Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ended the two-day weekend for government employees while also instructing offices to open at 8am, including on Saturday, to facilitate the public, Aaj News reported on Tuesday.
The reports came after the newly-elected premier chaired an emergency meeting of economic experts to deliberate on the country’s prevailing financial situation, which according to experts facing challenges amid internal and global situations.
PML-N leaders including its former finance minister Miftah Ismail, former Privatization Commission head Muhammad Zubair, Mussadiq Malik, party spokesperson Marriyum Aurganzeb along with others attendded the high-level huddle.
It was also reported that the premier ordered immediate application of the various measures announced during his speech on the floor of the House after being elected. Shehbaz had announced increasing minimum wage to Rs25,000 and hiked pensions of retired government and military personnel by 10%. As part of the Ramazan package, the new premier also said that wheat available at Utility Stores would be subsidized.
During the meeting, the current dire economic situation was discussed in detail, according to a statement. It added that in the light of the views of economists, important decisions on economic and financial measures will be taken.
The statement went on to state that officials apprised PM Shehbaz about the current economic situation of the country, deficits and the facts of the national balance sheet.
The meeting was convened at a time when Moody’s Investors Services in its latest report expected that Pakistan’s economic growth would be 3-4 per cent in 2022 and 4-5% in 2023, saying that the reform agenda and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would help boost economic growth.
Moody’s maintained a stable outlook for the banking sector in Pakistan (B3 stable), saying this balances good economic momentum and growing financial inclusion that are boosting lending opportunities, against political uncertainty in Pakistan and higher inflationary pressures due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
However “we expect dividend payouts to rise this year, but earnings should be sufficient to keep capital at current, rather modest, levels. Pakistani banks will remain deposit funded and liquid. These are credit strengths, but their high exposure to Pakistan government securities means their credit profiles are anchored to the low-rated sovereign,” it added.
Moreover, the Fitch Ratings said that the recent government change in Pakistan has been “peaceful,” but raises near-term policy “uncertainty” even as the country faces external and fiscal challenges from rising commodity prices and an increase in global risk aversion.
The American credit rating agency in its latest report said that the authorities’ policy agenda remains central to Pakistan’s ability to refinance its external debt over the medium term, as well as its assessment of the rating, which was affirmed at ‘B-’/Stable in February 2022.
Shift to PM House
The newly-elected prime minsiter moved to his official residence a day after being administered the oath. Shehbaz moved to the PM House in the Red Zone after he was given a guard of honour earlier in the day.