Tarin expects successful 6th, 7th reviews of IMF deal

Ahead of review talks with the IMF for borrowing $1 billion under Extended Fund Facility (EFF), minister Tarin also assured of Pakistan’s commitment to the IMF program. “The government is committed to the IMF program and hopes to successfully complete the upcoming review as well as Article IV consultations,” a statement quoted Tarin as saying.

Pakistan has to present a viable plan to erase the monster of circular debt, hike power and gas tariffs as well as grant autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). A bill for introducing amendments to the SBP Act 1956 was already tabled in the parliament during former finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh’s tenure.

However, now the ministry of Finance seems to be dragging its feet on owning the proposed legislation. It was yet to be seen how the government would proceed on this front. Pakistan and the IMF staff would kick-start the first round of virtual technical talks from Wednesday (tomorrow) for undertaking number crunching in the first week. This would be followed by policy level talks to strike staff level agreement on sixth and seventh reviews under the EFF.

Tarin is scheduled to visit Washington from October 12, 2021 to attend the annual meetings of the Breton Wood Institutions (BWIs) The IMF would also raise questions about the sustainability of the Kamyab Pakistan Programme (KPP) in its upcoming virtual review talks. The IMF high-ups are tight lipped before commencement of the review, as questions sent to the IMF’s resident representative in Pakistan received no response.

A government statement said Esther Perez Ruiz, the nominated resident representative of the IMF met minister Tarin. Ruiz, currently visiting Pakistan on a pre-assignment mission, was accompanied by the outgoing representative of IMF, Teresa Sanchez.

Tarin said Pakistan was firmly committed to pursuing an all-inclusive and sustainable economic growth with key focus on “bottom-up” approach to uplift marginalised segments of the society. “To this end, the government intends to engage development partners to broaden economic development through fiscal consolidation and prudent economic measures amid Covid-19 pandemic and in post Covid-19 scenario,” he added. He commended IMF for extending timely assistance during testing times.

Underlining the key initiatives of the government to provide maximum relief to the masses, he said the government was taking a range of administrative, policy and relief measures to absorb the upward pressure on prices of basic food commodities due to pandemic.

The government has adopted a multi-pronged strategy to enhance revenue collection and to broaden the existing tax base. He also highlighted performance of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in surpassing revenue collection targets in recent months despite Covid-19. “The broadening of tax base is one of the key priorities of the government,” he added.

Implementation of track and trace for tobacco would also begin from October 1, 2021, as it was one of the requirements under the EFF programme. He also stated that reforms were being carried out in the power sector to address the issue of circular debt.

The new representative of IMF commended Pakistan’s efforts in managing the spread of virus through a series of smart and targeted lockdowns to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods. She expressed hope to work closely with the government of Pakistan during her tenure.

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