ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif returned from Saudi Ara­bia on Tuesday, expressing satisfaction over the IMF’s $1.1 billion disbursement, which he hopes will bring “greater economic stability” to Pakistan.

The funds released by IMF constitute the final tra­­nche of Pakistan’s $3bn standby arrangement, sec­ured last year to avert a sovereign default. The PM has hinted that a new IMF loan programme is imperative for Pakistan’s economy.

The IMF executive boa­rd approved the final tra­n­che on Monday, following the PM’s discussion with IMF Managing Direc­tor Krista­lina Georgieva for a new loan programme on the sid­elines of the World Econo­mic Forum in Riyadh.

As the State Bank of Pakistan received the funds on Tuesday, the PM praised Finance Minister Mohammad Aurangzeb and his team, and thanked the IMF for supporting the country in difficult times.

“The disbursement will bring more economic stability in Pakistan,” the PM said in a statement issued by his office, adding that the standby arrangement was important in saving the nation from defaulting on its external liabilities.

In 2016, Mr Sharif said, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif had completed the IMF programme in his tenure as prime minister, and the current one was the second standby arrangement nearing completion.

He said bitter and tough decisions were coming to fruition in the form of economic stability. “Allah has given us the opportunity to improve the economy. We will make all possible efforts to bring economic stability. [However,] the real success is not to get loans but to get rid of them,” he said.

Islamabad is seeking a new, larger long-term Extended Fund Facility (EFF) agreement with IMF. The finance minister has said Islamabad could secure a staff-level agreement on the new program­­me by early July. If secu­red, it would be Pakistan’s 24th IMF bailout.

The PM appreciated the strengthening re­­lations and economic partnership between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

He also addressed the WEF meeting, highlighting that peace in Gaza was imperative for global peace.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2024

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