Energy experts warn IMF’s proposed loan package for Pakistan a recipe for socio-climatic disaster

  • Calendar May 19, 2023

KARACHI, LAHORE, ISLAMABAD, May 19, 2023: The so-called prior actions, or conditionalities being imposed on Pakistan by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the approval of a long-delayed loan are not just crippling Pakistani economy, they are also jeopardizing its post-flood mitigation, adaptation and compensation measures necessitated by the ever-worsening consequences of climate change. These views were expressed by lawyers, academics, journalists and civil society activists at a webinar organized today (Friday) by the Alliance for Climate Justice and Clean Energy (ACJCE).

The speakers at the webinar said that similar prior actions have strangulated economic growth potential in several other economies of global south and discouraged them from developing and deploying homegrown solutions to climatic problems. Lamenting that the IMF’s prior actions do not include any measures that support rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts needed for socio-economic revival of the flood-hit areas in southern parts of Pakistan, they said that the loan’s approval has been delayed for many months even though its conditionalities are already making life increasingly difficult for the economically most marginalized sections of the society. “The IMF review of Pakistan’s compliance with the loan’s prior action has not recognized the climate-change induced impact of the 2022 floods,” said Hashim Rashid, a researcher working at a Lahore based legal research institution, Alternative Collective Law, which is also a member of ACJCE. “The flat refusal to allow fuel subsidies for lower-middle class and poor population shows that the IMF is not interested in mitigating the impact of economic and environmental disasters that Pakistanis have faced in the last year or so,” he said and added that the IMF, instead, should have linked the phasing out of subsidies on fossil fuels with the promotion and incentivizing of renewable energy.

Rashid, who has also sent a letter to the IMF on behalf of ACJCE, said, while uncertainty still prevails on whether the loan will be approved after all, its associated “prior actions have already caused many negative outcomes for Pakistan’s struggling and stagnant economy such as falling currency, hyperinflation, rising taxes, spiraling energy prices and production costs across all sectors of economy.” The IMF’s failure to approve the loan while insisting that its prior actions must be met at any cost has stymied many nascent industries that could increase the use of renewable sources of energy, he added. “The IMF-imposed fiscal restrictions have jeopardized the import and local manufacture of electric and hybrid vehicles.

Federico Sibaja, an Argentinian social campaigner working with Recourse, an international civil society group, told the audience that his country has defaulted on its loan payments nine times since early 1990s despite having followed IMF’s solutions for its persistence economic crisis for the last 30 years. “The hyperinflation and IMF dependency prevailing in Argentina remind its people of the hardships caused by the debt repayment crisis of the 1980s,” he said and added that “we have learnt no lessons from the past” and have once again accepted the largest ever loan package from IMF with all its attendant prior actions. Under this loan package, according to him, IMF continues to push for accelerating the growth of exports in such sectors as fossil fuel extraction, agricultural industry and mining but is giving no consideration to the “negative social and ecological consequences of this growth,” he added. “IMF is also failing to push for structural transformation in Argentinian economy so that it can align itself with climate policy goals,” he said.

Fiza Qureshi, a senior representative of Indus Consortium, an Islamabad-based member organization of ACJCE, also criticized IMF’s prior actions for thwarting Pakistan’s much-needed transition to renewable energy sources. “As a follow-up on its negotiation with IMF, the government of Pakistan has removed subsidies on solar panels and their associated materials. This has adversely impacted our national goals related to energy transition and renewable energy promotion,” she said.

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