Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Sunday claimed the ruling coalition has agreed to share details of the upcoming federal budget with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of ongoing efforts to revive a stalled bailout.
“They have asked us for some more details, like the details of budget, we will give that to them,” he told Geo News anchor Saleem Safi in an interview. Maintaining that the country had fulfilled all prior conditions for reviving the $6.5 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF), he regretted that the staff-level agreement (SLA) had not been signed before the budget is presented next month. He maintained that the government would not agree to club together the 9th and 10th reviews, as has been suggested by some economic pundits.
Alleging that “some powers”—without any specifics—did not desire economic stability in Pakistan, he reiterated accusations of the ousted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government “destroying” the national economy during its tenure in power. “Record inflation was witnessed during Imran Khan’s tenure,” he said, though inflation has climbed from roughly 14% under the PTI to 36% under the incumbent government. He also accused Khan of reneging on his government’s commitment to the IMF.
The 9th review of the IMF program has been stalled since November 2022, preventing the release of a $1.1 billion tranche that is seen as key to shoring up Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves. The two sides conducted several weeks of talks in February, but was unable to commit to any deal, with pundits warning that the EFF expires on June 30 and there is little time left for its revival. Reportedly, the IMF’s refusal to ink a SLA is linked to it requiring Pakistan to arrange more foreign support to meet its funding requirements, even as Islamabad maintains the global lender’s demand is in excess of actual requirements.
During his interview with Geo News, the finance minister also weighed in on the PTI chief’s calls for “dialogue” amidst an ongoing crackdown against his party over the May 9 riots that targeted civil and military installations and monuments. Stressing that no talks could take place unless Khan took “corrective measures,” he said this would entail apologizing to the nation, admitting his mistakes and vowing to never allow a repeat of the unrest of May 9.
Recalling that the government had “sincerely” negotiated with the PTI prior to May 9 and had achieved consensus on various issues barring a date for nationwide general elections, he maintained that peaceful protests were a fundamental rights. However, he added, attacks on armed forces’ installations could not be condoned.