Pakistan’s finance minister steps down ahead of IMF deal

Pakistan’s finance minister Asad Umar has stepped down from cabinet, he announced Thursday, ahead of securing a crucial bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund. (File/Reuters)
Updated 18 April 2019

Pakistan’s finance minister steps down ahead of IMF deal

  • Pakistan has gone to the IMF repeatedly since the late 1980s, and last received an IMF bailout in 2013 to the tune of $6.6 billion
  • Experts have warned that any tough measures imposed by the IMF could impact Khan’s grand plans for an Islamic welfare state in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s finance minister Asad Umar has stepped down from cabinet, he announced Thursday, ahead of securing a crucial bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund.
Umar, one of cricketer-turned-premier Imran Khan’s most powerful ministers, had been entrusted with the task of negotiating the long-delayed bailout as Pakistan’s cash-strapped economy faces a balance-of-payments crisis.
“As part of a cabinet reshuffle, PM desired that I take the energy minister portfolio instead of finance,” Asad Umar tweeted.
“However, I have obtained his consent to not take any cabinet position. I strongly believe @ImranKhanPTI is the best hope for Pakistan and inshallah (God willing) will make a naya (new) pakistan,” he wrote.

There was no immediate statement from Khan’s office or confirmation of who would replace Umar, and it was not clear how Umar’s absence would impact the deal.
Pakistan has gone to the IMF repeatedly since the late 1980s, and last received an IMF bailout in 2013 to the tune of $6.6 billion.
Umar has said often that a deal is coming soon, and that it will be the last one.
Earlier this week Hammad Azhar, a state minister for revenue, tweeted that Umar had reached an “agreement in principle” on an IMF deal during a recent trip to Washington, with the agreement to be finalized later this month.
Experts have warned that any tough measures imposed by the IMF could impact Khan’s grand plans for an Islamic welfare state in Pakistan.
Forecasts by the IMF and World Bank suggest the Pakistani economy is likely to grow between 4.0 and 4.5 percent for the fiscal year ending June 2019, compared to 5.8 percent growth in the last fiscal year.
The United Arab Emirates, Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and a major investment sources, recently offered $3 billion to support Pakistan’s battered economy.
Islamabad also secured $6 billion in funding from Saudi Arabia and struck a 12-month deal for a cash lifeline during Khan’s visit to the Kingdom in October.
It has also received billions of dollars in Chinese loans to finance ambitious infrastructure projects.


US coronavirus death toll tops 100,000

Updated 28 May 2020

US coronavirus death toll tops 100,000

  • Nearly 1.7 million infections have been tallied nationwide

WASHINGTON:: The United States has now recorded more than 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths, Johns Hopkins University reported Wednesday — a somber milestone and by far the highest total in the world.
The country reported its first death about three months ago. Since then, nearly 1.7 million infections have been tallied nationwide, according to the Baltimore-based school.
The actual number of deaths and infections is believed to be higher, experts say.
In the last 24 hours, the death toll was on the rise once again, with 1,401 deaths added, after three straight days of tolls under 700. The full death toll stood at 100,396.
The state of New York has seen nearly a third of all coronavirus-related deaths in the United States, where President Donald Trump ordered that flags fly at half-staff last weekend to honor the victims.
The first US virus death was reported on February 26, though officials now say they believe that others may have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, before that.
The country passed the 50,000-death threshold barely more than a month ago.
The number of deaths per capita in the United States is nevertheless lower than in several European countries, including Britain, Belgium, France, Italy and Spain.
Despite the grim toll, most US states are now moving toward ending the strict stay-at-home measures that were implemented to curb the spread of the virus.
President Donald Trump, who is running for reelection in November, is eager to stem the economic pain of the lockdown, which has left tens of millions of Americans without jobs.