An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission is arriving in Pakistan for a second and last review of a $3 billion standby arrangement this week, the finance ministry said on Wednesday.

The four-day review begins on Thursday, said the ministry.

Islamabad secured the last-gasped rescue package last summer to avert a sovereign default.

“Pakistan has met all structural benchmarks, qualitative performance criteria and indicative targets for successful completion of the IMF review,” the ministry added, hoping for a successful IMF staff-level agreement after the appraisal.

The last review, if successful, will release a tranche of around $1.1 billion, the ministry said.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has already directed his finance team, headed by newly installed Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb to initiate work on seeking an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) after the standby arrangement expires on April 11.

Aurangzeb told reporters that the team was arriving this week, without mentioning a date.

The lender has said it will formulate a medium-term programme if Islamabad applies for one. The government has not officially stated the size of the additional funding it is seeking through a successor programme from the fund.

Islamabad will be “very keen to start discussions on another EFF with them during these talks,” the finance minister said, adding that further negotiations on the larger, longer programme would be taken forward on the sidelines of the IMF and World Bank’s spring meetings in April in Washington.

During the review, he said, “We would at least kick-start the process and get this going. Let’s see how they respond.”

Aurangzeb, who was picked over several other aspirants, including former four-time finance minister Ishaq Dar, has to bring stability to a country plagued by crippling boom-bust cycles that have in past led to more than 20 IMF bailout programmes.

The debt-ridden economy, which shrank -0.2 per cent last year and is expected to grow around 2pc this year, has been under extreme stress with low reserves, a balance of payment crisis, inflation at 23pc, policy interest rates at 22pc and record local currency depreciation.

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