Thu, 21 Sep 2023

Islamabad [Pakistan], June 1 (ANI): Pakistan reeling under deep economic chaos on Wednesday saw a new window of hope to get stalled funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as the government promised a "relief budget" next week within the requirements of the Fund programme, according to Dawn.

This comes after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's telephone conversation with Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the Washington-based lender, the previous weekend.

"We are following the programme in earnest at this stage and strongly hope that issues with the IMF would be settled very soon as the prime minister, the Ministry of Finance and the entire government were committed to the IMF programme and its amicable completion," said Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Aisha Ghaus Pasha.

Despite the fact that staff-level negotiations on the 9th quarterly review ended on February 9, according to Dawn, the programme has been hanging in the balance since October 2022.

Talking to journalists after a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, Pasha said the prime minister had spoken to the IMF managing director and both sides were of the view that the programme should be completed at the earliest.

"We are not even thinking anything without the (Fund) programme", although the finance ministry was not sitting idle with closed eyes as everybody had second plans as well, she said, adding that both the prime minister and IMF chief appreciated and agreed that non-completion of the ongoing Fund programme was neither in the interest of Pakistan nor the IMF, Dawn reported.

Notably on Wednesday Pasha had advised IMF mission chief Nathan Porter not to "interfere in politically domestic" matters.

While the IMF usually does not comment on domestic politics, in a statement on Tuesday, Porter said the IMF hopes "a peaceful way forward is found in line with the Constitution and the rule of law".

His comments come as the country still awaits the much-delayed signing of a staff-level agreement that would unlock USD 1.1 billion in financing for the cash-strapped nation as part of a USD 7 bn IMF package.

While the IMF is preparing to discuss Pakistan's budget plans for the coming financial year, Dr Ghaus said the finance ministry is preparing the budget considering that Pakistan is under an IMF programme and is "continuously engaged with it".

Regarding a different IMF programme, Pasha stated that the immediate priority was the successful conclusion of the existing programme, and only then could it be decided how to proceed. (ANI)

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