News Desk |
The private TV channel, ARY News, has reported, this morning, that the Government of Pakistan on Monday has decided to change five ministers in its cabinet, including finance minister Asad Umar and Interior Minister Shehryar Afridi. Asad Umar is currently in New York after his discussions with IMF team in Washington.
However, Information Minister, Fawad Chaudhry, has clarified through a tweet that this news story by ARY, which was again stated in subsequent channel’s headlines, the bulletin is not accurate at all. He added that change of portfolios is Prime Minister’s mandate and media should avoid in creating sensations when the country is passing through a difficult stage. He later appeared on media and called this news item as disinformation being created whenever Pakistan makes progress with IMF, He asked media to wait, avoid sensations. However, the tv channel insists that its story is credible and is coming from sources from inside the cabinet.
حکومتی وزراء کے قلمدان تبدیل کئے جانے کے حوالے سے خبروں میں کوئ صداقت نہیں، وزراء کی تبدیلی وزیر اعظم کا صوابدیدی اختیار ہے میڈیا اس ضمن میں ذمہ داری کا مظاہرہ کرے۔ اس وقت پاکستان اہم مرحلے سے گزر رہا ہے اور اس نوعیت کی قیاس آرائیوں سے ہیجان جنم لیتا ہے، جو ملک کے مفاد میں نہیں
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) April 15, 2019
As per initial media reports, after ARY claims, the performance of ministers has been observed over 9 months and after detailed deliberation, the government has decided to shuffle five ministers. Aijaz Shah will be given responsibilities interior minister, replacing Shehryar Afridi; Asad Umar will reportedly be given petroleum ministry.
Last week Asad Umar led a high-level delegation to Washington DC for talks with the IMF on Pakistan receiving funding after entering an IMF program. While Finance minister had claimed that issues are almost settled and IMF team will be visiting Pakistan later this months. However, media reports indicate that issues are not fully settled and now IMF team may be visiting Pakistan in May instead of April.
IMF wants disclose on Chinese cooperation on nuclear program and JF-17 fighter planes?
Pakistan’s major English paper, Dawn, is reporting from Washington, that so far there has been no agreement between the two parties with differences cited over IMF wanting a free-floating exchange rate and details of Chinese loans to Pakistan. Dawn story, by Anwar Iqbal, claimed that IMF wants full disclosure of Pakistan’s financial arrangements with China including those related to the joint production of JF-17 fighter planes and nuclear cooperation.
Previously it was believed that IMF wants full details on CPEC; nuclear program cooperation with China and JF-17 fighter plane financial details have never been heard before. The delegation – comprised of State Bank Governor Tariq Bajwa, Finance Secretary Younas Dagha, and Economic Affairs Secretary Noor Ahmed — had also discussed various economic and development projects with the World Bank.
PTI government took over a stagnating economy in August 2018 – with a current account deficit of close to $2 billion per month, devaluation close to 20% since December 2017, and declining FBR revenues. Asad Umar imposed regulatory duties on all kinds on non-essential imports which has brought the deficit down to $150m last month.
The currency has devalued a further 10 percent under the PTI government which has led to higher inflation, but analysts state this is expected to peak next month around 10.5% before coming down. The finance minister is on record saying that Pakistan will have to go through a tough 1-1.5 years before things can improve.