Bailout talks: IMF delegation arrives in Pakistan

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By Muhammad Luqman

A delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has arrived in Islamabad  to hold  two-week long talks with the Pakistan government on country’s 13th possible bailout package.

The IMF mission, led by its chief Herald Finger, started first round of talks with Pakistani team on Wednesday  the formal written request of Islamabad.

The size of the IMF program will be determined after finalising package from China as Pakistan’s high powered technical team led by Secretary Finance Arif Ahmed Khan and Governor SBP Tariq Bajwa is scheduled to visit Beijing from November 9, 2018 for finalising package for a balance of payment support, English newspaper, The News reported.

The government has reportedly finalised its paperwork to seek up to $6 billion bailout package from the IMF, however, Pakistan needs to share its strategy and reform plan to return the loan.

Pakistan had approached IMF in Indonesia for a fresh loan program in October. On October 24, it was learnt that Pakistan was still planning to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) despite Saudi Arabia’s bailout package of worth $6 billion.

Saudi Arabia during recent visit of Premier Imran Khan agreed to give Pakistan $3 billion in foreign currency support for a year and a further loan worth up to $3 billion in deferred payments for oil imports to help stave off a current account crisis.

Finance Minister Asad Umer on October 11, called on IMF chief Christine Lagarde to formally request the global body for providing financial assistance to rescue the economy of Pakistan.

Pakistan is in need of an estimated $12 billion to support its external account sector for the current fiscal year of 2018/19. The country’s foreign reserves have declined 42 percent since January to around eight billion dollars, not enough to cover two months of imports.

“The initial three to four days (of the IMF talks) are for technical discussions,” Finance Ministry spokesman Noor Ahmed  said. “Thereafter, there will be policy dialogue on the specific contents of the program.”

Pakistan last month announced a $6 billion assistance package from Saudi Arabia, split into $3 billion in foreign currency support and a further loan worth $3 billion in deferred payments for oil.

According to media reports,  Pakistan and the IMF mission will evolve agreement on memorandum of economic and financial policies and then sign of letter of intent to secure a 36-month extended fund facility loan. The country ended its three year $6.6 billion program in September 2016.

 

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