ISLAMABAD    -   The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday clarified that there would be no change in economic targets set for Pakistan including annual tax collection target for the current fiscal year.

The IMF Director of the Middle East and Central Asia, Jihad Azour, has said that $6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) is Pakistan’s homegrown programme not IMF programme.

The government owns and defended its homegrown programme in parliament. Other international financial institutions (IFIs) had also supported the programme.

He made it clear that IMF would not revise the economic targets for Pakistan as it was supposed that both sides might renegotiate the programme after budget deficit had ballooned to 8.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in last fiscal year against revised target of 7.2 percent of GDP. Performance in first three months of the programme is satisfactory, however, things would be further cleared in next two months, he added.

Addressing a press conference along with Pakistan’s economic team, Jihad Azour said that tax collection had recorded healthy growth in first two months (July and August) of the current fiscal year. He also appreciated the government’s efforts for broadening the tax base of the country and introducing reforms in Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

He said that Pakistan’s economy would stabilize in the years to come that would help in increasing exports and generating employment opportunities. People had suffered due to the increase in electricity prices and increase in taxes, he maintained.

The IMF director has also clarified that his visit is not SOS (Save Our Souls) mission. He informed that he was to visit Pakistan in July this year. However, he postponed his visit due to Prime Minister Imran Khan‘s visit to Washington where he met with IMF authorities. He further said that IMF review team would come to Pakistan in October or November to assess the economic situation of the first quarter (July to September) of the current fiscal year.

He said that Pakistan should improve its tax collection at domestic level and foreign exchange reserves to offset the expected increase in oil prices at international level.

The IMF director had arrived in Pakistan on a five-day visit on Monday. He met with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Governor State Bank of Pakistan Reza Baqir and other ministers.

Shaikh said that Pakistan is working to fulfill all the targets and benchmarks that had set by the IMF.

Earlier, the Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs of the National Assembly under the chairmanship of MNA Asad Umar met the delegation of IMF. Later, Asad Umer said IMF is satisfied with current performance of PTI government. He said inflation and interest rate were discussed in the meeting with IMF. He said the committee members informed the IMF delegation about their reservations. He said IMF delegation expressed satisfaction over increase in tax net. Asad said the meeting also discussed energy reforms in addition to slow rate of economic growth.

The committee members have shown concerns over the IMF programme. They were of the view that Pakistan’s economy has slowed down due to the Fund loan programme. They said that business activities had halted in the country, which is a matter of concern. However, sources said that the IMF had rejected the impression that loan programme had slowed down the economy.