the past 75 years”.

The prime minister said those measures would make the people realise that the “government, politicians and bureaucracy have decided from the core of their hearts to show the spirit of sacrifice”.

More to follow.

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