ISLAMABAD - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has given significant relaxation to Pakistan by excluding the government expenses pledged to counter the corona virus from the budget deficit, says Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

Dr Hafeez, while talking to the media men, said that costs incurred on corona virus prevention would not be included in the country’s fiscal deficit. “The government is aiming to develop strategies that will prevent shortages or price increase of food items”, the Adviser said in informal talk with the media. He outlined other goals of the government amid the spread of the virus, which included curtailing unemployment, compensating farmers and maintaining export levels.

He said that financial and technical assistance will be sought from global financial institutions, as well as countries that have successfully dealt with the virus.

Hafeez Shaikh said that global markets had lost $1 trillion in the fallout of the pandemic while Pakistan’s stock market has only fallen 10 to 11 percent during such tumultuous times. He said the salaries of government employees would be increased appropriately in the upcoming budget.

He further informed that Prime Minister had entrusted him with the responsibility of dealing with the economic impacts of corona virus.

Earlier, Dr Hafeez chaired a meeting at the Finance Division to review the progress of the major sectors of the economy. Ministers for Energy and Economic Affairs Division, Chairperson FBR and Secretaries of Finance Division, Ministry of National Food Security and Research and Ministry of Commerce also attended the meeting.

The participants of the meeting shared the details of the ongoing major initiatives of their respective Ministries and Divisions, their current status of progress to meet the targets set during the current financial year, the impact of the ongoing corona virus epidemic on the economy and the strategy to achieve the targets with maximum success.

It was agreed during the meeting that all economic sectors will synergize their efforts to achieve economic targets. The meeting also agreed that the government would ensure that the common man was not affected by any adverse fallout of the epidemic.

“Economic Affairs Division is finalizing reallocations of non-utilized funds from some foreign projects & seeking fresh funds from multilateral agencies to deploy towards Covid-19 prevention across the country,” said Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar on Twitter last week.