BUSINESS

Talks with IMF for programme revival from 18th

From the 18th, discussions with the IMF about reviving the project will begin.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday for the revival and completion of its Extended Fund Facility (EFF), as well as the disbursement of outstanding $3 billion funds to replenish rapidly depleting foreign exchange reserves amid widening fiscal and current account deficits.

Miftah Ismail, the Prime Minister’s (in-waiting) financial advisor, met with the IMF’s Resident Representative in Islamabad, Esther Perez Ruiz, on Friday to discuss the way ahead on the three-year project, which was interrupted three times and stayed off track for the most of the period. Hamed Yaqoob Shaikh, the Finance Secretary, also held a virtual meeting with Nathan Porter, the new IMF mission leader to Pakistan, on Thursday night.

According to informed sources, Mr Miftah and Secretary Shaikh are now scheduled to meet with IMF mission chief Porter in Washington on Monday (April 18) to discuss ways to resurrect the programme and agree on additional steps that could be included in the upcoming federal budget for fiscal year 2022-23 in June.

According to knowledgeable sources, Mr Miftah notified Ms Ruiz of the new government’s determination to work with the fund on steps to advance the current plan. According to these sources, the IMF side — both in Islamabad and Washington — appreciated the plan and pledged to develop financial and economic stability measures and work toward buffers.

The fund officials urged that the government prepare their half of the homework, which should include remedial steps to halt the bleeding, which began in earnest after last month’s relief-plus-amnesty package at a financial cost of more than Rs300 billion. These would then be discussed on Monday. Ms Ruiz was unavailable for comment.

Mr Miftah also met with the World Bank’s country director in Islamabad, Najy Benhassine, on Thursday night to review the bank’s loan pipeline for the next fiscal year, including concessionary financing under the International Development Assistance (IDA).

Mr Miftah slammed the PTI administration last week for creating an unprecedented economic disaster, notably by placing domestic and foreign financial accounts in peril.

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