Capital TV runs old video as IMF response to Pakistan electricity protests
Report comes amid heightened tensions between citizens, govt over power woes
Claim: Capital TV ran news that the IMF has issued a “Big Statement” over the protests against the higher electricity bills across Pakistan, demanding the rich be taxed and poor be provided subsidies.
Fact: The IMF has not issued any statement regarding the electricity protests in Pakistan as of now. The video in question is, in fact, from February 2023, when IMF chief Kristalina spoke to a German media outlet.
On 3 September 2023, Capital TV ran news that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had issued a “Big Statement” with regard to the ongoing protests against the higher electricity bills across Pakistan.
Capital TV claimed that the statement was issued by IMF Managing Director (MD) Kristalina Georgieva, who demanded the rich be taxed and the poor be provided subsidies.
The bulletin was uploaded to all of its social media accounts, with the following text superimposed on the thumbnails:
“عوامی احتجاج رنگ لے آیا،
IMF کا حیران کن بیان آگیا
[Public outcry starts showing results,
IMF issues a surprising statement].”
In the news bulletin, the anchor says, “‘We’re demanding that the rich be taxed and the poor be provided relief.’ The IMF says the Government of Pakistan is taxing the poor in order to provide subsidies to the rich. IMF head Kristalina Georgieva has strongly reacted to Pakistan, saying, ‘We’re demanding that the rich be taxed and the poor be provided relief.’”
Once the anchor stops speaking, the video of Georgieva in the background comes into focus, with the IMF boss saying, “Those that are making good money — [whether from the] public sector or private sector — they need to contribute to the economy. And secondly, to have a fairer distribution of the pressures by moving subsidies only towards the people who really need it. It shouldn’t be that the wealthy benefit from subsidies; [rather,] it should be the poor [who] benefit from them. And there, the Fund is very clear. We want the poor people of Pakistan to be protected.”
The cost of living crisis in Pakistan has worsened due to power woes, with skyrocketing electricity prices leading to multiple deaths by suicide, protests across the entire country as people burned bills and major markets remained closed, and even the Human Rights Watch (HRW) urging the IMF to “help Pakistan uphold [the] right to electricity”. This comes amid “record inflation that is the highest in Asia”, according to Bloomberg, with the government expressing only “helplessness”.
The current government — led by caretaker prime minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar — has reportedly approached the IMF for permission to accept electricity bills in installments for “consumers of up to 400 units and that the increase of Rs7 per unit be applied in phases”, according to an unnamed finance ministry official cited in this report.
A long-due bailout with the IMF finally saw the light of day towards the end of June 2023 under the now-dissolved government of Shehbaz Sharif, the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), as the Fund confirmed its staff-level agreement for a USD 3-billion stand-by arrangement.
Fact or Fiction?
Soch Fact Check reverse-searched keyframes from the video of Georgieva that was run by Capital TV and found that the IMF MD has not given any new interview nor is she seen wearing a blue coat and talking about Pakistan recently.
We then searched her comments online and found a February 2023 report by Al Jazeera, where the following text is attributed to Georgieva.
“What we are asking for are steps Pakistan needs to take to be able to function as a country and not to get into a dangerous place where its debt needs to be restructured. I want to stress that we are emphasising two things. Number one: tax revenues. Those who can … those that are making good money — [whether from the] public sector or private sector — they need to contribute to the economy.
“And secondly, to have a fairer distribution of the pressures by moving subsidies only towards the people who really need it. It shouldn’t be that the wealthy benefit from subsidies; [rather,] it should be the poor [who] benefit from them. And there, the Fund is very clear. We want the poor people of Pakistan to be protected,” she says.
The publication explains that Georgieva was speaking to German media outlet Deutsche Welle (DW) on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
The IMF had “urged Pakistan to protect the poor and impose more taxes on the wealthy as the South Asian nation seeks to unlock funds from the global lender to keep its economy afloat”, it said.
The X (formerly Twitter) account for DW Asia had tweeted the interview at that time as well.
Pakistan is confronting an acute economic crisis and seeking IMF help. The Fund's chief Kristalina Georgieva speaks to DW at the Munich Security Conference. pic.twitter.com/0VLZHlyL2W
— DW Asia (@dw_hotspotasia) February 17, 2023
Georgieva’s comments from February 2023 are unrelated to the ongoing electricity protests across Pakistan. The IMF has, as of writing time, not made any commitments or demands regarding the current crisis.
Sans the website, which redirects to YouTube, the posts received almost 500 views, over 230,000 views, more than 28,000 views, and upwards of 4,000 views as of writing time.
Conclusion: The IMF has not issued any statement regarding the electricity protests in Pakistan as of now. The video in question is, in fact, from February 2023, when IMF chief Kristalina spoke to a German media outlet.
Background image in cover photo: AFP
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