Pakistan, IMF likely to conclude talks by April

  • Sources claim that IMF would lend $10 billion to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are likely to conclude talks with regard to the bailout package by April 2019.

According to sources, the ongoing talks would be concluded by the mid of April before the spring meetings of the World Bank Group and the IMF, scheduled to be held in Washington from April 12-14, 2019.

On the sidelines of the said meetings, IMF officials and Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar would finalize the programme, which was being negotiated by the two sides for the past few months, sources claimed.

“Although most of the conditions, set by IMF for the next programme, have already been met, Pakistan seems interested in delaying the negotiation process till next budget as the incumbent government had arranged enough resources to meet the balance of payment crisis,” the sources said, adding that the balance of payment crisis in this fiscal year was almost over.

“Despite a lack of urgency after receiving financial support from China, Saudi Arabia and UAE, the government would keep IMF engaged through talks and exchange of information/data on a regular basis,” said an official source at the finance ministry. Unlike the reports that the next programme would be around $6 billion, the sources claim, it would be around $10 billion.

According to sources, the government has planned a three-year stabilisation programme, which included issuance of bonds in the international market. The government would also launch Panda bond in the Chinese market in April this year, they added.

The finance minister earlier claimed that the IMF had changed its position with Pakistan. IMF had previously asked for strict measures on policy rate, rupee devaluation and tax collection target by the Federal Board of Revenue.

Sources said although most of the modalities have been agreed between Pakistan and IMF, a lot of work would have to be done before a final agreement is reached by April.

Most of the actions, on demand of the IMF, would be part of the next year’s budget, sources claimed, adding that broad understanding had been reached in the talks held so far.

Meanwhile, talking to media on Thursday, Finance Minister Asad Umar said negotiations with IMF were still ongoing “but nearing conclusion”.

The minister also spoke on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) recent review of Pakistan’s performance on compliance with global guidelines against terror financing and money laundering. He said an official statement on this week’s review in Paris would be issued within a day’s time.

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Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]
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