Former finance minister Miftah Ismail addressing a press conference. — APP/File

Following the announcement of a staff-level agreement (SLA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement, former finance minister Miftah Ismail on Friday said that the default threat looming over the county will receded and “Pakistan is now firmly back on the right track”.

Pakistan and the IMF reached a long-awaited staff-level agreement (SLA) on a $3 billion “stand-by arrangement” (SBA), the global lender announced today.

The $3 billion funding, spread over nine months, is higher than expected for Pakistan. The country was awaiting the release of the remaining $2.5 billion from a $6.5 billion bailout package agreed in 2019, which expires on Friday (today).

Taking to Twitter, Miftah said that the signing of the $3 billion agreement was “great news” for Pakistan. He also congratulated Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who ensured that the deal went through because of his “personal commitment and intervention”.

“As I have been saying, a deal with the Fund is the best insurance we have against default. Now InshaAllah the clouds of default will recede, demand for hoarding dollars will slowly decrease, and there will be renewed hopefulness and vibrancy in the business climate,” said Miftah.

The former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader noted that Pakistan lost nine months in reaching the agreement. He also acknowledged the efforts of his successor Ishaq Dar, State Minister for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha, special assistant to the prime minister on Finance, secretaries of finance, revenue and power and their teams in securing the deal.

“We must recognise that this IMF deal gives us yet another chance for making fundamental reforms. Unless we undertake these reforms, Pakistan will remain at the mercy of multilateral lenders and the people of Pakistan will continue to pay for the structural and governance failures of their governments,” said Miftah.

The former finance minister was part of the ruling PML-N. However, he recently decided to step down as the party’s Sindh general secretary and all other positions after months of bitterness over his removal and the subsequent appointment of Ishaq Dar as the finance minister in September last year.

The former finance czar announced his resignation from the party office in a letter to Ahsan Iqbal, PML-N secretary general and planning minister.

Since he relinquished the finance ministry portfolio, Ismail has been criticising the current political system, with much of it aimed at his successor as he fails to steer the country out of the economic crises.

But while Ismail castigated Dar openly, the PML-N was not happy with his attitude as Shehbaz Sharif, the party president and the prime minister, said there’s no space for people criticising the finance minister.

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