SLAMABAD: PTI leader and finance minister in waiting, Asad Umar has replied to Washington by asking America to focus on its own Chinese debt instead of what’s going on in Pakistan.
Asad Umar was taking to Bloomberg, he said that he would bring more transparency to the more than $60 billion Belt and Road infrastructure projects in Pakistan and responded to Pompeo’s comments.
“One friendly advice to the Americans, we’ll worry about our Chinese debt, but I think they better handle their own Chinese debt first,” he was quoted as saying.
“We have a serious external debt problem, I’m not saying we don’t, though, we don’t have a Chinese debt problem.”
He has estimated that the economy may need more than $12 billion to overcome the crisis in Pakistan, with a decision on where to source the funds to be made within six weeks.
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“The decision needs to be taken in the next six weeks, the further you go forward the more difficult, the more expensive the options become,” Umar said in Islamabad. Pakistan could turn to the International Monetary Fund, friendly countries and issue diaspora bonds to bolster the country’s depleting reserves, he said.
Pakistan’s deteriorating finances is a key challenge for new leader Imran Khan, who is working to form a coalition government after winning the most seats in last week’s election.
With Pakistan’s finances under stress Imran may struggle to implement his plans to create an Islamic welfare state.
Umar said his party would not attempt to privatise Pakistan’s bloated and loss-making state companies such as Pakistan International Airlines Corp and Pakistan Steel Mills.
Umar said within the first 100 days of the new administration, the state-owned firms will be shifted into a wealth fund similar to Singapore’s Temasek Holdings to remove them from political interference.