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IMF Expresses Willingness to Engage with Pakistan on Fresh Bailout

Global lender official says Executive Board will meet later this month to approve release of final tranche of ongoing SBA

by Staff Report

File photo of IMF Director of Communications Julie Kozack

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said it is ready to “engage” with Pakistan in the coming months to help the country resolve “fiscal and external stability challenges,” indicating the global lender is onboard with the government’s efforts to secure an extended facility after the expiry of the ongoing $3 billion Standby Arrangement (SBA).

“The authorities have expressed interest in a successor IMF supported program with the aim of resolving Pakistan’s fiscal and external stability challenges and laying the foundation for inclusive growth,” IMF Communications Director Julie Kozack told a press briefing earlier this week. “And, of course, we stand ready to engage in program discussions in the coming months,” she added.

On the final tranche of the SBA, the IMF official said the Executive Board of the lender would meet at the end of this month to approve the staff-level agreement between Pakistan and the IMF mission, leading to the disbursement of the remaining $1.1 billion.

“The staff level agreement recognizes the strong program implementation by the State Bank of Pakistan and the caretaker government in recent months, as well as the new government’s intentions for ongoing policy and reform efforts to move Pakistan from stabilization to a strong and sustainable recovery,” she emphasized. She also noted improvements in Pakistan’s “economic and financial” situation since the completion of the first review of the SBA.

“Growth and confidence are continuing to recover,” she said, adding the IMF would release growth forecasts in the coming months as part of the World Economic Outlook.

Since coming into power after the Feb. 8 general elections, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has repeatedly indicated an intent to seek a new IMF program, noting it is necessary for economic revival. Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb, last week, said he would meet the IMF in Washington from April 14-15 to discuss a new loan program.

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