Shaukat Tarin returns to Washington as IMF talks move forward

Published October 20, 2021
Former finance minister Shaukat Tarin speaks at a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File
Former finance minister Shaukat Tarin speaks at a press conference in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin returned to Washington to join the ongoing discussion with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), his office announced on Tuesday.

Tarin, who was the finance minister when he first came to Washington earlier this month, is now a financial adviser to the prime minister as he had to be a member of parliament to retain the minister’s position.

“The adviser has returned to Washington DC to join ongoing discussions with the IMF,” his spokesperson Muzzamil Aslam said in a tweet. “Media reports related to inconclusive talks are baseless,” he added.

In Washington, Jihad Azour, director of IMF Middle East and Central Asia Department, told journalists on Tuesday that the talks between the Fund and the Pakistan government on the sixth review of the $6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) had progressed to a “very good step”.

“The IMF mission to Pakistan and the authorities are currently in the process of the discussion around the sixth review of the programme. And the discussions are progressing around the various pillars of the programme and the measures that the government of Pakistan is currently contemplating,” he told the news briefing.

“The progress has gone [towards] a very good step and the mission, with the authorities, are going through the various details,” he added. Earlier, a media report had claimed that the talks had failed due to differences over the macroeconomic framework.

At a news briefing in New York earlier this week, Tarin urged the nation not to get disillusioned by the claims that talks for reviving the IMF loan facility have failed.

“See, the talks are continuing and are continuing positively,” he said. “Some people have created an impression in Pakistan that we have failed, and the talks have been unsuccessful, that is completely false.”

The adviser said his meetings with the IMF managing director and other senior officials in Washington last week were very useful.

“So, we should not get disillusioned by the claims that the talks have failed. I do not understand what they base their claim on,” said the finance minister while rejecting such reports as “misleading”.

Editorial: Resumption of IMF deal is crucial for Pakistan but bad news for ordinary Pakistanis

The rupee hit a record low of 173.20 on Monday in intra-day trading against the US dollar following media reports that talks with the IMF had failed. It closed at 172.78, below the previous close of 171.18.

Pakistan and the IMF held their latest talks in Washington from October 4 to 15 for the release of a $1bn tranche from a $6bn extended loan facility approved in 2019.

The reports claimed that the talks did not lead to a staff-level agreement because of differences over a macroeconomic framework and uncertainty over the country’s economy.

But the finance minister rejected such claims as "totally wrong”.

“We are working on the final details and in a few days, you will see the talks moving towards success, God willing,” he said. “I cannot disclose more details now.”

Asked if the IMF was asking Pakistan to do more to meet its demands, Tarin said: “Whenever you go to a banker, he asks for more, but we have our own red lines. We have made it obvious that we will continue the reform process for sustainable growth.”

Read more: Tarin hopeful on success of IMF negotiations, says encouraging progress made

He said that these were negotiation points and should not be interpreted wrongly. “I want you to understand that we are moving towards positivity. Both sides are working out details. Our finance secretary is still in Washington and Chairman FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) is also in contact with this team. They consult me too.”

He said his team and he were committed to fixing Pakistan’s economy. “Give us some time and God willing we will fix it.”

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