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Monday, June 24, 2024  
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IMF delegation to visit Pakistan in 2 to 3 days for ninth review, says PM Shehbaz

Premier confident that Pakistan will complete IMF programme
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on September 21, 2022. PM’s Office
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on September 21, 2022. PM’s Office
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Screengrab
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Screengrab

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday that a delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will visit Pakistan in 2-3 days to “undertake and complete” the crucial ninth review of the economy.

Addressing the public during the inauguration of the Hazara Electric Supply Company, he stated that he talked to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Thursday and stressed that Pakistan would complete the IMF bailout programme.

“I told her to ease the terms of the deal because I cannot burden the common man any further. We have imposed taxes on the rich strata of the society. I requested her to send a delegation for the ninth review and she replied that a team will visit Pakistan in 2-3 days.

“After inquiring about Pakistan’s relations with China and Saudi Arabia, she also told me that China had urged IMF to support Pakistan,” he said.

The IMF programme is currently stalled at the level of the ninth review, with experts suggesting that Pakistan is reluctant to implement some of the lender’s conditions over their effect on political capital in a year when elections are scheduled to take place.

Meanwhile, PM Shehbaz added that the government was trying to mend its ties with the friendly countries as well.

“We should appreciate friendly countries for supporting Pakistan over the past few years but the previous government slapped allegations of corruption on Chinese firms and jeopardised the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).”

He stated that the former leadership “had angered friendly nations”, adding that the contribution of Saudi Arabia, UAE and China to Pakistan’s economy is priceless.

Speaking about the Hazara Electric Supply Company, he said once it is ready the region will no longer need to get electricity from Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco).

“The particulars of the project will be completed as soon as possible and I want Hazara residents to take benefit from the scheme and own it,” the PM said. “The power company was demanded by the residents of the region when I visited it in May 2022.”

He added that he has asked relevant departments to resume work on stalled gas projects in the country and “the funds already allocated by the government will be used in their development.”

Why the IMF programme is crucial for Pakistan

Resumption of the IMF programme is crucial for Pakistan amid a weakening rupee, dwindling reserves and worsening macroeconomic cues.

On Thursday, the foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) fell another $245 million to a highly critical level of $5.58 billion. This is the lowest level of SBP-held reserves since April 2014.

At the same time, the country has also failed to secure much-needed funding from friendly nations.

The struggle has left policymakers in Pakistan scrambling to arrange foreign exchange amid heightened worries over the country’s debt payments and ability to finance imports.

Moreover, market rumours of a possible default by Pakistan are also making rounds but the government of Pakistan remains optimistic that Saudi Arabia will offer crucial support for the foreign exchange reserves.

Recently, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar reiterated that Saudi Arabia “is expected to beef up its deposits in Pakistan in a few days”. In a press conference, he said that a rollover “is not an unusual thing”.

“All nations of the world opt for borrowing new money to pay old liabilities or they opt for rollover. We are opting for rolling over of deposits,” said Dar.

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