KARACHI: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) remains in touch with Pakistan’s authorities in order to pave the way for a board meeting before a financing programme expires at the end of June, the IMF mission chief for Pakistan said.

Ordinarily, a board meeting on a review of the programme would require a prior staff-level agreement, which in Pakistan’s case would unlock $1.1 billion in financing for the cash-strapped South Asian nation as part of a $7bn IMF package.

The staff-level agreement has been delayed since November, with more than 100 days gone since the last staff-level mission to Pakistan, the longest such delay since at least 2008.

“This engagement will focus on the restoration of foreign exchange proper market functioning, the passage of a FY24 budget consistent with programme goals, and adequate financing,” IMF mission chief Nathan Porter said.

On Sunday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said Pakistan will share its budget details with the fund. He added that he would like the IMF to clear its 9th review before the budget, which is due to be presented in early June, as all the conditions for that had already been met.

“They have asked for some more things again, we are ready to give that too, they say that give us budget details, we will give it to them,” Dar said in an interview with a private TV channel.

He said it would not work for Pakistan if the IMF combined the 9th and 10th review of the bailout, adding, “We will not do it, (we) see this is (as) unfair.”

Porter said that broadly speaking, “overcoming the present economic and financial challenges would require sustained policy efforts and reforms for Pakistan to regain strong and inclusive private-led growth.”

While the IMF does not comment on domestic politics, Porter said it hopes “a peaceful way forward is found in line with the Constitution and the rule of law,” referring to Pakistan’s political instability.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2023

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