Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif has indicated that the new International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme is expected to extend for three years.

Addressing the session of the Special Investment Facilitation Council’s (SIFC) apex committee, attended by both civil and military leadership on Thursday, the PM mentioned that a new installment of the loan from the IMF is anticipated in a few days. However, he underscored the necessity for another programme.

He highlighted the unity displayed by the civil-military leadership and elected lawmakers from various political parties in today’s session, emphasising their collective commitment to the country’s development and prosperity.

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Regarding the economic challenges, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of the SIFC in facilitating foreign investments and acknowledged its significant role over the past eight months. He credited Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir for his pivotal role in establishing the SIFC.

Prime Minister Shehbaz emphasised the imperative of implementing reforms under the IMF programme to attain macroeconomic stability. He noted the shortfall in revenues, highlighting the need to increase them to Rs13 to 14 trillion from the current Rs9 trillion.

Furthermore, he outlined the government’s plans to digitise the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to address issues such as electricity theft, which annually costs the national exchequer Rs400 billion. During the caretaker government’s tenure, measures were taken to save Rs87 billion in electricity expenses.

PM Shehbaz also highlighted the pressing issue of circular debt in electricity and gas, which has surged to Rs5 trillion.

He underscored the importance of unity among the federal and provincial governments to address these challenges collectively.

Shehbaz Sharif urged the expedited privatisation of loss-making state-owned entities, citing Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), burdened with a debt of Rs825 billion, as an example.

Acknowledging the need for tough decisions, the Prime Minister admitted that subsidies had been disproportionately allocated to the elite segments of society, emphasising the importance of redistributing the financial burden to those capable of bearing it.