World

Pakistan to ban cheese import, to avoid IMF Bailout

Pakistan to ban cheese import, to avoid IMF Bailout

The economic advisors of Pakistan are thinking over banning of imports of luxury cars, smartphones and cheese a well-planned strategy in order to discourage the flowing out of international monetary funds, a senior government have been quoted to have said.
While there are still not decisions made about the strategies to avoid the Pakistan's ballooning current account deficit by the newly formed Economic Advisory Council (EAC) underscores the new government's determination to avoid another IMF bailout. 
These Talks were held at the first session of EAC (Economic Advisory Council) that happened last week, led by the Finance Minister Asad Umar, who took office last month. 
A lull in Pakistani exports and a relative spike in imports have led to a shortage of dollars in the economy, putting pressure on the local currency and dwindling foreign currency reserves. 
A university professor Ashfaque Hasan Khan, who is one of more than a dozen EAC members, told Reuters that during Thursday's meeting, the focus was on outside-the-box ideas that would help curb imports.
"I didn't find any member (who) suggested that Pakistan should go to the IMF because there is no other alternative," he said.
"We need to take some actions. ‘Do nothing’ scenario is unacceptable.”
He recently told the Senate that while Pakistan needs to meet a $9 billion financing requirement, IMF should be only be a stand-by option.
Ashfaque said the more radical steps discussed were a year-long ban on imports for cheese, cars, cell phones and fruit that could "save some $4-5 billion".
A push on exports could generate up to $2 billion in extra inflows, he added. "You see how much cheese is coming in this country from abroad," Ashfaque said.
“Does this country, which doesn't have dollars, deserve this, that it is importing cheese?"

The Former government had hiked tariffs by up to 50 percent on about 240 imported items, including cheese and high-horsepower cars, and imposed regulatory duties on dozens of new imports, last year.
Asad Umar recently said Pakistan would not rule out asking "friendly nations" -- usually code for historic allies China and Saudi Arabia -- for assistance to avoid going to the IMF, in order to raise money for international funds. 
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has decided to present a mini-budget in which major macroeconomic and budgetary targets for the current fiscal year would be revised to curtail the record current account and budget deficits recorded in the previous fiscal year, The News learnt.
The radical revisions have been necessitated by the shortfall in targeted revenue collection for fiscal year 2017-18, a top official at the Finance Ministry said on Sunday, on condition of anonymity.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan made a media strategy meeting of the PTI and decided to highlight the alleged mess in economic as well as energy sector by the PML-N government.
According to Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the leadership agreed on bringing before masses the alleged lavish spending by the PML-N government. Special briefings will also be arranged on the alleged mess caused in the national economy and in the energy sector in particular.
The forum reiterated its resolve to take all decisions with consultations and after taking the parliament on board.