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

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

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.”


Pfizer cuts vaccine deliveries by as much as half to some EU countries

Pfizer cuts vaccine deliveries by as much as half to some EU countries
Updated 21 January 2021

Pfizer cuts vaccine deliveries by as much as half to some EU countries

Pfizer cuts vaccine deliveries by as much as half to some EU countries

BUCHAREST/PRAGUE/SOFIA: Pfizer has slashed in half the volume of COVID-19 vaccines it will deliver to some EU countries this week, government officials said on Thursday, as frustration over the US drugmaker’s unexpected cut in supplies grows.
Romania will get 50% of its planned volume this week and supplies will only improve gradually, with deliveries not returning to normal until the end of March, Deputy Health Minister Andrei Baciu told Reuters.
It was a similar situation in Poland which on Monday received 176,000 doses, a drop of around 50% from what was expected, authorities said.
The Czech government was bracing for the disruption to last weeks, slowing its vaccination campaign just as the second dose of vaccinations get under way.
“We have to expect that there will be a reduction in the number of open vaccination appointments in the following three weeks,” Health Minister Jan Blatny told reporters on Thursday, with Pfizer deliveries falling by about 15% this week and as much as 30% for the following two weeks.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have declined to comment on the cuts beyond their statement last week, which announced cuts to deliveries as they ramp up manufacturing in Europe.
Some countries reckon they can handle it. Norway has an emergency stockpile and will continue administering doses as planned, the government’s public health body said.
The US drugmaker has told Bulgaria and Poland it will replace missing doses, top officials said.
But Denmark’s Serum Institute said its 50% loss of shots this week would lead to a 10% shortfall for the first quarter.
With governments across the region still reeling from the surprise cuts, officials say the reductions are undermining their efforts to inoculate their citizens and tame the pandemic which has killed more than 2 million people.
On Wednesday, Italy threatened legal action against Pfizer.
In Hungary, where the authorities gave the go ahead for the use of Britain’s AstraZeneca and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines ahead of the EU drug regulator, a senior official called on Brussels to try and ensure deliveries from Pfizer and other vaccine makers would stick to schedule.
“We would be happy if the (European) Commission could take steps as soon as possible to ensure that Pfizer and other manufacturers would change deliveries,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas said.
The problem has spread to countries outside the trading bloc too — Canada is facing delays as is Switzerland, where the mountain canton of Grisons got only 1,000 shots from Pfizer this week, far short of the 3,000 it had been anticipating.