PTI leader Hammad Azhar said on Friday night that an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team visited his party’s chief, Imran Khan, at his Lahore residence today where the two sides discussed a recent staff-level pact agreed between Pakistan and the global lender for the disbursement of $3 billion under a standby arrangement.
The staff-level pact for the standby arrangement was reached on June 29, just a day before an earlier programme was about to expire. The standby arrangement, subject to the IMF board approval, offers much-needed relief to the country still grappling with a severe balance of payments crisis and declining foreign exchange reserves.
Earlier today, the IMF said it was in the process of meeting major political parties, including the opposition PTI, in Pakistan to seek assurances of their support for the key objectives of the new deal.
Shortly after, Azhar said a meeting was scheduled between the PTI and an IMF team at Imran’s Zaman Park residence today and later shared on Twitter that the lender’s team had called upon the PTI chairman at his residence.
The former federal minister said IMF resident representative for Pakistan Esther Perez Ruiz visited Zaman Park for the meeting while IMF mission chief for Pakistan Nathan Porter joined virtually from Washington.
Meanwhile, Azhar added, the PTI team included him, Imran, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Shaukat Tarin, Omar Ayub Khan, Sania Nishtar, Shibli Faraz, Taimur Jhagra and Muzammil Aslam.
The meeting lasted for more than an hour, during which “discussions took place around the staff-level agreement that IMF has reached with the Government of Pakistan for a nine-month $3bn standby arrangement and in this context, we support the overall objectives and key policies”, the PTI leader said.
“We welcome the SBA (standby arrangement) to preserve macroeconomic stability by anchoring external financing and sound policies ahead of the national elections due in the fall of this year and until a new government is formed.
“We wish to stress the importance of programmes to protect the lower-income segments of the population from high inflation,” he added.
Azhar further stated that the PTI considered political stability and the rule of law as integral to the economic stability of Pakistan.
“Following free, fair, and timely elections as per the Constitution, a new government mandated by the people will initiate reforms and engage on a longer-term basis with multilateral institutions to further economic transformation, higher and more inclusive growth,” he said.
Later, Imran delivered an address via a video link, where he also said the PTI had agreed to “endorse the standby arrangement” with the IMF until elections were held and a new government was formed.
“Obviously, when a new government comes, they will hold talks with the IMF according to their own programme,” he added.
The PTI chief also said that the decision to support the standby arrangement until the elections was taken in view of the risk of default and hyperinflation that the country was facing.
IMF seeks assurances
Earlier today, the IMF said it was “in the process” of meeting representatives of major political parties in Pakistan to “seek assurances of their support for key objectives and policies” under the new $3bn SBA.
“IMF staff are in the process of meeting with representatives of the major political parties in Pakistan, including PML-N, PPP, and PTI, to seek assurances of their support for the key objectives and policies under a new IMF-supported program ahead of the approaching national elections,” Ruiz told Dawn.com.
She added that the new agreement was expected to be considered by the IMF Executive Board in the upcoming days.
The executive board of the IMF will meet on July 12 to review the $3bn SBA for Pakistan.
IMF team meets PPP
Following Ruiz’s statement, an IMF team also met the PPP.
Commerce Minister and PPP leader Naveed Qamar said earlier today the IMF’s resident representative called on the party’s finance team — comprising himself and Saleem Mandviwala — to discuss the standby agreement.
“[The] PPP agreed to support the programme in the larger national interest,” he added.
Separately, a statement released by the Ministry of Commerce said Qamar acknowledged the significance of the standby agreement in addressing Pakistan’s economic concerns.
The minister further reiterated the PPP’s commitment to working in harmony with the IMF to ensure the successful implementation of the programme.
PML-N’s Bilal slams PTI
Meanwhile, Coordinator to PM on Economy and Energy Bilal Azhar Kayani slammed the PTI after Hammad Azhar confirmed that a meeting was scheduled between his party’s leadership and an IMF team
“An IMF team will call on Party Chairman Imran Khan at Zaman Park this afternoon,” the PTI leader tweeted.
Responding to his tweet, Kayani slammed the opposition party for celebrating the meeting with the IMF after “violating” the agreement in their tenure.
“The IMF team is meeting all political parties and met the PPP yesterday,” he said, claiming that the global lender was meeting the PTI to “especially see” if another conspiracy was being hatched to “play with the economy” and “push the country towards default”.
“Imran Khan and his useless team should not hatch any new conspiracy against the new deal … the IMF team is not just meeting you but all the political parties,” Kayani stated.
He added that Imran should tell the IMF team today why he violated the previous agreement with the lender and pushed the country to the brink of default.
“Don’t do any new mischief against the IMF programme in today’s meeting,” the coordinator told the PTI. “Stability has returned to the country after numerous difficulties, let the country become economically strong.”