IMF says Pakistan needs to mobilize tax revenue, cut debt

Khan’s government, like many of its predecessors, has been forced to turn to the IMF to prevent a balance-of-payments crisis. (File photo: Reuters)
Updated 22 July 2019

IMF says Pakistan needs to mobilize tax revenue, cut debt

  • Khan’s government faces mounting pressure as rising prices and tough austerity policies

WASHINGTON: Pakistan needs to mobilize domestic tax revenue to ensure funds for social and development programs, while reducing debt, the acting director of the International Monetary Fund said on Sunday after a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The two officials discussed recent economic developments and implementation of Pakistan’s IMF-supported economic reforms, which are aimed at stabilizing the economy, strengthening institutions and paving the way for sustainable and balanced growth, David Lipton said in a statement.
Khan’s government faces mounting pressure as rising prices and tough austerity policies under Pakistan’s latest bailout from the IMF are squeezing the middle class that helped carry it to power.
Lipton said the IMF and other international partners were working closely with the Pakistani government to support implementation of the reforms.
“I highlighted the need to mobilize domestic tax revenue now and on into the future to provide reliably for needed social and development spending, while placing debt on a firm downward trend,” Lipton said in a statement after the meeting.
Khan, who arrived in Washington on Sunday, is due to meet with US President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday. Trump is likely to press Khan for help on ending the war in Afghanistan and fighting militants.
Last year, Trump cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance to Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of offering “nothing but lies and deceit” while giving safe haven to terrorists, a charge angrily rejected by Islamabad.
In recent years, import-led consumption has propped up growth in Pakistan and helped hide the problems of an economy riddled with inefficiency and without a strong export base.
But Khan’s government, like many of its predecessors, has been forced to turn to the IMF to prevent a balance-of-payments crisis.
Economic growth, which reached 5.5% in the fiscal year to June 2018, is expected to slow to 2.4% this financial year, according to IMF estimates, barely enough to keep pace with the growth in a population that now numbers 208 million.


Habtoor joins Israeli tech firm on ‘robo-taxi’ plan 

Updated 12 min 24 sec ago

Habtoor joins Israeli tech firm on ‘robo-taxi’ plan 

  • Mobileye technology will be fitted into cars from the Habtoor dealership, which has the Dubai franchise for Mitsubishi
  • Founder of Mobileye Amnon Shashua: Dubai is classic territory to launch technologies for smart cities and a natural for deploying autonomous cars

DUBAI: In the latest sign of increased UAE-Israeli business co-operation, Al Habtoor Group, the Dubai-based hotels and motor conglomerate, has teamed up with a Jerusalem-based company on plans to put “robo-taxis” on the roads of the emirate.

Khalaf Al Habtoor, founding chairman of the group, signed a deal with Mobileye, the Israeli high-tech firm owned by Intel, that will provide the technology for the next generation of self-drive and autonomous vehicles in the UAE.

Mobileye technology will be fitted into cars from the Habtoor dealership, which has the Dubai franchise for Mitsubishi, one of the leading volume car marques in the region, as well as several luxury brands.

Amnon Shashua, the billionaire Israeli founder of Mobileye who sold the company to Intel for $15 billion in 2017, said that by early 2023 there would be a “fleet of autonomous, self-driving robo-taxi vehicles” on the streets of Dubai.

“Dubai is one of the most advanced cities in the world. It is classic territory to launch technologies for smart cities and a natural for deploying autonomous cars,” he added.

Mobileye’s tech provides data for map reading, navigation, traffic and driving conditions in a kit that can be fitted to Habtoor’s fleet, which serves government and public sector transport in Dubai, or can be bought by individual motorists as an add-on package

Al Habtoor said: “This deal will benefit both countries, the UAE and Israel, as well as neighboring countries and Europe.”

Shashua said that while Dubai was a center for growth in the Middle East, he would look to expand into other emirates and countries in the region.

Asked whether Mobileye would like to do business in Saudi Arabia, he said: “We look at things not through a political lens, but from the point of view of areas or territories where we can expand. The only reason we could not expand to Dubai before was the absence of a relationship between Israel and the UAE.

“It is true that Mobileye is owned by Intel, an American company, but still it is very difficult to start sending Israeli engineers in disguise. From a logistic perspective, it is not convenient. I believe there are many more opportunities in the Middle East and, once the ties are made formally, we could expand even further,” he added.

The first phase of the partnership will see 1,000 petrol-engine cars from the Habtoor fleet fitted with Mobileye technology, leading up to trials with a human “safety driver” in early 2022, before a fleet of “smart cars” is launched later that year or early 2023.

The business relationship between Habtoor and Mobileye began before the recent normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel. The Dubai-based company has been among the most enthusiastic advocates of closer business links with Israel, recently signaling it will open a representative office in the Israeli capital.