Thu, 30 Mar 2023

Islamabad [Pakistan], January 31 (ANI): A team from the International Monetary Fund arrived in Islamabad to discuss the ninth review of the USD 7 billion Extended Fund Facility, which will start today, ARY News reported.

According to a Pakistani television broadcast citing the sources, Pakistan and the IMF will hold technical talks for the first four days, wherein economic data from different departments will be reviewed.

Earlier, the international fund organization Resident Representative for Pakistan Esther Perez Ruiz said: "At the request of the authorities, an in-person Fund mission is scheduled to visit Islamabad [from] January 31 - February 9 to continue the discussions under the ninth EFF review," reported Dawn.

The Pakistani rupee has dived to a historic low against the United States dollar after an exchange cap was lifted as the cash-strapped country seeks the help from IMF. Earlier, Pakistan entered a USD 6 billion programme in 2019 but later on, it increased to USD 7 billion.

If everything goes well then the international organization would release USD 1.8 billion, which is still pending, according to Dawn.

It had earlier been put off for two months due to the Pakistan Muslim League-N-led government's unwillingness to accept certain conditions placed before it by the IMF, and the disagreements have yet to be resolved.

However, it is pertinent to mention that Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has indicated that the government is finally ready to swallow the bitter pill of the IMF's "stringent" conditions to revive the loan programme.

In the statement, Ruiz said that the mission would focus on policies to restore domestic and external sustainability, including strengthening the fiscal position with durable and high-quality measures while supporting the vulnerable and those affected by the floods; restoring the viability of the power sector and reverse the continued accumulation of circular debt; and re-establish the proper functioning of the foreign exchange market, allowing the exchange rate to clear the forex shortage.

"Stronger policy efforts and reforms are critical to reduce the current elevated uncertainty that weighs on the outlook, strengthen Pakistan's resilience, and obtain financing support from official partners and the markets that is vital for Pakistan's sustainable development," Dawn quoted her as saying.

The Financial Post recently reported that with Pakistan Finance Ministry being unable to furnish tenable answers for the IMF to commence formal negotiations on the 9th review, it may delay the release of funds from the IMF.

The IMF visit to Pakistan scheduled for October has been delayed amidst differences between Pakistan's commitment to the IMF on fiscal consolidation.

"Pakistan and the global lender continued talks virtually but differences still persisted over tax collection targets, and non-starter energy reforms including hiking of gas tariff, rising circular debt, and expenditure overrun, making consensus harder to strike on a staff-level agreement for completion of the review," according to the Financial Post report. (ANI)

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