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IMF hoping for board meeting on Pakistan as stalled-programme expiry date nears

Speculations surrounding the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme have grown, and the lender has affirmed its ongoing communication with Pakistani authorities to facilitate a board meeting before the financing programme
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Women selecting used clothes at a roadside stall in Karachi on May 16, 2023. — APP

Speculations surrounding the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme have grown, and the lender has affirmed its ongoing communication with Pakistani authorities to facilitate a board meeting before the financing programme expires at the end of June, according to a report by Reuters.

A board meeting to review the programme typically necessitates a prior staff-level agreement. Such an agreement would also unlock $1.1 billion in financing for Pakistan, which is currently facing financial challenges and is part of a $6.5 billion IMF package.

It is worth noting that the staff-level agreement has experienced delays since November, with more than 100 days having passed since the last staff-level mission to Pakistan. This delay represents the longest period of its kind since at least 2008.

Nathan Porter, the IMF Mission Chief for Pakistan, stated that the engagement with Pakistani authorities will focus on several areas, including the restoration of proper market functioning for foreign exchange, the passage of a federal budget that aligns with programme goals, and securing adequate financing.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar announced on Sunday that Pakistan would share its budget details with the IMF. He expressed his desire for the IMF to clear the ninth review before the budget is presented in early June, as all the conditions for that review have already been met.

Dar mentioned that the IMF has requested additional information, and Pakistan is prepared to provide it. He stated in an interview with Geo News, “They have asked for some more things again, we are ready to give that too. They say that give us budget details, we will give it to them.”

Regarding future reviews, Dar expressed that combining the ninth and tenth reviews of the bailout would not be favorable for Pakistan, adding, “We will not do it. We see this as unfair.”

Porter emphasized that overcoming the current economic and financial challenges in Pakistan would require sustained policy efforts and reforms to restore strong and inclusive private-led growth.

While the IMF refrains from commenting on domestic politics, Porter expressed hope that a peaceful way forward, in line with the Constitution and the rule of law, would be found to address Pakistan’s political instability.

The ongoing discussions between Pakistan and the IMF regarding the board meeting and programme review reflect the crucial steps being taken to secure financial support and address economic challenges in the country. The resolution of outstanding issues and the implementation of necessary reforms will be instrumental in Pakistan’s pursuit of economic stability and growth.

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