ISLAMABAD: A staff mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has arrived in Islamabad to conduct the first quarterly review of Pakistan’s performance under its $6bn Extended Fund Facility (EFF) finalised in May this year.
The successful completion of the first review would enable Islamabad to draw about $453 million from the Fund in first part of December this year, taking the total amount to almost $1.44bn. The IMF had made in July this year an upfront disbursement of $991 million on completion of all prior actions committed by Pakistan before signing the fund programme.
The visiting team led by Mission Chief to Pakistan Ernesto Ramirez-Rigo will hold technical discussions with authorities from all the ministries, divisions and departments concerned to examine the latest data before winding up its trip on Nov 7 with policy-level talks with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Dr Reza Baqir.
The first quarterly review is expected to be completed on a positive note as authorities have generally shown good performance on most of the structural benchmarks and performance criteria set for the first quarter ending September 2019.
Senior IMF officials have already praised authorities for delivering on their commitments “beyond (fund’s) expectations”.
There are a couple of minor deficiencies though on indicative targets albeit with significant progress. The authorities expect the positive direction on even these shortcomings indicative of full compliance during the current quarter ending December 2019.
Authorities in Islamabad said they were comfortable with overall progress on the fund programme in the first quarter as its revenue shortfall had been more than compensated by higher than estimated non-tax revenues supported by licence fees provided by telecom companies. They said the government had put on hold issuance of fresh guarantees to the power and gas companies to stay within the IMF benchmarks despite pressing needs.
Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2019