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In meeting with IMF MD, PM Shehbaz vows to put economy back on track

Very productive meeting with PM Shehbaz and his team, says IMF MD
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum special meeting in Riyadh on April 28, 2024. Photo via X/@KGeorgieva
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum special meeting in Riyadh on April 28, 2024. Photo via X/@KGeorgieva

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has vowed to put Pakistan’s economy back on track through structural reforms, strict fiscal discipline and prudent policies to ensure macro-economic stability and sustained economic growth.

He said this during a meeting with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum special meeting in Riyadh on Sunday, said a statement from the government.

It was the first meeting between the PM and the IMF MD since the former’s re-election. They last met in Paris in June last year on the margins of the Summit for New Global Financial Pact.

PM thanked Georgieva for her support to Pakistan in securing the $3 billion loan under the standby arrangement from the IMF last year.

The IMF Executive Board is expected to meet on Monday (tomorrow) to decide on the final tranche of $1.1 billion under the nine-month agreement.

“The IMF managing director appreciated the leadership of PM Shehbaz Sharif for timely securing the standby arrangement last year,” it said.

Both sides also discussed Pakistan entering into another IMF programme to ensure that the gains made in the past year are consolidated and its economic growth trajectory remains positive.

The IMF MD shared her institution’s perspective on the ongoing programme with Pakistan, including the review process.

PM Shehbaz also extended a cordial invitation to the IMF managing director to visit Pakistan at her convenience.

“Very productive meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his team during WEF special meeting. We discussed policy reforms and strong decisions to address Pakistan’s challenges and create stronger sustained and more inclusive growth for the benefit all Pakistanis,” Georgieva said in a post on X.

Pakistan could secure a staff-level agreement on a new long-term larger loan with the International Monetary Fund by early July, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb said last week.

The country’s current $3 billion arrangement with the fund – which it secured last summer to avert a sovereign default – runs out in late April.

The $350 billion South Asian economy faces a chronic balance of payment crisis. The government is seeking a larger, long-term loan to help stabilise economic activity and financial markets so it can execute long-due, painful structural reforms.

If secured, it would be the 24th IMF bailout for Pakistan.

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On April 11, Georgieva told an event at the Atlantic Council think tank that Pakistan was successfully completing its existing program with the IMF and its economy was performing somewhat better.

But she also spoke about some critical issues that needed to be addressed before the new programme.

“There are very important issues to be solved in Pakistan: the tax base, how the richer part of society contributes to the economy, the way public spending is being directed and of course, creating … a more transparent environment, “ she said.

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