Pakistan might still need IMF help, despite Saudi bailout: Imran Khan

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan address his nation on Wednesday evening after his return from his Saudi Arabia. (Hum TV screen grab)
Updated 25 October 2018

Pakistan might still need IMF help, despite Saudi bailout: Imran Khan

  • Prime Minister thanks Saudi leadership for reducing visa fees for Pakistanis who go to the Kingdom to work
  • Pakistan is strengthening its institutions to curb money laundering, says Khan

ISLAMABAD: Financial assistance from Saudi Arabia has helped lessen Pakistan’s economic problems, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday, but he added that the country might still need help from the International Monetary Fund.
“We have secured an amazing package from Saudi Arabia that has taken off the financial burden,” he said in a televised speech to the nation. He also thanked the Saudi leadership for reducing visa fees for Pakistani blue-collar workers who go to the Kingdom for jobs.
Khan said his government is trying to secure loans from other “friendly countries” to address the nation’s economic crisis and that he would share more “good news” in the coming days.
“We are negotiating a similar package (to the one from Saudi Arabia) with two other countries and hope to secure it,” he said. “If we get this package, we won’t be burdening our salaried class with more inflation.”
However, Khan did not rule out the possibility of seeking loans from International Monetary Fund, but added that “even if we go to the IMF, we won’t need much from the lender.”
He also revealed that Pakistan will be a peacemaker in the war in Yemen, saying: “We are playing the role of an arbitrator in the Yemen conflict.”
The speech came just a day after Pakistan secured a $6 billion financial-assistance package from Saudi Arabia during a visit to the Kingdom. In a condemnation of the leading opposition parties, he said the country’s debt increased from 6,000 billion to 30,000 billion rupees in the past 10 years, and all state enterprises were running at a loss, to the tune of billions of rupees. Khan also made it clear to the leaders of the opposition parties that they will not deter the government through protests, nor would any reconciliation offers be extended.
“The country has no future as long as the corrupt go scot-free,” he said. “The process of accountability will continue, come what may.”
The prime minister said his government is conducting an audit of the development funds handled by previous governments to hold the “corrupt accountable.”
Referring to money laundering, he said looted money is first transferred tp phony bank accounts, then laundered abroad. “We are strengthening our institutions to tackle money laundering,” he added.
Exporters and foreign investors will be encouraged through a one-time offer to help improve the economic situation and create jobs in the country, Khan said. He will also announce a “safety net for the downtrodden” in the coming days, and urged the nation to maintain its support for the government for some time, so that it can properly address all issues.
“The country will rise rapidly as we have got all the needed potential,” he said. “The time is not far away when we will be extending loans to other nations instead of getting them.”


Riyadh’s Sri Lankan gem tycoon dies at 80

Updated 6 min 25 sec ago

Riyadh’s Sri Lankan gem tycoon dies at 80

  • Razeen Salih entered the Guinness Book of World Records for purchasing a 41.3 carat diamond for $4.6 million at a gem auction
  • He was the founder of Sri Lankan International School in Riyadh

COLOMBO: Razeen Salih, the celebrated Sri Lankan gem tycoon in Riyadh, died in India on Sunday night during a visit to the Tamil Nadu capital of Chennai.

The owner of Al-Nadeera Gem and Jewelry in Riyadh, 80-year-old Salih started his business in the Kingdom in late 1970s with his first shop, Al- Sharq Jewellers, in the Saudi capital.

In the early 1980s, Salih entered the Guinness Book of World Records for purchasing a 41.3 carat diamond for $4.6 million at a gem auction in Geneva. The diamond, “Polar Star,” was once owned by the brother of the French Emperor Napoleon, and this was thought to be the highest price paid for a piece of jewelry at the time.

Salih, a renowned philanthropist, helped to set up the Sri Lankan International School in Riyadh, which has 1300 students today.

He attended Zahira College, Colombo, during the golden era of Dr. A.M.A. Azeez’s principalship, where he was a senior prefect and also represented the college at rugger. Everybody in College adored him for his enviable personality and his courage.

The Sri Lankan Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Azmi Thassim said that the death of Razeen Salih came as a great shock to the Sri Lankan community in the Kingdom. “He was our pride and his contributions towards the community are immeasurable. We hope and pray that Allah will give him the best place in Jannah for his valued services for the community uplift,” Thassim said.

Azad Yousuf, an accountant at a private medical hospital in Riyadh said that Salih had left a vacuum which no one else could fill it: “He was an icon in the Saudi business circle who brought Sri Lankan gems and jewelry to the Kingdom’s market.”

Salih is survived by his two daughters Aysha and Jamaaliyah.

His remains will be flown to Philadelphia, USA.