‘No time-frame can be given for conclusion of IMF talks’

Talks continue as Tarin leaves US to join PM Imran Khan in Saudi Arabia this weekend

The Ministry of Finance and Revenue has said that a specific time frame cannot be given for the conclusion of Pakistan’s talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In this regard, a statement was issued by a spokesperson of the ministry on Thursday, saying that currently, no comments can be made on the progress of the negotiations.

The Pakistani team headed by Finance Secretary Yousaf Khan continues to engage in talks with the IMF in Washington after Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin left for Saudi Arabia on late Thursday.

Tarin’s departure before the conclusion of the talks has deepened the uncertainty over the resumption of a $6 billion loan facility that would bring an immediate relief to the cash-starved government by delivering a suspended tranche of $1bn.

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However, officials at the Finance Ministry while speaking to a local TV channel said that “good progress is expected in one to two days”.

Another report by Dawn similarly quoted an official privy to the matter: “I think we are in a good place. We are getting positive vibes.”

Earlier this week, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Reza Baqir said Pakistan’s negotiations with the IMF are moving forward in a positive manner.

Meanwhile, the IMF’s country representative for Pakistan Teresa Daban said that IMF’s Sixth Review talks with Pakistan are underway. The representative said that Pakistan’s efforts for the completion of talks are being reviewed.

“The IMF is reviewing Pakistan’s economic policies and reforms,” she added.

It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan will face a new set of conditions from the Fund if the talks are successful.

Earlier on Thursday, it was reported that Fund were expected to conclude, with the two sides issuing a joint statement regarding the details of the arrangement for finalising the release of the next tranche of a $6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF). However, the Pakistan delegation sent another alert to the media late at night, cancelling the briefing.

The PM’s aide, then finance minister, first came to Washington in early October and went to New York on Oct 15 after a 10-day stay. He was scheduled to fly to London from there but instead rushed back to Washington on Tuesday to join the ongoing discussions as an IMF official acknowledged progress. The finance secretary was holding the talks in his absence.

 

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