The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund will meet on January 11 to approve the Staff-Level Agreement (SLA) with Pakistan for the first review of the $3bn Stand-By Arrangement (SBA), an IMF spokesperson told Bloomberg.

In June, the IMF executive board had approved the much-needed nine-month arrangement with Pakistan “to support its economic stabilisation programme”. The approval had allowed for an immediate disbursement of $1.2bn, with the rest to be phased over the programme’s duration — subject to two quarterly reviews.

The IMF staff and Pakistani authorities reached the SLA on Nov 15 in Islamabad, a development which will enable Pakistan to have access to SDR 528 million (around $700m). This will bring total disbursements under the nine-month $3bn SBA to almost $1.9bn.

Initially, the IMF board was tentatively scheduled to meet on Dec 7 to approve the first tranche.

Earlier this week, informed sources told Dawn that the Ministry of Finance had been trying its best to seek a date in the first week of December to ensure approval of the SLA.

However, the lender’s executive board members were not be available in the last week of December and the first week of January because of Christmas and New Year holidays.

According to the IMF’s schedule, updated on Monday, there were about 12 countries whose cases, both Article-IV consultations and programme reviews, are on the executive board agenda until December 14.

The countries are Armenia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Cabo Verde, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Moldova, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, and Sri Lanka.

These meetings encompass various aspects, including Article IV consultations on economic developments and policies of member states. The board also reviews IMF assistance packages, such as the extended fund facility (EFF) it signed with Pakistan.

Normally, the IMF board of executive directors takes about a fortnight after the staff-level agreement for approval, unless there are some outstanding prior actions. But in Pakistan’s case, no prior action is outstanding for the first quarterly review.

Concluding talks on the first review last month, the IMF mission had called upon the authorities to return to the market-determined exchange rate and had highlighted risks that may arise because of geopolitical tensions, rise in commodity prices and difficult global financial conditions and advised the authorities to continue efforts to build resilience.

It had also pointed out that timely disbursement of committed external support remains critical to support the authorities’ policy and reform efforts as the government was accelerating engagement with multilateral and official bilateral partners. Saudi Arabia had since rolled over a $3bn deposit well before maturity.

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