IMF, govt remain engaged

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Pakistan remain engaged to conduct technical and data discussions for the sixth review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme.

This was stated by Teresa Dabán Sanchez, IMF Resident Representative in Pakistan while responding to Business Recorder queries.

She stated, “IMF team remains engaged with our Pakistani counterparts on conducting technical and data discussions. We stand ready and looking forward to our continued discussions with the Pakistani authorities on the set of policies and reforms that could form the basis for the completion of the 6th review under the EFF. As you know, we would only issue a statement at the end of the discussions but not “during” the discussions”.

Sources in the Finance Ministry said that Finance Minister and Secretary Finance have been holding closed-door discussions with the IMF team based in Washington through video conference. They, however, showed ignorance about the latest update on these discussions. Finance Minister would be visiting Washington to attend the annual meeting of the World Bank and IMF (scheduled from 11-17 October) not held last year due to Covid-19, they said.

However, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has been expressing optimism that he would be able to convince the IMF mission on an alternative plan to what was agreed in February 2021 specifically with reference to the circular debt in power sector and revenue increase.

On August 13 during a press conference in Finance Ministry, Tarin in response to a query had clarified that clubbing the sixth and seventh review was not under consideration and his preference would be to conclude the 6th review by next month. He further stated that increase in electricity tariff was not a solution to the problem of circular debt as any increase at this point when the country needs increase in exports would make industry uncompetitive. However, about revenue, collection, he said that tax collection numbers of July 2021 have been very encouraging and stated that Pakistan would like to remain in the IMF programme for reforms in the power sector and increasing tax collection.

Tarin during his first stint as the Finance Minister (2008 to 2010) had successfully negotiated an IMF package; however, the programme was suspended with two disbursements remaining due to the failure of the then Zardari-led government to implement the agreed power sector and FBR reforms. However, in 2008 the US, as an important member of the IMF Board, had supported the programme for Pakistan.

A senior Foreign Office official said that United States remains in contact with Pakistan regarding the evolving situation in Afghanistan and evacuation of the US diplomatic staff and American nationals from there, as the deadline for completion of the process ends today (August 31).

During his telephonic conversation with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on August 17, 2021, he added, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken requested Pakistan’s continued help in evacuation of American diplomatic staff and US citizens, as well as, representatives of the International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), members of the multi-national donor agencies and media persons from Afghanistan.

About the number of American diplomatic staff and US citizens so far evacuated from Afghanistan via Pakistan, he said that the exact number could not be shared due to security reasons.

He added that the Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State agreed to remain in close contact to promote the shared objectives. He said that Qureshi also underscored the need that Pakistan would remain closely engaged with the US and other international partners in promoting efforts in support of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

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