ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday announced that the federal budget for fiscal 2024 would be presented on June 9 and insis­ted that Pakistan would not default on any foreign liability, with or without an IMF programme.

Speaking to journalists after a seminar organised by the National Security Division, the minister said there should be no concern over the repayment of $3.7 billion foreign loans during May and June and a payment plan had been firmed up.

He said Pakistan had fulfilled all the prior actions of the International Monetary Fund and it was now up to the lender to sign the agreement, and further tough decisions could not be taken at this stage. He hoped that China would roll over another $2.4bn loan.

Responding to a question, he said the federal budget would be presented in the parliament on June 9.

Mr Dar said the delay in the IMF deal should not be linked to default. “Pakis­tan will not default whether there is an IMF programme or no programme,” he asserted. He said the staff-level agreement with the Fund should have been reached much earlier as talks had been concluded on Feb 9 and all prior actions were met soon after that, even though the government had taken all the tough decisions despite a heavy political cost.

He explained that some bilateral partners had committed financial assistance at the time of last review with the IMF in August last year and the lender was now waiting for those commitments to be materialised before signing the agreement.

He said those bilateral friends had given their assurances to the IMF again, but the Fund wanted this to be actually disbursed.

Mr Dar complained that suspicions were being created as if Pakistan was going to default on international payments. He said an international rating agency talked about Pakistan’s $3.7bn external payments due before June 30 and when he responded to the situation with a clarification, another rating agency came up with an assertion the next day that Pakistan would not be able to meet its foreign obligations from July to December.

Pakistan should not be subjected to unfair international politics, and rumour-mongering should be avoided, he said.

He said the country’s current account had turned into a surplus in March and would go up further in April as well when data is finalised.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2023

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