Caretaker Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar commenced talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) review mission on Thursday, with discussions on comprehensive reforms and strategies in place to tackle ballooning circular debt.
According to a statement issued by the Finance Ministry, Akhtar met the IMF review mission, led by Nathan Porter, to examine Pakistan’s progress in the first quarter since inking a $3 billion Standby Arrangement (SBA) with the global lender, and pave the way forward for the release of the next tranche. Local media reported the negotiations are expected to last two weeks, with IMF expected to wrap up dialogue on Nov. 16.
Welcoming the delegation, the caretaker shared progress on the SBA. The Finance Ministry statement said she had briefed the mission on fiscal measures taken by the government to improve the economic situation. “The meeting also included discussions on comprehensive reforms and measures undertaken by FBR [Federal Board of Revenue] and the government’s strategies to address the circular debt issue,” it added.
Citing Porter, the statement said he had appreciated the government’s commitment to meeting the first quarter targets and commended ongoing efforts and measures taken in some critical areas. “He further underscored the importance of the continuation of these efforts to stay on track for the economic stability of the country,” it added.
During the meeting, read the statement, Akhtar had appreciated the IMF’s continued support and assistance. She also, it said, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to working closely with the IMF to ensure the successful completion of the SBA and achieve economic objectives.
Reportedly, Thursday’s discussions included the government’s reduction in expenditures, including restricting the development program and reducing subsidies. Government officials also shared the FBR’s revenue collection, higher than targeted, as well as the central bank’s net international reserves.
Apart from Akhtar and Porter, IMF Resident Representative Esther Ruiz Perez; State Bank of Pakistan Governor Jamil Ahmed; FBR Chairman Amjed Zubair Tiwana; Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Chairman Akif Saeed; Finance Secretary Imdadullah Bosal; and several members of the IMF delegation and senior officers of the Finance Division attended the meeting.